Can protein shakes help you lose weight? Learn about the types of protein powders available and the benefits and risks involved
Replacing meals with protein shakes can help you reduce your overall calorie intake each day, making you feel full for longer and taking the edge off your appetite. However, it’s important to remember that protein shakes aren’t a magic shortcut to losing weight.
Relying too heavily on protein shakes could lead you to miss out on nutrients from regular whole foods, and some shakes are actually quite high in calories. Moreover, when you start to eat solid foods again, it can be easy to gain weight back if you aren’t careful about what types of foods to include in your diet.
What are different types of protein powders?
You can make your own protein shake by mixing commercially prepared protein powders with water or milk, or you can buy pre-mixed liquids. This is a convenient option if you don’t have access to high-protein foods and have trouble meeting your protein requirements through food alone.
Some protein powders contain a mix of two or more of these types available in the market:
- Whey protein: Isolated from cow’s milk, quickly absorbed by the body, contains all the essential amino acids.
- Casein protein: Isolated from cow’s milk, slowly absorbed by the body, contains all the essential amino acids.
- Soy protein: Plant-based protein isolated from soy and contains all the essential amino acids (good option for vegans).
- Pea protein: Plant-based protein and contains all the essential amino acids (good option for people who are allergic to milk or soy).
- Hemp protein: Plant-based protein that contains all essential amino acids and is a rich source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (heart-healthy fatty acids).
- Rice protein: Plant-based protein that contains a lower proportion of the essential amino acid lysine.
Weight loss occurs in the belly before anywhere else.
What is the best protein drink?
Depending on your needs, different protein drinks have different benefits:
- Whey protein shakes are the best option for drinking immediately after a workout, since they promote muscle building.
- If you are allergic to dairy and soy products, you may want to consider pea, rice, and hemp proteins over whey, casein, and soy options.
- Since rice protein is low in the essential amino acid lysine, you can add almond butter or simply vary your plant protein sources from shake to shake to make up for the deficiency.
- Since pea protein is low in the amino acid methionine, you can supplement the missing amino acid by adding nut butter or nut milk to your pea protein shake.
Does drinking protein shakes have any side effects?
The U.S. FDA doesn't regulate dietary supplements, including protein shakes, for their safety or purity. Therefore, it’s important to examine labels and read the full list of ingredients when selecting a protein powder.
If you are allergic to dairy, whey or casein protein may cause side effects such as: