Now that the new year is underway, many people make it a goal to start a new exercise regimen and consume a healthier diet to help lose weight. For the best results, you need to practice a combination of nutritious eating and working out—and drinking protein shakes with the right protein powder can help with both of these goals.
There are tons of benefits to incorporating protein shakes into your diet, but you also must balance the rest of your daily meals by consuming the right foods to fuel your body and help your metabolism burn fat. The biggest concern when following a weight loss program is that you may begin burning lean muscle instead of fat. To avoid this problem, and begin your diet in the healthiest way possible, follow these tips on how to use protein powder for weight loss this year.
Why Is Protein Powder Good for Weight Loss?
As you probably realize, protein powders are very high in protein, which may have you wondering how it can help you drop those extra pounds. In order to lose weight, you must burn off more calories than you are consuming throughout the day, hence the importance of exercising. You want your diet to be comprised of food items that are high in nutrients but low in calories. Highly processed foods, like chips and white bread, often contain a lot of added sugars, which can cause health issues like increased risk of heart disease while also boost your calorie intake without providing any nutrients.
Protein powders are a great snack replacement because they are often low in calories but high in other nutrients your body requires, including protein, calcium, iron and magnesium, amongst others. When purchasing a protein powder, however, you want to carefully examine the ingredients to ensure that there are no artificial ingredients or added sugars. Some companies will mix in sugar to make the protein powder taste better, but it can greatly hurt your fitness goals.
When trying to cut calories, protein is one nutrient you need to make sure you’re receiving enough of or you’ll begin to suffer from uncomfortable and unhealthy side effects like fatigue and muscle weakness. Protein helps fuel your muscles and rebuild them after a workout, so without enough protein in your diet, your exercise routine will suffer as well. Some people choose to drink protein shakes first thing in the morning as a meal replacement for breakfast. Your body requires protein in the morning because it helps to kickstart your metabolism, which will aid in burning off calories and fat for the rest of the day.
Which Type of Protein Powder Is Best for Weight Loss?
Protein powders are available in several different forms—whey and casein being the most popular choices. However, if you follow a plant-based diet, you will want to use a different type of protein as both of these are derived from cows, making them dairy products. Try pea protein, hemp protein and soy protein.
If you’re okay with consuming dairy products, whey is the best and most widely used protein powder for weight loss. Whey is considered more beneficial than casein as a daytime supplement because it can be quickly digested by your body, allowing the benefits to act more quickly than the slower-released casein. Whey contains all the essential amino acids your body requires to rebuild your muscles. Typically, whey is consumed right before or after a workout because it is so vital in aiding your body by repairing tiny tears in your muscles caused by exercise. Drinking whey protein shakes is an excellent way to help build lean muscle while dropping excess fat.
As mentioned, casein protein is not digested as quickly as whey, making it less beneficial as a muscle recovery supplement. However, many people will drink a casein shake before bed because it can slowly digest throughout the night, which helps your body to rebuild muscle while you’re sleeping. It can also help decrease protein breakdown during the night. One study found that people who consumed casein protein over whey lost three times as much weight and gained twice as much muscle mass.
Plant-Based Protein Powders
For those who do not include dairy in their daily diet, you’ll want to select a plant-based protein that’s right for you. Some options are a mixture of plant-based proteins like hemp, chia, soy, pumpkin and pea. If you’re drinking protein shakes as part of a weight loss program, you should seek out a plant-based powder with the lowest calories but high in protein and void of added sugars and other ingredients.
Establish a Weight Loss Program with Goals
When using protein powder as part of your weight loss regimen, you should begin by creating a specific plan with goals for yourself. Determine how many calories you should be consuming each day and how many you need to burn. Then, determine a meal schedule. This plan doesn’t have to demonstrate every single thing you’ll eat every day, but it should be more of an outline or guideline for how to eat to lose weight. You can plan to drink protein shakes in the morning as a breakfast meal replacement or integrate them throughout the day as snacks.
Then, make a list of healthy dinner proteins that you can rotate throughout each night to give your diet variety while consuming foods packed with nutrients. Fatty fishes, like salmon, and chicken are two great sources of protein you can eat for dinner each night.
Once you’ve determined how to count your calories and which foods are good to integrate into your diet, you should come up with a realistic goal for how much weight you’d like to lose. You can start off small by setting a monthly weight loss goal or go big and decide how much weight you’d like to lose in three, six, or nine months.
