Does protein help with fat loss? What is the best protein powder for weight loss?

Why is protein important?

Protein is an essential nutrient, without which we cannot survive. Protein is made up of Amino Acids, which are the building blocks of muscle.

Protein plays so many vital roles in the body that it’s nearly impossible to list them all in this blog post.

The word Protein comes from the Greek word ‘Proteios’, which means ‘First’. In terms of Health, Fitness, Building Muscle and even Weight Loss, protein should always first in the order of priority.

Protein for Building Muscle

Protein supplies our bodies with the essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of muscle. Protein typically consists of 20 amino acids. Out of these 9 are considered to be ‘Essential Amino Acids’.

Our bodies cannot produce these Essential Amino Acids. This means that essential amino acids can only be obtained from food.

Without sufficient protein, we cannot build the optimal amount of muscle.

Unless you eat a very low amount of protein, you probably don’t need to increase your protein intake drastically.

For most people, 0.8 -1 gram pf protein per pound of body weight is sufficient. If you don’t get this much from your diet, you can use a protein powder to fill in this gap.

For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, you need 160-200 grams of protein to build muscle. If you get only 150 grams from food, you can ad in 1-2 scoops of protein to fill in the gap. If you get enough form your diet, you don’t need to supplement with a protein powder.

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Protein for Weight Loss

Weight Loss Journey Progress

Protein is not just for building muscle. Protein is also extremely important when it comes to losing weight. Here are some of the benefits of protein for weight loss.

Preserve Muscle Mass

A lot of people make this mistake of not consuming enough protein while losing weight. This results in poor recovery and a loss of muscle mass while dieting.
We don’t want this. We want to focus on FAT LOSS and NOT WEIGHT LOSS. We should always focus on losing fat while maintaining or even building muscle mass. This applies to both, men and women.
Eating enough protein helps preserve muscle mass while dieting. If we don’t consume enough, our bodies will break down our own protein (muscle) instead.

Managing Hunger

When losing weight, we feel more hungry than usual. This is because less food is coming in and our bodies can sense this lack of energy. Protein is considered to be the most satiating macronutrient when compared to carbohydrates and fats.
If you eat a protein-rich meal, you will feel full for longer.

Boosts Metabolism

When we eat food, our bodies have to expend energy to break down the food and derive energy from it.
This is known as the Thermic Effect of Food.
Protein has the highest thermic effect of any macronutrient. The thermic effect of protein is about 30%. This means that if you consume 100 calories of protein, your body will expend 30 calories to break it down and you will get 70 net calories.
The thermic effect of fats and carbohydrates is only about 2-3%.
If you replace some of your calories from carbs and fats with protein, you will feel less hungry, maintain more muscle mass and burn a few more calories.

Protein for Athletes

In recent years more and more athletes are realizing the importance of protein. Protein is no longer just for bodybuilders and strength athletes. Nearly all types of athletes can benefit from sufficient protein intake.

Even though most athletes don’t need to build maximal muscle and strength, nearly all athletes can get better at their sport by improving their body composition. The same goes for strength. Almost any athlete can get better at their sport by getting stronger.

Protein from Food

Food Flexible Dieting IIFYM

Food Variety

Protein is found in nearly all whole foods. For a food to be considered a good protein source, most of the calories have to come from protein.

For example, Peanut butter contains protein but most of it’s calories come from fats.

2 Tbsp. of peanut butter has 16 grams of Fat (144 Calories) and 8 Grams of Protein (32 Calories).

Peanut butter has 4.5X more calories from fats than protein. Therefore, it is considered to be a source of fat and not a good source of protein.

On the other hand, Chicken breast is considered to be a good source of protein because most of its calories come from protein.

100 grams of chicken cooked breast has 31 grams of protein (124 calories) and 3.6 grams of fat (32 calories).

Good Sources of Protein

-Greek Yogurt

-Cottage cheese

-Poultry (chicken, turkey etc.)

-Lean cuts of red meat

-Eggs and egg whites

-Protein Powders

How Much Protein? For most people who want to gain muscle or lose fat, 0.8-1 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight is a good starting point.

Why Use a Protein Powder for Weight Loss?

53822951 - whey protein powder in scoop, dumbbell, meter tape and plastic shaker on wooden background.

You should consider using a protein powder if you don’t get enough from food. Protein powders are not necessary for weight loss or for building muscle.

Learn more about: Is a Protein Powder Necessary?

Benefits of using protein supplements

Convenience

Protein powders are a quick and easy way to get high-quality protein. Unlike other protein sources, you don’t have to spend time cooking or eating your protein.

Recovery

Protein powders such as whey are considered to be quick digesting. As a result, they can help you recover a bit faster. The speed of recovery is not super important for most people. Some athletes can benefit from faster recovery if they train multiple times a day. Protein powders can also be beneficial if you train fasted.

