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The supplement industry has a marred reputation and rightly so. Far too often it’s about a quick buck rather than products that help people achieve their goals and maintain optimal health. We felt it necessary to write this article, as we’re so worn out with seeing protein products aimed specifically at women, as if they are a whole different species from men and not capable of making a conscious decision unless the colour pink is involved.

Lets start by ironing out a few important points on protein:

1. Protein is a macronutrient found in almost all the foods you eat
2. We all need protein for healthy growth and development.
3. Protein helps maintain and repair all tissues in the body including muscles, organs, bones, skin, hair, nails and eyes.
4. Protein forms antibodies that help fight infection and disease.
5. Protein builds hormones.
6. Protein is a source of energy.
7. Protein helps transport oxygen throughout the body.
8. Whey protein is a protein found in cow's milk, making up about 20% of the milk. The remaining 80% is made up of casein protein.
9. By definition, whey is the liquid substance obtained by separating the coagulum from milk or cream in cheese making.
10. You don’t have to consume protein from whey, but whey is the most biologically active source of protein (in other words, it will be more effective).
11. Whey protein and other sources of protein are not akin to steroids.
12. Whey protein and other sources of protein won’t suddenly turn you into the hulk.
13. Whey protein and other sources of protein will help you to recover better from your workout.
14. A tub of whey protein (or other source) with a pink label, is no different from the tub of protein with a blue, black, green or fluorescent orange label.
15. Buying a tub of protein with a pink label and a fancy sounding “feminine” name will have no different effects than buying a tub of protein with a blue, black, green or fluorescent orange label.
16. The quality of protein powders varies wildly and is not affected by the label (see here)

Instead of driving home this useful information, the supplement industry fully embraced the chicanery of prettifying their proteins to make them more appealing to women. “Look.” they said. "It’s pink… it’s for you!” Simultaneously insulting the intelligence of female customers by reinforcing a stereotype whilst capitalising on the emotive term diet to sell a thrown together batch of powder.

We are of course talking about the numerous “female friendly” diet whey formulations available, which when viewed more closely, are exactly the same formulation as the product with the black label aimed at men. There’s nothing wrong with the colour pink, wear it till your hearts content, it’s just not a great indicator of protein quality

Thankfully, the trend seems to be dying as the perpetrators realise their mistake. That said, women remain a target for the bullshit boys of the supplement industry.

Another faux pas comes in the form of  “meal replacements”. Essentially, these are all-in-one products which contain all three macronutrients (protein, fats and carbs), along with a matrix of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Products of this type can be found on the various websites of supplement companies across the world and are not gender specific….until (for some bizarre reason) a supplement company adds in the words “meal replacement” and a hint of pink on the label, at which point the product is now aimed exclusively at women. We’d just like to ask the question... why?

Why does a formulation including whey protein, maltodextrin (or other carb source), various vitamins, minerals and other nutrients suddenly become a meal replacement when aimed at women, but remains an all-in-one when aimed at men? What are these companies trying to say about women? Do women not have the capacity to eat real food? Do women need to see the words meal replacement to convince them the product will help them in some way? Again, this seems extremely condescending to us.

Looking closer at certain "female friendly" labels, we can see the addition of “buzz” ingredients such as pomegranate, cranberry, acai etc. which are no doubt with their benefits, but wouldn’t be out of place in an all-in-one blend aimed at men either. These ingredients are for human beings and as both men and women are human beings, there is no reason (aside from marketing) why these ingredients should be aimed specifically at women. We understand certain ratios may be more beneficial for women (especially if you're attempting to get/or are pregnant) than for men and this is demonstrated with the various vitamin and mineral complexes tailored to these needs, but stop with the gender specific protein blends!

Consider this, you sit down to eat a meal with your boyfriend/husband/sex slave and in front of you is a chicken breast accompanied by sweet potato, kale, spinach, carrot, beetroot and a drizzle of olive oil.

The same plate is in front of your partner. Going off the rationale of these “female friendly” supplement companies, the nutritional profile of this meal is not right for you as a women! The only difference (not in all cases, as some women are beasts) would be the portion size; the actual ratios of the nutrients in this meal are the same for both you and your other half. What we are getting at here, is you wouldn’t suddenly add spinach to your plate just because you’re a women concerned with her folic acid intake (the beetroot takes care of this anyway), you would simply scoff down the delightful grub,and be content that you resisted ordering a Dominos. And if you are concerned with certain nutrient intake because you're attempting to get pregnant, or are already harbouring a fugitive, then you'd be doing yourself and your unborn baby a disservice by using "meal replacements" anyway.

Further inspection of product labels aimed at women reveals the presence of soy protein in pretty much every blend, as well as the absence of creatine and important nitric oxide boosters. Let’s just quickly clarify: Soy is a cheap alternative to whey, and blends containing this do so, not because the supplement company has the best interests of women at heart, but because they have profit margins in mind! Not only is soy a cheap addition from a manufacturers point of view, it has nowhere near the biological activity of whey protein - if you want to opt for a plant based protein, then take a look at pea, which is a much better option, not least because pea isn't GMO, unlike soy (90%+ of the world's soy is classed as being a genetically modified organism).

Creatine is naturally occurring in the human body (yep, that means women too) and is manufactured primarily in the liver, kidneys and pancreas, before being transported to every cell in the body, via the bloodstream and used in energy processes. Therefore, creatine is important for both men and women, especially those who regularly partake in exercise.

Nitric oxide is naturally occurring in the human body and is synthesised from the amino acid L-arginine. Nitric oxide boosters such as arginine alpha-ketogluturate increase this production, allowing for increased delivery of oxygen rich blood around the body and thus aiding muscle function during your workouts. By boosting the body's natural production of nitric oxide, you also improve nerve signalling and immune function, as well as the rate at which muscle tissues repair after training. Why then, would you not want to include these nutrients in your all-in-one (meal replacement) shake? It seems by omitting these, companies are having women over, whilst men reap all the benefits from their workouts….makes no sense!

Don’t fall for the tricks ladies, demand quality from your supplements and dye your hair pink instead.

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