Recent meta-analyses agree that athletes need a daily protein intake higher than that indicated by the official daily recommendations (RDA) of 0.8 g / kg / d.
As physical activity increases, the greater the importance of the proteins ingested from the diet to provide the necessary amino acids to meet training demands. Although a minimum protein intake of ~ 1.6 to a maximum of 2.2 g / kg / d seems to be the most determining variable for maintaining or gaining muscle mass in both women and men, and only small differences could be achieved by adhering to protein supplements, from a practical point of view, in athletes seeking to achieve the maximum possible performance, a slight improvement in results induced by a higher protein intake at certain times of the day (before, during and post-training), although not statistically significant, could still represent a substantial difference in athletes.
In women, the estrogen-induced protein-sparing effect reaches its peak towards the end of the luteal phase, antagonizing the general catabolic effect induced by the higher concentration progesterone that predominates in this phase). These hormonal fluctuations are associated with small protein metabolism variations, which may alter their protein needs. However, to date, it has not been indicated that women’s protein needs to change substantially in the different phases of the menstrual cycle.
Recomended daily intake:
Recent studies suggest that female athletes’ daily protein intake would be between 1.7 and 1.9 g / kg in team sports and strength, respectively. Although these values are somewhat lower than those indicated (~ 2.1 g / kg / d) by other researchers analyzing similar populations, they are always within the range indicated by the Positioning of the American College of Sports Sciences to be consumed by physically active people (i.e., 1.2– 2.0 g / kg / d). It should be noted that these recommendations are mainly based on studies with men. It is currently accepted that there are minimal but no relevant differences in the needs for protein intake between men and women.
Although current research cannot yet precisely analyze what an ideal proportion of protein supplements in the diet might be. The convenience of integrating high-quality protein preparations in athletes’ diets should be considered a valid alternative to favor training adaptations and avoid suboptimal diets that do not satisfy individual needs in people exposed to high physiological demands.
The use of high-quality protein supplements can help female athletes to maintain an ideal protein intake in unusual situations when access to traditional food sources (chicken, turkey, eggs, or meat) is more complicated, for example, before, during, or immediately after training.