Protein Powder and Weight Loss

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There’s no doubt that protein, one of the three macronutrients, is crucial for overall health, including, yes, weight loss. After all, protein—in whole food form and protein powder—can help you feel full, which means—drum roll—you’ll eat less, and that can contribute to shedding pounds.

Weight loss certainly isn’t the only reason to shift the macro focus to protein, by the way. Protein has an endless amount of benefits, including bone health, tissue repair, and building and maintaining muscle.

But as we start to peer out from the pandemic rocks under which we’ve been living and gaining weight—there was an average weight gain of 29 pounds for adults in the U.S. according to a survey from the American Psychological Association—it’s time to look at what protein and protein powder can do for weight loss.

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“Our research and others have found that protein can act as a ‘fire extinguisher’ to oust our drive to eat by stimulating satiety cues that make us feel full and dampen those food cravings,” says Heather Leidy, Ph.D., associate professor and protein researcher at the University of Texas at Austin.

This makes sense because protein is the most satiating macronutrient, thanks largely to how it affects satiating hormones like leptin and ghrelin.

Plus, and many folks don’t know this: As protein is digested, used, and absorbed, it raises your metabolism a bit more than other nutrients. And over time, that boost adds up.

The recommended intake for protein is roughly 0.7 grams per pound of body weight, or about 105 grams per day for a 175-pound male. Those needs go up or down slightly based on how active you are and your weight-loss goals.

This intake may be difficult to achieve with food alone, without really focusing on adding protein to each meal.

For those with higher protein requirements who are also trying to lose weight, supplementing with a protein powder for weight loss might be a good move, says Stu Philips, Ph.D., professor and protein researcher at McMaster University.

While whole foods are the best way to go for your nutritional needs, including protein, protein powders can get the job done. For a goal of weight loss, Leidy recommends adding a protein powder to yogurt, with ice, fruit, or veggies to really boost that feeling of fullness.

So, how to choose a protein powder for weight loss that will work for you?

  • Choose the type of protein powder you want, which could be dairy-based, vegetarian, vegan, and in some cases ready-to-drink, for convenience, and consider the amount of protein per serving and whether it’s third-party certified.
  • Avoid excess sugar. You’re looking for a protein powder, not a sports drink. Powders should have 3 grams of sugar or fewer per serving. You can always sweeten your mix with fresh or frozen fruit.
  • Add a liquid, like dairy milk, which is also high in protein, or a plant-based milk, like Daily Harvest’s Mylk.

    Now that we’ve covered our bases, let’s consider a few protein powders (and one ready-to-drink option).

    NOW Sports, Whey Protein Concentrate

    Buy it here

    Curds are casein protein, and dairy proteins are a combination of whey and casein. Whey is particularly high in the amino acid, leucine, which can help preserve and build muscle.

    This NOW product is unflavored, so you can add your own flavors with fruits, veggies, and some sweetener. It’s also Informed Sport Certified.

    Bob’s Red Mill Almond Protein Powder

    Buy it here

    This almond-based powder contains 20 grams of protein per serving. It’s also naturally rich in calcium and fiber.

    Four Sigmatic Protein

    four sigmatic plant protein

    Four Sigmatic

    Buy it here

    This vegan protein powder tastes great and provides high-quality protein from a variety of sources.

    Gainful

    gainful protein powder

    Gainful

    Buy it here

    Consider mixing up your own blend of proteins with Gainful, which personalizes your nutrition based on what you like and what ingredients you want.

    Koia Protein Ready to Drink Smoothies

    Buy it here

    When you don’t have time to mix your own smoothie or protein powder drink, the Koia Protein Smoothies provide the nutrition you need (and taste great, too). They’re plant-based, and free of dairy, soy, and gluten, while providing 18 grams of protein.

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