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Are Protein Shakes Good For Weight Loss? (4 Key Benefits)

Tracy Thompson
Published by Tracy Thompson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: January 9, 2022

Throughout my career as a certified personal trainer, I have given my clients effective strategies to reduce overall calorie consumption, burn fat and increase muscle mass.

Based on further analysis of their progress, I concluded that a diet high in protein helps them lose weight while building muscle.

This article will explain why protein powder is good for weight loss and how to consume it.

Let's begin.

Summary of Key Findings

  • You must burn more calories than you consume during the day to effectively lose weight, which is why both exercise and a high protein intake are important.
  • Protein shakes are a great source of proteins because they are easy to consume, low in calories, and high in vitamins and minerals that your body requires.
  • Hundreds of protein-rich powders are available on the market, the most common being soy, casein, and whey protein.

Can Protein Powder Help You Lose Weight?

Close up image of pouring a powder

Protein powders may help you lose weight by reducing hunger pains and curbing your appetite.

Studies reveal that protein reduces levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin. People who consume ample amounts of this essential nutrient in their diet eat fewer foods [1].

Protein powders can help you lose excess pounds by lowering your calorie intake.

Most protein shakes can be used as a meal replacement for breakfast, which helps curb your appetite and reduces sugar cravings throughout the day.

Furthermore, protein raises peptide YY levels, a hormone that suppresses appetite by slowing food movement through the digestive tract [2].

Protein powder supplementation provides additional energy for longer workouts and essential amino acids or EAA for faster muscle recovery, resulting in bigger, leaner muscles [3].

When you gain lean muscle mass, the extra muscle necessitates a greater energy expenditure. As a result, your resting metabolic rate and calorie demand rise, keeping you slim [4].

Can I Use Protein Shakes As Meal Replacements For Healthy Weight Loss?

You can use protein shakes as a meal replacement to aid your weight loss journey.

When used as a meal replacement, a protein shake will keep you feeling full and suppress your appetite, preventing you from consuming too many calories from frequent snacking.

If you want to use protein powders for healthy weight loss, combine pure protein powders with fruits and vegetables to balance all macronutrients, including:

  • Complex carbohydrates
  • High fiber foods
  • Healthy fats

Also, choose low-sugar fruits, unsweetened almond milk, or coconut milk to cut calories in your protein shake and avoid sugar and unnecessary additives.

Finally, consume protein shakes in moderation along with a well-balanced diet to help you achieve your weight loss goals.

How Do I Pick the Best Protein Powder to Lose Weight Fast?

Protein spelled on a spilled powder

A good protein shake should provide all the necessary micronutrients that your body needs, which is why balancing your protein shakes with the right amount of micronutrients is crucial.

Also, it should provide just enough calories, and it is best done by avoiding unnecessary fillers and artificial sweeteners that may add calories to your protein shake.

However, store-bought protein shakes can be filled with additives and sugars and may lack micronutrients, so a good alternative is to make homemade protein shakes.

Here are a few popular options to consider:

Whey Protein

Whey is a widely used protein powder for weight loss if you don't mind consuming dairy products. Whey contains all EAA required by your body to rebuild your muscles.

"Whey is the most commonly used because it's a water-soluble milk protein," says Peter Horvath, Ph.D., associate professor in the department of exercise and nutrition sciences at the State University of New York at Buffalo

Drinking whey protein shakes is an excellent way to build lean muscles while losing extra pounds.

Casein Protein

Casein has lower digestibility than whey protein. Regardless, some people drink a casein shake before bed to slow digestion and allow the body to rebuild muscle while sleeping.

According to one study, consuming casein instead of whey protein resulted in three times greater weight loss and a twofold increase in muscle mass [5].

Egg-Based Protein

The egg-based protein powder is an excellent option for gluten-free smoothies, and it is easier for your body to absorb. However, consumers may lose out on the several benefits of the yolk as it is only made with pure egg whites.

Plant-Based Protein

Plant-based powders don’t contain added sugar, making them low in calorie count but high in proteins.

The best plant-based protein powder for weight loss include:

How Much Protein Should I Have For Weight Loss?

One cup full of protein powder

When it comes to losing weight, a daily protein intake of 1.6 to 2.2 grams per kilogram of body weight can be beneficial.

This amino acid chain, combined with regular exercise, will also encourage muscle building [6].

If you do a lot of heavy lifting as part of your weight loss plan, you may want to up your intake of proteins.

Research suggests that a diet with 3.4 grams of protein (per kilogram) per day, combined with a rigorous workout routine, may improve lean muscle growth and weight management in healthy individuals [7].

If you use protein powders for weight loss and as a replacement for meals, protein shakes usually offer about 15 - 25 grams of protein.

While some experts recommend consuming between 25 and 35 grams of protein per serving of smoothie, research suggests that your body can utilize a maximum of 25 grams of fast-digesting complete protein in the course of 1.5 to 2 hours [8]; anything above this amount is stored as fat, which could lead to more weight.

