Stronger, Longer, Happier: The Protein Prescription for Women Over 40

Stronger, Longer, Happier: The Protein Prescription for Women Over 40

The importance of Protein for Women Over 40

Protein is so important for staying strong, vibrant, and unstoppable as you age. As we get older, our bodies undergo many changes – one being the gradual and progressive loss of muscle mass, otherwise known as sarcopoenia1. This starts in your 30's and continues, moving a little faster once you hit perimenopause and the decline of your sex hormones.

Muscle degeneration impacts daily activities and is strongly associated with a greater incidence of injury (cue dramatic music)1 . But it’s not all doom and gloom, we just need to change up our lifestyle a bit and be more aware of how we can build more muscle. Incorporating strength training exercises and consuming sufficient protein can help counteract this loss, preserving muscle mass and strength2.

Longevity and Metabolic Health

Studies have shown that a protein-packed diet can help ward off those pesky age-related diseases, keep your bones strong as steel, and even give your skin that enviable glow. So, think of protein as your fountain of youth. Collagen is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. So, when you chow down on protein-rich foods like chicken, fish, beans, and nuts, you're not just fuelling your muscles – you're also giving your skin a boost by providing the raw materials it needs to produce collagen and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles3.

By preserving muscle mass and keeping you feeling fuller for longer, protein consumption helps sustain metabolic rate, thereby supporting weight management and reducing the risk of metabolic disorders such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases4. Think of it a bit like a car. The bigger the engine, the more fuel it will burn. It's just the same with your body. Muscle burns more calories, so the more muscle you have, the more energy you will burn, even while resting.

Protein-rich foods also contain essential nutrients necessary for cellular cleaning and repair, which help to maintain our energy levels as we age5. Therefore, incorporating good quality protein sources into your diet (see below) not only promotes muscle strength and skin health but also fosters metabolic wellbeing and cellular longevity in women approaching their 40s. Who knew protein was such a multitasker? 

How much protein do you really need in your 40's?

Generally, for women in their 40s, shooting for around 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day is the sweet spot. Depending on your body weight you should likely be aiming for 20-30 grams of protein per meal.

What does that look like...

3 x large eggs = approx 18 grams of protein

1 x can of tuna = approx 20 grams of protein

100 grams of cooked chicken = approx 31 grams of protein

100 grams of lean beef = approx 26 grams of protein

Protein powder - look for powders that offer between 20-30 grams of protein per serving...usually around 2 tablespoons. 

What are the best types of protein for navigating perimenopause?

Not all proteins are created equal, and when it comes to fulfilling the nutritional needs of women over 40, quality matters. Including a variety of complete protein sources in your diet ensures you get the essential nutrients your body needs:

Lean Meats: Lean meats like chicken, turkey, and fish provide complete protein along with iron, zinc, and B vitamins. While lean red meats such as beef and lamb can be beneficial, especially during heavy menstruation, moderation is key to minimise saturated fat intake and reduce the risk of cardiovascular issues.

Eggs: Eggs are a powerhouse of protein, also packing vitamin D and choline for bone health and cognitive function. Greek yogurt and cottage cheese offer convenient options with protein, calcium, and probiotics for gut health. Aim for three eggs per meal to ensure sufficient protein!

Plant Proteins: For plant-based protein, legumes like beans, lentils, and chickpeas are rich in both protein and fibre, keeping you full and nourished. Tofu and tempeh, derived from soy, are versatile protein sources suitable for various dishes.

Wholegrains: Wholegrains like quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat are not only protein-rich but also gluten-free, packed with nutrients like magnesium and iron. Their high fibre content helps regulate blood sugar, stabilizing mood.

Fatty fish: such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines provide protein and omega-3 fatty acids, offering relief from symptoms like hot flashes and mood swings.

Chia seeds and flaxseeds: Besides being protein-rich, contain omega-3 fatty acids that combat inflammation and support brain health.

Collagen peptides: Tasteless and easily incorporated into beverages or soups, offer a solution to declining collagen production as we age. Supplementing with collagen protein supports collagen synthesis, addressing issues like wrinkles, joint pain, and bone loss in our 40s.

Some Ways You Can Use Protein Powder in Foods:

Incorporating protein powder into your diet can be a convenient way to boost your protein intake, especially for busy women on the go. Protein powder can be added to a variety of foods, including smoothies, porridge and baked goods (see some example recipes below):

Chocolate Protein Smoothie

1 banana

5-6 ice cubes

1 scoop of chocolate protein powder

1 tbsp peanut butter

1tsp cinnamon

1tsp maple syrup / honey

½ cup of milk of choice / coconut water

Blitz together and enjoy!


Chocolate Porridge

1 cup of oats

2 cups of water

1tsp cinnamon

2tbsp chocolate protein powder

4tbsp milk of choice

Toppings: Banana, almonds, cacao nibs

Stir all the ingredients — except for the protein powder and milk— ⁠in a saucepan on low heat until creamy.⁠ ⁠Meanwhile prepare your protein cream by whisking together the protein powder and oat milk until there are no lumps.

Once porridge achieves the desired consistency,⁠ remove it from heat and add in the protein cream, mix well. Transfer it into your bowl.⁠


Chocolate Protein Cookies

90g dairy free butter

100g dark muscovado sugar

2tbsp milk of choice

90g self-raising flour

30g chocolate protein powder

30g hazlenuts roughly chopped

½ tsp baking powder

Pinch of sea salt

Chocolate chunks to top the cookies

6 tsp chocolate hazelnut spread

Line a baking tray with baking parchment and spoon 6 individual teaspoons of chocolate hazelnut spread onto a tray. Pop in the freezer for an hour to harden.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light in colour.
Add the milk and whisk until combined.

Mix the remaining ingredients together in a bowl (excluding the chocolate chunks) and once combined add to the wet mixture and mix until you form a cookie dough.

Split the cookie dough into six equal pieces, it should be firm, but not too crumbly and not too wet.

Roll each piece of cookie dough into a ball, flatten with the palm of your hand. Place a teaspoon of the frozen chocolate hazelnut spread in the centre. Wrap the cookie dough around it so it is encased in the mix. Continue to do with the five remaining pieces.

Place the cookie dough well-spaced out on baking trays and bake for 10 minutes in a preheated oven at 180 °c. Take the cookies out whilst they are still a little soft as they will harden as they cool.

Press the chocolate chunks into the dough whilst the cookies are still warm and enjoy!



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