Despite the ubiquity of protein-enriched foods on grocery aisles, social media feeds and in the press, a staggering 80% of UAE residents claim that they do not reach the reference daily intake of protein on a daily basis (Nutrient Reference Value for protein: 50g). The finding was revealed in a new survey conducted by YouGov*, and commissioned by Arla Foods, in an effort to better understand consumers’ attitudes towards protein and drive awareness around the importance of a protein-rich diet.
The research also found that there is a need to educate consumers on the many benefits of protein. While protein is a vital component of every cell in the human body and essential for general health and wellbeing, only 31% of residents claimed to consume it for the purpose of maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet. Other major motivating factors include sustaining energy levels (22%) and weight management (17%).
Highlighting the misconceptions around protein, almost half (43%) of those surveyed believe that it is primarily for fitness enthusiasts and muscle-building. This may explain why 66% and 81% of consumers believe that children and the elderly respectively do not necessarily need a protein rich diet.
Surprisingly, less than 20% of consumers feel that protein is essential for people juggling hectic lives with daily office work or household chores, and only 29% felt protein is also needed by teenagers and university students. Nearly three quarters of consumers (71%) reported experiencing varying levels of energy throughout the day, which can be avoided by consuming a healthy and balanced diet containing adequate amounts of protein per meal – depending on age, gender and body weight. It was also found that in UAE, a majority of residents tend to rely on meat as a source of protein, however it’s important to note that natural dairy, legumes and grains are also high-quality protein rich foods. Protein snacks can also be consumed to help avoid energy dips during the day and fight off hunger. Having protein instead of sugars in a meal slows digestion and provides a longer-lasting energy source by avoiding an energy spike.
Speaking about the research Emilien Rouy, Nutrition Scientist, Arla Foods said, “In recent years, protein-rich foods have become increasingly prevalent yet the research shows a nutritional knowledge gap. This may explain why such a huge percentage of the population claim that they are not reaching the protein reference intake on a daily basis. Protein is a source of energy, but is also, and more importantly, an essential building block of the body. It is essential to consume protein throughout our life cycle as people at different stages in their life benefit from protein in different ways.”
“At Arla, we are committed to supporting and enabling healthy and balanced lifestyles through awareness, education and our portfolio of quality dairy products. Arla Protein chocolate flavoured milk is a natural, convenient and delicious way to have a protein-rich snack, and has the added benefits of essential vitamins and minerals. It can be consumed on-the go making it ideal for people with busy lifestyles.”
Arla Protein contains 13g of protein per 250ml serving and 25g per 470ml bottle. Produced from fresh milk, it tastes great alone or is perfect added to smoothies and shakes. Arla Protein chocolate flavoured drinking milks have been launched and loved by consumers in UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain in regular and reduced sugar variants, with Saudi Arabia launching later this year.
Debunking protein myths – Five reasons why we need more protein in our diet:
- Myth: Only fitness fanatics and weight-lifters need to eat protein?
Truth: Protein is an important and essential nutrient for EVERYONE. Protein is a crucial component of every cell in our bodies and we need it to build and repair cells, enzymes and hormones as well as provide energy.
- Myth: Protein makes your muscles bigger
Truth: Eating more protein in itself will NOT make muscles bigger. In order for muscles to grow, they must be subjected to physical activity, mainly resistance training.
- Myth: I need to eat meat to get enough protein
Truth: While meat is an excellent source of protein, beans, vegetables, dairy, grains and legumes also have a good protein content.
- Myth: Protein helps you lose weight
Truth: Eating protein on its own will NOT make you lose weight. In order to lose weight, you need to be taking in fewer calories than you are expending. A healthy diet and regular physical activity is key. Protein is an essential part of a heathy diet and having protein instead of sugars in a meal slows digestion and provides a longer-lasting energy source by avoiding an energy spike.
- Myth: Everyone needs the same amount of protein
Truth: The amount you need depends on your age, gender and body weight. The basic recommendation for protein intake from the World Health Organization is 0.8g per kilogram of body mass in untrained, healthy adults.
*Research was conducted by a YouGov omnibus survey with a sample size of 1,003 respondents in the UAE during February 2018.