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The Power of Protein
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The Power of Protein

We’re delighted to be working with a panel of experts in the UK health, fitness, and wellness sector as part of our exclusive #24KME programme. Here, certified nutritionist Kate Withington shares her insights on the importance of a protein-rich diet along with some delicious and easy-to-make protein-packed recipes.

As a nutritionist working predominantly with women, the importance of protein is something I discuss on a daily basis. Often, women come to me wanting to improve their physique and health, and in the quest to get the results they want, they cut calories and buy expensive collagen supplements. Many are surprised when they realise that just increasing protein intake alone helps with weight loss and improving overall health and achieving that gorgeous healthy glow that we all love.

Protein is essential for maintaining and building lean muscle. This is particularly important for women, as we tend to have lower muscle mass than men and can be more susceptible to age-related muscle loss. There are so many supplements out there aimed at women to help with ageing and, I say it time and time again, forget most of them and get yourself a tub of protein instead.

Proteins are the building blocks for many hormones in the body, which play a crucial role in women's health. The women I work with report huge differences in their health, energy levels, and body composition when we focus on increasing protein intake.

If weight loss is your goal, an adequate amount of protein in your diet has a huge impact. A protein-rich diet will increase feelings of fullness, which in turn helps control daily calorie intake. For example, a bowl of oats with milk and berries is healthy and delicious, but add a scoop of protein powder or some Greek yoghurt, and you will feel fuller for hours longer.

After weight loss, I would say the second goal of many of the women I work with is to improve their hair, skin, and nails. Proteins are essential for the growth and maintenance of all of these. It’s easy to be drawn to expensive collagen supplements that promise to do this. However, the structural components of these tissues, such as collagen and keratin, are made up of proteins therefore, consuming adequate protein will have a much bigger impact than a collagen supplement. I am not against these supplements by any means, but I am a huge advocate of getting the basics right first. If your diet is low in protein, it's highly likely you are wasting your money on collagen supplements.

Proteins are necessary for the building and repair of tissues throughout the body, including immune system cells. A well-functioning immune system is important for overall health and well-being, and adequate protein intake supports the body's ability to fight off infections and maintain good health.

A common misconception is that women will bulk up from consuming protein, especially protein supplements. This is just not true. In fact, adequate protein will help build lean muscle and achieve that ‘toned’ look.

My top sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, Greek yoghurt and tofu.

How much protein do I need?

I recommend consuming 1.2-2g per kg of body weight depending on age, goals, and activity levels. For example, a 50kg female should aim to include 80-100g of protein daily.

My tips for increasing protein intake:

Include protein-rich foods in every meal and include protein as additional snacks. For example, a day of eating could look like this:

  • Breakfast - protein smoothie made with 1 scoop of vanilla whey, frozen berries and milk.
  • Lunch - tuna and sweetcorn baked potato with salad. I love to use Greek yoghurt instead of mayo to increase protein content further and reduce calories.
  • Afternoon snack - cottage cheese on rice cakes with some mixed seeds.
  • Dinner - salmon goodness bowl. Salmon fillet with quinoa, broccoli and edamame beans.
  • Evening snack - Greek yoghurt with berries.

Consider using a protein powder – whey is one of my top supplements as it’s such a quick and convenient way to increase protein intake. On busy mornings, a protein smoothie is my go-to breakfast. I also love to mix chocolate whey with Greek yoghurt for an evening chocolate fix that provides over 40g of protein. You can also add to oats to make a delicious filling breakfast or use it to make protein balls for a yummy on-the-go snack.

Other high-protein snack ideas include hard-boiled eggs, tuna lettuce cups, cottage cheese, edamame beans and beef jerky.

High Protein Recipes

Breakfast Protein Crumble

I adore an apple crumble, so this high-protein version really hits the spot for me. Perfect for breakfast or dessert, it’s also versatile – I love using plums and different berries.



  • 1 apple
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

Crumble Topping

  • ⅓ cup rolled oats
  • 30g vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1½ tbsp plain flour
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 2-3 tbsp water


  • Slice your apples thinly then pan fry with the rest of the filling ingredients until the apples have softened. Add water as needed if it sticks to the pan.
  • While the filling is cooking, prepare the crumble by mixing all ingredients together in a small bowl. Add water in small amounts until the crumble starts to stick together.
  • Add the apples to an oven-proof ramekin and top with your protein crumble.
  • Bake at 180°C for 15-20 minutes until the top has become golden.