Cost

Protein supplements are relatively inexpensive in countries like the US. Protein sources such as meat end up being more expensive overall. Protein supplements are ideal for students and people on a budget.

Taste

When dieting, we often have to cut out sweets and other junk foods. Most protein powders today taste quite good and it really helps if you’re craving something sweet. The different options are endless.

Rich in Essential Amino Acids (EAA)

Drawbacks of Protein Powders for Weight Loss

The only major drawback of using protein powders instead of food is that protein powders can be less satiating. Because they digest quickly compared to whole sources of protein, you might feel hungrier.  This does not apply to everyone.

You can overcome this by using something like a casein protein powder, which can be more filling/satiating.

Types of Protein Powders

Whey Protein

Whey is a protein that is derived from milk. It is known to be quick digesting and rich in essential amino acids such as leucine.

Whey is also the most popular type of protein powder out there.

It is generally cheaper than other types of protein powders.

There are different types of whey available including whey protein concentrate, whey isolate, Hydrowhey etc.

Whey Protein Concentrate

Milk is separated into liquid whey and milk solids. The whey is then filtered to remove any excess fat and lactose. The result is a protein powder which is high in protein and has minimal fat, carbohydrates, and lactose.

Whey Protein Isolate

When we take whey protein concentrate and process is even further, we have a product that is a bit more pure in terms of protein content. Due to this extra processing, whey isolate has little to no lactose or fat. This is a good option for those who are lactose-intolerant or are on an extremely low carb or low-fat diet.

With whey isolate, you get a little more protein per serving. I personally don’t like whey isolate because it is too watery when you make a shake with it. With whey concentrate, the slightly higher fat content gives it a creamier texture.

Hydrolyzed Whey Protein

One of the processes of digestion is Hydrolysis. Hydrolyzed whey protein considered to be a  ‘pre-digested’ form of whey which is thought of as being absorbed very quickly into the bloodstream.

From a practical perspective, whey protein by itself is a pretty fast digesting source of protein. For most people, the speed of digestion and absorption is not important. As long as you get enough protein throughout the day, the speed doesn’t really matter.

For this reason, it’s not worth paying the premium price for hydrolyzed whey protein. Plus, you actually get less protein per serving

Most people should use whey concentrate as long as they can tolerate lactose. If you are lactose-intolerant, you can try a whey-isolate or a different source of non-dairy protein.

As far as Hydrolyzed whey protein goes, I haven’t seen any evidence that shows it as being superior to regular whey protein.

Whey Concentrate: Great protein source for most people.

Whey Isolate: Slightly higher protein and less fat & lactose per serving. Also, costs more. Only buy if you’re lactose-intolerant or on a low

Hydrolyzed Whey: Not recommended.

Recommended Whey Protein

The tried and true Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Protein is a great product in terms of quality and protein content for most people. It is a blend of whey concentrate and whey isolate. It is 80% protein by weight.

Casein Protein

Casein is also derived from milk. Milk is about 20% Whey and 80% Casein.

Casein is regarded as being a slow digesting source of protein. For this reason, many people prefer having casein before going to bed in order to supply their bodies with amino acids while they sleep.

A major benefit of casein protein is that it is quite filling. If you get hungry, casein is very satiating.

While whey protein is known to increase Muscle Protein Synthesis, Casein can help prevent Muscle Protein Breakdown.

Recommended Casein Protein

Optimum Nutrition’s 100% Casein is one of the best you can buy.

Egg Protein Powder

Eggs are considered to be a good protein source even though whole eggs are high in fat. If you remove the egg yolk, you’re left with egg whites, which are almost pure protein (and water).

 

Egg protein powders are a convenient way of getting protein from eggs without having to cook them.

Egg protein powders are not widely available as in the market and very few companies manufacture them. They offer no real benefits over regular whey protein.

Recommended Egg Protein Powder

NOW Foods Eggwhite Protein

Vegan Protein Powder

Today we have more and more plant-based, vegan protein powders available than ever. You can find these at nearly all major grocery stores and online stores such as Amazon.

Vegans can really benefit from using protein supplements because a typical vegan diet is lower in protein. This is because most vegan sources of protein are also very high in carbohydrates and fats.

A vegan protein powder can help add some extra protein to your diet without adding too many extra fats and carbohydrates.

Another benefit of supplementing with protein for vegans is that most vegan protein sources are considered as incomplete proteins. This simply means that most vegan protein sources don’t contain all of the essential amino acids required for muscle growth.

In order to combat this, we can combine different sources of proteins to get all the amino acids.

For this reason, if you are vegan and want to buy a vegan protein powder, select one with more than one protein source. You can easily find this by looking at the ingredient list on the product label.

Recommended Vegan Protein Powder

MRM – Veggie Elite Performance Protein is a great plant-based protein powder

Beef Protein

Beef protein is not very popular for a few reasons. For most products, the amino acid profile is inferior to other types of proteins. Beef protein is also more expensive.

