Updated: Aug 17
Did you know that the average American woman eats between 40-50g of protein a day? While that is a foundation to work from, functional medicine recommendations, generally speaking, are about 70g of protein in whole food sources for non-pregnant women.
Pregnant or breastfeeding? You can shoot for about 100g! These of course may vary depending on body type, activity level, lifestyle and personal histories, but these are goals to work towards -- and when we see women doing this, we see the incredible impact it can have on their overall health and functioning!
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Why Does a High Protein Diet Matter for Women?
Adequate protein intake can encourage things like:
Increased energy production
Overall better blood production and clotting factors
Provide support to things like hair growth and texture, skin + nail health
Support muscle fibers + healing
Helps the pH levels in your gut normalize (and we know gut health is so vital!)
Balances fluids in your body (so helps decrease puffiness, swelling, and certain types of bloating
Bolsters your immune system
Helps transport and store other nutrients in your body
A List of Healthy Protein-rich Foods:
Before we get to the easy list of foods, let's take an overall look at protein sources in general. As you browse, take a personal inventory of your own preferences, hesitations and curiosities. Maybe you'll be reminded of a food you like that is out of your current protein rotation, or inspired to try something new.
Animal Sources of Protein
Fish + seafood
Non-animal Sources of Protein
How to Make Eating Protein Easier
Sometimes the biggest barrier to getting more protein is simply having a plan in place to have easy to grab things around. Nothing is worse than being hungry and having nothing to grab and just shove in your mouth (besides more carbs), right?
4 Tips for Success with a Higher Protein Diet:
1. Know what is available, and try new things!
2. Keep your kitchen stocked by giving the items you love a permanent place to live on your shopping list so you never run out.
3. Spend a handful of minutes a week prepping your items so all you have to do it grab what you need and then simply EAT them.
4. Stash options all over the place- your purse, the car, your office, etc.
Easy-to-Grab Whole Food Protein Ideas:
Deli meat without nitrates, added sugar or carrageenan. Applegate Farms is a reliable brand found in most health food stores.
Organic string cheese or pre-cubed cheese blocks.
Canned wild salmon or tuna. Prepped tuna salad. Wild Planet is our favorite clean brand.
Wild smoked salmon or pre-cooked wild shrimp (often found in frozen section).
Whole roasted chicken without added sugar or preservatives.
Grass-fed beef jerky or meat sticks. We love Lorissa's Kitchen as a clean and affordable option.
Hard-boiled eggs, or prepped egg salad.
Full fat cottage cheese/ organic yogurt with berries or nuts.
Protein Boosting Food Hacks:
You don't have to overhaul your diet just to get more protein into it. Utilize a few of the strategies below to get an extra boost of protein in the foods and meals that are already familiar to you. Some may be where you least expect it!
Top salads, soups and side dishes with hemp hearts. They have a mild flavor and pack 10 grams of protein per serving
Add chia seeds to water, smoothies, yogurt, granola, oatmeal or make an easy pudding out of them with milk and honey
When ordering out, ask for your meat portion to be doubled or get an extra portion on the side
Sub greek yogurt for sour cream, and replace the cream or buttermilk in a recipe with it
Use bone broth instead of water for soups, stews, rice and pasta
Bottom Line?! Protein matters! It is a bit of a "lady life hack" to really dial this piece in, as it is one of those, sometimes immediate, "I feel better already!" aspects of health.
As midwives, we love when we can use food-as-medicine and we especially appreciate just how available and in our control this aspect of our wellbeing can be!
Harness the power of food with our Hormone Balancing Food Guide for more ideas on how to use protein to stabilize hormonal imbalances and get some great meal planning and prepping habits under your belt.
Although we are licensed midwives by profession, we are not YOUR midwives. All content and information on this website is for informational and educational purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice. Although we strive to provide accurate general information, the information presented here is not a substitute for any kind of professional advice. For more information, click here.