Why We Need Protein and Knowing your PhD Protein Powder Options 

Why do we need protein and how much should I consume? 

Every cell in our body contains protein. You need protein in your diet as it’s essential for repairing and rebuilding our bodies, especially, muscle post-exercise. Making protein a fundamental nutrient to consider in more depth if you’re an active individual. 

Protein classifies as a macronutrient, with ‘macro’ meaning large quantities. To enable muscle growth alongside exercise, we need to provide our bodies with sufficient protein and energy intake, protein itself only provides about 4kcal of energy per gram which isn’t much, so this is where your other macronutrients are key, but back to protein as that’s our focus today! General recommendations for protein consumption are 0.8g per kg of body weight which typically equates to around 55g per day for males and 45g per day for females but how does this differ for active individuals? 

Current protein recommendations for most exercising individuals varies between 1.4-2.0g per kg of body weight, which is quite a large range and specific need will depend on exercise type, i.e. endurance, strength or mixed. For example, there is some evidence to suggest that >3.0g of protein per kg body weight may elicit positive effects on body composition in resistance-trained individuals, but more evidence is needed to support this greater amount further.  

Although this general 1.4-2.0g per kg body weight for exercising individuals’ range may seem broad, what is certain is that we should aim for our protein intake to be equally distributed throughout the day in different meals. Research suggests that ideally, for optimal muscle protein synthesis this should be every 3-4 hours throughout the day, how much exactly per meal is detailed below. 

Recommendations for the optimal protein intake serving to maximise muscle protein synthesis (i.e. building and repairing muscle protein) after exercise are mixed and depend on factors such as age and recent resistance training stimuli. However, for building or maintaining muscle mass, in general, current evidence suggests that to maximise anabolism, protein intake should be targeted at 0.4g per kg of body weight per meal, across approximately 4 meals in order to reach 1.6 g per kg of body weight per day.  

For women specifically, research is now recommending a daily intake of 1.2-1.5g per kg of body weight consumed as 4-5 meals of 0.3g per kg body weight. Other female specific considerations suggest post-training protein requirements may be slightly lower in the follicular phase of your menstrual cycle due to higher oestrogen levels. This is due to oestrogen being an anabolic hormone meaning it actually favours muscle growth. 


Why use protein supplements? 

In general, protein supplements such as our PHD powders or bars are a convenient way of consuming protein on the go which is one of the major benefits of using protein supplements. This convenience definitely comes into play when we are meant to consume protein as soon as we can post exercise! 

It has been shown that the timing of protein consumption post-exercise is a key determinant of muscle mass and strength gains, although some acute research has suggested muscle is sensitive to nutrients (in particular, amino acids) for up to 3 hours post exercise, longitudinal training studies demonstrate increases in muscle strength and size are greatest when protein in consumed immediately post-exercise. Simply put, it is advised we should consume protein as early as we can during the post-exercise recovery phase. 

A lot of us won’t have access to food rich in protein post-exercise, therefore having a protein supplement can provide a great alternative to achieving your protein requirements after training. The use of protein supplements is also well evidenced, with a review of 49 research articles demonstrating that overall protein supplements can be used effectively to increase muscle strength (measured by 1RM) and muscle size. 

An additional benefit of consuming protein supplements post-exercise is that a lot of us feel we can’t ‘stomach’ a large meal immediately after exercise, therefore protein supplements provide an alternative to tide us over until we are ready for our next protein-rich food source. 


Which PHD protein should I choose? 

At PHD nutrition, we pride ourselves in our wide range of protein supplements available, but we also appreciate that sometimes this may feel like too much choice and sometimes leave you wondering where to start! So we thought it would be best to summarise our different ranges and also compare the macronutrient values of our protein powders to help you identify which of our powders is right for you! 

Smart protein range  

Our Smart range is designed to be deliciously versatile that can be used in many formats, so if you’re someone that likes to bake with protein, add it to your porridge or homemade desserts, this is the range for you! We have 3 smart powders to choose from: 

  • The original Smart protein is the perfect macro-friendly option to incorporate into your homemade recipes with optimal levels of specific ingredients making it an exceptional cooking ingredient. 
  • Smart clear protein is a whey based powder that will suit you if you’re after a more refreshing and delicious whey protein isolate without the milky taste and texture.  
  • Finally, we also have our Smart plant powder as your versatile plant alternative that can again be used to bake with as well as being used in the classical drink format.  


Diet protein range  

The PhD diet range is specifically designed to combine protein to build and maintain your lean muscle mass (whilst also keeping you fuller for longer), with fat burning ingredients such as L-Carnitine, CLA and green tea extract to support fat loss. In the Diet range we have: 

  • Diet Whey, providing protein from multiple sources, giving you a variety of proteins that release into your bloodstream combined with the fat burning ingredients listed above.  
  • Diet Whey Plant, is your plant based alternative to the classic Diet Whey powder. Still providing the same effective high-protein powder to aid in targeting fat loss and maintaining a lean physique.  
  • Diet Whey Meal is designed to be more of a meal replacement providing a complete blend of vitamins and minerals that support healthy, sustainable weight loss.  

