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Understanding Daily Protein Intake for Women: A Comprehensive Guide

by Mara Welty November 08, 2023 7 min read

 Daily Protein Intake for Women

Think back to the food pyramid hanging in your elementary school health class. At the base, there were vegetables, fruits and whole grains. As you climbed, you found nuts, seeds and beans alongside seafood, poultry and eggs. At the tippy top — before the try-to-avoid butters, salts and sugars — were dairy products like cheese, yogurt and milk.

Now, what if I told you proteins were the basis of many of these healthy food choices?

Macronutrients, like proteins, carbs and fats are essential to our daily health. We need large amounts of these, which we gain from the foods we eat. The amount of protein we need, however, depends on a variety of factors, including sex and body composition. That said, the daily protein intake for women can vary further, based on body weight and activity level.

The Importance of Protein

Generally, a sufficient daily protein intake is beneficial for people of every age and sex. It contains amino acids, which make up our body’s tissues. In effect, they influence just about everything that goes on in our bodies, including:

  • Food digestion
  • Tissue repair
  • Hormone production
  • Energy production
  • Skin, hair and nail health
  • Muscle growth
  • Immune function

Research and anecdotal evidence have also found that protein is extremely filling. That’s because it’s more difficult to digest than carbohydrates and fats. Rather, your salmon dinner remains in your stomach for longer and your body requires more energy to digest it. This effect can temporarily increase your metabolism and fat burning — on average, burning 260 more calories a day through digestion alone.

Accordingly, research has also found that increasing your protein intake can actually help you lose weight naturally since a protein-packed treat will make you less inclined to snack throughout the day on salty chips, gummy candies or high-calorie pastries.

But it’s not all conscious self-control. Protein actually decreases levels of a hunger hormone, called ghrelin, and increases another hormone, peptide YY, that makes you feel satiated after a meal.

For women who love to spend their free time lifting at the gym or jogging neighborhood trails, protein also plays a critical role in muscle recovery. When you consume protein, the amino acids flock to your muscle tissue, which can become damaged during strenuous or strength-training physical activity. These amino acids work to repair tissue through a process called muscle protein synthesis, subsequently increasing muscle mass and improving your strength. Protein can also help you maintain bone mass, particularly as you age.

And, while red meats can increase your cholesterol levels and your risk of heart-related problems, bolstering your diet with lean animal protein sources — such as chicken, turkey and seafood — can support healthy blood pressure levels and lower your cholesterol levels.

The Importance of Protein For Women

For women, specifically, protein also plays an essential role in natural hormone balance when expecting and when breastfeeding.

For women with a condition in which the ovaries produce too many male sex hormones, protein may be an unlikely ally in balancing your hormone levels. Women with high androgen levels, such as testosterone, can experience:

  • Irregular or light periods
  • Weight gain
  • Excess body hair
  • Oily or blemish-prone skin
  • Male-pattern baldness or hair thinning
  • Infertility
  • Skin tags or dark skin patches

Since androgens can impact ovulation, it’s critical to seek hormonal balance. A research study found that dietary protein — the types of protein you get from the food you eat — may have an inverse correlation with testosterone levels in women. In other words, the higher your protein consumption is, the lower your androgen levels are.

Additionally, if you’re expecting, protein is critical to your baby’s growth and development. More specifically, it plays a role in fetal and placenta development, supporting the growth of the fetus’ tissues, organs, brain, muscles and bones, as well as its nutrient intake. Dietary protein also supports the production of a blood protein, called hemoglobin, to increase the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the growing baby.

To keep you and your baby safe, protein also triggers immune cells to fight back against foreign invaders, like germs and viruses.

Recommended sources for people who are expecting include:

  • Cottage cheese
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Lentils
  • Milk
  • Peanut butter
  • Eggs

Once the baby is born, mothers must still be aware of their protein intake. Breast milk contains two types of protein: whey and casein. Adopting a higher daily protein requirement is very important for producing high-quality milk.

How Much Protein Should Women Have?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight, for both men and women. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you would need to eat 54 grams of high quality protein daily.

To put that into context, salmon contains about 40 grams of protein, while a protein shake contains about 20 grams of protein per serving.

For women who are expecting or breastfeeding, it’s advised to eat a high protein diet of around 71 grams of protein a day. For example, you may begin your day with a cup of cottage cheese (28 grams) and a hard-boiled egg (six grams), alongside a serving of fruit.

For lunch, you can prioritize healthy eating by crafting a salad bowl, complete with three ounces of grilled chicken breast (26 grams) and 1.5 cups of lentils (9 grams). For dinner, you can incorporate a three-ounce piece of salmon (17 grams), alongside a serving of vegetables. Then, for those late-night cravings, craft a peanut butter (7 grams) and jelly sandwich with a cup of milk (8 grams). Voila!

