Even if you are doing it all “right” on your hormone balance journey, too little protein can derail your results.  all of your results. And guess what, most women are vastly under-eating it too.

Protein serves as the building blocks for our body and for our hormones. In fact, it plays an essential role in regulating our menstrual cycle, supporting the liver in detoxifying hormones, stabilizing blood sugar levels and improving insulin function, and regulating estrogen imbalance via lean mass development.

It’s a true superfood.

Why You Need to Eat Enough Protein

Protein is the key to regulating hormones and when your hormones are balanced – your health falls into place perfectly. Because hormones regulate everything from your metabolic function, ovulation and fertility, menstruation, mood, productivity levels, desire to socialize, ability to workout, and so much more.

Protein provides the building blocks for many of our hormones – especially those that regulate your reproductive health (like ovulation).

Low protein diets are shown to decrease levels of:

🥚 Follicle Stimulating Hormone (which is needed to develop a follicle into an egg for ovulation)

🤰 Progesterone (which is a key fertility hormone and estrogen regulator produced after ovulation)

😖 Cortisol (your stress hormone and a fat-storage hormone)

💪 Testosterone (which is a key hormone for ovulation, lean mass, and body composition)

↘️ Decrease insulin function (which can lead to blood sugar imbalance, diabetes, and fat storage)

😁 Serotonin and dopamine (your happy hormones because your body cannot make enough neurotransmitters)

Protein is also essential in supporting healthy liver function – which is your body’s natural detoxification system. It is responsible for eliminating toxins and excess hormones from the body. Without adequate protein intake, the liver struggles to eliminate estrogen and other toxins which can lead to huge disruption and estrogen dominance.

It is also required to build lean mass. In fact, without adequate protein, your body will not build it because it is too energy-expensive to maintain. Muscle is highly metabolic, for every 1 lb. of lean mass you have you burn about ~50 more calories at rest. It also replaces fat cells, and fat cells store and make their own estrogen (adding to estrogen imbalance).

So yes, you’re reading this correctly. You literally can have imbalances with ALL hormones when your protein intake is low. And that, my friend, is a recipe for disaster.

Signs You Aren’t Eating Enough 

But how do you know if you are not getting enough protein? Two ways – looking at your symptoms and looking at your current daily intake.

A couple of questions you can ask yourself:

❓ Do you feel satiated after eating?

❓ Are you recovering well from your workouts?

❓ Do you feel plagued by sugar and salt cravings every day?

❓ Do you currently struggle with hormone imbalances, PMS, or irregular cycles?

If YES – these are all potential signs that you’re not consuming adequate amounts.

Symptoms that your protein intake is too low:

  • You cannot build muscle
  • Your body is unwilling to lose weight or body fat
  • You have increased fat storage in the midsection
  • You have muscle fatigue and weakness
  • Thinning hair and brittle nails
  • Frequent infections/getting sick
  • You have poor posture
  • You have swelling in your feet, legs, and hands
  • You have mood swings like feeling depressed or overly aggressive

So let’s dive into what you can do about it so you can start feeling your best every single day!

How Much Do You REALLY Need?

The RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for protein is 0.8g/kg. However, it is not that black and white.

You need to factor in your goals (lose weight, gain mass, performance, pregnancy), your age/height, activity levels, and hormonal demands at each cycle phase. For example, metabolic demand is higher in your menstrual phase. Metabolic demand is lower in your ovulatory phase, but protein demand is higher. These factors and missing these marks can lead to hormone and system disruption.

On top of that, you need to factor in your Current Metabolic Threshold (CMT). Current metabolic threshold is the intake that you are currently at. If you were to add a ton of calories and macros to your diet in a stressed and inefficient metabolic state – your body is likely going to store ALL as fat, rather than use it effectively. This is what I call metabolic down-regulation.

Which is what we don’t want. While you can get a general idea here of your goals – the best approach is to move through a structured cycle-synced reverse diet that factors in your CMT, your goals, and your metabolic fluctuations to adapt your intake progressively and deliver insane results.

We can work together to establish your personalized recommendations.

How to Get More Protein In Each Day

It can feel overwhelming to try to eat this much, but there are simple and effective ways to add more protein to your day to hit your marks and transform your hormones.

The easiest way is to add a medium source of protein at each and every meal. I recommend complete proteins when possible (for vegetarians, this means you need to pair properly!) to ensure it is useable for your body.

In fact, animal protein is the only complete source of protein and research has found that vegetarian sources of protein absorb at a 40% rate lower. So if you are vegetarian, it means you likely need almost double the protein to make sure it is usable in your body.

So helpful ideas:

  1. Add 1 egg + egg whites to your breakfast for higher protein and moderate fat options. You can even warm up sausage too.
  2. Add grilled chicken to your salad or even use a rotisserie chicken if you hate to cook.
  3. Have cottage cheese or Greek yogurt as easy snacks.
  4. Slowly increase your protein serving by 0.2-0.5 ounces per meal to get used to eating more.
  5. Use protein powders to make smoothies or have easy protein shakes on the go. This is my favorite brand here.

Ready to drop inches and ditch symptoms this summer?

Are you ready to feel confident this summer 🔥, shed inches 📏, have energy ⚡, and not let symptoms hold you back 👊 – all without sacrificing your favorite things? ❤️💚💛

If YES then kickstart your journey with a FREE discovery call 📞 to discuss your goals and get tailored strategies to focus on.

Or if you are ready to start your hormone balance journey, enroll in one of my Hormone Balance Coaching Programs for tailored support.

Tasha is an Integrative Clinical Nutritionist, B.S., CPT, Pilates Instructor, and Founder of Happy Hormone Health. She has coached 2000 women in reclaiming their energy, living symptom-free and transforming their health through hormone balance nutrition. Start your hormone balance journey with customized hormone balance coaching. 

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