Are you looking for the best protein powder for weight loss? Protein powders are becoming popular in the general population and are no longer exclusively used by bodybuilders and serious athletes. As the benefits of protein powders are becoming more commonly known, it’s understandable that people hope to take advantage of them.
They are used for a variety of reasons. These supplements are ideal for building muscle, but can also offer incredible advantages for weight loss. But, how? And if you do decide to take a protein powder, which one should you take?
This article will explain how protein powders can help you shed a few pounds, explore which is the best protein powder for weight loss, how you should take the powder and how to incorporate it into your overall weight loss plan.
Protein Powder: Your Buying Guide
You’ll see they list certain amino acids, boast their excellent flavor, and are available in GMO free, gluten free, dairy free, organic and an infinite number of other formulas. What do you buy? The best protein powder may not be the first one to appear on the list.
First, you need a basic understanding of proteins. Our bodies need protein, which is made of amino acids.
Some of these amino acids are produced right within our bodies themselves. However, 9 amino acids, which are known as the “essential amino acids” must be sourced from food.
Complete proteins are foods that contain all of the essential amino acids. Proteins that come from meat, dairy, eggs and some plant sources such as hemp, quinoa, buckwheat and soybeans are all examples of complete proteins. This is good news for vegetarians and vegans! You can get complete proteins from plant sources. (6)
When searching for protein powder for weight loss, seek out a product that meets these requirements:
- It tastes good: You’ll be consuming this on a daily basis. If you don’t like it, you won’t stick with it.
- It’s a complete protein: Give your body the best by making sure your protein powder contains all essential amino acids.
- High protein content: To get the best bang for your buck, you’ll want at least 20 g of protein per serving. The best protein powder for weight loss will meet this requirement.
- It’s low in carbohydrates: Since you’re on a weight loss plan, you want to avoid excess calories that aren’t dedicated to protein. The most common sources of carbohydrates in protein powders is sugar! So beware of ingredients like dextrins and maltodextrins. At a max, the best protein powder will include 5 grams of carbohydrates per serving. Also, beware of protein powders that are focused on helping people gain weight, as these are also popular on the market.
When viewing carbohydrate content, don’t forget to check if any of it is in the form of fiber. So, if a product has a high carbohydrate content, but it’s also high in fiber, it might be ok.
However, if the carbohydrates are all sugars and other carbs, take a pass. Fiber can help with weight loss, as has been proven in this study.
How does it work? Fiber makes you feel fuller without adding calories (7). Basically, fiber usually just passes through your digestive system, which is why it’s also recommended for improving symptoms of constipation.
In addition to these considerations, there are many types of protein powder to consider. Take a look at the options below:
Livin3’s Top Pick: Pure Grass-Fed Whey Protein
Livin3’s Runner Up: ViSalus’ Fiber Intensive (Meal Replacement Protein Powder)
Livin3’s Honorable Mention: Legion’s Grass-Fed Protein
How to Use Protein Powder
When it comes to weight loss, you’ll want a broader plan that includes exercise and a healthy diet. As mentioned earlier in the article, it’s best if you can reduce your calorie intake, which may require counting calories while you get used to your new diet.
But, where does protein powder fit in? Once you’ve found the best protein powder for your needs and preferences, you can use it in a number of ways:
- Use it in meals. Add protein powder to your healthy, whole-grain pancake, diet-friendly oatmeal and muffin batter to make these foods more filling. You can often substitute about 1/3 of the flour in these types of recipes with protein powder. Avoid adding any more, as it can really affect the texture of baked goods. With the punch of protein in your meals, you’ll feel satiated for longer, which will make it easier for you to cut down on your calories overall.
- As meal replacements. Use a serving of protein powder in water, milk or a delicious smoothie to serve as a meal replacement. You should really opt for casein over whey when using your powder as a meal replacement. Because casein protein is absorbed slowly, you won’t feel like you’re starving before you plan to have your next meal. When making smoothies, be sure to count your calories with care so that you don’t end up with something that includes even more calories than your meal would have.
- As snacks. You can cut down on calories in your meals by eating healthy snacks to get you through the day. Have a quick protein shake using your protein powder in water mid-morning to give yourself a burst of energy and keep you full while only adding about 120 calories. This will also help you control your portion size at lunch as you won’t be famished when it’s time to eat.
Including protein powder as a part of a larger plan to reduce calories and get exercise will help you achieve your weight loss goals. Remember to make your protein account for about 25% of your overall calories. As mentioned before, on a diet of 1800 calories, you would need to consume 113 grams of protein (5).
That means if you include two servings of your protein powder a day, you’ll probably get in about 50 grams of protein. The remaining 63 grams can be gotten by eating 4 oz of skinless, boneless chicken breast, which will give you about 35 grams of protein and a few other protein-heavy foods like black beans, eggs, cheese, fish and milk.
Pro Tip: Protein powders are the perfect complement to the keto diet. This plan helps you change your body’s fuel from glucose to ketones, which can be very effective at helping you slim down. There are many wonderful keto supplements to purchase that will help you get started on this diet and enjoy a successful weight loss journey.