Diet Plant

100% protein range  

Our 100% range is designed to be very high protein and low in carbohydrate and fats making it a popular choice amongst PhD users! We have two powders available: 

  • 100% Whey is great for those who are looking to increase and maintain muscle mass, high in protein but without the additional carbohydrates.  
  • 100% Plant, is our plant alternative! It provides the perfect hit of high-quality, plant-based protein designed to contribute to the maintenance and growth of muscle mass.  


Life range 

Our Life range is a variety of products formulated to optimise health and be at your best every day, this goes from gut health, brain health, joint and bones, sleep and relaxation, immunity, multivitamins and what we’re looking at today, our meal replacement power.  

  • Life Complete: This powder is 100% plant based high protein (30g per serving) and low sugar whilst also providing 23 essential vitamins and minerals. It’s a great tasting plant based meal replacement for those who want advanced convenient meal replacement options.

Life CompleteOther powders 

We still (believe it or not!) have some other protein options available to suit your goals. These are summarised below to help you identify which might be best for you! 

  • Synergy, all-in-one: As it says on the tin, Synergy is designed to be an all-in-one recovery powder. This powder contains 40g protein and 15g of carbohydrates per serving alongside 5g of creatine to increase physical performance in successive bursts of high intensity exercise. It also contains vitamin B6 and Riboflavin to reduce fatigue, vitamin D to aid the immune system and zinc and magnesium to support metabolism. If that wasn’t enough, it also contains a rich amino acid profile!  
  • Mass gainer: The perfect powder for hard muscle builders providing 1146 calories per serving with a blend of different protein sources. This powder is packed full of protein (50g per serving), a blend of high-quality carbohydrates (188g per serving) and creatine. All mixed together to give you that extra boost in building quality muscle mass.
  • Whey Isolate: The difference between whey protein and whey protein isolate is the amount of protein contained per scoop of protein. Isolates are processed and filtered to contain approximately 90% protein per scoop! This powder is suitable for those on a very low carbohydrate diet but still want the benefits of whey protein. 
  • Pharma Whey: A high protein, low carb, low fat powder consisting of whey protein concentrate, isolate and hydrolysed. 3 types of whey that are quickly absorbed making pharma whey a great post-workout product.  

Synergy all-in-one

Protein powder comparison table 

      Macronutrient values per 100g* 
Range  Powder  Protein sources  Carbohydrate (g)  Protein (g)  Fat (g) 
Smart  Protein  Whey Concentrate, Milk Concentrate  14  59  8.4 
  Protein Clear  Whey Hydrolysate  4  80  0.5 
  Protein Plant  Pea, Soya  7  79  3.7 
  Breakfast   Whey Concentrate, Soya Isolate  33  43  6 
Diet   Whey  Whey Concentrate, Soya Isolate  11  68  5.5 
  Plant  Pea, Soya  9  72  3.7 
  Whey Meal  Milk Concentrate, Whey Concentrate, Soya Isolate  29  48  6.5 
100%  Whey  Whey Concentrate  5.5  78  1.5 
  Plant  Pea Isolate, Soya Isolate  4  86  3 
Life  Complete  Pea Isolate   27  50  10 
Other   Synergy  Milk Concentrate, Whey Concentrate, Wheat  23  61  5.5 
  Mass Gainer  Whey concentrate, Whey Isolate, Milk Concentrate   62.8  16.6  5.9 
  Whey Isolate  Whey Isolate  4.5  82  1.5 
  Pharma Whey  Whey Concentrate, Whey Isolate, Hydrolysed Whey  7.7  78  7.5 

*Exact macronutrient value will vary slightly depending on flavour of powder 


Take home messages: 

  1. Regular training means your protein requirements are greater than the general 0.89g per kg of body weight recommendation. 1.2-2.0g per kg of body weight should be consumed in equal amounts throughout the day e.g. 0.4g or 0.3g per kg of body weight per meal, for males and females respectively. 
  2. Timing of protein consumption is key and ideally, we should aim to consume protein as soon as we can after training either through food or protein supplementation.
  3. At PHD Nutrition we offer a wide variety of protein supplementation options (the focus of this article was protein powders but be sure to check out our other protein products too!), these are often a convenient way of you meeting your protein requirements to optimise your training.  

Emily has worked with Science in Sport since 2021. With a PhD in Exercise Physiology & Nutrition, she currently provides nutritional advice for endurance athletes. Emily not only understands the science behind performance nutrition solutions, but also the physiological and psychological demands of sport after competing competitively in swimming and triathlon for a number of years.