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Healthy Ageing: The Importance of Protein Intake During Menopause

During menopause, the female body changes in several ways. Bones begin to weaken, the amount of skeletal muscle decreases, and the risk of cardiovascular disease increases. The good news is that an active lifestyle and a healthy diet can help. In this article, we look at the combined effects of physical training and high-quality protein

Let’s start with the protein

Proteins are the building blocks of your muscle and bones and they play an important role in starting your body’s muscle building processes. Unfortunately, the ability to use protein declines with age, making it harder to maintain the important skeletal muscles. This condition is known as sarcopenia.

Physical activity and resistance training are highly important for counteracting age-related muscle loss. And you should pay close attention to getting enough protein every day. A daily supplement of whey protein, a high-quality protein derived from milk, is something worth considering as it has many proven positive effects that contribute to maintaining muscle as you get older.

Older women are at risk of not getting enough protein in their diet

Unfortunately, it seems that many older women don’t get enough protein, which has a negative impact on their health. In a large study with 387 women aged 60-90 years, 25% of participants didn’t reach the recommended protein intake1. This lower intake of protein was also linked to poorer physical performance and higher body fat in the participants.

Collagen protein is a popular supplement for skin, but if you want to support muscle health, whey is the preferred protein source

Collagen is a popular supplement among mature women. However, a study actually shows that whey protein is more effective in influencing the muscles’ readiness to grow. Whey protein was especially effective when taken in combination with exercise2.

Whey enhances the effects of resistance training in older women

A study that followed a group of older women over 12 weeks of weight training showed that participants who took 35 grams of whey protein increased their strength, muscle mass and walking capacity more than participants taking 35 grams of carbohydrate3.

Whey can help the amounts of lean and fat mass in older women

A study showed that whey protein had a positive effect on both the amounts of lean and fat mass of the women who took part in the study. Participants who took 35 grams of whey protein increased lean mass and prevented a gain in fat mass over 18 months, compared to participants who took 35 grams of carbohydrate4. Whey protein was also even more effective at optimizing body composition in combination with exercise. Women who took 35 grams of whey protein after weight training reduced total body and trunk fat more than those who took carbohydrate over 12 weeks5.

Whey can enhance the benefits of moderate intensity exercise

Even though numerous studies show that physical exercise is one of the best ways to fight age-related muscle loss, the good news is that even exercise of moderate intensity has an effect. And whey protein is efficient in helping you get the effects of moderate intensity training. In a six-month study, the combination of 22 grams of whey after resistance training at home using only body weight and elastic bands increased muscle mass, strength, and walking speed in a group of older women6.

Postmenopausal women are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease7. But whey protein can help reduce markers of cardiovascular risk

During menopause, the female body undergoes a series of changes. And some of these changes, for instance an increase in cholesterol levels, accelerate the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Whey protein has been shown to help counteract some of these risk factors by lowering cholesterol level and blood pressure. In a study, a daily dose of two servings of 28 grams of whey protein reduced blood pressure and blood fats in participants with mildly elevated blood pressure8.

Women can experience thinning hair as they age9

As a part of menopause, the hormones of the body change and this change can result in hair getting thinner. This is a common occurrence experienced by up to 60% of all women before the age of 60. Whey protein contains the sulphur amino acids methionine and cysteine2, which are part of the major hair protein, keratin9. In addition to its health benefits, whey protein also provides your hair with important building blocks.

So, even though you can’t turn back time, there are still ways to stay stronger and healthier as you get older. For example, numerous studies have shown how living an active life and making sure you get enough high quality-protein every day make a positive difference.

If you’re in doubt about whether you’re getting enough protein, whey protein, which is a complete protein, can be a good supplement. And to make it easy to incorporate it into your daily life, here on WheyForLiving.com you will find a number of delicious and healthy recipes using whey protein.


  1. L Gregorio, J Brindisi, A Kleppinger, R Sullivan, K M Mangano, J D Bihuniak, A M Kenny, J E Kerstetter, K L Insogna Adequate dietary protein is associated with better physical performance among post-menopausal women 60-90 years . J Nutr Health Aging. 2014;18(2):155-60.
  2. Sara Y Oikawa, Michael J Kamal, Erin K Webb, Chris McGlory, Steven K Baker, Stuart M Phillips. Am Whey protein but not collagen peptides stimulate acute and longer-term muscle protein synthesis with and without resistance exercise in healthy older women: a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Nutr. 2020 Mar 1;111(3):708-718. 
  3. Hellen C G Nabuco, Crisieli M Tomeleri, Paulo Sugihara Junior, Rodrigo R Fernandes, Edilaine F Cavalcante, Melissa Antunes, Alex S Ribeiro, Denilson C Teixeira, Analiza M Silva, Luís B Sardinha, Edilson S Cyrino. Effects of Whey Protein Supplementation Pre- or Post-Resistance Training on Muscle Mass, Muscular Strength, and Functional Capacity in Pre-Conditioned Older Women: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Nutrients. 2018 May 3;10(5):563.
  4. Violeta Stojkovic, Christine A Simpson, Rebecca R Sullivan, Anna Maria Cusano, Jane E Kerstetter, Anne M Kenny, Karl L Insogna, Jessica D Bihuniak. The Effect of Dietary Glycemic Properties on Markers of Inflammation, Insulin Resistance, and Body Composition in Postmenopausal American Women: An Ancillary Study from a Multicenter Protein Supplementation Trial. Nutrients. 2017 May 11;9(5):484. 
  5. H C G Nabuco, C M Tomeleri, P Sugihara Junior, R R Fernandes, E F Cavalcante, D Venturini, D S Barbosa, A M Silva, L B Sardinha, E S Cyrino. Effects of pre- or post-exercise whey protein supplementation on body fat and metabolic and inflammatory profile in pre-conditioned older women: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2019 Mar;29(3):290-300.
  6. Hiroyasu Mori, Yasunobu Tokuda. Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2018 Sep;18(9):1398-1404. Effect of whey protein supplementation after resistance exercise on the muscle mass and physical function of healthy older women: A randomized controlled trial
  7. Anjana R Nair, Aiswarya J Pillai, Nandini Nair. Curr Cardiol Rev. 2021;17(4). Cardiovascular Changes in Menopause.
  8. Ágnes A Fekete 1 2, Carlotta Giromini 3, Yianna Chatzidiakou 1, D Ian Givens 2, Julie A Lovegrove 4. Whey protein lowers blood pressure and improves endothelial function and lipid biomarkers in adults with prehypertension and mild hypertension: results from the chronic Whey2Go randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Dec;104(6):1534-1544.
  9. Zuzanna Sabina Goluch-Koniuszy. Nutrition of women with hair loss problem during the period of menopause. Prz Menopauzalny 2016 Mar;15(1):56-61.
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