How Does Weight Loss Work?
Successful weight loss usually involves two elements as a result: diet and exercise. You can start losing weight by reducing the number of calories you consume each day. Then, if you add exercise, you’ll use up more calories, also creating a net calorie loss.
How Many Calories Do You Need to Cut Out to Lose Weight?
To lose one pound of body fat, you need to burn or eliminate 3,500 calories. That’s a lot! The average woman should consume 2000 calories a day to maintain her weight while the average man should consume 2500 calories per day (1). Of course, this depends on your activity level, size, age and a number of other factors. However, this puts things in perspective. No wonder losing weight is so tough!
What Other Factors Play a Role in Weight Loss?
You’ve probably heard about your metabolism and how some people have “slow” or “fast” metabolisms. This is a factor in weight loss, but luckily you have more control over it than you might think. Your metabolism is essentially a measure that shows how many calories your body consumes when at rest. Some people have high metabolisms that consume lots of calories at rest, while other people don’t consume as many calories at rest.
You can improve your metabolism by building muscle. The more muscle in your body, the more calories your body consumes at rest. Specifically, 10 pounds of muscle can burn 50 calories a day when resting, while 10 pounds of fat only burns 20 calories under the same conditions (3). It may not seem like much, but if you consider the overall effects of increasing your muscle mass, over time, it starts to add up.
Before continuing, it’s important to remember that weight loss isn’t the holy grail of health. Yes, it’s important to keep your weight in check, but you should be paying attention to more than just the numbers on the scale. You can be thin, or have an acceptable BMI, but still have high body fat content.
This is not ideal. For optimum health, you should have low body fat content and higher lean body mass, which basically refers to muscle.
Studies show that body composition, or how much fat or muscle you have in your body, is a better indicator of health than just BMI. A factor in this is also visceral fat, or the fat around your midsection. Fat in this area is bad news for your health. But, through a general weight loss plan, you can slim down and improve your health outcomes (4).
Why You Should Take Protein to Lose Weight
Have you ever heard of the Atkins diet, a low carb diet, the boiled egg diet or the Keto diet? These diets are all high in protein. Using similar principles, these diets take advantage of the benefits protein can have on your body to help make weight loss easier, and even more effective. So, what does protein do?
Benefits of Protein for Weight Loss
- Helps You Meet Daily Protein Intake Goals: The average man should consume 98 grams of protein, while the average woman should consume 68 grams of protein per day. However, if you’re hoping to lose weight, you should up your consumption to make protein represent 25% of your daily calorie intake. This means that on a diet of 1800 calories, you should consume 113 grams of protein (5). A 4 oz serving of chicken breast offers 35 grams of protein, but many other protein sources are much more modest in content. One large boiled egg offers 6 g of protein while a half a cup of boiled black beans contains about 7.5 g of protein. This means that you may struggle to meet your protein intake goals. That’s where the best protein powder for weight loss comes in! A quality protein powder can help you get enough protein.
- Helps Build Muscle: One of the reasons you should be taking protein powder while dieting is that it can help you build muscle. As discussed in the previous section, muscle is better for your metabolism than fat. If you can improve your body composition, which is also good for your health in general, you’ll make your metabolism work for you.
- Avoids Loss of Muscle: Weight loss generally doesn’t discriminate. When you lose weight, you lose fat and muscle. However, studies show that individuals who consume a high protein diet versus a high carbohydrate diet lose more fat mass than muscle mass when trying to lose weight. You want to avoid muscle loss for a number of reasons, but principally because having greater muscle content in your diet is good for your metabolism. This also improves your body composition, since you’ll lose more fat, which is considered unhealthy.
- Helps You Feel Full: Studies show that eating a diet high in protein can improve satiety. In other words, you’ll feel fuller when eating a protein-heavy diet, meaning you won’t be as tempted to snack outside your meals. So, if you struggle with portion control, eating a larger percentage of your daily calories in the form of protein may really help you reduce the urge to snack.
Protein powders can form part of a healthy diet that promotes weight loss. Getting enough protein in your diet can really be a struggle even if you eat plenty of low-fat, high-protein foods like chicken breast, legumes and low-fat dairy.
It’s also very important to note that as we age, our protein requirements simply increase. Studies suggest that we become less efficient at absorbing and using protein over time, resulting in muscle mass loss and losses in strength as well.
By doubling your protein intake and aiming to get 1.5 grams of protein per kg of body weight, you can improve your health and stave off muscle loss.
Take control of your weight with protein powder! Eating right and getting the proper amount of protein can make a world of difference in ensuring your weight loss is focused on eliminating fat, while preserving your lean body mass. This way, your weight loss will work for you, helping you maintain a great metabolism.
Weight loss is hard, but it can be easier when you’re not starved and your metabolism is working in your favor. Protein powder can make this happen.
Do you have a favorite protein powder for weight loss? Tell us all about it in the comments!