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How Protein Shakes Help With Weight Loss: Latest Scientific Research

Protein is a vital nutrient for anyone looking to achieve weight loss goals. Getting enough protein in your diet will help to support a healthy metabolism while reducing your appetite. You can also lose more body fat yet not lose muscle.

Protein shakes are a great and easy method of adding more protein to your diet, and can even assist with weight loss. Here we will talk about protein shakes and how they impact your weight.

Protein Shakes: Defined

To make a protein shake, you can mix protein powder with water or some other liquid. You can add other ingredients as well, such as fruit. Such shakes are a good addition to your diet, particularly when you don’t regularly eat quality high-protein foods. Most people don’t need to consume protein shakes to meet their daily protein requirements, but they do anyway so as to boost their protein intake.

You have two options: you can either purchase protein powder and mix it all up yourself each day, or you can purchase pre-made liquid shakes that require no prep work.

Here are the most popular types of protein powder:

  • Whey protein: This is absorbed quickly, and it’s dairy-based with all the essential amino acids you need
  • Casein protein: This is more slowly absorbed, but it is also dairy-based and has all essential amino acids you need
  • Soy protein: This is plant-based and has essential amino acids, but it also contains soy isoflavones for added health benefits
  • Hemp protein: This is plant-based with essential amino acids, but it is also high in omega-3 and omega-6 fats with high arginine content
  • Rice protein: This is plant-based, but doesn’t have a lot of the essential amino acid lysine
  • Pea protein: This is plant-based with essential amino acids, but happens to be less allergenic than protein that comes from wheat or soy.

Many protein powders and drinks have a blend of different protein types.

For instance, several plant-based brands mix a few types to enhance amino acid ingestion. Some dairy protein powders are a mix of casein and whey to give longer-lasting and immediate effects in terms of muscle synthesis.

Summary

Protein shakes may offer different types of protein, and each one has its own nutrient profiles and benefits.

Protein can decrease appetite and hunger

Protein can help decrease hunger and appetite. This is because protein helps you feel more satisfied for longer periods of time than other macronutrients, due to the release of satiety hormones PYY and GLP-1.

Studies show that eating high amounts of protein can lead to less hunger throughout your day.

In another study, a high-protein breakfast was found to help older females take in 135 fewer calories throughout the later part of the day, compared with skipping breakfast or having a low-protein breakfast.

Yet another study revealed that when older overweight teen girls ate a high-protein breakfast, they felt less hungry throughout their day than those who skipped breakfast or had a low-protein breakfast.

In 2016, a meta-analysis was conducted that proved a link between higher protein intake and increased feelings of fullness. However, factors such as body weight, eating behavior, and health issues also contributed to fullness sensations.

Small studies have been done on protein shakes and appetite per se, including a study from 2019 that involved nine young obese women. The results found that having a whey protein drink could reduce appetite.

A 2011 study of men revealed that consuming 20 grams of either pea protein or casein a half hour prior to a meal made them feel more full while reducing how much food they ate. However, when they drank the protein drinks right before a meal, there was no effect.

So even though the evidence making a connection between protein shakes and weight loss is encouraging, many factors play a role in the strength of that connection.

Summary

Protein decreases appetite by impacting hunger hormones, and can help you feel fuller for longer.

Protein shakes maintain lean muscle and healthy metabolism

A high-protein diet — particularly when you pair it with strength training — can assist in building muscle. And due to the fact that muscle helps with metabolism and energy production, building muscle can ensure a healthier metabolism – especially for those who have to eat less as part of a doctor-recommended weight loss regimen.

Extreme caloric restriction may result in muscle loss and fat loss. This lean muscle loss can slow down your metabolism, making it easier to put the weight back on after quitting such a restrictive diet.

Including proper strength training and protein intake while consuming a calorie deficit can prevent muscle loss and result in metabolic slowdown.

A 2016 study found that consuming extra protein as a shake every week, when combined with resistance training, helped obese adults engaged in a 13-week weight loss program. They were given an extra 20 grams of protein each week and gained 2.8 lbs more muscle mass as part of their training program.

Another study involved participants receiving foods and shakes, resulting in a higher protein diet or a lower protein diet. After six weeks, people on the higher-protein diet had gained 2.4 lbs more muscle and lost nearly 3 lbs more fat.

The thermic effect of protein can also slightly boost metabolism. Your body needs more energy in order to properly digest protein than it does for carbs or fat. As such, you burn more calories in the process.

