Can you use protein powder for weight loss?
Many people associate protein supplementation with muscle building and strength training, and while it certainly can help you pack on the muscle, did you know that it can also play a part in helping you lose weight?
That's right. When used in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise program, protein powders can help you shed those unwanted kilos. In this article, we'll look at the science behind protein powders and their effectiveness for losing weight.
How does protein powder work for weight loss?
There are several ways protein can help you lose weight, and we'll look at each of these in detail. But before we do, we need to understand the concept of weight loss and gain.
In general, weight loss is a matter of burning more calories than you take in. If your body takes in more calories than it needs for energy, those excess calories are stored as fat. Conversely, if you consume fewer calories than your body needs, then it will pull from its fat stores to make up the difference.
Protein works by pulling on both of these levers: by helping you reduce your calorie intake while simultaneously helping you burn through ingested calories faster.
So let's look under the hood...
Protein helps you feel fuller for longer
Protein helps you feel full and stay satisfied longer than other macronutrients like fats and carbohydrates. That's because eating protein reduces the levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, while boosting your levels of several appetite-reducing hormones like GLP-1, peptide YY and cholecystokinin.
This is a win for weight loss since it means you'll be less likely to overeat during meals or to snack later in the day.
Digesting protein burns calories
The process of digesting and metabolising food doesn't just happen on its own; your body has to burn calories to do it. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF) and it can vary depending on the type of food you eat.
Protein has the highest TEF of all macronutrients at 20-30%, meaning that out of every 100 calories of protein you eat, your body will only store 70-80 of these for later use.
This number is much lower when it comes to equal amounts of carbs or fats consumed.
Protein boosts metabolism
Protein has also been shown to increase resting metabolic rate (RMR) over the course of 24 hours. This means that eating protein can help keep your metabolism humming along at a faster rate for longer throughout the day, as well as help boost fat loss by increasing how many calories you burn during exercise.
It gets even better if you're putting on muscle. The more muscle you have, the higher your RMR. This means that even when you're doing nothing, your body will generally burn more calories than someone with less muscle mass.
How to use protein powder to lose weight
You don't have to load up on steaks to enjoy the weight loss benefits protein has to offer. Protein powder can be a great way to get all the benefits of eating more protein without having to worry about changing your diet too drastically.
Adding protein powder to your diet
There are a number of sneaky ways to add protein powder to your meals. Blend some into your favourite smoothie recipe, mix some into your muesli or bake some high-protein banana bread.
It can also be a great meal replacement. Just blend 1 scoop of protein powder with water or milk. It tastes great and is easy on your digestive system. If you're otherwise eating a healthy diet, you can replace one meal per day indefinitely or up to 2 meals per day intermittently.
When to consume protein for weight loss
For weight loss purposes, it's best to spread your protein intake throughout the day, as its appetite-reducing properties will help you avoid snacking between meals.
If you exercise, you should also take some protein immediately after a workout. This is when your body needs it most and will be able to absorb it most efficiently.
What is the best protein powder for weight loss?
Here are some tips to help you choose the right protein powder for your weight loss goals:
It should contain contains all 20 amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. To get the full benefits of protein, you need all 20 of them, especially the 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) your body can't produce on its own. Animal-based proteins like whey protein will contain the full spectrum of amino acids. For plant-based protein powders, look for one that blends proteins from several types of plants to ensure all your bases are covered. If in doubt, check the nutritional label.
It should be low in calories. Excess calories can lead to weight gain, so you'll want most of the calories in your protein powder to come from protein as opposed to fat or carbs, for the reasons listed above.
It should be free from added sugar. Many protein powders will add sugar to their mix to improve the taste. But sugar is calorie-dense, so you'll want to find a powder that does not contain added sugar. Look for something with natural sweetener, such as monk fruit or stevia.
- It should contain thermogenics. Thermogencis are a group of compounds that can increase your body temperature and lead to increased calorie burn. Examples include green tea extract, green coffee bean extract, garcinia cambogia and cacao.
VORA’s plant-based Good Shape Protein powders meet all of these requirements. And best of all, they taste great and are good for the planet too!
How much protein should I use for weight loss?
Calculating how much protein you need is really quite simple.
To maintain muscle mass, the average adult needs about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. If you train regularly, you can up this to 1.2 grams per kilo.
There's no point going over this level, since excess protein will be stored in the body as fat.
Once you have that covered, you just need to make sure your total calories consumed are less than what you're burning. This might mean reducing the number of calories you get from fats and carbohydrates.
To be fair, there are other factors at play, like hormones and insulin sensitivity, that will determine how quickly you're able to lose weight - but suffice it to say, running a calorie deficit is one prerequisite.
And of course, all this needs to be done in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise program.
Are there any side effects to using protein powders for weight loss?
Protein powders can be a useful and effective weight loss tool, but it's important to remember that protein powders are not a substitute for proper nutrition and exercise.
If you're thinking about using protein powders as part of your weight loss strategy, then we recommend that you only consume the recommended serving based on your weight goals and fitness level.
As long as you're following these guidelines, you shouldn't notice any side effects from adding protein powders to your diet.
Too much protein can lead to bloating, diarrhoea or other gastrointestinal issues such as constipation or nausea - so make sure not overdo it!
In the end, it's hard to deny the results: regular use of protein powder can help you reach your weight loss goals. Whether it's helping you lose weight in the first place, or keeping you on track once you get there, protein powder makes a great addition to any diet.