Protein powder is an excellent way to help you feel fitter and take your results to the next level. However, not all proteins are equal, and they can be used for either weight gain or weight loss. This can make it so confusing for you when shopping.
I often get asked, 'what's a good protein for weight loss?' The is no such thing as a weight loss protein that will magically help you shed the kilos. However, they do have some differences, which can make it easier for you to stick to your fat loss journey.
Let's take the confusion out of using protein powders for weight loss!
Remember why you need protein:
Protein is an excellent macronutrient to keep high while dieting because it helps to keep you full and also spare precious muscle. While you're losing weight, you need to keep in mind that not all weight loss is fat loss. Some of it will be water, and unfortunately muscle too. To give you that 'toned' look you're after it's wise to prioritise resistance training and keep your protein levels on the higher end to preserve your hard-won lean muscle mass.
Not only is having adequate muscle needed for looking 'toned', it also helps keep up your metabolism. If you have more muscle, you're burning more calories at rest. A slow metabolism isn't ideal for fat loss!
You may be wondering how much protein have per day. Though individual requirements vary, having 30% of your total daily calorie intake as protein can be a good starting point. Though they're excellent to use straight after training, you can use protein powders any time of the day.
Don't use them on top of your regular food:
Protein powders do not magically help you to lose weight. In conjunction with your healthy eating and exercise program, however, they are a useful tool in your fat loss journey. Use them as a meal replacement, which is essentially introducing an element of a liquid diet.
You don't necessarily have to have the protein powder on its own, for example, you can enjoy it in a smoothie with other ingredients that will help you feel healthy, full of energy and free of cravings. Here are some ideas to consider:
Chia seeds can add a nutritious and filling punch when used in a smoothie – as they expand with the liquid, this will add more volume to your meal.
All leafy greens are an excellent addition to a smoothie as well, to help you meet your micronutrient needs and provide more roughage.
Combining with oats can again contribute to the fibre content, and as slow-release carbs, they will help you feel full and satisfied.
Almond butter is a healthy fat that will help to slow down digestion and provide you with beauty-boosting nutrients to help you radiate from within. Though they are high in fats, they can contribute to an overall weight loss program.
If you feel like you'd be more satisfied eating a piece of meat for protein, for example, then go for that option. Protein powders are designed to be used as a supplement to help meet your protein needs when they are lacking. They won't help you lose weight if you have them on top of your regular meals – in fact, the extra calories can tip the scale towards weight gain (though most protein powders only contain approximately 150 calories, so not a great deal).
If you know you won't be eating for a few hours, having a protein shake can also take away the temptation to have unhealthy snacks or overeat at your next meal.
Read the label:
Firstly, you don't need to choose a protein that has fat burners in there. Almost any type of protein type will do (except for mass gainers that have a lot of carbohydrates). It depends on you and your preferences, plus dietary considerations. For example, if you are intolerant or allergic to dairy, then a plant-based protein will suit you best.
A great tip is to look at the label to make sure that the macronutrients are favourable. Ideally, a protein should be high in protein (of course!) and relatively low in carbs and fats. What is considered 'low'? For this article, I would recommend a protein that has under 5g of carbs and no more than 3g of fat. Check out the proteins in the weight loss category to see some great options.
The 'leanest' kind of protein is a Whey Protein Isolate (WPI), which is ultra-filtered, so it has barely any carbs or fats. The obvious benefit is that you're getting most protein bang for your buck, and it's going to help you meet your protein needs without taking away from your delicious carbs and fats. A WPI is also easiest to digest out of all the proteins (unless you're intolerant to whey or dairy). The downside is that because it's so lean, a WPI is of a thinner consistency than other proteins, which means it will be less likely to keep you full.
If you want a protein that is a little thicker, try a Whey Protein Blend, which usually made of WPI and Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC). Whey protein blends are a medium digesting protein, so you'll feel satisfied for longer, and it goes well in cooking too.
If you're looking for a protein that can take away the desire to snack at night, or you need something that will keep you going for a few hours, then a Casein protein is excellent for you. Casein is the slowest digesting and often contains fibre, so it moves through your body at a slower rate, helping to prevent snack attacks! Plant-based proteins are also useful for this purpose – they too contain fibre, and tend to digest more slowly, so you can enjoy them as a stand-alone drink or part of a treat.
Your fat loss future is in your hands!
By keeping these factors in mind, you're already on the way to greater weight loss success. The right protein powder can help fuel your efforts, keep you on track with your eating plan and motivate you to reach your goals! Not only do they come in the most delicious flavours, they can add a bit of excitement to your day, so you're not stuck eating a bodybuilding diet of tasteless chicken and broccoli. Use them together with your structured exercise plan and nutritious diet, and you're well on the way to achieving your body gals!