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Determining the Best Protein Powder for Weight Loss

by Trevor Hiltbrand | Reviwed by Advisory Board

Determining the Best Protein Powder for Weight Loss

So you want to lose a few pounds and heard whey protein powder may be a good idea.

You heard right, a good source of protein can aid nearly all aspects of weight loss.

For instance:

  • The Atkins diet is basically a high protein diet.
  • The Ketogenic Diet requires significant protein.
  • And high protein diets overall are considered healthy [1, 2, 3].

Basically, high protein diets work well to burn fat and improve your shape.

But shakes aren’t all fun and games. You’ve got to choose your protein powder wisely or else it can actually make you fatter…

Here, we’re going to cover the dos and don’ts of taking protein powders for weight loss. This is relevant for both men and women wanting to lose weight in a healthy way.


5 Weight Loss Protein dos and don’ts

#1 Avoid Calorie Stuffing In Protein Powders

The most important precaution you can take when choosing a protein powder for weight loss is to ensure that it isn’t packed full of calories.

This may sound like a shocker, but it is a legitimate threat.

And it makes sense. While dieting, you’re hungry, of course a protein powder marketing “chocolate milkshake” or “birthday cake” is going to catch your attention. Little do you know, these protein powders are loaded with sugar [4]!

This is why while Medical News Daily recommends protein shakes for their diabetic readers, they also recommend watching out for ‘hidden’ high sugar contents [View Article].

What you need to do:

Don’t cave! Check the label and ensure the total calories per serving is under 150 and grams of carbs is less than 5. If it’s any more than this, then it’s not going to help you lose any weight – any time soon.

Bottom Line: If it tastes like a shake, make sure it’s not actually a sugar filled shake labeled “protein”. Aim for under 150 calories and less than 5 grams of carbs.


#2 Ensure High Protein per Serving

Another unsuspected weakness in many of the organic and ‘high quality’ wholefoods shelve style protein products is under-cutting the actual protein content.

We can’t name any brands, but seriously - next time you’re at the store go and take a look at the “high protein” claims compared to the actual back-label protein-per-one-serving reality. It’s often under 18 grams!

Making matters worse, is the protein content (or lack thereof) is often further diet-unfriendly due to calorie content.

What you need to do:

An ideal weight loss protein powder will have both high protein content and low total calories. Aim for a protein drink that provides over 20 grams per serving and keeps calories under 150 like in recommendation #1.

Bottom Line: Protein to calorie ratio matters. By following guidelines #1 and #2, you know that you want to get as much satisfying protein as possible, without all the fattening carb and sugar loaded calories.


#3 Source of Protein – Wishful thinking or fact?

This is a big one, and it ties into #4 to come as well. Do you know where your protein powder is actually coming from?

Likely, you’re thinking – it can’t be too bad if they are allowed to sell it. But unfortunately you have no idea. A few years ago, many companies went to court over if protein even exists in their products [5].

Now days, heavy metal levels caused by tainted grains and unclean plant-based proteins is in prime spotlight as consumer reports explains [view article].

Luckily, plenty of high quality protein powders do still exist; and they are diet friendly.

What you need to do:

Don’t leave the source of your protein powder up to chance. Flip over the bag or bottle and ensure that the source of whey is natural and grass-fed. At the very least, avoid bland unverified concentrates, mixtures, and soy sources.

Bottom Line: Don’t play games, ensure your protein is grass-fed.


#4 Level of manufacturing

It is entirely possible to start with a good quality raw protein powder, and have it completely ruined through processing in the name of long shelf life.

What is even more common though, is for brands to cut-corners and use these same harmful manufacturing processes to sanitize poorly sourced low quality raw protein!!

You need to know that not all whey protein manufacturing processes are equivalent, and if you see hydrolysate, Ion exchange, or bioactive Peptides – approach with caution [6, 7].

What you need to do:

Avoid protein powders that are the result of ion exchange, or claim to contain bioactive peptides or hydrolysates. These forms are often littered with protein-turned-free-radical due to processing.

Bottom Line: Treat your protein powders as you treat your food – natural, ethically sourced with minimal processing.


#5 Artificial Flavors, Sweeteners, and Preservatives

The case for artificial flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives is often lead by ease and seduction. What if you could still enjoy the sweetest tasting things, without the calories and without short shelf life?

Well, is it worth your health and dieting success?

The majority of low carb protein powders intended for weight loss contain high levels of artificial flavors, sweeteners, and even preservatives. That’s not shocking.

What is shocking, is how little evidence there is suggesting these cheap alternatives actually help with weight loss.

What research is showing, is that artificial sweeteners likely lead to weight gain [8, 9].

What you need to do:

Make sure that your protein powder doesn’t contain artificial ingredients as a loop-hole around calorie stuffing. Natural sweeteners and flavors are more expensive, but they’re better for you and taste more natural.

Bottom line: Artificial sweeteners aren’t doing you any favors, and supplement companies that use them should know better. Look for natural alternatives that still pass tests #1-4 listed above.


So Which Weight Loss Friendly Protein Powder Do You Choose?

For safe and effective weight loss, our protein powder recommendation is:

Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate

Grass-fed protein powder

We make many goal-specific protein powders at Transparent Labs, and our grass-fed whey protein isolate (view here) is ideal for supporting metabolism, lean muscle, and satiety.

This protein powder in particular is most commonly taken by physique competitors looking to maintain their show ready forms without risking weight gain or saggy muscles.

But anyone can benefit from this highly pure, ethically pastured, and minimally processed grass-fed whey protein. If it wasn’t the best, we’d make a new one.

Alongside a well-rounded diet with activity and a caloric deficit, our grass-fed whey protein isolate will help you to meet your goals more comfortably and without symptoms of protein malnutrition.


Do protein shakes work as meal replacements?

Most people want to simplify their schedule and make food choices easier by simply drinking a meal replacement shake. Where there is demand, there are products – however we don’t believe that using meal replacement shakes is wise for those looking to lose weight.

Instead, focus on limiting carbohydrates and processed foods while increasing overall protein intake and abiding by your custom macro calculations.


When should I drink my protein shake if I want to lose weight?

The reason for taking protein shakes in the first place is to increase total protein intake and offset carbohydrates and fats. Therefore, we believe the best time for you as a dieter to take protein powder is alongside your regular meals.

Drinking your protein shake alongside your meals will increase satiety as well as improve digestion of your protein, going down in one complex assortment typical of a meal (and stimulating the release of all digestive enzymes).


Are there Vegan friendly options?

Yes, we recommend our own USDA certified Organic Vegan protein powder. It is soy free, and contains an optimized protein to carbohydrate ratio not easily found in other products. Organic Vegan is primarily brown rice protein.

 




Trevor Hiltbrand
Trevor Hiltbrand

Author

Trevor Hiltbrand is one of the owners/co-founders of Transparent Labs and head of content creation. He got his start with supplement research back in 2013 when he began researching cognitive enhancement. With the help of the Transparent Labs Expert Panel and Advisory Board, we aim to bring our evidence based nutrition and exercise research to the world.



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