Why You Need the Proper Amount of Protein
Protein is vital to leading a healthy lifestyle. Many people who begin a new diet think that eating less, in general, will help them to drop pounds, but as mentioned, you need to be careful about which types of foods you cut from your diet. Protein should never be something you limit when trying to lose weight because nearly everything in your body is composed of protein. Without nourishing your body with this essential nutrient, you’ll begin to suffer the side effects and put yourself at risk of health concerns like decreased immune system health. Protein also helps to satiate your hunger and reduce cravings throughout the day.
Developing a Workout Routine
While drinking protein shakes can certainly help you to meet your goals of losing weight, just incorporating shakes into your diet is not enough—exercise is key to losing weight. Because you must burn more calories than you consume in order to drop pounds, you may want to focus on high-intensity workouts. Cardio is one of the best ways to burn a lot of calories quickly. Running or cycling are popular cardio workouts that will help you to work up a sweat, burn calories and strengthen other parts of your body like your core and legs.
Most people who are trying to lose weight will focus on building up muscles in their core, but your initial goal should be to burn off excess fat before trying to build the lean muscle underneath. Swimming, rowing, using the elliptical and jumping rope are other great calorie-burning workouts. As you notice your weight beginning to drop, you can start to integrate more strength-building exercises into your routine.
High-intensity interval training, often referred to as HIIT, is a popular method for seeing quick workout results. This type of training encourages you to perform intense workouts for a period of time with very few, short breaks in between. HIIT is a great way to lose weight because it encourages your body to continue burning calories after you’ve stopped exercise. The intensity of these workouts heats your internal body temperature up quickly, which burns fats and continues to do so after you’ve finished because it takes your body longer to cool down than it does to heat up.
Avoid Protein Powders High in Calories and Added Ingredients
Protein shakes are so valuable when developing a weight loss routine because they are low in calories, but some protein powders with added ingredients may end up including more calories than you think. Carefully research and learn about different protein powders and read up on their ingredients to ensure that you’re not using one with high calories or unhealthy artificial ingredients.
When to Drink Protein Shakes for Weight Loss
There is much discussion around what is the best time of day to drink a protein shake, but this really depends on your daily routine and your fitness goals. For those trying to lose weight, you may benefit from drinking protein shakes in the morning when your body needs fuel. You can help your metabolism to work more quickly by consuming a morning meal packed with protein. Drinking a shake first thing in the morning will up your protein intake without adding too many calories.
Consuming a protein shake right before your regular exercise time is also said to help you reach your full potential during a workout, providing your body with plenty of energy. Many people also swear by a post-workout protein shake because it can be so beneficial in replacing the protein you’ve burned off while exercising and rebuild your muscles.
Other Foods to Integrate into Your Diet
Aside from protein shakes, there are many other foods that can help you lose weight and gain lean muscle for a more physically fit body. Fatty fish is one of the most important types of protein to integrate into your diet because of the high omega-3 content. The American Heart Association recommends eating a 3.5 ounce serving of fatty fish at least twice a week for optimal health benefits, including decreased risk of heart disease.
Chicken is another protein flush with health benefits that makes for the perfect main course at dinner or lunchtime, particularly because it is low in fat. Throughout the day, you should try to integrate healthy snacks over those void of nutritional value, like chips. Pita and hummus is an excellent snack, which is also rich in protein and low in fat. Nuts are one of the best snacks because they also contain protein along with minerals and vitamins that help support a healthy diet and reduce feelings of hunger.
Our Favorite Types of Protein Shakes for Weight Loss
Chocolate Coffee Protein Shake
- Handful of ice cubes
- ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 cup cold brew black coffee or room temperature coffee
- 1 scoop Chocolate Protein Powder
- Dash of simple syrup or honey (optional)
Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Shake
- Handful of ice cubes
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 scoop Chocolate Protein Powder
- 1 scoop PBFit peanut butter powder
Add ice and a bit of almond milk to your Ice Shaker first to prevent protein powder from sticking to the tumbler. Then, add in the rest of the milk and protein and peanut butter powder. Make sure the agitator is attached to the lid of the shaker and shake mixture well.
Vanilla Protein Shake
- Handful of ice cubes
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 scoop Vanilla Protein Powder
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract