The Truth About Protein Supplements

In 2016 the global protein supplements market size was valued at USD $12.4 billion and according to research is expected to rise at a rate of 6.3% per year over the next 8 years. With the increased consumer awareness on maintaining a heal diet and leading an active lifestyle, there are expectations of significant growth in the coming years. This couple with the increased innovation of manufacture, delivery and variation of recipe will only increase growth exponentially in this market type.

Sources of Protein Supplements

Protein supplements can be sourced from 2 high level sources, they can either be plant based or animal based. Examples of plant-based protein sources include Lentils, Chia, Quinoa or Soy and examples of animal-based protein sources include Eggs, Dairy, Fish, Poultry or Meat.

Animal Based

Animal-based protein sources are considered the most efficient as they contain the essential amino acids required for muscle stimulation and growth. They are also easily broken down by the human body because being animal based they are similar to the protein found within the human body and more easily broken down.


Whey is one of the most common animal-based protein sources that is included in protein supplement products and is manufactured from the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained.


Casein is also made from the by-product of heating milk and is the most abundant protein within milk. Casein is more gelatinous in form, is typically digested slower than Whey and therefore has a slower rate of release into the body.

Plant Based

Plant-based protein sources are considered incomplete as they lack the essential amino acids that protein is broken down to provide and, in most cases, can impede muscle growth rather than stimulate it.

Pea Proteins

Pea protein powder is most commonly manufactured by drying and grounding peas into a fine flour, mixing with water, and removing the fibre and starch, leaving mostly just protein remaining.

Soy Protein

Soy is one of the most common plant-based protein sources that is included in protein supplement products and this is because Soy based products such as tofu, tempeh, and edamame are among the richest sources of protein from a plant-based source.

Protein Supplement Product Types

Protein Supplements can be provided and presented in a few different ways, they can be marketed as ‘Ready to Drink’ beverages, Snack Bars, Powders or incorporated into other food products such as pancake mixes.

Protein Powders

Protein powders are mostly commonly made from either Whey, Casein or Soy but can also be made from other sources such as Peas. Protein Powders are most often consumed by mixing with water or milk and consumed during or after a workout routine to assist with muscle repair. Protein Powders are usually flavored and can range in a large variety dependant on the consumers taste.

Protein Bars

Protein Bars are not always consumed as a supplement, in some cases, they are consumed as a meal or a snack replacement for unhealthier choices. This is largely because they are a healthier alternative to a candy or chocolate snack and because of their low fat or low carbohydrate content.

Ready to Drink

‘Ready to drink’ Protein products are essentially pre-mixed protein powders, they are most commonly egg, soy or whey-based protein drinks that are stored in the refrigerator section of convenience stores or supermarkets. Ready to Drink products are generally more expensive than Protein Powders per serving at a retail level however are still popular for an on-the-go protein drink.


Other Protein products that are available in the market place include, pancake mixes, puddings and yoghurts. These are either ready to consume products or take-home products that require some preparation. These products can either have naturally occurring Proteins included within their contents as in the example of yoghurts where the process of manufacture allows for increase protein cultivation or have protein rich ingredients added to it as in the example of puddings and pancake mixes.

Distribution Channels

Protein supplements are available in all product types through all usual retail outlets including, Supermarkets, Online Stores and Direct to Consumer retails stores. Other distribution channels can include vending machine and pharmaceutical or health food distributors.

Online Stores

Online stores make up the bulk of the distribution of Protein Supplements and typically sell provide protein powders to the consumer. This is because they are cheaper in bulk quantities, require less storage of inventory and often include delivery direct to the consumer.

Direct to Consumer stores

Direct to Consumer are stores that provide Protein supplements in all their forms directly to the consumer. It is their main purpose, often compliment an online store and have more cost-effective products as they do not require logistics and shipping.


Supermarkets are now stocking a larger range of protein supplements but mostly consist of ready to drink beverages, protein bars and protein powders in smaller volumes.



Protein supplements generally have 2 main uses, they can be either used as a meal replacement as part of a weight-loss diet regime or used for sports nutrition for muscle growth and repair.

The Protein intake required can range depending on the demographic of the group and its use. Typically sedentary men and women are at the lower end of the range in terms of consumption requirements and tend to only need 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per kilogram of weight per day, whereas men and women that perform resistance training are at the higher end of the scale in terms of their consumption requirements and tend to require as much as 1.5 to 1.8 grams per kilogram of weigh per day.

Muscle Repair

Protein to help your body recover after working out and is considered essential as part of muscle growth as Proteins are needed to build connective tissue, cell membranes and muscle cells. This primary function being to repair and rebuild the tissues of your body, including damaged muscle fibres, by supplying your cells with protein building blocks called amino acids.

By delivering your body a constant supply of Protein throughout the entire day is essential for optimum muscle growth. Without any Protein in your system it would be impossible to build, repair or even maintain muscle tissue.

Meal Replacement

Meal replacement protein products do exactly what they say, they are meant to be used consumed as a substitute to a meal. Protein supplements on their own are usually low in calories, and many contain low amounts of carbohydrates and fat, so they don’t contain all the nutrients your body needs to constitute a complete meal. However, most meal replacement protein supplements are designed for weight loss, and even though may not contain same amount of nutrients of a complete meal, they can still contain the essential nutrients that your body needs for consumption.

It should also be noted that a high protein diet does not necessarily constitute weight loss in an individual and the specific requirements of any given person should be considered.

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