Protein for Women Over 40: Why It’s Crucial & How Much You Need

Protein for Women Over 40: Why It’s Crucial & How Much You Need

Protein for Women Over 40: Why It’s Crucial & How Much You Need

Is it true that women over 40 need to eat more protein? Yes! Because we experience changes in muscle mass, bone density, hormones, and metabolism.

You probably know the signs:

  • Your metabolism has taken a permanent vacation, making it harder to shed those extra pounds despite your best efforts.
  • Lifting groceries suddenly feels like a weightlifting competition, and you wonder where all that strength from your younger years went.
  • You feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster, ready to laugh, cry, or snap at any given moment. Is it just you, or has the world gone bananas?
  • Your once iron-clad stomach now revolts against your favorite foods—and buying the “fruity” antacids feels like you’re giving yourself a treat.
  • You swear that just looking at a cupcake makes your pants feel tighter.
  • The idea of a “girls’ night” that lasts past 9 pm sounds as appealing as a root canal.

My friend, welcome to midlife. 

The good news is that high-quality protein can help counteract the downward spiral known as Middle Age Deficiency Syndrome (MADS).

But most of us aren’t getting the right amount of protein to support our changing bodies.

For instance, the average woman eats about 60-70g daily of protein – far below the 90-120g now required for preserving health. 

Falling short on protein leads to so many things that we often think it is part of the “normal aging process” but it’s actually the side effects of not getting enough protein on a daily basis. This can often leave us feeling drained, softening muscle strength, unstable blood sugar levels, thinning hair, hot flashes, night sweats, and other effects.

6 Reasons Protein is Important for Women Over 40

1. Protein Feeds Beneficial Gut Bacteria

Consuming high-quality, amino-acid-rich protein sources feeds specific beneficial bacteria strains like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria in the microbiome. These bacteria produce vitamins, hormones, and compounds that reduce inflammation across the body. Getting adequate clean protein also helps avoid harmful bacterial overgrowth and protein deficiency, which are more prevalent after age 40 and can negatively impact overall health. 

2. Protein Preserves Muscle Mass

Starting in midlife, women lose 3-5% of muscle mass per decade. This is due to the natural waning of estrogen and human growth hormone. Consuming more protein delivers amino acids that help stave off age-related muscle loss, allowing you to maintain strength for daily activities.

3. Protein Powers Energy 

As women age, various factors, such as mitochondrial depletion and increased inflammation, contribute to a decline in energy levels. The right protein intake balances glucose levels, avoiding energy crashes. This helps manage hunger and cravings, lowering the risk of weight gain and diabetes. When women eat sufficient protein spaced throughout meals and snacks, it sustains steady energy offered by amino acids entering the bloodstream slowly and steadily compared to quick-burst carbs. Think of protein as a time-release power capsule! Cravings and energy lags diminish, so you can power through the day focused and motivated.

4. Protein Supports Bone Health

Higher protein assists the body in properly utilizing vitamin D and calcium to strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis down the line. Women over 40 lose bone mass more quickly, so getting enough protein enhances calcium absorption and activates vitamin D to strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis.

5. Protein Regulates Female Hormones

Protein influences estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, and thyroid hormones. 

Shifting estrogen and progesterone levels during perimenopause and menopause set off troublesome symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and irritability. Research reveals that higher protein intake helps optimize hormone regulation, effectively reducing the severity of temperature swings and emotional shifts.  

6. Protein Helps Control Middle-Age Weight Creep

According to studies, higher protein intake is crucial for maintaining a healthy metabolism and managing weight as we advance through our 40s and 50s. Higher protein increases feelings of fullness while keeping hunger hormones in check, leading to lowered calorie intake (AKA less snacking throughout the day).

Additionally, protein’s amino acids require 25-30% more energy for the body to break down than fats and carbs. 

This means higher calorie burn, making it easier to tip the “calories in vs calories out” scale toward weight loss or maintenance. Eating more high-quality protein from clean sources can also help minimize calorie-burning lean muscle mass loss as women age. 

