Gender stereotypes deserve to die out. It’s frankly laughable that some women are made to feel that some sports or exercise regimes are ‘men only’ in the modern day.
Men and women are different, but that doesn’t mean they should take up different roles or pastimes, or merely that they need to be aware of the particular needs of their bodies and how this informs their workout and the diet that they use to fuel their physical activity.
So, where do the differences lie, and what do they mean when it comes to comes to protein – the vital ingredient that helps athletes to gain the energy they need to work out and to recover and repair?
Weight and height matter when it comes to protein
Some of the differences in requirements between men and women can be explained more accurately in terms of other factors.
On average men tend to be taller and heavier than their female counterparts, but that’s only a sweeping generalisation. Every person’s workout regime and diet should be specifically geared to their own body and the requirements of their programme, and so relying on this vague ‘rule of thumb’ will see you come unstuck.
It’s the height and weight point here that is most significant – if you are bigger then you’ll need a greater intake of protein to be able to fuel your regime.
Our protein infographic highlights the way in which you can calculate the amount of protein you should consume – ranging from 1g per kg per day to 1.7g per kg per day.
The rate all depends on the level of physical activity – and the formula doesn’t change as a result of gender. A tall, muscular, active woman will need to consume more protein than a shorter man with a lighter exercise route.
There are, however, also biological differences that might have an impact. Men might need more protein because they produce testosterone – the part of their make up that is more likely to make them get ‘bulky’ while working out – while women need to be even more careful than men when it comes to the potential ill effects of taking in too much protein.
In extreme cases, this could flush calcium from your system and leave you at risk of osteoporosis, which is more likely to strike among women than men. These are factors that men and women need to be aware of and could alter their intake.
There are also factors for women to consider when it comes to the diet beyond protein. Menstruation and pregnancy can both lead to women needing a greater intake of iron, for example.
In truth, then, while there might be some differences between men and women, the biggest factors affecting the amount of protein you need come from considerations that are not gender related. How heavy, tall and physically active you are has a much bigger bearing on the amount of protein you need to consume for a balanced diet. All women should bear this in mind rather than making a guess based on the unsatisfactory ‘men need more’ rule of thumb.