We all know we need protein in our diet in order to build muscle and enable our bodies to function optimally – but despite this, many women in the US still aren’t getting enough. This is affecting our overall health – but it’s also bad news for our hormones.

Protein is necessary for many different processes within the body – but what a lot of women aren’t aware of is its impact on our hormone levels. It’s true that hormone balance requires a multi-faceted and measured approach – and one of the keys to a hormone-healthy diet is eating sufficient amounts of protein on a daily basis.

East/West Way founder Doctor Taz is passionate about raising awareness around the simple yet powerful ways we can supercharge (or sabotage) our hormone health with our diet and lifestyle choices. Here we explain more about the importance of protein, and how our daily protein intake can influence hormone health positively or negatively.

Why is protein intake so important?

Alongside other essential macronutrients, protein enables our bodies to function optimally. It provides the basic building blocks for our connective tissues, hair, bones, muscles and nails, as well as supporting various systems in the body such as appetite, recovery and metabolism.

Numerous studies have investigated how important protein is for women specifically – and the findings have consistently shown a variety of crucial benefits associated with higher protein intake such as optimal metabolism function and balanced energy levels.

Women with higher protein diets have been found to have higher bone density and muscle mass, lower blood pressure and lower weight compared with those with insufficient protein intake. Protein also regulates ghrelin, the hunger hormone and dopamine, helping to reduce cravings to accelerate and maintain weight loss.

How does protein intake affect my hormones?

As protein is an essential nutrient, it has a complex role to play within many different areas of the body – including our hormones. Some hormones are proteins – like insulin and oxytocin. Protein helps our hormones to communicate with different parts of the body, as well as being a crucial component in the synthesis of hormone production in the pituitary gland which influences levels of estrogen, testosterone and progesterone.

This is one reason why insufficient protein intake is particularly bad news for women. In studies, low protein diets have been linked to low growth hormone, low estrogen levels, lack of ovulation, irregular menstrual cycles and compromised thyroid function.

There is also a secondary impact of insufficient protein intake associated with weight gain – linked to impaired blood sugar balance, hormone synthesis and DNA repair. Obese and overweight women are more at risk of developing hormonal imbalances and disorders and suffer more intense PMT and menopause symptoms – particularly those carrying weight around the middle. Women with PCOS are most commonly affected by weight gain, blood sugar imbalance and metabolic disruption.

Although low protein isn’t the cause of conditions like PCOS, our complex cycles can easily be disrupted by daily issues such as stress, poor diet and insufficient movement – and lifestyle changes can be one of the most effective ways to remedy a hormonal imbalance. This is good news – because it means there’s plenty you can do to help restore hormone balance and feel better as a result.

How much protein should I eat per day?

The daily recommended intake of protein for the average woman is 45g – this is based on 0.75g of protein per kilo of bodyweight. But everyone’s protein requirements are unique and depend on various factors including your fitness, activity levels and appetite. If you engage in light to moderate exercise aim for 50-60g per day – but if you have a hard-hitting fitness regime 80-90g or more may be required.

Protein-rich foods for hormone balance

Protein can be found in plenty of nutritious whole foods – it should be easy to get enough when you’re eating a balanced diet. Great sources of hormone-healthy protein include:

*Lean corn-fed poultry: Poultry is low in fat and high in protein, featuring collagen and B12 for a healthy gut and skin, hair and nails. Opt for organic corn-fed poultry where possible for maximum benefits.

*Eggs: Rich in protein, eggs are a quick and easy way to up your protein intake as a snack or as part of a meal.

New Improved HORMONE HELPER - Supports healthy hormone balance to look and feel your best.*Fatty fish: Packed with healthy fats and omega-3, fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are great sources of whole protein and can be eaten at any meal or as a snack.

*Nuts and seeds: Easy to grab on the go, nuts and seeds can also be incorporated into meals and bakes to add a sprinkle of supplementary protein alongside a healthy dose of good fats and fiber.

*Tofu and tempeh: For a low-fat plant-based option tofu and tempeh are excellent choices – with up to 25g of protein per 100g.

Are you getting enough protein?

Want to learn more about the importance of protein and how it contributes to overall health? Head over to doctortaz.com now and take a look at our protein blog here to learn more about how much protein you really need and find out whether you’re getting enough each day. For daily support with hormone balance, check out our Hormone Helper blend here.