Protein hype: shoppers flushing fund down the toilet, say experts

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Consumers fuelling demand for high-protein products unlikely to see any benefits as people already feed more protein than they need, say dietitians

The UKs rocketing demand for high-protein products is being fuelled by consumers buying foods unlikely to deliver the benefits they are seeking, experts have said.

Weetabix, Shreddies, Mars, Snickers and Batchelors Cup a Soup were among the brands that launched improved protein versions this year as the trend hit the mainstream.

Many supermarkets have introduced dedicated segments for higher-protein products and, according to Euromonitor, the market for sports protein products alone which omits most of the mainstream brands is expected to hit 413 m this year and virtually 750 m( in todays fund) in five years time.

But experts have warned that consumers, particularly gym-goers, are falling victim to clever marketing.

Meet,

Meat, fish and eggs. Experts say most people get enough protein through food. Photograph: grinvalds/ Getty Images/ iStockphoto

Anna Daniels, a dietitian and British Dietetic Association spokeswoman, said: People have a fallacy they do need more protein whereas actually the majority of us are getting adequate protein our requirements are quite low. If youre an athlete you will have higher requirements but you can still get onto from eggs, yoghurt, meat.The majority of us who go to the gym for an hour a couple of times a week, theres no need to be having additional protein we[ already] get from a balanced healthy diet.

Public Health England( PHE) guidelines indicate a protein intake for 19 – to 64 -year-olds of 55.5 g for both men and 45 g for women, although experts say this will vary according to weight( the US Institute of Medicine stipulates a minimum of 0.8 g per kg of body weight per day ).

The PHE guidelines equate to getting approximately 11% of the recommended number of calories from protein, whereas in agreement with the National Diet and Nutrition survey, the actual figure for adults is 17% to 18%.

Dr Alison Tedstone, PHE chief nutritionist, said: The majority of people are consuming much more than the recommended daily allowance of protein through their everyday diet. So even if you hit the gym regularly, spending money on protein supplements is unlikely to bringing any additional benefit.

According to the Euromonitor figures, which cover ready-to-drink liquors, protein powders and protein bars with a minimum of 20 g of protein, the athletics nutrition marketplace has grown by about 160% since 2011. Another market analyst, Nielsen, said there was a 63% rise in sale of protein bars in 2015, compared with the previous 12 months, while Mintel figures, published in August, said there had been 40% more launchings of high-protein products this year compared with 2015.

Tom Sanders, prof emeritus of nutrition and dietetics at Kings College London, said people were being taken in by nutri-babble. Theres been a lot of hype in gyms pushing high-protein shakes, theres also a need to get rid of a waste product from the dairy industry, which is whey protein, he said. Its a lot of crap, a route of selling a inexpensive product at a high price.

Danny Commane, a lecturer in nutritional science at the University of Reading, said while there was some proof suggesting that feeing more protein could help increase muscle mass, the fact that people were already eating so much more than they needed built supplements unnecessary. He has worked with the successful GB rowing team, some of whom he said do not take protein supplements despite consuming 6,000 calories a day.

Its clever marketing, said Commane. Unless youre doing extreme exercise or pursuing extreme lifestyle aims, you dont require extra protein.

As excess protein is excreted through urine, people who are devouring too much are effectively flushing their money down the toilet, according to the experts.

This also stimulates it unlikely that they are doing themselves harm unless they already have kidney illnes but it could be problematic if high protein intake replaces other foods important for good health such as fruit, vegetables and wholegrains, they said. A plenty of the products are high in sugar, low in fiber, theyre not healthy options for customers, said Daniels.

Darren Beale founder of musclefood.com, which specialises in lean meat but also sells high-protein pizzas, chocolate and even brew said gym-goers increasingly want to control what they put in their body.

Are people eating too much protein? Depends on their health or fitness aim, he said. Theres research showing that a diet high in protein can help build muscle mass, but there has to be a macro balance with carbs and fat. Our entire objective is to provide products which make it easier for customers to stick to their healthy eating plan.

None of the manufacturers of products mentioned in the article addressed the issue of the high amount of protein already in UK diets when contacted by the Guardian.

A Food and Drink Federation spokesman said: Food producers are responding to an increasing demand from consumers for high-protein food and beverages, which can be consumed as part of a healthy lifestyle. There is also some evidence that foods high in proteins can help us feel full for longer increasing satiety and aiding appetite control and this may be helpful for people trying to balance their energy intake. Protein content will always be clearly labelled, usually alongside how much of an adults recommended intake this represents, to assist consumers make informed choices.

A Mars spokeswoman said its bars were designed to be a post-workout treat, to be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. Weetabix said protein at breakfast assist govern appetite and daily food intake.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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