The Triple Protein Effect – T Nation Content – COMMUNITY

by Chris Shugart

Protein Intake for Weight-Lifting Women

Most health experts say that women need 46 grams of protein per day. But what happens if they get more than triple that amount? Let’s find out.

Forty-six grams of protein per day. That’s all the average woman needs. It must be true because the US government says so and is never wrong. Harvard Health, WebMD, and even ChatGPT also regurgitate the 46-gram guideline.

Sure, some of these experts say that athletic women need a smidge more protein, but they need to be careful (according to Harvard) or else they’ll get “bulky.” Oh, dear…

The problem? That number is based on consuming just enough protein to remain modestly functional. Forty-six grams keeps your immune system kinda-sorta healthy, and it’s just enough to facilitate wound healing and avoid having brittle nails. Gosh, what else do women want?

Well, if a woman wants to be more than kinda-sorta-mostly-okay at basic human functioning, she’ll want a lot more protein.

Protein Intake for Women Who Don’t Wanna Be Average

A recent study found that weight-training females are far better off shooting for around 150 grams of protein daily. Let’s dive in:

  1. Scientists recruited a group of women described as “aspiring physique athletes.” These were fairly experienced lifters who wanted to compete in a physique competition within a year.
  2. Half the group was prescribed a lower-protein diet and half a high-protein diet. On average, the lower-protein women consumed 56 grams per day (10 more grams than many “health experts” say to consume, you’ll notice.) The high-protein group consumed about 157 grams of protein per day, with 50 of those grams coming from protein shakes. The formula they used was: 1.15 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
  3. Both groups went through an 8-week supervised training program designed by an IFBB Bikini Pro.
  4. The lower-protein group consumed 1416 calories per day (averaged out). The high-protein group consumed about 1839. All those extra calories in the high-protein group came from protein.

What Happened?

  • The high-protein group gained almost 5 pounds of muscle. The lower-protein group gained just over 1 pound of muscle.
  • The high-protein group lost 2.4 pounds of fat. The low-protein group lost 1.7 pounds.

What Does This Mean?

The high-protein group gained significantly more muscle than the lower-protein group and lost a bit more fat. But let’s look back at the calories each group consumed.

Remember, the high-protein eaters consumed over 400 more calories per day, all from protein, yet they lost more fat than the lower-protein eaters. In short, it’s virtually impossible to gain body fat from additional protein. (Protein even has thermogenic or fat-burning properties.)

Now, we could’ve guessed that the higher-calorie, high-protein group would’ve gained more muscle, but the amount of muscle was surprising: 3.3 pounds to be exact. That’s darned good in just eight weeks.

In a related study, sedentary overweight women experienced similar results. Even without lifting weights, the high-protein eaters gained almost 3 pounds of muscle and lost 2 pounds of fat. The low-protein eaters gained a little fat and lost a little muscle in the same period.

What does this mean? It means weight-lifting women should disregard the “46-grams of protein rule,” gobble down more lean meat, and have a protein shake (Buy at Amazon) every day to get closer to 150 grams. (And if I had to guess, sedentary should at least shoot for 100 grams daily.)

The Protein Shake

The researchers above had the women supplement with generic whey protein isolate. That’s good stuff, but it would be interesting to see the difference a protein powder containing micellar casein would make.

Micellar casein is the only protein shown to be anti-catabolic: not only does it increase protein synthesis, but it also helps prevent muscle breakdown. Alas, researchers are on a budget, so they typically go for less expensive single proteins.

I’d recommend that not-so-average women consume 2-3 scoops of micellar-casein-rich MD Protein (Buy at Amazon) daily to help them reach their protein goals. That adds 44 to 66 grams of protein to their daily diets. The rest is easy to get from regular food.



  1. Campbell, et all. 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, International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise
    Metabolism. DOI.

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