Preserving metabolism-boosting muscle through sufficient protein is vital in preventing middle-age weight gain.

Exactly How Much Protein Do Women Need?

Most women require 90-120g grams of high-quality protein from clean sources daily after age 40.

Calculate your needs with the simple formula:

Your weight in pounds x 0.7 = daily grams of protein  

For example, a 135-pound woman needs 98g of protein to meet your daily protein requirements.

Here’s the math: 135 pounds x 0.7 = 94.5 grams.

Divide this over three meals and snacks. That may look like this:

  • Breakfast: 25g  
  • Snack: 12.25g
  • Lunch: 20g   
  • Snack: 12.25g
  • Dinner: 25g

Adapt this framework according to your unique weight to get adequate protein. 

Here is an example of what you can eat to hit those protein goals.



  • Grilled chicken breast salad with avocado, mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers (quinoa or brown rice on the side)
  • Tuna salad sandwich – 3oz tuna + lettuce, tomato on whole grain bread
  • Veggie saute with 6 oz Leftover steak from last night’s dinner



Of course, adjust portion sizes based on your individual nutritional needs and goals.

Don’t forget to drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and aid digestion, making it easier for your body to process all that delicious protein.

Now’s the time to bust out your collection of Stanleys!

Protein-Rich Foods to Include in Your Healthy Diet

Animal-Based Proteins

Animal products protein offer a complete array of essential amino acids. Meats such as beef, pork, lamb, and poultry like chicken and turkey provide ample protein women over 40 need. Additionally, eggs, fish, and shellfish serve as rich protein sources. 

Of course, carnivores need to be exceptionally selective regarding the animal products they consume. If you don’t choose wisely, you’re actually adding toxins that increase inflammation! With all the different labels these days (grass-fed, organic, hormone-free, free range, the list goes on!), it can be hard to know what to choose.

So I’ll make it super easy for you.

Next time you go grocery shopping, choose the Organic ground beef or poultry option. 

Here are three reasons you should: 

  1. Organic meat comes from animals raised according to strict organic farming standards set by authorized certification bodies
  2. Organic livestock must have access to the outdoors and be provided with organic feed free from synthetic pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), antibiotics, and growth hormones
  3. The Organic label ensures that the meat is produced using environmentally friendly practices and without synthetic chemicals

When you are looking at salmon, you want to opt for Wild-Caught Salmon

These salmon are typically caught in the wild in Alaska. The breeds you want to grab when you find them are Coho Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, and King Salmon. They hatch in native streams, rivers, or the ocean and mature in their natural aquatic habitats, always native to the region where they were caught. 

Don’t be fooled by “Wild Salmon” – it’s not the same as Wild-CAUGHT Salmon. Fish farmers intentionally label it that way to trick you! 

Bean & Legume Proteins

Combining protein with carbohydrates, beans, and legumes are nutrient-dense options. Lentils, black beans, and kidney beans contain essential vitamins and minerals like folate (B9), potassium, iron, and magnesium and are excellent sources of fiber, too, which is crucial for women over 40. 

Let’s dive deep into these critical nutrients:

  • Folate (B9): B9 helps prevent neural tube defects in babies if a woman becomes pregnant. Since pregnancy risks increase with age, maintaining adequate folate levels is important for women who may still be in their childbearing years. Additionally, folate plays a vital role in reducing the risk of heart disease, which becomes a more significant concern as women age. Folate is also essential for healthy brain function, which can help offset cognitive decline associated with aging. *Do not confuse Folate with synthetic and toxic Folic Acid. Be a label reader and look for this important distinction in your B complex and multivitamins. 
  • Potassium: Potassium helps regulate blood pressure, which becomes increasingly important as women age and become more susceptible to high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular issues. Adequate potassium intake can lower blood pressure levels and counterbalance the effects of sodium.
  • Iron: Iron is necessary to form hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to tissues throughout the body. Iron deficiency becomes more common in women as they age, especially after menopause, due to decreased absorption and changes in the menstrual cycle. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, causing fatigue, weakness, and difficulty concentrating.
  • Magnesium: Magnesium is involved in numerous bodily functions, including bone health, muscle function, and energy metabolism. After menopause, women are at an increased risk of osteoporosis, a condition characterized by weakened bones. Magnesium plays an important role in bone density and may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Additionally, magnesium can help alleviate muscle cramps, which become more common with age.