Summary

Protein can increase metabolism due to the energy required to metabolize and digest it. When paired with resistance training, you can build more muscle when you add more protein, particularly if you are on a low-calorie diet as prescribed by a doctor.

Protein shakes help you lose belly fat and weight

Researchers say that high-protein diets help you lose more fat, particularly when it comes to fat from the belly area.

In a 2004 study, participants on a diet of 25 percent calories from protein were found to have lost 10 percent more belly fat after a year than people who ate half that.

A 2009 study revealed when obese adults consumed a diet high in protein and low on the glycemic index, they could maintain their weight loss more easily than those who did not. A study update revealed that the adults who ate a diet high in protein kept on experiencing improved weight loss.

It’s hard to make a connection between consuming protein shakes and losing weight, due to so many lifestyle choices and ingredients involved in weight loss studies.

A 2017 study found that when people who had excess weight consumed low sugar protein shakes while involved in a “diet modification program,” weight loss improved.

Summary

Protein shakes are a quick, convenient method of increasing daily protein intake. When used as a part of a lower-calorie diet, protein shakes can support fat loss — particularly belly fat.

Protein shakes assist in weight management

The effect of protein on appetite, metabolism, and muscle mass could prevent you from regaining weight once it has been lost.

A 2005 study revealed that when people who had lost weight due to a diet program were given 30 grams of protein over six months, they tended to regain less weight than those who did not receive the supplemented protein.

In 2015 a literature review suggested that higher protein intakes improved both weight loss and management. But researchers were quick to say that fully adhering to a higher-protein diet is required for this improvement to occur.

Summary

Additional protein can minimize how much weight you regain after experiencing initial weight loss.

Which protein is best?

There are many different types of protein that can affect your body in many different ways.

For example, whey gets absorbed more quickly than casein, helping to promote muscle protein synthesis after you exercise. It could also help you feel less hungry during the short term.

While some studies show whey protein as being more effective than soy and a variety of other plant-based proteins in terms of weight loss, other studies show no real difference.

This concludes that individuals and their lifestyle factors have more importance than what kind of protein they choose for weight loss.

Don’t forget to consider the quality of protein you select.

Whey, soy and casein are known as “complete” proteins, meaning they include all the essential amino acids you need. However, they could result in an allergic reaction in some individuals.

Less allergenic options include rice and hemp proteins, but they are low in the essential amino acid lysine. And pea protein has low amounts of amino acids cysteine and methionine.

As long as you take in a variety of protein sources daily, you won’t have a problem with these deficiencies. Always speak with your doctor or a registered dietitian before taking any new supplements.

Summary

The type of protein powder you add to your protein shakes won’t make a big difference in fat loss. What’s more important is to consider your own health factors and dietary preferences.

Dosages and side effects

The FDA doesn’t usually review supplements for effectiveness and safety before they go on the market. This is why you need to research all ingredients and brand trustworthiness before purchasing. It’s best to select a protein that has been looked at by the USP Dietary Supplement Verification Program.

Also, different brands of protein powder have different serving sizes, so always check nutrition labels to learn the proper amount of supplemental protein that is right for you.

If you happen to be lactose intolerant and want to drink protein shakes made with casein or whey, you could have side effects such as:

  • bloating
  • gas
  • cramps
  • diarrhea

To avoid these, you could switch to protein powders that don’t come from dairy, like those made with protein from:

  • peas
  • eggs
  • soy
  • rice
  • hemp

Most research says a high protein diet is safe for most people, but it may not be as safe for those who have underlying kidney issues. If you have kidney complications, speak with your doctor before you increase protein intake.

The recommended minimum amount of protein for a male adult under 65 is 56 grams per day, and 67 grams per day for men older than 65.

For adult females, the recommended amount of protein is 48 grams per day for people under 65, and 57 grams a day for people over 65.

Summary

Consider nutrition labels, third-party verification, dietary preferences, and health factors when deciding to supplement your diet with protein shakes.

In Conclusion

Most adults get enough protein from food sources without having to resort to protein shakes. Yet protein shakes are a safe, easy, convenient, and delicious way of adding extra protein into your diet.

If you want to lose weight or manage your weight better, consuming extra protein from shakes can make you feel less hungry throughout the day. It also allows you to maintain muscle and metabolism, lowering the risk of regaining lost fat, especially when you add an exercise routine to the mix.

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