How protein supplements & powders can help women and men build strong muscles – busting the myths

Attitudes to weight training and strength for women are changing – but it seems women are still lagging behind when it comes to understanding the power of protein.This is paid for content, readers are encouraged to seek NHS advice before taking any supplements.

A recent research paper shows that while a third of women (31%) are regularly lifting weights in the gym; they are not ready to pick up protein powders.

When it comes to our diets, the research showed 42% of Brits thought there were misconceptions surrounding protein powder and its impact on women’s bodies – with over a quarter (28%) believing it would make them gain too much muscle, and ‘bulk them up’.

But nutritionist Kate Withington wants to put right those misconceptions, and has set out to educate the nation on the benefits of having a high-protein diet.

“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

“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.”

The research was done in October last year. Over 1,000 people were surveyed by Censuswide Research Consultants on behalf of SCI-MX, and figures were broadly similar for those in the 108 people quizzed in the North East, as the rest of the country.

The survey showed half (50%) of Brits had seen a positive shift in societal attitudes towards women who engage in strength training or weightlifting, with 55% saying there’s been a shift in celebrating physically stronger women.

It also highlighted more than two-thirds (67%) of women said they’re more likely to pick up weights in the gym than a few years ago, with 31% saying lifting weights is now part of their exercise routines.

For this reason, and to celebrate physically stronger women, the British nutrition brand has partnered with nutritionist Kate, who advocates including protein-rich foods at every meal and snacking on protein-rich foods too.

She told us what a high-protein diet day might look like

Kate's tips

Daily diet for protein power

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 said: “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. 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.”

Let’s hear it for the girls (and the boys!)

Matt Durkin, product developer at SCI-MX, said we become less receptive to protein intake as we age – and that’s the same for any gender – so we need a relatively higher protein intake to maintain muscle.

“It’s one of the reasons why we see a steady decline of lean mass every decade following our thirties,” he 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.”

Find out more

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