Plus navigating the various diets and their protein recommendations when trying to fix your period, get pregnant, or boost your libido
However, so many of the new and popular diets are either extremely protein-heavy or they ignore protein altogether. We do need protein, just not as much as you might think.
A lack of protein causes us to age prematurely, both in how we look and feel and in terms of our biological age - our eggs and fertility.
Different bodies need different kinds of protein and at different times of the cycle. You have to experiment to find your perfect protein prescription.
The vegan dilemma
My friend, Alex Jamieson, author of the new book Women, Food and Desire was vegan for 13 years before she realized that, for her personally, avoiding meat and animal products entirely was doing harm to her health. Her book is all about how listening to your body can lead you to feeling great. Alex found her hormonal health issues were down to a lack of protein and her body told her to remedy this by eating meat again. She did, and she felt much better for it.
If I could be vegan, personally, I would for ethical reasons. But my body just can’t absorb the amino acids in vegan protein sources very well. This is true for a lot of us. If you do choose to be vegan for ethical reasons, I totally get it. However, you shouldn’t do it to try to lose weight. There are plenty of understandable ethical reasons to be vegan that I respect and it is certainly possible to find non-animal sources of protein to fill this gap (more later!) if that’s the lifestyle you choose. However, if you have been trying to be vegan as a health experiment, excellent - you just may need to keep experimenting with protein until you find the combination that makes you look and feel amazing, vital, and gorgeous!
Finding your perfect protein prescription - it’s about your hormones not dietary theories!
I have tried everything! I’ve tried being vegan, raw, and I’ve also tried just eating eggs, only cutting out red meat, and eating only fish. I experimented for a long time with proteins before finding a way of eating that worked. I played around with the protein in my diet to find a good match. The thing is, different bodies absorb protein differently. But more importantly, it was my cycle that led me to understand finally how to balance the protein equation once and for all! You see, we women need to eat protein in different types and quantities at different times of the month!
Women come to FLOliving.com after having tried being all sorts of the big diet theories for their PCOS, PMS, Fibroids, and Infertility. Often times they report that they may initially feel good, but then their symptoms come back and they don’t understand what they’re doing wrong.
Let’s look at some common diet configurations and their protein guidelines and my personal experience with them:
Ketosis Diets - high in protein, low in carbs, moderate in fats - my experience is that this feels great at first - because you feel like you’re doing the perfect ‘proper’ diet plan - and you get excited to lose weight, but then when your hormones shift mid cycle - it’s impossible to fight your carb cravings and major falling off the wagon, binge carbing ensues.
Paleo - high in protein, high fat, no grains, emphasis on carb substitutes like coconut flour breads, etc - has so many great elements - eating all whole, real food - love all the gluten free baking options! Super high calorie, and all the fat and protein becomes challenging to break down in parts of the cycle where estrogen is peaking.
Vegan/Macrobiotic - high grain, low protein, moderate fats, high legumes. Great for cleaning up house internally - decreasing inflammation all around. But the glycemic impact and lack of amino acids can be problematic for hormonal conditions.
Fundamentally, what’s wrong here is that none of these diets fluctuate based on your hormonal patterns. You see, you’re supposed to eat their way daily without any regard for the fact that you have different nutritional, digestive, micronutrient, and hormonal needs each week of the month.
FLO Diet - vegan, fish, egg proteins first half of month, poultry, bison, lamb second half of the month - based on what your body needs, when it needs it! Pause for collective sigh of relief by dieting women and their ovaries everywhere! 😉
When it comes to protein, the best way that I have found is to base it on where you are in the cycle. So you get the best of all of the diet configurations but you keep your hormones at the center of your food choices.
Random Fun Fact: I’m completely obsessed with wartime England and their national food program. It was developed because people got so sick left on their own during the first world war that the government wanted to ensure a healthier population and workforce for the second. They were meticulous in their research on the most appropriate balance of nutrition for everyone. During World War II, as I’m sure you know, food was rationed within the UK. The people who ate this limited diet ended up being the healthiest population to ever live in the country. That generation went on the live far longer than previous and future generations.
One of the cornerstones of this diet was the small amount of protein that was available on a weekly basis. The rations included just one real egg per week, but powdered egg every morning. There would be fish, some liver, and some tongue for animal protein. Then there were highly coveted, very limited good fats in good quality lard or butter. But the bulk of the rations were made up of barley, oats and whole wheat, root vegetables of all kinds, and hearty leafy greens. It was primarily a vegetarian diet. The following generation launched into processed food consumption and precipitously suffered greatly from a diet of processed food and increasing amounts of protein.
The real deal with eggs
As outlined by Blue Zones one of the common denominators between populations with longevity around the world is the consumption of eggs. People who live good long lives tend to be eating a good lot of eggs. That’s because eggs are the most easily assimilated bio-available protein source. This means they’re a great source of protein for every body!
Watch this story of Ernestine Shepard, 77, the oldest female body builder and how many eggs she eats a day!
Despite the myths we hear, eggs do not cause high cholesterol. It’s actually sugar that does that. The high quality fat in an egg actually protects you from heart health problems.
A two whole egg omelette or scramble a couple of times per week will give you a sufficient amount of protein. Make sure to put that good protein to work. Excess consumption of protein does eventually convert into sugars - so make sure you exercise to get the most benefit from your protein.
The three best vegan protein sources
If you are vegan, here are my three favorites:
- Pea protein - this is a complete protein that provides all of the amino acids you need. Other plant proteins do not supply the complete set of amino acids. Pea protein can keep you feeling fuller for longer and give you a boost of energy for workouts.
- Sacha Inchi - this plant grows in the Amazon rainforests in Peru and is rich in not only protein but also Omega-3 fatty acids (important if you don’t eat fish or eggs). Also known as the mountain peanut, it can be eaten as a snack or used in oil form on salads.
- Hemp protein - another great source of amino acids and omegas and fiber!
What about RICE, WHEY, and SOY protein powder?
I don’t recommend these ever as so many women are lactose intolerant estrogen dominant, and hypoglycemic and with these protein powder options that can make your symptoms worse.
Good things come in threes:
I want to hear from you!
First, what’s your favorite protein source? Which one didn’t work for you?
Second, what are your favorite ways to eat eggs? Share your recipes with us!
Third, you know every one you know is hormonal – spread a little good ovary karma and share this article on social by clicking the buttons below
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