Air Fryer Tofu (serves 2-3)

Tofu is an excellent source of plant-based protein as it contains all the essential amino acids.


  • 1 block of firm or extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • Optional: sesame seeds, spring onions for garnish


  • Preheat your air fryer to 190°C.
  • Cut the pressed tofu into cubes.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, olive oil, minced garlic, ground ginger, and sesame oil to make the marinade.
  • Add the tofu to the bowl with the marinade and gently toss to coat the tofu evenly.
  • Place the tofu in the air fryer in a single layer, making sure not to overcrowd the basket.
  • Air-fry the tofu for 10-15 minutes, shaking the basket regularly.

Once the tofu is golden brown and crispy, remove it from the air fryer and serve. I love to make tofu wellness bowls with lots of veg and sticky rice. Or I serve it with some wholewheat noodles and garnish with seeds and spring onions.

Salmon Wellness Bowl (serves 2)

This is one of my go-to weekly meals, with over 30g of protein and full of anti-inflammatory goodness. Use any vegetables you like.


For the salmon

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp soy sauce

Massaged kale

  • 1 bunch of kale, tough stems removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the bowl

  • Cooked quinoa or brown rice
  • Sliced avocado
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Sesame seeds
  • Lime wedges for serving


  • Mix the marinade ingredients together and drizzle over the salmon.
  • Air-fry or oven-cook the salmon to your liking (I air-fry at 200°C for 10 minutes).
  • While the salmon is baking, prepare the kale. Place the chopped kale in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Using your hands, massage the kale for a few minutes until it becomes tender and dark green.
  • To assemble the bowls, divide the cooked quinoa or brown rice among serving bowls. Top with the massaged kale, and your chosen vegetables.
  • Place a cooked salmon fillet on top of each bowl. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with lime wedges.

Tuna Pepper Melts

Tuna is a fantastic source of lean protein, and switching out regular mayo for Greek yogurt helps to keep the calories down and increase the protein content further.


  • 1 green bell pepper
  • ½ red onion, diced finely
  • 1 tin of tuna chunks in spring water, drained
  • 85g 0% fat Greek yoghurt
  • 20g grated mature cheddar
  • Salt & pepper


  • Cut the pepper in half and remove the core. Put it in a roasting tin and cook at 180 degrees for 15 mins.
  • While the pepper is cooking, prepare the filling by mixing the onion with the tuna, yoghurt, and season well.
  • Remove the pepper from the oven, fill with the tuna mixture and top with the cheese before returning to the oven for five minutes until the cheese is melted.
  • Serve with a large side salad drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

Spiced Edamame Beans

Edamame beans are a fantastic low-calorie source of plant-based complete protein. Use whatever herbs and spices you like to make a tasty protein snack.


  • Frozen edamame beans in pods
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon red chilli flakes (or to taste)
  • Lime


  • Cook and drain edamame beans according to package directions (I usually boil them).
  • Mix together the salt, garlic powder, and chilli flakes in a small bowl.
  • While the beans are still hot, sprinkle with garlic chilli salt, along with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

For a high-protein snack on the go, I also love the dry roasted edamame beans that you can buy.

Green Yoghurt Eton Mess

This delicious low-calorie version of an Eton mess has all the flavour and creaminess of the traditional recipe with approximately 40g of protein.


  • 1 meringue nest (13g each)
  • 170g 0% fat Greek yoghurt
  • 1 scoop of vanilla whey protein powder
  • 100g strawberries


  • Mix the whey with the yoghurt until smooth
  • Layer the strawberries, yoghurt, and crushed meringue in a glass.
  • Drizzle with honey and serve.

Berry Protein Smoothie

This smoothie takes minutes to whizz up and is my go-to breakfast to drink in the car on hectic mornings.


  • 80g frozen blueberries
  • 1 scoop of vanilla whey protein powder
  • 200ml milk (of your choice)


  • Place the frozen blueberries, whey protein powder, and milk into a blender.
  • Blend until smooth, adding more liquid to reach your desired consistency.



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