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Protein gains: not just for the men

Women are underrepresented in many areas of research. This study focuses specifically on female physique athletes to see how high vs. low protein intake affects fat-free mass.

Study under review: Effects of High vs. Low Protein Intake on Body Composition and Maximal Strength in Aspiring Female Physique Athletes Engaging in an 8-Week Resistance Training Program

Introduction

A tremendous amount of research has been conducted to identify the optimal range of protein intake for a variety of populations and health goals. NERD editors have dug through much of this data to create protein recommendations for sedentary and active adults looking to lose fat, build muscle, or simply maintain a healthy weight.

For example, strength training is a popular recreational activity and mandatory aspect of many sports, such as bodybuilding. The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) recommends[1] that athletes and active adults consume 1.4–2.0 grams per kilogram of bodyweight (g/kg) to optimize recovery from training and to promote the growth and maintenance of lean mass. One would expect protein requirements of recreational runners, professional swimmers, and amateur bodybuilders to differ significantly, which is why a range for protein is provided.

Still, sport-specificity represents one of the major gaps in contemporary sports nutrition research. Making evidence-based recommendations for athletes can therefore be difficult due to the diversity of sports they may compete in. Similarly, most sports nutrition research is conducted on men, leaving women with the short end of the stick.

Physique bodybuilding is a popular sport among many women, which requires intense control over diet and training to achieve low body fat while building more muscle. So, how much protein should women be consuming to accomplish that goal? The study under review sought to find out.

There is a dearth of research on female athletes regarding protein requirements. The study under review investigated how dietary protein affects body composition in female physique athletes.

Who and what was studied?

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The big picture

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Other Articles in Issue #42 (April 2018)