With this in mind, blending ice cubes with fruit and almond milk, and adding the recommended serving size of protein powders, is an easy way to get an adequate supply of this nutrient.

When's The Right Time to Drink Protein Shakes for Weight Loss?

The right time to drink protein shakes for weight loss is early in the morning. Protein shakes provide longer-lasting energy without excessive calorie intake.

Aside from making you feel full throughout the day, it can also jump-start your metabolic rate, assisting in burning extra calories.

To boost physical performance, you can consume protein shakes 30 minutes before the workout. Protein shakes can help you optimize your workout by increasing your endurance and stamina.

Another great time to consume a protein shake is during your anabolic window, which lasts 30 to 45 minutes after your workout [9].

Protein shakes consumed within the anabolic window may provide your body with quick nutritional replenishment for muscle recovery and growth.

Because protein absorption is faster at this time, a post-workout shake can provide high levels of EAA to damaged muscle fibers to aid in repair and reconstruction.

Other Benefits Of Drinking Protein Shakes

Woman drinking a protein shake

Protein supplementation has several weight loss benefits, such as:

Controls Your Cravings

Protein shakes may be beneficial for those who are trying to lose weight. Because protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates, it allows you to consume fewer calories.

Additionally, it has been shown to reduce cravings by regulating ghrelin and Peptide YY levels in the body.

Regulates Blood Sugar Levels

Consuming more protein can help keep blood glucose levels stable because protein breaks down more slowly than carbohydrates, resulting in a gradual decrease in blood glucose levels over a few hours.

Furthermore, a 5-week study published in 2003 found that a high-protein diet that promotes short-term starvation may help people with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar levels due to a continuous decrease in glycogenolysis rate [10].

Speeds Up Metabolism

According to research, eating more protein can increase food’s TEF or thermic effect. TEF is defined as an increase in metabolic rate after eating foods.

Research suggests that proteins have a higher TEF (20–30 percent of the energy content of ingested protein) than carbohydrate (5–10 percent) and fat (0–3 percent) [11]. Consuming more proteins can boost metabolism and give you a better chance of losing weight.

Helps Build Lean Muscle

Protein refuels your muscles by supplying all the EAA required to heal, repair, and rebuild damaged muscle fibers.

As a result, you can exercise for a more extended period if you take enough protein, resulting in a higher calorie burn and bigger lean muscles.

Furthermore, nutritionists recommend consuming between 24 and 35 grams of protein per serving of smoothie because taking more won’t benefit you after your body has received its daily dose [12].

Risks And Side Effects

A glass of water and protein shake powder in a separate glass

As with any supplement, there are risks and side effects that some people may experience in taking protein shakes.

Protein shakes are known to have low-calorie content. However, some protein shakes with sugars and other additives may contain more calories than you realize, causing blood sugar spikes.

Also, protein shakes may not be best to replace a healthy diet.

A lack of complete nutrition due to artificial ingredients can cause metabolic problems, excessive weight loss, and a weakened immune system.

In the long run, excessive protein powder supplement consumption may increase the chances of bone and kidney problems and cancer risks due to some metals like mercury, arsenic, and lead [13].

But, when consumed in moderation, good protein shakes can be highly effective for healthy living and weight loss.

If you use protein powders for weight loss and as a replacement for meals, protein shakes usually offer about 15 - 25 grams of protein.

While some experts recommend consuming between 25 and 35 grams of protein per serving of smoothie, research suggests that your body can utilize a maximum of 25 grams of fast-digesting complete protein in the course of 1.5 to 2 hours [8]; anything above this amount is stored as fat, which could lead to more weight.

With this in mind, blending ice cubes with fruit and almond milk, and adding the recommended serving size of protein powders, is an easy way to get an adequate supply of this nutrient.

Taking Protein Powders to Aid Weight Loss

Taking protein shakes can support rapid weight loss, but choosing the right protein powder and using it correctly can maximize these benefits.

If you are vegan, you can choose from pea, rice, soy, and hemp protein. If you are lactose tolerant, protein from dairy products may help build muscle while preventing weight gain.

Also, it is best to include adequate amounts of carbs, fats, and fiber in your homemade protein shakes to provide your body with the required daily intake of nutrients.

Otherwise, check the protein shake ingredients before buying ready-to-drink protein shakes to see if they contain unnecessary sweeteners that can lead to you consuming more calories.

Finally, drinking your protein shake at the right time and combining it with a consistent workout routine, a well-balanced diet, and a healthy lifestyle will help you get the most out of it and meet your health and fitness goals.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16469977/
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413106002713
  3. https://www.ajinomoto.com/aboutus/amino-acids/
  4. https://www.sharecare.com/health/exercise-weight-loss/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10838463/
  6. https://blog.nasm.org/nutrition/
  7. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5828430/
  9. https://www.shapeyourenergy.com/
  10. https://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/53/9/2375
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3873760/
  12. https://www.eatthis.com/protein-shakes-weight-loss/
  13. https://cleanlabelproject.org/blog-post/

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