A question I’ve been asked a lot (at least 50x!) during my personal training career is…
Can Protein Shakes Help You Lose Weight?
In this post, I’m going to answer that exact question, and give you some easy to digest protein shake/weight loss tips, so that you feel much more confident about this subject matter.
Before we answer the question… Can Protein Shakes Help You Lose Weight? Let’s briefly look at what protein shakes are, why people consume them, and how to use them in your daily/weekly routine.
What Are Protein Shakes?
In short, protein shakes are what they say they are… a shake full of protein!
Protein shakes are a great way to increase you overall protein intake for the day. Most protein shakes contain around 40g of protein, which is the equivalent of 1.5 chicken breasts.
Protein is a key nutrient because it facilities and supports growth. Growth of your muscles, hair, nails, and skin. Protein also helps you to stay fuller for longer.
So the fact that protein 1) supports muscle growth and 2) keeps you fuller for longer… makes it an ideal food for weight loss.
Why People Consume Protein Shakes?
The most popular type of protein shake is ‘Whey Protein’ – which is often consumed by gym goers straight after their workout, to replenish muscles and aid the recovery process. This type of shake is known as the ‘post workout shake’ – and it’s one of the most important meals of the day.
Protein shakes also taste great, and support both muscle building and weight loss, which is why so many celebrities, bodybuilders and sports stars consume them on a weekly/daily basis.
What Other Ways Can I Use Protein Powder?
Alongside having a post workout shake, you could also have a protein shake for breakfast, ideal if you’re in a rush, or you could have a protein milkshake for a treat, here’s one of my favourite protein smoothie recipes:
- 50g chocolate whey protein
- 250ml unsweetened almond milk
- 100g dairy free ice cream
- 10g honey
- Large handful of ice cubes
Make-sure you have a robust blender for the ice cubes – check out the best frozen drink blender before you annihilate your current blender! This happened to me a couple of years ago, and wasn’t a pretty site.
You could also use your whey protein powder and mix in with your morning porridge to boost the overall protein intake for your breakfast.
Can Protein Shakes Help You Lose Weight?
In short, protein shakes don’t help you lose weight, the factor that determines whether you will lose weight or not, is whether you are creating a calorie deficit. No food on the planet will help you lose weight, unless you are in a calorie deficit.
There are thousands of articles online that say things like ‘the 10 best fat burning foods on the planet’ – but the truth is that there’s no such thing as a ‘weight loss food’ – it’s all about successfully creating a calorie deficit.
Sounds too simple to be true? BUT the reality is… it is that simple!
This is the way lots of diets work, it doesn’t matter whether you follow a Keto Diet, 5:2, Weight Watchers, Slimming World, Intermitting Fasting Diet, etc, etc, as long as you are consuming less calories than you need… your body will lose weight.
That said, protein shakes can be used within a weight loss diet. Like I said, protein keeps you fuller for longer, which is a wise move when you want to lose weight, because you’ll snack less, which means less calories, which means… more weight loss.
What’s the best protein shake to buy?
There are some amazing protein shakes, that taste delicious and are of high quality. BUT then again, there are some ones which taste awful, like cement!
It’s personal preference, but I’d recommend buying either Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey, or USN premium whey protein. I really like the chocolate and strawberry flavours.
If in doubt, buy a single shake from your gym, presuming you have a gym cafe? And taste a few different ones before spending your hard earned cash.
You could also get free tasters at shows like ‘Body Power’ – where supplement companies are all too happy to hand out freebies, in the hope that you will become a long term customer.
Protein Shakes Combined With Low Carb Dieting…
In my opinion, one of the best diets for weight loss is a medium protein, high fat diet. Something like a Keto Diet or the Atkins system.
Whilst low carb dieting is tough, especially to begin with, I do believe over the short terms it’s the most effective way to lose weight (providing a calorie deficit is successfully achieved).
When you remove carbs from your diet you tend to eat less overall calories and have less cravings, it also helps to lower inflammation, and drop water weight, which makes you look leaner.
Protein shakes can fit neatly into a low carb plan. For example you could have a post workout shake 4x per week. Whey protein contains minimal carbs (usually less than 3g) and will fit perfectly into your low carb meal plan.
Don’t Abuse Protein Shakes…
One thing I will say, is that protein shakes should be ‘used’ but not ‘abused’ – id say have no more than 1 per day. In many cases I believe you should have no more than 4 per week.
Most of your weight loss diet should be made up of wholesome, single ingredient foods, such as:
Protein: Chicken, turkey, eggs, steak, mince, cod, hake, salmon, tuna.
Vegetables: broccoli, asparagus, lettuce, peas, salad, and any type of green or colourful vegetables.
Fruit – 1 portion a day – apple, banana, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, mango, kiwi, etc, etc
Healthy Fats – coconut oil, organic butter, nuts (all varieties), olive oil, oily fish.
Problems With Protein Shakes…
Some people experience IBS after consuming whey protein. If you are lactose intolerant, or have a dairy allergy… then stay away from whey protein, as it will upset your stomach, and make you feel poorly.
Instead, you could try pea protein, or get your protein through other foods which I mentioned in the previous paragraph.