Why protein powders give women and men the boost they need to power up their training and exercise regimes

It’s well known that as we get older we lose muscle mass – but could protein supplements provide the key to building strength and staying stronger for longer?This is paid for content, readers are encouraged to seek NHS advice before taking any supplements.

Matt Durkin, product developer at British sports nutrition brand SCI-MX, says they can, and the company has partnered with a nutritionist who is an advocate for a high-protein diet and a fan of protein supplements.

“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

The company commissioned a survey to test our attitudes and feelings on a whole host of exercise and diet-related questions – including the use of protein powders and supplements. Over 100 people from Edinburgh took part in the survey, which involved more than 1,000 people across the country. They were quizzed by Censuswide Research Consultants in October last year.

Results of the survey showed 50% of Brits reporting a positive shift in societal attitudes towards women who engage in strength training or weightlifting, with 55% saying there had been a shift in celebrating physically stronger women.

More than two-thirds (67%) of women say they’re more likely to pick up weights in the gym, with 31% saying lifting weights is now part of their exercise routines. But when it comes to protein powders, women are less sure of their ground.

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 for power

To help explain the power of protein and to debunk some of the myths around protein powders and supplements, SCI-MX partnered with nutritionist Kate Withington, who is a firm believer in their 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.

“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. 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.”

Nutritionist Kate Withington

Matt said: “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.”

Kate shared her take on what a protein-rich day could look like

Kate’s tips

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.

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