Training & Nutrition

Ask the Expert: Is there Protein Powder for Women Cyclists?

We ask a sports nutritionist to demystify the world of whey

There doesn’t seem to be any protein powder for women and/or cyclists on the market. What protein powders do women cyclists use? Are a woman’s requirements different from that of a mans?

Sports Nutritionist Emma Barraclough says:

When it comes to protein there isn’t that much variation between the needs of men and women – the rate that you turn protein over is linked much more to your activity level.

We are constantly breaking down and rebuilding the proteins in the body, which make up musclesligaments, tendons and bone, and your rate of breakdown is higher when you exercise regularly.  To support your cycling training you need a complete protein, examples of which include whey (dairy), and soy.

Many men’s products which focus on building bulk and gaining weight often have a high carbohydrate content, and also contain supplements such as creatine.

In cycling most women will want to avoid weight gain and use their protein instead to support and maintain their lean muscle mass. A product that is formulated on high quality protein, such as whey or soy protein isolate should be fine. If you are doing long endurance sessions though you still need a product with some carbohydrate in for recovery to help replenish your muscle glycogen stores as well.

The biggest difference for women comes in the recommended serving sizes. For active individuals we generally recommend between 1.2-1.5 grams per kilo of body weight, up to 2 grams per kilo if people are trying to gain muscle bulk. Most recreationally active women should aim towards the lower end of the range, depending on the intensity and volume of their training. We can maximally absorb 20-25g every 3-4 hours. 20g is the equivalent of three eggs or a chicken breast. Often with protein products this means simply using one scoop of protein powder versus two or three, depending on the serving size of the product.

Emma Barraclough is a Sports Nutritionist at SiS. She has worked with Great Britain Ice Hockey since 2006 and provided nutritional consultancy support to athletes in a range of sports including running, triathlon and rugby. She regularly represents Great Britain as an age group triathlete and has completed six Ironmans.

We received this brilliant query about protein via email. Send your questions to

Like this? Try some of the other articles in our ‘Ask The Expert’ series:

How Can I Stop My Cycling Shoes From Smelling?

Why Should I Change to Winter Tyres?

Why do Men Overtake me Seconds After I Have Passed Them?


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