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Weight loss, getting lean, getting shredded… only 20% of your results come from the gym. The other 80% is down to what you eat.
And it’s not just the way we look; while improvements in cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength are brought on by exercise, both are heavily impacted by our diet. Our protein intake in particular has a big impact on our body composition. The higher the percentage of protein in our diet, the leaner we can become.
So how do protein shakes help with weight loss and achieving a lean physique?
What is protein powder?
A protein shake consists of powdered protein which is added to either water or milk to create a protein drink.
The protein powder will also contain some carbohydrates and other nutrients. The texture of a protein shake is thinner than a smoothie and most companies provide a range of flavours such as chocolate, salted caramel and vanilla.
Protein powder can also be used in baking and some people add it to porridge or fruit smoothies.
There are numerous sources of protein which can be used to make protein powder including pea, hemp, soy, brown rice and milk.
The process of turning milk into cheese produces casein protein and whey protein. Whey protein is the most popular form of protein as it is the easiest for (most) of our bodies to metabolise and extract nutrients from.
Why do people drink protein shakes?
Do you sometimes feel like you are doing a ton of work in the gym for marginal visible gains?
A lack of protein could be the problem. Protein contains essential amino acids which our body uses to repair our muscles after exercise and we need a high level of daily protein to ensure that our muscles increase in size.
There are two main reasons why people use protein powder to achieve their daily protein targets.
The first is convenience. It takes less than a minute to shake it up with your chosen liquid and satisfy your pre or post-workout protein requirements. It is an easy way to significantly increase your daily protein intake, to ensure that you are giving your muscles enough energy and the right type of nutrition.
High-quality protein shakes are also relatively low in calories and don’t contain a lot of fat, unlike most foods which are high in protein.
For anyone concerned with losing weight or maintaining a lean physique, it is a great way to increase their Protein: Fat: Carbohydrate ratio without increasing their overall calorie intake.
How protein can help with body recomposition
So we know that protein can help us build muscle, but can it actually help us lose body fat?
Curb your cravings
Clinical trials have found that getting more than the recommended daily allowance of protein can encourage weight loss; body recomposition (less fat, more lean muscle); and can help prevent us from regaining weight after a period of weight loss.
A protein-rich diet encourages our body to release the GLP-1 and PYY proteins, which trigger feelings of fullness, helping curb cravings for less healthy foods.
Burn more calories
You have likely heard that muscle burns more calories than fat; having a higher muscle density will therefore increase your metabolic rate. And what is the most important macronutrient to help you build muscle? Protein.
Yes, this macronutrient really is as awesome as it seems!
Maintaining a calorie deficit with protein
However, proceed with caution… To lose weight you still need to be in a calorie deficit, this really is non-negotiable. Simply eating more protein-rich foods will probably make you gain weight as many are high in calories.
The key is to increase your protein while keeping your calories stable. Enter the mighty protein powder.
Which protein powders are best for weight loss?
The first thing to think about is the calorie-to-protein ratio. Low-quality protein powders will have protein in them, but they will also be stuffed with filler ingredients that increase the calorie count. A good rule is at least 20g of protein per 100 kcal.
The next thing to consider is the effectiveness of the protein; how and when it is absorbed by the body; and how it releases energy. We mentioned earlier that whey protein is the easiest type of protein for our bodies to absorb (assuming we aren’t intolerant to its ingredients).
However, even within the whey protein category, there are three types; whey concentrate, whey isolate and whey hydrolyzed. All three have different benefits, and most importantly, they are all absorbed by the body at different rates. This means that the time between drinking the shake and the energy being released to our muscles is different for each of the three forms.
Rather than worry about which variation has the best timing or nutrients, we recommend that you use a whey protein powder that contains all three. This way energy will be released into your system in three different stages giving your muscle a steady input of energy, producing optimum results.
Our Crazy Nutrition 100% TRI-PROTEIN protein shake does just that.
Should you use protein powders to help you get lean?
Are protein shakes good for weight loss? To recap;
- Drinking protein shakes is an easy, low-calorie way to make sure you are getting enough protein
- Ingesting extra protein throughout the day makes you feel fuller and reduces food cravings
- Protein shakes help you build muscle, which in turn increases your metabolism, helping you to lose weight
- The higher your protein intake, the quicker you will recover from workouts meaning you’ll be able to workout again sooner and train harder
However, protein shakes won’t help you lose weight unless you have a healthy diet.
Think of protein powder as a helping hand, enabling you to stick to your meal plan and giving you the right type of energy to ensure you maximise your workouts and get the best results.