By: Gigi Grimes
Photos by: Caroline Geithner
Imagine you walk into an apartment and there’s a giant tub of whey protein on the counter; who do you envision lives there? If you’re like me, you’re probably imagining some guys who live in Vil A, wear cut t-shirts to Yates, and only have Domino’s pizza and beer in the fridge. But what if I told you that this apartment actually is home to four girls? You guessed it, it’s actually my apartment.
Nearly every time someone comes into my room, they comment on the large, black tub of whey protein powder sitting next to my shelf. After flashing a look of disbelief, they ask, “getting swole?” Usually I laugh off their jokes and move on, but it does irk me – why do people think it’s so weird for girls to use protein powder? Men have held a monopoly on protein for years, from hefty steaks to high protein shakes, making it a daunting industry for women. Yet, during a time when athleisure and a fitness craze has swept the country, why are women still dismissed from the protein industry? Most of the health foods marketed towards women signal weight loss, not strength, which contributes to the misconceptions surrounding protein powder. When all of your bulky guy friends are using it to gain weight, why would you?
To be honest, I was admittedly skeptical when a doctor first told me that to strengthen my knee post-surgery, I’d need to increase my protein intake significantly. However, despite my skepticism, I reluctantly complied. Now, after using protein powder almost daily for several years and seeing its benefits, I’m trying to “de-scoop” some of the common misconceptions associated with women and protein.
- Protein powder will make you bulky.
If you’ve ever eaten meat, eggs, greek yogurt, or legumes before, you’ve encountered high protein foods that probably haven’t made you bulky. There’s nothing specifically in protein powder that encourages bulkiness. Rather, the people who frequently use it (men), have higher rates of testosterone, which promotes bigger muscles. For women, who have lower levels of testosterone, using protein powder is more likely to encourage the growth of lean muscle (à la Michelle Obama’s arms). Overall, whether it comes in the form of a protein shake or your sweetgreen salad, protein is protein.
- All that protein isn’t nutritionally good for you.
Chances are, if you’re a woman, you’re not getting enough protein already. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that athletes consume between 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. While this may not seem like a lot, for a 140 pound woman, this could be between 76 and 108 grams per day. With the average American woman still only consuming about 46 grams of protein per day, protein powder can serve as a quick and efficient way to fill the gap.
- People only need to use protein powder when they’re trying to lose weight or bulk up.
This is like saying if you’re not interested in losing weight, you don’t need to exercise. Just as exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle, so is a balanced diet. As mentioned before, most women aren’t getting enough protein anyway, so including a protein powder in your daily ritual can actually promote a more balanced diet. This can lead to fewer cravings, lasting energy, and faster recovery from workouts.
- I can’t eat protein powder because I don’t eat meat.
Lucky for everyone, protein powder is sourced from a variety of animal and plant products, making it adaptable to almost any diet. Plant-based protein powder sourced from peas, soy, and rice are a great substitute for non-meat eaters or those allergic to dairy. Moreover, many protein powders include servings of fruits, veggies, and vitamins that can help fulfill some of the recommended daily requirements in only one serving, #efficiency!
Even if you’re not trying to “get swole” or lose weight, protein powder can be an important and transformative addition to your daily routine. By promoting a balanced diet, protein powder can cause some amazing improvements in your health from fewer cravings to a JLo-esque booty. So ladies, let’s start embracing our strength and our fitness needs, and prove that girls can run the world and the gym.