If you were to choose the ideal protein powder for women, would you pick a product that tastes good, one that’s low in calories and can help you lose weight, or one that provides the highest amount of pure protein and virtually no other ingredients?
As much as we’d like to think that quality comes first for all of us, truth is that most women would choose the product with the lowest amount of calories, if that specific powder would claim to help them achieve a slimmer body with minimum effort. Regardless of how pricey or tasty a protein powder is, when you put a weight loss label on it, chances are it will quickly become a top seller.
But weight loss is not magic, and unless you’re planning to survive on protein powder alone, no product in this category will magically melt away the unwanted fats and bring you a model’s body. This is not the purpose of protein supplements, and even if these powders do have what it takes to support weight loss, they’re not fat burners.
Take a look at the table below. What recommends these 5 products as the best protein powders on the market for weight loss and mass gain is that they provide very small amounts of carbs and fats and significant amounts of pure protein. Moreover, sweeteners used in these supplements add no calories to the products.
We decided to include these powders in our selection because they proved to be the most effective for jump starting weight loss and helping one achieve a slimmer and leaner body. But any protein supplement that has these characteristics can be a good choice for losing the extra pounds, so we encourage you to read the full reviews on Amazon before choosing the right powder for your goals.
Keep in mind that with or without protein powders, the general rules for losing weight are pretty simple and apply to all of us, regardless of our gender, age or fitness level:
- burn more than you eat
- focus on building stronger muscles, because muscles burn more calories even while resting
- do your best to lower your body fat percentage through an adequate diet
- get enough sleep and allow your body to recover
- keep stress levels at a minimum
- stay properly hydrated\maintain an active lifestyle
If you apply these principles in your life, you should be able to maintain a healthy weight. But what does protein powder have to do with these rules?
1. Protein Powders can support weight loss
Protein powders can be trustful allies in your battle against excess pounds thanks to the following characteristics:
They boost energy levels, helping you push harder during your workouts and burn more calories. Tougher workouts mean stronger muscles, and this accelerates not only the exercise metabolism (the amount of calories burned during workouts), but also the resting metabolism, through the afterburn effect (the muscles continue to burn calories at a higher rate after the training session).
Protein provides the same amount of calories per gram as carbohydrates, but unlike carbs, protein are digested slower and release this energy over a longer time interval. This means they are less likely to cause spikes in blood sugar levels and more likely to maintain higher and even energy levels for a couple of hours post ingestion.
Since they take longer to digest, the thermogenic effect of protein is more intense, which means that the body burns more calories for breaking down protein than it consumes for metabolizing carbohydrates. Again, this can help with weight loss, as long as you watch your calorie intake and stay within your recommended daily intake.
Research has found protein to be effective in managing hunger pangs, as these nutrients suppress ghrelin, the hormone that causes hunger. By adding protein powders to your menu, you can handle hunger pangs and cravings in a healthier manner, and avoid overeating and emotional eating.
Protein powder can also regulate appetite and cravings for sugar, as most products in this category provide a few grams of carbs or are sweetened with a low-calorie sweetener that cuts the cravings for unhealthy sugary foods.
Another important aspect to mention here is that protein powders don’t affect blood sugar and insulin levels the way that carbs do. Although both protein and carbohydrates stimulate insulin release, protein also favors the release of glucagon, which counteracts the effect of insulin. Glucagon plays a role in satiety, so again, this proves that protein supplements can help in controlling hunger pangs and cravings.
Last, protein powders can work perfectly as meal replacement, and you can easier track the calories and nutrients in these products than in protein-rich dishes. Yet, keep in mind that most of your protein intake should still come from foods, and not from powders, as foods provide other nutrients and keep the stomach full for longer.
As you can see, protein can help in burning more calories throughout the day, both while working out and while resting, and can support a healthier diet.
2. Protein Powders help in building stronger muscles
With an adequate intake of protein, it’s easier to build stronger muscles, and as previously mentioned, a higher percentage of muscle mass means a higher amount of calories burned throughout the day. This leads to a leaner body, a lower percentage of body fat and a better body composition.
Muscles take less space than fat tissue for a given mass, as they are denser. Yet, this doesn’t mean you’ll end up looking bulky if you add protein powder to your menu: it takes lots of time, effort and a calorie excess to put on muscle mass and bulk up.
3. Protein supplements can support recovery
Last, protein powders can support weight loss by helping your body recover after workouts and by preventing muscle damage. Mixed with milk or juices or consumed as they are, these powders work perfectly as recovery drinks, as they provide amino acids for muscle repairing and carbohydrates for restoring the glucagon reservoirs.
Protein powders can also be consumed before bed time, as most of the recovery processes take place during the night. By drinking a protein-rich beverage in the evening, you can keep under control the cravings for sugar that often appear as a result of low energy levels, stress and tiredness.
4. What Protein powders will not do
Despite their numerous benefits, supplements in this category will not cause weight loss by themselves. Unless you work out regularly, watch your diet and do your best to create a caloric deficit at the end of the day, the excess pounds will not go away just because you drink a protein shake instead of a fruit juice.
As said before, protein powders should be used as supplements for your diet, not as replacements for protein-rich foods. No supplement will do what healthy eating does for your body, so if your purpose is to lose weight, I encourage you to follow the rules mentioned in the beginning of this page.
To sum it up, with or without protein powders, a balanced diet is still required, and exercise is still needed for maintaining a lean and strong body and losing the extra pounds. But adding a protein supplement to your menu can make it a lot easier to avoid overeating and to keep your cravings for sweets under control. Moreover, a protein powder can boost your energy levels, accelerate your metabolism and help your body recover faster, all these being important for lasting weight loss results.
If you need help with choosing the best protein powder for your health and fitness goals, make sure to check our easy to use guide to protein powders .