Your recommended protein needs may also fluctuate depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle. For example, during the mid-luteal stage, your daily protein requirement can increase due to protein oxidation. During this stage, you also need more protein to build endometrial tissue, which lines the uterus in preparation for a fertilized egg.

Additionally, women with a higher activity level may also need to increase their protein consumption throughout the day.

Signs of Protein Deficiency

If you’re not getting enough protein each day, your body will tell you. People who are deficient in protein may experience:

  • Brittle hair and nails
  • Fatigue or low energy levels
  • Hunger
  • Frequent illnesses
  • Mood changes
  • Trouble thinking
  • Muscle weakness
  • Stress fractures

How To Incorporate Protein Into Your Diet

A simple way to learn how to increase protein intake in your everyday diet is to think back to the food pyramid — which foods do you think contain protein?

Let’s start at the bottom. Vegetables and fruits are highly dense in micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals. But some contain adequate levels of protein, too. In terms of vegetables, you can indulge in:

  • Peas – Four grams per half cup
  • Spinach – Three grams per half cup
  • Potatoes – Three grams per medium potato
  • Broccoli – Three grams per cup
  • Artichoke hearts – Two and a half grams per half cup
  • Asparagus – Two grams per half cup
  • Brussels sprouts – Two grams per half cup
  • Broccoli rabe – Three grams per 85 grams
  • Corn – Three grams per medium ear
  • Portobello mushrooms – 2.75 grams per 100 grams
  • Lima beans – Six grams per half cup

To add some fruit to your plate, consider picking up the following the next time you hit the grocery store:

  • Guava – 4.2 grams per cup
  • Avocado – Three grams per cup
  • Jackfruit – 2.8 grams per cup
  • Kiwi – 2 grams per cup
  • Apricot – 2.3 grams per cup
  • Blackberries and raspberries – Two grams per cup
  • Raisins – One gram per one ounce
  • Bananas – 1.3 grams per medium banana
  • Grapefruit – 1.6 grams per medium grapefruit
  • Oranges – 1.2 grams per medium orange
  • Cherries – 1.6 grams per cup

As we climb the food pyramid, the protein content increases. On the next level, we find nuts and seeds. High-protein options include almonds, which contain seven grams for every quarter cup. Walnuts are also a good option, coming in at 4.5 grams per quarter cup. Pistachios contain six grams of protein per quarter cup, and cashews contain five grams of protein per quarter cup. Other options include pine nuts, brazil nuts, peanuts and hazelnuts.

Beans and tofu also live on the second level. Tofu contains 10 grams of protein for every half cup, while beans like edamame (soy beans) contain a whopping 31.3 grams per cup. Additional high-protein beans and legumes include:

  • Lentils
  • White beans
  • Cranberry beans
  • Split peas
  • Pinto beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Black beans
  • Navy beans
  • Lima beans

Then, there are fish, poultry and eggs — known protein powerhouses. Depending on your choice, you may be able to clock in anywhere from six to 28 grams of protein.

Dairy products, like cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and milk, which sit near the top of the pyramid, are also high in protein. And they’re easy to incorporate into any meal. Add cottage cheese to lasagna, scrambled eggs to a breakfast bowl or use Greek yogurt in a chicken salad or to make tzatziki sauce for vegetables. These are just some of the many versatile options that will help you achieve a healthy higher protein intake.

Get It All With INVIGOR8

Women need protein just as much as men, and even more when expecting and breastfeeding. While whole foods are a wonderful protein source, it can be difficult to factor protein into your meal planning along with the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients your body needs to perform.

Fortunately, you won’t have to worry about protein deficiency with the INVIGOR8 organic superfoods powder. Made with whey protein, our delicious meal-replacement protein powder ingredients also include eight nutritional complexes that bolster your diet with pre and probiotics, green veggies, essential fatty acids and digestive enzymes, as well as ingredients that support immune and cognitive function.

If you’re looking to take your weight loss and overall fitness journey one step further, you can also check out our entire weight loss kit, which includes our superfood shake, as well as our signature appetite control support supplements and unflavored collagen peptides.

Add high-quality protein to your diet easily with INVIGOR8.



  1. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Healthy Eating Pyramid
  2. Healthline. 10 Science-Backed Reasons to Eat More Protein
  3. Fertility and Sterility. Dietary protein intake and reproductive hormones and ovulation: the BioCycle study
  4. WebMD. What Protein Does for Your Body
  5. Harvard Health Publishing. How much protein do you need every day?
  6. UCLA Health. Are you getting enough protein? Here's what happens if you don't
  7. Women’s Health. Food 12 High-Protein Vegetables That Will Fill You Up Fast
  8. My Food Data. Top 10 Beans and Legumes Highest in Protein


About the Author

 Mara Welty
Mara Welty

Mara Welty is a copywriter who specializes in health, wellness and CBD topics. With a background in journalism, she aims to deliver engaging, research-based content that builds trust and engages readers through informative storytelling.

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