Looking for the best protein powder for weight loss? Read here!

As we’ll learn in this article, protein is generally known for helping you build and repair muscle after exercise. It is very popular with athletes, gym-rats and fitness enthusiasts, but it can actually be a safe addition to anyone's diet, nearly everyone can benefit from including it as a supplement to a healthy diet.

Eating more protein also boosts your metabolism. Adding protein powder to your diet is a great way to increase your protein intake and studies have shown that having a good protein intake has been known to help strengthen muscle, bone, and in some ways reduce your body fat. It also makes you feel more satiated for a longer period of time depending on the way you consume it so eating or drinking it before meals can actually make you feel full so that you eat less and help you keep off the pounds.

What is Protein Powder

Protein powders are a popular workout supplement to easily add the aforementioned nutrient to a diet. They are generally made from animal foods like milk and eggs or plant sources like soy, peas, rice, and hemp. They come in a variety of forms. They are usually consumed by mixing the powder with liquids, usually some form of milk or even water and then turned into a shake. Most commercially available protein powder comes in different flavors.

The Basic Benefits of Protein Powder

Protein Powder is a healthy way to add more protein to your diet. It’s a quality protein source that is absorbed and utilized efficiently by the human body. Protein powder is also used to fortify foods with proteins and thus increase their overall nutritional value. (1)

Protein Powder has a lot of health benefits. The intake of milk proteins such as whey and casein has beneficial effects on cardiovascular health. These studies have been recognized for a number of years. (2

Increased dietary protein intake has also been linked to an increase in bone strength in the elderly. (3

Scientific research supports the various beneficial effects of consuming whey protein for people who remain active. (4)

Different Kinds of Protein Powder

Protein Powders come in different kinds, The most common ones are whey, and casein derived from dairy, and soy, from soybeans.

Casein and whey are byproducts of the process for producing cheese from dairy. In the process of making cheese, enzymes or acids are added to the milk which cause the casein in the milk to coagulate, separating it from the liquid. That liquid is then dehydrated into a powdered form to create whey protein.

The parts that solidified are the curds which are then washed and dried to create casein protein powder.

Though they are from the same product, there is a difference in the manner in which our bodies digest the protein from Whey and from Casein. It was found that casein had a different effect on the whole body’s metabolism since it was considered to be a slow-digested protein and whey proteins are fast digested proteins. Both had different effects on protein and  amino acid metabolism. 

Casein is a slow-digesting protein (5) that can provide protein to the body over a longer period of time and can therefore help sustain muscle buildup and protein growth throughout the recovery between exercises. It can be taken before sleep in order to assist with post-workout recovery. (6)

A study showed that a slowly digested protein induced a better post prandial utilization of dietary nitrogen than a rapidly digested protein. It also suggested that too rapid dietary delivery cannot support the anabolic requirement. (7)

Another study suggested that Casein as well as pea protein shakes were significantly more satiating than their other protein powder counterparts and resulted in a lower food intake.  Casein and pea protein showed a stronger effect on food intake compared to whey when consumed as a preload. That is before a meal. However, consuming the protein preload as a starter of a meal decreased its impact on food intake as opposed to consuming it 30 min before the meal. (8)

Whey protein on the other hand, is digested by the body much quicker and is the best way to end an exercise or weightlifting session as it provides the body with the necessary protein in order to facilitate muscle repair and recovery. (9)  Whey protein takes only about 20 minutes in order to be digested, absorbed into the blood scream, taken up by muscle tissues and metabolized. It is generally metabolized by the body within the hour. (10)

Whey protein consumption via beverage 20 minutes before 2 different meals a day has shown that it can be effective for weight loss. Test groups  lost significantly more body fat and showed a greater preservation of lean muscle compared to subjects consuming the control beverage. (11)

A study found that protein intake via Protein shakes before mealtime reduced appetite of young women who were suffering from obesity. It was found that proteins actually reduce appetite, stimulate anorexigenic gastrointestinal peptides, and improve glucometabolic homeostasis in young obese women. 

Whey is the most commonly used protein powder due to its availability and that it is a water soluble milk protein, making it very easy to incorporate into shakes or other recipes. As a complete protein, it has all the 9 essential amino acids that the human body needs.

It was found that casein and whey protein behave differently during digestion in the intensity. When proteins are rapidly evacuated from the stomach, Casein protein clots or precipitates under the acidic gastric pH which delays delivery of amino acids to the gut. (12)

Plant Sources of Protein Powder

Plant alternatives to the more common dairy-based sources of protein powder are also becoming more common and popular. They are good alternatives for people who are lactose-intolerant or for those who have allergies or sensitivities for ingesting protein.

They are often perceived as more sustainable and affordable sources of protein powder. (13). Some consumers value sustainability and the ethical treatment of animals may prefer these plant sources of protein. Others are simply allergic or have adverse reactions to dairy.

Either way, the market for consumers right now permits average joes to choose between a wide selection of protein products to find the one which fits them best, not just regarding taste and nutritional value but also with other issues such as sustainability in mind.