Because I’ve never tried it myself, I cannot comment on the taste.

Beef protein is usually advertised as having a high creatine content. If you want to supplement with creatine, you can easily supplement with creatine monohydrate separately.

In general, it’s a low-quality protein source. Looking at the amino acid profile and price, I cannot recommend it.

Not recommended for most people.

That being said, if you wish to experiment, you can try MHP IsoPrime 100% Beef Protein Isolate

Again, I don’t recommend it.

Protein Blends

Protein blends are very popular these days. These usually contain 2 or more sources of protein. For example, some products contain both whey and casein. Many people prefer this because they get the best of both worlds – fast and slow digesting protein.

Fast digesting sources of protein such as Whey are considered to be anabolic. On the other hand, slow digesting protein sources such as Casein are Anti-Catabolic.

With protein blends, you get the best of both worlds, Anabolic and Anti-Catabolic benefits of protein.

Recommended Protein Blend

PEScience Select Protein Premium Whey and Casein Blend 

How to Select the best Protein Powder?

Here are the main factors you should consider before making your decisionProduct quality. Even

Product Quality

Even though protein is considered to be a commodity, there are differences in quality. This depends on who the manufacturer is. Most companies don’t actually manufacture the protein themselves. They have it manufactured by another company and they simply put their brand and label on it.

You will be surprised to find that many of the popular protein brands share the same manufacturer.

It is important to use a protein from a reputed brand and to make sure that they follow GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices)

Amino Acid Profile

When we consume protein, our ultimate goal is to get the amino acids from them. When you purchase a protein powder, you want to make sure that it is rich in the Essential Amino Acids (EAA) and Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA).

Out of all the amino acids, the amino acid –Leucine is considered to be the most important driver of Muscle Protein Synthesis.

When selecting a protein powder, aim for about 10% leucine out of the total protein content.

This means that if a protein powder has 24 grams of protein, it should contain about 2.4 grams of Leucine

Price

As with everything else, price is an important factor when selecting the best protein powder. There is no reason to overpay for a protein powder just because a company advertises additional benefits. Protein powders are pretty basic. As long as the product is of good quality and meets your needs and preferences, you should go with the cheapest option.

Added Amino-Acids – Amino Spiking

In general, you should avoid products with added amino acids in them. You can find out by looking at the ingredients list.
The adding of extra amino acids such as glycine, taurine, and even creatine is known as ‘Amino Spiking’. This was recently a big controversy in the fitness industry.
Basically, some dishonest companies add in cheap amino acids to their protein to bump up the protein content on the label.
This is probably not harmful but you would be paying money to get some cheap, non-essential amino acids.

Ingredients

In general, if a product has over 5-6 ingredients, you should avoid buying it. The fewer the ingredients are, the better it is. If you’re paying for protein, you should get the maximum amount of protein for your money.
Good protein powders contain protein, sweetener, flavoring and something to improve texture/mixability. If it contains anything else such as dextrose, maltodextrin or other ingredients, it’s probably not a good product.

Taste

Taste is very subjective and you have to find the brand and flavors that work for you. Today, it’s very hard to find a bad tasting protein powder. When protein powders first came into the market, there were very few flavors available and many of them tasted bad.
Today we have so many flavors to choose from and most of them are very good. Brands such as Optimum Nutrition and Myprotein have some of the largest selections when it comes to flavors.
If you’re not sure about which flavor to buy, you could get smaller sized packs to try out different flavors.

Individual Preferences / Tolerance

Individual preferences are important. If you’re a vegan, you  will not purchase a protein powder which contains dairy, egg or other animal sources.
If You’re lactose intolerant, you may do better with a whey protein isolate or a lactose-free protein powder.

Brand Reputation and Independent Tests

When it comes to supplements, you have to be careful. Many brands in the past have been guilty of not meeting label claims, adding banned substances, amino spiking etc. A product can say that it has a certain amount of protein but many times, independent tests show that they actually contain far less protein than what the label says.

For this reason, it is important to purchase from a reputed brand.

Best Protein Powder for Weight Loss?

When it comes to losing weight, we should focus on Fat Loss and not Weight Loss. This means that we should build /maintain muscle mass while dieting.

Strength Training + Adequate Protein intake can help achieve this.

Protein supplements are not necessary. Any supplement should be used to fill a deficiency. If you don’t get enough protein from food, you can use a protein powder.

For most people, a Whey Protein Powder is a good choice. If you’re lactose intolerant, you can go for a whey isolate.

If you want something that’s more filling, you can go for a Casein Protein Powder

If you want the best of both worlds, you can go for a Whey + Casein Blend

If you’re vegan, a good plant-based powder can work.

Beef Protein Powders are not recommended.

Hope this was helpful! have you tried any of these protein powders?