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How much protein pre-menopausal athletes need?

Summary of a systematic review of studies on the optimal protein intake in recreational and competitive female athletes.

Who

204 recreationally active or competetive pre-menopausal female athletes (cycling, triathlon, physique, rowing, ice hockey, volleyball, dance, resistance training, basketball).

pre-menopausal womanwoman aged between 18 and 45 years who did not go through menopause.

Design

Systematic review of 14 studies.

Outcome measures/tests

  • protein requirements
  • menstrual cycle phases
  • hormonal contraceptives use

Main results

How much protein pre-menopausal athletes need - Infographic

  • Protein requirements during different phases of menstrual cycle or during hormonal contracteption could not be assessed due to not enough research.
  • In resistance and intermittent exercise, pre- and post-exercise protein intake of 0.32-0.38 g/kg yield beneficial physiological effects for recreational and competitive female athletes (4 studies). Type of protein (whey vs. casein) did not affect maximal strength or body composition.
  • Also, estimated daily protein intake per kg of body mass depends on the activity type:
Type of activity*
endurance (3 studies)
resistance (3 studies)
intermittent exercise (1 study)
Protein needs [g protein/kg/day]
Type of activity*
1.28 - 1.63
endurance (3 studies)
1.49
resistance (3 studies)
1.41

Take home message

For a clinician
Women before menoupause should aim at 0.32-0.38 g of protein per kg of body mass before and after the exercise session to support their exercise and body composition. Type of protein (casein vs. whey) does not seem to matter.
For a parent
Women before menoupause should aim at 0.32-0.38 g of protein per kg of body mass before and after the exercise session to support their exercise and body composition.
For an athlete
Women before menoupause should aim at 0.32-0.38 g of protein per kg of body mass before and after the exercise session to support their exercise and body composition.

Original article

Mercer D, Convit L, Condo D, Carr AJ, Hamilton DL, Slater G, Snipe RM. Protein Requirements of Pre-Menopausal Female Athletes: Systematic Literature Review. Nutrients. 2020 Nov;12(11):3527.

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