Plant Proteins

While plant proteins may lack some essential amino acids individually, they still contribute to a balanced diet

Options include beans, grains, and vegetables like dark leafy greens (collard greens and spinach), cruciferous veggies (broccoli and Brussels sprouts), and legumes. Tofu, tempeh, and spirulina are notable plant-based protein sources.

Dairy Proteins

While dairy is unnecessary to include in a balanced diet, products like raw milk and greek yogurt are excellent sources of protein and carbohydrates. If you’re a charcuterie lover, you should know that cheeses are particularly protein-rich. (I know, the best news you’ve heard all day, right?) 

However, not everyone can digest dairy properly, so lactose-intolerant and dairy sensitive individuals may choose non-cow dairy alternatives such as goat and sheep. Whatever you choose, it’s ideal to choose Organic, which is better for your gut and overall health.

Nuts & Seed Proteins

Rich in protein and healthy fats, nuts and seeds are nutrient powerhouses. They also boast an array of vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, zinc, selenium, and copper. They’re perfect snack options—or you can add them to lean meats like chicken, turkey, fish, or a salad for extra crunch and flavor.

Protein Powders

Protein powders are versatile additions to various foods, especially smoothies, ideal for increasing protein intake. They’re ideal for those with diverse dietary preferences and needs. You can choose from animal-based forms like whey, casein, and egg or plant-based options such as soy, rice, pea, hemp, and sprouted grains. However, not all protein powders are created equal. This brand is my favorite because it’s a non-GMO bone broth based product, and the beef is from animals raised in Sweden without hormones or antibiotics.

Protein Recommendations for Women Over 40

I totally get that it can feel overwhelming to try to essentially double your protein intake, so here are some tips to help make it easier—and effective—as you make the switch.

  • Consume some protein at every meal to help maintain balanced blood sugar levels, spreading your daily protein intake throughout the day. 
  • Bone Broth Protein Powder is a fabulous option because the body quickly absorbs it. This makes it ideal for post-workout muscle recovery, especially if you are strength training.
  • Skinless chicken breast is a wonderful lean protein source. It’s high in protein and low in fat, making it an excellent choice for those looking to lose weight and keep energy high.
  • Greek yogurt is great for on-the-go snacks because it’s packed with protein and contains probiotics, which are beneficial for gut health. That said, be mindful of brands that sneak in added sugar, which zaps your energy and increases systemwide inflammation. If you are sensitive to cow dairy, then try goat or sheep milk options.
  • Protein bars are the perfect protein option if your lifestyle has you constantly on the go. They are small enough for your gym bag or purse. However, just like protein powders, not all bars are ideal. Some are essentially undercover candy bars! This is my favorite brand because each one is a perfectly formulated functional food designed to support  overall gut, immune, joint, skin and overall health. 

If you want to feel like you are in your 20s with the energy to actually enjoy those girls’ nights…

…feed your body the right kind of protein each day!

Not only will it give you all-day, long-lasting, natural energy (no spikes or dips!), but you’ll also have healthy muscle mass, control your weight, keep cardiovascular disease at bay, and have a strong immune system. It sounds like a win-win to me!

While, of course, you can totally do this on your own, for many women, we already have enough on our plates. Working with a professional who can “prescribe” a custom-tailored solution offers a much better solution. 

If that sounds like you, let’s see if we’re a good fit. 

Functional medicine works when you actually follow through. And while I can’t be there whipping you up a salmon salad every day (wouldn’t that be lovely?) I CAN help give you a blueprint to follow.

Take your first step here.

Take Good Care,

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