Whether you're working out, trying to lose weight or concerned about your protein intake for health reasons, you might consider adding a protein drink to your diet. The best option is the one that fits your lifestyle, taste and health needs. Consult your doctor or dietitian to help you determine the best drink for you.
Protein Needs for Women
How much protein you need depends on your body size, health status and activity. The recommended dietary allowance for protein for women is 0.4 gram per pound of body weight, or 48 grams for a 120-pound woman. Women who work out have higher protein needs, ranging from 0.5 to 0.8 gram per pound of body weight, or 60 to 96 grams of protein for a 120-pound woman. If you're pregnant or nursing, your needs range from 0.5 to 0.6 gram per pound of body weight, or 75 to 90 grams for a 150-pound woman.
The amount of protein in your protein drink depends on your daily needs and other food choices throughout the day. For a frame of reference, most strength trainers, who have the highest protein needs, aim for 20 grams of protein after their workout.
Ready-made protein drinks are convenient and come in a variety of types. They may be milk- or juice-based or geared for weight loss, muscle gain or meal replacements. The latter will be fortified with vitamins and minerals. The best one for you is the one that fits your needs and tastes. Read the nutrition facts label to help you select the one that fits your protein needs. Look for those that contain high-quality sources of protein such as whey or soy, says a 2014 article published in Today's Dietitian.
Making your own protein drink may take more time and effort, but it gives you more control over what's in your drink. You can make a healthy protein drink using milk or a high-protein plant milk alternative such as soy milk as your base. Add protein powder, nut butters or nonfat dried milk powder for more protein. Then, blend in fruit for flavor, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Save calories and up the nutrition using a fresh vegetable juice as your base and adding a veggie-based protein powder to up the protein in your drink.
Things to Consider
While women do eat a little less protein than men, most women more than adequately meet their daily protein needs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Protein drinks can be high in calories. Consuming more calories than you need can lead to unhealthy weight gain if you're not working out to compensate.
Also, if you're upping your intake of protein, you want to make sure you're also getting enough calcium. Today's Dietitian reports that when protein intake is high and calcium intake is low, it may affect bone health. Women need 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams of calcium a day.