To Supplement or Not? The Truth About Women and Protein

If you’re someone who hits the gym, you understand the benefits of even a quick in-between-classes workout. But how do you recover and make the most of your time spent sweating it out? Valley dug up the truth about protein and debunked the myths behind supplements being for body-builders only.

Junior Chemical Engineering Major and occasional user of protein supplements Jenna Bednar says women won’t get bulked, “manly” muscles from protein because women don’t have the same levels of testosterone as men.

“Protein is not going to be the magic thing that makes you look like a guy,” she says. “You aren’t going to look like a guy unless you really try to.”

Bednar says protein is important because it helps rebuild your muscles and recover from exercise faster. She says taking protein does not make women bulk because women just aren’t geared to look like men.

“If you had a really hard workout and you know you’re going to be sore the next day, protein helps your muscles recover faster,” she says. “It gives them what they need to build new muscles.”

Rather than gaining bigger muscles, Bednar says protein contributes to toning muscles and that deciding whether or not to use protein should come from individual fitness goals.

“If you’re looking to build your muscles, protein is a good option,” she says. “If you are trying to lose weight, diet and exercise are more than fine,

“People shouldn’t be afraid to work out and take protein if they want to,” she says.

Junior Kinesiology Major David Moseley says genetics plus nutritional factors beyond protein contribute to building bigger muscles on men. He says typically protein supplements are to be taken as one gram per pound of lean muscle.

“A guy would be on the upper end of that,” he says. “He would take more calories with his meals also, so going along with genetics, he’ll put on more muscle than a girl would.”

Moseley says a high-protein diet is also an option, but with a larger diet comes larger calorie intake, possibly reversing the end result a woman is seeking from her fitness plan.

“Nutritionally, your calories are either fats, carbs or protein adding up to different amounts of calories,” he says. “Carbs are in almost anything, but if you don’t use them all, they store as fat… it’s good to have a high protein diet because it limits your fat and sugar storage.”

Moseley says a good option for women would be to get as much protein out of their diet as they can and use supplements to cover what deficits remain.

“[Taking protein] directly after a workout is best,” he says.

Along with enhancing exercise performance, Moseley says there are studies showing correlation between protein intake and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Moseley says any type of protein supplement is rich in amino acids – the basis of protein – which contribute to the repair and growth of muscles. He says that although all proteins work similarly, choosing soy or whey protein is a great option.