Should women take protein powder supplements for weight training? Nutritionist gives the facts

Protein is an essential part of our diet – and a high-protein diet is recommended for women who want to lose weight and tone up, according to this nutritionist. This is paid for content, readers are encouraged to seek NHS advice before taking any supplements.

Although women are adding weights to their regular exercise routines (31%), they’re still more wary than their male counterparts when it comes to adding protein to their diet.

But nutritionist Kate Withington wants to educate the nation on the benefits of having a high-protein diet.

In the past, protein powders and high protein snacks have very much been targeted at those looking to bulk, but even for people who want to lose weight and tone up, protein is so important.

Nutritionist Kate Withington

The British sports nutrition brand SCI-MX commissioned a survey to find out more about our attitudes to fitness, weight training and protein supplements. The survey was carried out in October last year and involved over 1,000 people. It was conducted by Censuswide Research Consultants and showed that while 50% of Brits said there had been a shift in societal attitudes to celebrating physically stronger women and 67% of women being more likely to pick up weights in the gym than a few years ago, there was still a lack of understanding about protein and its benefits.

That’s why the brand partnered with nutritionist Kate, who said: “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.”

What the survey shows

Almost a third of women said lifting weights was part of their exercise routine. And although they want to train to become strong (42.25%) over a third don’t believe protein powder would make them stronger (36.2%). The research also showed more than two-fifths (42%) of Brits believe there are misconceptions surrounding protein powder and its impact on women’s bodies.

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.

Protein can help everyone

Product developer at SCI-MX, Matt Durkin, said: “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.

“Current protein recommendation for the general population is to consume 0.8g per kg of body mass, but I would suggest increasing this to around 1.2g/kg to help preserve muscle mass. But protein is only one part of the equation, 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.”

But what does that look like in our daily diet? Kate set out a sample diet plan for a day to show what a high-protein menu could look like.

Example of a high protein daily diet

Include protein-rich foods in every meal and include protein as additional snacks. For example, a day of eating could look like this:

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.

Kate also said people should consider 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. “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.”

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

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