Fitness food company Protein Haus has caused outrage on social media with its "thigh gap" meal but remains unapologetic, claiming it wanted to "create debate" about dieting.

Twitter user Amy Churchman brought attention online to the £5 diet meal, which contains lean beef mince, grilled tomato and asparagus and is gluten free, nut free, low carb and low sugar. She spotted it in the shop's Canary Wharf branch, but it is also listed in the Magic Fitness Meals section of the website.

Churchman, 22, wrote: "Erm @ProteinHausUK you should be ashamed of yourself. Thigh Gap?? Didn't we leave this in 2016? Everyone pls RT, we shouldn't be putting up with this."

The post gained plenty of support, with one user saying "that's genuinely shockkking. uuurrrghh," before adding it was "gross food with gross marketing". Discussing the meal with others, Churchman said it "made me so mad" and called it "horrendous".

A thigh gap is the space between the thighs of a woman when she is standing up with her feet touching. It is often an aspirational goal for young women to reach as a sign of attractiveness and physical fitness, but has been criticised as being unrealistic, unhealthy and potentially the cause of an eating disorder if being pursued through dangerous weight loss.

Protein Haus, a "fresh food diet shop" for results-based eating, with multiple branches in London, posted a response to Churchman's criticism on Instagram after it was shared in the media.

The statement by company founder Carli Wheatley said: "The controversy over the name of this meal was intentional to create debate – let's meet up and talk, I will be hosting a number of talks over summer addressing why you shouldn't be ashamed to say you are following a diet or want to lose weight, the amount of people that are embarrassed to admit this is crazy!

"Gain muscle, increase athletic performance, juice fast. We are here to serve. Our meals are all yummy, hand made and fresh, what is more positive than that!"

Protein Haus also pointed to some of its other labels - "look good naked" and "g-spot," although there is also an Einstein meal "for the more sensible type".

"If you meet me, you'd get it I have my heart in the right place, this is what is important that plus taking care of ourselves," the statement concluded.