Soy protein is one of those popular alternatives. Soy protein products are derived from “white flakes” made by dehulling ,flaking and defatting soybeans. They are processed to contain more than 90% protein. (14) Vegans may prefer soy protein though it does not have a pleasant taste and does not dissolve as easily in water as whey protein. It is a widely used substitute to animal protein and although it is a plant protein, the protein quality of soy protein is excellent. (15)

Hemp protein is a plant-based alternative and contains all the essential amino acids and in addition to that has high omega 3 and 6 fatty acids as well as a high arginine content. (16) It has many ancillary benefits and is of exceptional quality when it comes to its amino acid composition. (17)

Rice protein, another plant-based alternative does not have as much protein as the other and has lowed in the essential amino acids.  Protein products developed from rice bran, broken rice, and germinated brown rice are available in the market. Hypoallergenic and nutritional properties are the highlights of rice protein products, making them competitive with leading alternative protein products. (18)

Pea protein may be useful for those who are both lactose-intolerant or those who have allergies to soy and whey, similar though having fewer amino acids. Pea Protein is an important source of high-quality vegetable protein in the human diet. Its protein components are generally considered hypoallergenic, and many studies have highlighted the health benefits associated with the consumption of pea protein. Pea protein and its hydrolysates possess health benefits such as antioxidant, antihypertensive, and modulating intestinal bacteria activities. (19

Isolate Concentrate and Hydrolysate

Both whey isolate and concentrate are high-quality proteins, and it is reasonable to expect that they will produce similar effects if an equivalent dose of protein is taken. (20) In fact many products nowadays contain both types.

However, despite the minor differences in nutritional content, there is not strong evidence to suggest that whey isolate and concentrate have different effects in your body.

There are several popular types of whey protein. Their main difference is in the way they have been processed:

  • Concentrate: About 70–80% protein; contains some lactose (milk sugar) and fat and has the best flavor.
  • Isolate: 90% protein, or higher; contains less lactose and fat and lacks a lot of the beneficial nutrients found in whey protein concentrate.
  • Hydrolysate: Also known as hydrolyzed whey, this type has been pre-digested so that it gets absorbed faster. It causes a 28–43% greater spike in insulin levels than isolate.

How Can the Best Protein Powders Help Me Lose Weight?

Generally protein powder based drinks or shakes are often part of a balanced diet. Though some studies have concluded that consuming a higher than usual amount of protein in your diet may offer benefits. For example, eating or drinking products that are high in protein may help you lower body fat, keep lean muscle, and feel. Adequate protein consumption has been shown to play a huge role in weight loss and to keep the extra weight off. (21)

When combined with resistance training or weight training, It results in statistically significant improvements in weight loss. (22)

Protein consumption has been shown to help decrease hunger and appetite. Downing a protein shake has proven to be a meal replacement for people seeking to lose weight but maintaining their protein intake. Some are satiated by it. (23

Most studies conducted regarding the relationship of protein shake or powder consumption and weight loss find the connection in reduced appetite and increased feelings of satiation, that is, the feeling of being less hungry. People who ingest above 35 grams of protein at once feel more satiated. (24)

For those with more active lifestyles like athletes or bodybuilders who are looking to cut down on their body fat in order to show off more muscles, protein shakes are indispensable  in order to reach their daily protein intake requirements so they can shed excess weight without losing muscle.

People generally would want to keep muscle and protein is a vital component to that. Having more muscles also burns more calories during movement and during rest. (25)

Protein shakes are a widely acknowledged way to increase protein in a diet as well as reducing food intake which often results in weight loss. High protein diets have been concluded as an effective and safe tool for weight reduction especially in those who are at risk for obesity, or those who may have obesity related diseases. (26)

In other studies of women with the same exercise but different diets, those that hada  high protein diet appeared to have lost 1.4 more kilograms of body fat compared to those who followed a standard diet only. It also shows that those who were following a high protein diet retained more muscle even when losing more weight. (27)

How Can I Incorporate This to My Diet?

High protein diets combined with strength training will help you build muscle, having more muscles helps with keeping your metabolism in tip top shape. (28)

A commonly recommended dosage is 1–2 scoops (around 25–50 grams) per day, usually after workouts.

It’s recommended that you follow the serving instructions on the packaging.

Many of the studies mentioned previously in this article mentioned that protein powder, rehydrated into a beverage form also helped weight loss parameters when taken 30 minutes before meals as a way to improve satiety and reduce subsequent food intake, resulting in fewer calories taken in, which translates directly to weight loss.

Ingestion of protein powder doesn't cause kidney damage or contribute to osteoporosis. But as with all supplements, it is best to consult your doctor, especially for people with underlying kidney or liver issues. 

Just as with having too much of a good thing, eating too much whey protein powders can cause digestive issues such as nausea, flatulence, diarrhea, pain and cramping. Some people are also allergic to whey.

If you can’t tolerate regular whey protein isolates, concentrate, or hydrolysate may be more appropriate. There are other forms of protein powder such as pea protein and soy protein which help deliver substantial benefits though vary greatly in both taste and consistency and may not have the same flexibility as whey and casein protein.

Increasingly more and more people are incorporating protein powder in crepes, pancakes, muffins, brownies, protein bars, pies, pudding cupcakes and other baked goods to make a high-protein variation of common snacks and desserts. Though many people take the easier route and blend it together with their choice of dairy product  or vegan milk substitute and drink it straight up. Or just mix it in with a bowl of oatmeal.

Regardless of what kind of protein powder you choose and however you take it, protein powder can definitely be incorporated in a smart way in any healthy diet to help optimize weight-loss, retain lean muscle, boss metabolism and help you feel more satiated for longer periods of time.



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