Adding protein powder to foods such as bread and ice cream is fast becoming the latest nutritional trend for fitness fanatics and those looking to lose weight - but do we really need more protein?
According to Mintel (a market analysis group), creating foods with added protein may be the next big health trend within the UK. Global food science expert Laura-Daisy Jones explains that over the last few years general awareness of protein and its effects has increased considerably. People are seeking out protein for various reasons including help with weight loss and repairing muscles after exercise.
The demand for protein-enriched food started out among the bodybuilding scene in the U.S. Competitors were looking for a more convenient way of consuming protein to repair and grow muscles than eating piles of chicken or fish. This is how protein shakes developed, becoming a popular supplement for those working out muscles regularly.
Mintel believes that this trend is now trickling down to the weight-loss industry. Carbohydrate-based diets have been panned in favour of diets rich in protein, such as the Paleo diet. Protein is favoured in these diets for it's ability to fill consumers up for longer and providing support during exercise.
Food companies have been quick to pick up on this trend, and while many are just adding 'high protein' labels to their food, others are creating protein-enriched foods such as ice cream and bread.
Dr Zak's is an example of a company who has done just this - recently launching a range of high-protein bread in Ocado and independent health stores: "Our target market is people that are into sports and fitness," explains representative Ray Brilus, "Our approach is making everyday foods, such as pasta and bread, that you might avoid if you were training an athlete."
The company hope the range will have a broader appeal, however at £3.99 per loaf, it may remain a product for the truly dedicated fitness fanatics.
So what about the rest of us - do we need to worry about our protein consumption? Dietician Gaynor Brussell explains that at the moment, there is no evidence at all that people are lacking in protein. She agrees that lean protein can be of help to those looking to lose weight, but it is better to get this through natural, whole foods such as chicken, turkey and fish rather than chemically enhanced foods.
Perplexed by protein or confused by carbs? Seeking help from a nutritionist can help you understand what is necessary in your diet for your body and your lifestyle. To find out more about hiring a nutritionist, please see our FAQs section.
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