The Power of Protein

The scoop on the vital macronutrient essential to prolonged health and well-being.

Article by Krissy Nevero | July 17, 2023

As you age, your nutritional needs change. This often comes as a surprise to women, particularly those that have been eating in a healthy way that has supported their body for years yet suddenly notice their body composition changing.

These changes come with the natural aging process and declination of hormones. Specifically, the loss of estrogen can impact muscle mass, insulin sensitivity, fat distribution,  digestion and more.

With all these changes to your body, the need for protein increases.

What is protein?

Protein is an essential macronutrient that plays many critical roles in the body. Proteins are made up of amino acids. There are 20 different types of amino acids that can be combined to make a protein, nine of which are essential, meaning our bodies can’t produce them and we must get them from the food we eat.

Protein is often referred to as a “building block” of life and for good reason. It contributes to building and repairing body tissues, including skin, hair, muscles, and organs. It’s also crucial for the production of enzymes that power many chemical reactions in the body.

When you consume protein, your body breaks it down into its component amino acids which are then used to support the following functions.

Protein supports your muscles. Skeletal muscle mass and muscle strength peak in the mid-20s and 30s and then gradually decrease as you age. Skeletal muscle is a crucial tissue for maintaining blood glucose control, energy balance and your overall health. Protein provides the building blocks for muscle repair and growth, helping maintain strength and functionality. So you need protein to maintain muscle as you age.

Protein supports bone health. With declining estrogen levels, bone density decreases. You want to keep your bones healthy and strong as long as possible so you can move around as you age. Strength training has been shown to improve this but protein also plays a significant role. Research suggests that women who consume adequate protein have a lower risk of osteoporosis.

Protein supports healthy metabolism and weight management. Protein causes the largest rise in the thermogenic effect of food, so your body burns more calories digesting protein compared to carbs or fat. Additionally, protein keeps you feeling full longer, reducing the chances of overeating.

Protein supports immune health. Protein contains amino acids that are essential to your immune response. Research has shown that a deficiency of dietary protein or amino acids has long been known to impair immune function and increase the susceptibility of animals and humans to infectious disease.

How much protein do you need?

The right amount of protein differs for everyone. Age, weight, activity level, and overall health are all factors to consider. A general rule of thumb that I use is 1 gram of protein per pound of ideal body weight. However, I always recommend consulting with a healthcare provider before making significant changes to your diet.

Hopefully you’re motivated to increase your protein intake to better support your body. Here are a few tips that I use to make it easier to hit my protein goals:

It’s clear that protein plays an essential role in women’s health, particularly in your 40’s and beyond. I hope this encourages you to reevaluate your protein intake. Remember, adding more protein to your diet doesn’t have to be a challenge. With a little planning you can easily meet your protein needs and you’ll feel better for it. And don’t forget to consider protein-rich foods not just at dinner, but also at breakfast, lunch, and snack times.

Krissy Nevero is a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach based in Sonoma, California. To learn more about Krissy and her services, please visit her website:

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