Protein powders have long appealed to people who want to build muscle and become stronger.
But they can also help those who want to shed weight.
As a convenient and tasty way to increase your protein intake, these powders offer many weight loss benefits — such as appetite control.
They’re highly concentrated dairy- or plant-based sources of protein that may contain added ingredients to aid weight loss as well.
Here are the 7 best protein powders for weight loss.
From snickerdoodle to birthday cake to cookies and cream, there is no shortage of protein powder flavors.
Add to the mix coffee-flavored protein powders, which often contain coffee grounds that are packed with the metabolism-boosting stimulant caffeine.
This makes coffee-protein blends the perfect snack 30–60 minutes before you exercise.
What’s more, the protein in these products can promote weight loss by decreasing your appetite, allowing you to cut back on the total calories you consume each day (3).
However, not all coffee-flavored protein powders contain caffeine, so read the nutrition label carefully.
Summary Many coffee-flavored protein powders contain caffeine from coffee grounds. Taken together, protein and caffeine enhance weight loss.
Whey protein is probably the most popular protein powder today.
Whey is one of two milk proteins — the other being casein.
Because your body easily digests and absorbs whey protein, it’s often taken after exercise for muscle building and recovery.
This product by Optimum Nutrition contains 24 grams of whey protein per scoop (30 grams) and may support both muscle gain and fat loss.
A review of nine studies found that overweight or obese people who supplemented with whey protein lost more weight and gained more muscle mass than those who didn’t (6).
The same review reported that whey protein users also experienced significant improvements in blood pressure, blood sugar control and cholesterol levels (6).
Summary Studies suggest that whey protein is effective for weight management, as it helps you feel full longer and thereby lessens your appetite.
Casein, the other milk protein, is digested much slower than whey but shares many of its weight loss properties.
Casein protein forms curds when exposed to your stomach acids. This means that your body takes a long time — usually 6–7 hours — to digest and absorb it.
However, the slow digestion rate of casein can help you eat less by decreasing your appetite (9).
In one study in 32 men consumed either a carbohydrate drink or casein, whey, egg or pea protein 30 minutes before eating an unrestricted meal. Researchers noticed that casein had the greatest impact on fullness and resulted in the fewest calories consumed (10).
However, not all studies agree.
In a different study, people who consumed whey protein 90 minutes before dining at a buffet had less hunger and ate fewer calories than those who consumed casein (8).
These results suggest that casein may be superior to whey protein only when taken 30 instead of 90 minutes before a meal. However, more research is needed to compare casein to whey and other protein powders.
Casein is also a great source of calcium.
For example, this casein protein powder by Optimum Nutrition contains 60% of your daily value for calcium per scoop (34 grams).
Several observational studies have linked higher calcium intake to lower body weight, though this effect has yet to observed in randomized controlled trials — the gold standard of scientific evidence (11, 12, 13, 14).
Summary Casein protein may help you shed weight by controlling hunger levels. Its high calcium content may aid weight loss as well.
Soy protein is one of the few plant-based proteins that contain all nine essential amino acids necessary for human health.
As such, it’s a high-quality source of protein that appeals to vegans or those who can’t tolerate milk proteins.
It has been shown to have an effect on appetite.
In one study, men were given pizza one hour after consuming whey, soy or egg white protein (15).
Though whey protein was associated with the greatest reduction in appetite, soy was more effective than egg white protein at decreasing appetite and reducing the number of calories consumed.
Soy protein has also been shown to benefit women.
One randomized study had postmenopausal women take 20 grams of either a soy or casein protein drink daily for three months (16).
This is the same amount of soy protein found in one scoop of EAS soy protein powder.
Those consuming soy lost more belly fat than those drinking casein, though the differences were not significant (16).
Summary Soy protein is a plant-based protein shown to enhance weight loss comparatively to dairy-based proteins like casein.
Plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains are the best sources of dietary fiber (18).
Benefits of getting enough fiber in your diet include normalizing bowel movements, lowering cholesterol levels, controlling blood sugars in people with type 2 diabetes and achieving a healthy weight (19, 20, 21).
