April 17, 2024

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Is protein powder good for weight loss? Advice from a registered dietitian

4 min read

Anyone trying to lose weight has probably heard about the importance of proper protein consumption. Protein is vital for muscle recovery, so getting enough in your diet is important if you’re upping your workouts.

Protein powder can be an easy addition to your diet to help increase your protein intake and help you lose weight. We talked to a registered dietitian to get the skinny on using protein powder for weight loss.

What is protein?

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Eating plant or animal-based protein at every meal is recommended.

Protein is an essential macronutrient that repairs muscles and bones, provides energy, and supports a healthy immune system.

“Protein is made up of essential amino acids that are the building blocks of strong muscles and bone,” says Jennifer Scherer, registered dietitian, certified personal trainer, and owner of Fredericksburg Fitness Studio. “Without adequate protein consumption, we run the risk of losing skeletal lean muscle mass and bone mineral density.”

She recommends eating plant or animal-based protein at every meal to promote muscle growth and improve satiety after meals.

“Incorporating more protein in your diet will lead to improvements in lean muscle mass retention, improved satiety, faster recovery after resistance training, and improved bone health,” Scherer says.

How much protein should you eat daily?

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0.36 and 0.68 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

It’s recommended the average adult consumes between 0.36 and 0.68 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily.

Getting enough protein is especially important when trying to lose weight, as it helps the body target fat stores and prevent the loss of lean muscle mass. For those looking to lose weight, a slightly higher intake, anywhere from 0.73 to 1 gram per pound, may be optimal. Alternatively, Scherner says about 30% of your daily total calories should come from protein if you’re not one for tracking grams.

What are protein powders?

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Protein powders are simply powdered forms of protein.

As the name implies, protein powders are simply powdered forms of protein that can be dissolved into water or blended into a smoothie for an easy way to incorporate more protein into your diet.

“Protein powders are a simple and convenient way to boost your protein intake that may help with weight loss, assuming you are selecting options that fit within your total daily energy needs,” Scherer says.

They’re available in dairy-based and vegan forms. The proteins in whey and casein powders come from milk and eggs, respectively, while the protein in plant-based powders may come from soybeans, peas, rice, potatoes, hemp, or other plants.

They come in flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, and you can find them at your local grocery store, Vitamin Shoppe, Target, and more. You can also stock up online at retailers like Amazon.

Is protein powder good for weight loss?

Protein powder can be beneficial for weight loss, as it allows you to get more protein for a relatively low caloric intake. While there are fewer studies looking at the effects of protein powders on weight loss, research supports the general notion that higher protein intake is beneficial for weight management.

A high-protein diet may increase your resting metabolic rate or how many calories you burn at rest, as proteins take more energy to digest than carbs. Getting adequate protein can also prevent loss of muscle mass, and muscle mass burns more calories at rest compared to fat.

If weight loss is your goal, you’ll want to make sure you’re still operating at a calorie deficit. To lose between 0.5 and 2 pounds per week, Scherer recommends aiming for a 250 to 1,000 daily calorie deficit. Even when losing weight, it’s important you don’t consume too few calories. The minimum daily calorie intake is 1,200 for women and 1,500 for men. However, the average recommended daily calorie intake hovers around 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men. Your individual needs will change depending on your age, sex, and activity levels, so consult your doctor or nutritionist if you need guidance.

How to choose a protein powder

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There are many different types of protein powders available.

There are a few different types of protein powders available. When choosing a protein powder, you’ll want to consider the source. Whey protein digests quickly, which makes it a great option for post-workout recovery. However, vegans or those who are lactose intolerant will want to steer clear of whey, as it’s made from milk product.

Casein is another dairy-based protein, but it digests more slowly, so it’s a good option for anyone looking to boost their overall protein intake who isn’t concerned with quickly refueling after a workout. Again, because it is made from milk, it isn’t suitable for vegans.

Plant-based protein can be made from a variety of ingredients including soy, pea, or hemp, and is great for anyone who wants to avoid dairy in their daily diet.

Once you know what source of protein you’d like, you can investigate the nutrition label. Scherer recommends looking for options with 20 to 30 grams per serving. One gram of protein is roughly four calories, so finding a protein powder closer to 80 to 120 calories per serving can make it easier to use your new powder for weight loss.

While protein powders come with many benefits, you’ll also want to steer clear of products high in calories or sugar if your goal is to lose weight. Additionally, you’ll want to keep an eye on the sodium levels.

You can find popular brands such as Orgain, Ghost, and Vega available at retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and Target.


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