Sales of power bars and powders and supplements are surging – but does anyone really need them?
Protein is big business: as pumped-up as any ripped bodybuilder. The drinks, powders and bars that were once the preserve of top athletes have found their way into suburban kitchens and spawned an industry worth $96bn worldwide. In the UK we spend more than £66m a year on sports nutrition products: recent research found nearly a quarter of us, and 42% of men aged 16-24, had consumed one in the past three months. High street chains sell protein drinks and pots, and last year saw a rise in popularity among women.
But are they worth the hype? Protein supplements are pricey, usually heavily processed and, new research suggests, potentially unnecessary. And is a protein shake any better than a handful of nuts or a chicken breast?