Protein supplements important for muscle strength for men and women – we bust the myths

Women are avoiding protein powders over fears they may make them ‘too bulky’ or worry about safety – and it’s time to bust the myths.This is paid for content, readers are encouraged to seek NHS advice before taking any supplements.

Although the number of women crunching weights at the gym is on the rise, the number reaping the benefits of protein supplements isn’t keeping pace.

“Placing more importance on protein intake is a good recommendation for most adults, no matter their gender, because we become less receptive to protein intake as we age. This means we need a relatively higher protein intake to maintain muscle. This is one of the reasons why we see a steady decline of lean mass every decade following our thirties.”

Matt Durkin, product developer at British sports nutrition brand SCI-MX

A recent survey showed a quarter (28%) of women have avoided or hesitated using protein powder because they’re concerned about gaining too much muscle mass. 

The survey was carried out by Censuswide Research Consultants on behalf of British sports nutrition brand SCI-MX, last October and involved over 1,000 participants, including 234 from the West Midlands.

Matt explained that current protein recommendations for the general population was to eat 0.8g per kg of body mass, but he recommended increasing that to 1.2g/kg to help preserve muscle mass.

“Protein is only one part of the equation,” he said. “Everyone should be performing muscle-strengthening exercises frequently to stimulate the body to build or maintain muscle. For those engaging in regular exercise and looking to build or maintain muscle then a significantly higher amount of 1.6-2.0g/kg is recommended. Getting this amount of protein requires a conscious effort and good planning and this is where protein supplementation and working with a nutritionist can help.”

It seems society is embracing fitter, stronger, women, with over half of those surveyed (55%) saying they believed there had been a shift in society’s attitude. Results also showed 67% were now likely to pick up weights in the gym and almost a third (31%) picking up weights as part of their exercise routines.

But they’re not as keen to pick up a protein powder. In fact, more than a quarter (28%) of women have avoided or hesitated using protein powder because they’re concerned about gaining too much muscle mass.

Celebrating strength

Nutritionist Kate Withington, is an advocate for high-protein diets. She has teamed up with SCI-MX to help educate people on its benefits.

“It’s amazing to see that so many women now feel comfortable using weights within the gym – it’s been a long time coming! I think the societal shift in celebrating physically strong women has really helped with this change, although we clearly have more work to do when it comes to nutrition given the research from SCI-MX reveals a clear gap in knowledge when it comes to protein.

Nutritionist Kate Withington

She said in the past protein powders and high protein snacks had been aimed at those looking to bulk up, but even for people who want to lose weight and tone up, protein is important, and she recommended using a protein powder.

“Whey is one of my top supplements as it’s such a quick and convenient way to increase protein intake,” she said.

She advises including protein-rich foods in every meal and including protein as additional snacks.

Kate set out what a high-protein diet might look like in a day.

Increase your protein intake:

. Breakfast: protein smoothie made with one scoop of strawberry protein powder, frozen berries and milk.

. Lunch: tuna and sweetcorn baked potato with salad. I love to use Greek yoghurt instead of mayo to increase protein content further and reduce calories.

. Afternoon snack: cottage cheese on rice cakes with some mixed seeds.

. Dinner: salmon goodness bowl. Salmon fillet with quinoa, broccoli and edamame beans.

. Evening snack: Greek yoghurt with berries.

Try to stick to snacks which are high in protein – these could include hard-boiled eggs, tuna lettuce cups, cottage cheese, edamame beans and beef jerky.

Find out more

To find out more about SCI-MX and its range of high-protein products visit the website here