Glance through the window of any fitness center, and you will probably witness scores of gym-enthusiasts imbibing protein shakes. Many people understand the reason for such behavior: protein aids in building muscle composition and strength. Women can supply their bodies with a powerful resource by jumping on the protein shake bandwagon.
One of the most popular reasons women increase their protein intake is to lose weight. Normally, women's bodies must burn carbohydrates for energy. When a woman chooses to eat a diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates, her metabolism begins to burn fat. This is called Ketosis. Once the body has reached ketosis, many women also report a decreased appetite.
Protein is so important to the human body that it is scientifically classified as a "macronutrient." A macronutrient is something women's bodies need in large amounts to thrive. In contrast, micronutrients, like minerals and vitamins, are only required in minor amounts. Women's bodies have the ability to store macronutrients like carbohydrates and lipids; however, women cannot store protein. For this reason, women need to make sure they get enough protein in their diet every day.
Another key function of protein in women's bodies is restoration. Women's muscles and tissue use protein to heal and replenish. It is a myth that protein builds muscle, only exercise can do that; however, protein is needed for muscle repair. When women exercise their muscles they develop microscopic tears in the tissue. Protein is needed to repair these tears, thus strengthening the muscle.
Protein is important to women for other bodily functions as well. Women's bodies need protein to generate healthy skin and nails. Protein also helps women's bodies create hormones and vital enzymes that keep them running efficiently. Women's bones use protein to grow strong and healthy. Even women's hearts need biochemical material that is created with the aid of protein.
Protein shakes usually contain a high percentage of the nutrient in the form of soy, whey or casein. Many fitness experts recommend whey protein because it is known to contain the highest biological value (BV). BV is determined by the amount of human protein in grams that can be replaced by 100 grams of supplemented protein. Protein contained in shakes is believed to be more quickly digested than the protein contained in food, because it takes women's bodies longer to break down solids into their components. As a result, drinking a protein shake after a workout speeds the protein to its much needed destination within women's muscles.
Despite the benefits of protein to a woman's body, experts caution against excessive amounts. Protein can deplete a body's store of calcium, which is vital to a woman's bones in order to prevent osteoporosis. Also, high amounts of protein can cause women's bodies to produce excess ammonia, but to date there are no extensive studies regarding the long-term effects of too much ammonia in women's systems. Women should consume no more than two servings, or 6 oz., of protein shakes per day.