Like protein, fiber has been shown to decrease food intake — and body weight as a result (21).
Unfortunately, much — if not all — of the fiber is removed during the manufacturing of plant-based protein powder.
However, some mixed plant-based protein powders are fortified with fiber. Such products combine several protein sources, such as pea, rice, chia seeds and garbanzo beans.
Together, the protein and fiber create a synergistic effect that aids weight loss more than the ingredients individually.
Look for mixed plant-based protein blends that contain more than 5 grams of fiber per serving.
For instance, each 43-gram scoop of Fit meal replacement by Garden of Life packs 28 grams of protein from a variety of plant-based sources alongside 9 grams of fiber.
Similarly, this protein powder from Orgain contains 21 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber for every two scoops (46 grams).
Summary Dietary fiber has many health benefits, including weight loss. Many mixed plant-based proteins are fortified with fiber for added weight loss benefits.
If you dislike or cannot tolerate milk proteins, egg white protein is a good alternative.
While eggs’ key nutrients are found in the yolk, egg white protein is made only from whites — as the name suggests (22).
It’s created by processing dehydrated chicken egg whites into powder.
Egg white protein products — such as this one by NOW Sports — undergo a process called pasteurization.
This prevents Salmonella and inactivates a protein called avidin, which binds with the B vitamin biotin and hinders its absorption (23).
The appetite-lowering impact of egg white protein is not as strong as that of whey or casein — but research still suggests it can help you eat fewer calories, aiding your weight loss efforts (10).
Summary If you’re sensitive to dairy products, egg white protein powders are a reasonable alternative. Keep in mind that the weight loss benefits are subdued compared to whey or casein.
Like soy protein, pea protein contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.
However, pea protein’s amino composition is not comparable to dairy-based protein powders since it’s low in some essential amino acids.
Pea protein powder — such as this product from Naked Nutrition — is made from yellow peas.
It’s hypoallergenic, making it a safe choice for those with intolerances or allergies to milk, soy or egg.
What’s more, pea protein powder is a good plant-based alternative to dairy-based proteins for weight loss.
In one study examining protein and fullness, men consumed 20 grams of a carbohydrate drink or casein, whey, pea or egg protein 30 minutes before a meal (10).
Second only to casein, pea protein showed a strong effect on lowering appetite, which resulted in participants consuming fewer calories overall.
Pea protein doesn’t taste like smashed peas, but it has an earthy taste that some people may dislike.
If this is the case, Naked Nutrition offers a chocolate-flavored pea protein powder that is much more palatable.
Summary Pea protein is a plant-based protein made from yellow peas. It’s hypoallergenic, making it suitable for those with food allergies or intolerances. Pea protein can aid weight loss by helping you eat less.
When it comes to losing weight, creating a calorie deficit is what matters most.
Once you establish a calorie deficit, there are some advantages to increasing your protein intake, which protein powders can help you do.
Increasing your protein intake helps you lose weight by:
- Increasing feelings of fullness: Protein helps you stay fuller longer, which can lead you to eat less and lose weight (25).
- Boosting metabolism: Compared to carbs or fat, protein demands the most calories during digestion and utilization. Therefore, raising your protein intake can increase calorie burning (26).
- Maintaining muscle mass: When you lose weight, you also tend to lose fat and muscle. Consuming adequate protein — alongside resistance training — can help you maintain muscle and burn fat (27).
That said, protein powders alone won’t help you lose weight. They only make dieting easier by controlling your hunger.
Summary There are several ways that increasing your protein intake benefits weight loss. While protein powders can form part of a larger dieting plan, they won’t directly help you lose weight.
Many people use protein powders to build muscle, but they can also benefit your weight loss goals.
Whey, casein and egg proteins, as well as plant-based sources such as soy and pea, all make excellent choices for people looking to lose weight.
Some of these protein powders are fortified with ingredients like caffeine and fiber that can aid weight loss as well.
While these products can assist you in losing weight, you’ll get the best results if you use them alongside a well-balanced, reduced-calorie diet and exercise routine.
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