How Much Protein Should a Female Take Post-Workout?

Woman doing exercise on fitness ball in gym, side view
Young woman working out in gym. (Image: Chris Clinton/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Protein is an integral macronutrient for women looking to maximize performance and aid recovery from hard training. One of the key times to consume protein is after a workout, when the amino acids that make up protein are used to repair damaged muscle tissue. The amount of protein you need post-workout depends on your training goals and your body weight.

General Guidelines

How much protein you need after a training session is linked to how much protein you consume daily. According to the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, women need around 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day. This works out to 0.36 grams per pound. If you weigh 120 pounds, this means eating 43 grams per day. If you're 150 pounds, then you should be eating 54 grams per day.

Stepping It Up

The "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition" recommends eating a slightly higher protein intake, as this can improve adaptations to intense training. The Journal suggests that an intake closer to 1.4 to 2 grams per kilogram, or 0.64 to 0.91 grams per pound may be more suitable for both men and women. At this amount, a 120-pound female would require 77 to 109 grams per day, while a 150-pound female would need 96 to 137 grams. Splitting your daily protein evenly between all your meals is still a wise idea, even at a higher intake.

Determining Factors

The type of training you do, as well as the overall diet style you're following, also plays a role in how much protein you need. In an article for the FitnessRX for Women website, dietitian Susan M. Kleiner writes that women involved in endurance training need less total protein than those engaging in a strength workout. Dieting to lose body fat and eating a reduced number of calories also necessitates a higher protein intake to help preserve lean body mass.

Putting It All Together

To work out your own individual post-workout protein needs, multiply your body weight in pounds by 0.6 if you're an endurance athlete, or 0.8 if you're a strength athlete to get your total daily protein intake, then divide this by the number of meals you eat each day. A 150-pound woman, for example, would need 90 grams of protein each day if endurance training or 120 grams if strength training. If you are eating five times per day, this would work out to 18 grams of protein at a post-endurance workout meal, or 24 grams post-strength training.

Post-Workout Protein Examples

Examples of protein-packed post-workout meals and snacks include a protein shake blended with milk and banana, cottage cheese with raspberries and flaked almonds, a noodle and vegetable stir fry with chicken or tofu or a whole-wheat bagel with smoked salmon and low-fat cream cheese. Adjust the quantities to suit your own protein and calorie requirements.

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