How To Use Protein Powder for Weight Loss
Supplements can help you on your fitness journey. This is how to use protein powder for weight loss.
Vitamin stores are crammed full with fitness supplements designed to help different individuals reach their goals. Creatine, for example, may be a good choice for those looking to build strength. Pre-workout supplements help people reach a higher level of intensity during workouts.
Protein powder, of course, is one of the most popular and widely used supplements. Though mainly marketed toward people looking to gain muscle, protein powder for weight loss can be a valuable tool if used correctly.
What Protein Does for You
Protein is one of three main macronutrients making up food—the other two being carbohydrates and fats. These macronutrients exist, in varying proportions, in everything we consume, and perform different functions to maintain the body’s overall health.
Protein’s function is to build, repair, and protect tissue—mainly, build muscle tissue.
The generally accepted guidelines for a balanced diet is to get 40 percent of your daily calories from carbohydrates, 30 percent from protein, and 30 percent from fat. However, when inducing fat loss, you must create an imbalance. In addition to a calorie deficit, weight loss diets tend to call for a higher percentage of protein consumption, and a lower percentage of carbs and fats consumption.
While there are plenty of protein sources in everyday food—some of the most popular being lean meat, Greek yogurt, brown rice, and (my personal favorite) peanut butter—they can pose a couple of problems when trying to increase protein intake:
- It can be inconvenient. Sitting down to eat chicken breast three times a day takes time we don’t all have.
- The foods contain other macronutrients, making it difficult to balance your diet (for example, a cup of brown rice has 5 grams of protein, as well as 45 grams of carbohydrates).
Protein powders solve both of these problems. As long as you find a good quality brand, the powders contain few carbs, fat, and unnecessary calories, and they can be prepared in whatever way is most convenient for you. To use protein powder for weight loss, you have several options.
By far the most popular choice, protein shakes mix easily with water for a tasty, nutritious drink. They’re great for any time of day, but tend to come in handy in the morning, immediately after a workout, and between meals.
- Morning Shakes - Morning protein shakes are often used in place of full breakfast meals. Busy people may find it easier to prepare a shake the night before and grab it as they head out the door. In addition to being more convenient, morning shakes may provide fewer calories than other traditional breakfasts such as, say, white bread with cream cheese or butter.
- Tip: Coffee is popular for a reason: it’s amazing. The sad reality, though, is that many of the tastiest coffees are filled with unhealthy syrups and sugars. To cut out yet another source of general unhealthiness, mix some black coffee into a chocolate protein shake.
- Post Exercise - Protein shakes were always intended to help people gain muscle. However, they serve another purpose in that they curb cravings. After intense exercise, it’s easy to convince yourself you’ve earned the right to satisfy that hunger by eating anything within reach. This can lead to accidentally eating more calories than you just burned. Protein shakes satisfy those cravings quickly before you can self-sabotage.
- Between Meals - Scheduling meals can be difficult. Eating only at those times is even more so. Sipping on a protein shake between meals can make it easier to wait out the time without driving up your caloric or macronutrient intake.
Protein powders come in a huge assortment of flavors, from classic vanilla to birthday cake. Fun fact: they even make hemp protein powders that you can consider using! Still, the general population doesn’t hesitate to add more ingredients to their shakes, nor should they, but using protein powder for weight loss still requires some self-control. Extra ingredients will add up in calories and macros. Try sticking to adding only healthy ingredients, such as Greek yogurt, bananas, and fruit.
Using protein powder for weight loss generally implies a straightforward drink and a stripped down diet, but these supplements can also be used in baking. Now snacks are snacks and should always be consumed in moderation and with self-control, but:
- Swapping out flour for protein powder can lower the carbohydrate content of recipes.
- Since most protein powders are already flavored, it eliminates the need to dump in extra sugars or flavoring.
- Because they’re so filling, you’re less likely to eat a family-sized bag in one sitting.
From peanut butter protein balls, to protein trail mix, to chocolate protein fudge, if you don’t want to give up snacking entirely, protein baked snacks can make a tasty, healthy compromise.
Protein Powder in Meals
For people who don’t want to be bothered to eat more than three times a day, protein powder can still be of use. For those who couldn’t possibly give up pizza, protein pizza exists.
With protein powder-infused meals, you don't have to interrupt your normal eating schedule, and also have more control over your food's content. Replacing flour or processed grains with protein powder to make the crust of pizza removes a good amount of carbohydrates. Depending on the recipe, you may be able to remove some fat as well. The same can happen with pancakes, veggie burgers, and even mashed potatoes.
If not a daunting task for your diet, using protein powder for weight loss can be difficult on your wallet. Supplements have a reputation for being pricey, and fitness enthusiasts have a reputation for paying that price, regardless of the rent’s due date. With a bit of self-control and resourcefulness, you can gain muscle, lose weight, and keep money in the bank.
As an example, Naked Nutrition's Micellar Casein Protein Powder is a popular protein powder from a trusted company, with 26 grams of protein, 0 grams of carbs, and 0 grams of fat in one serving. A 5-pound tub, which has 76 servings, sells for about $95. That’s a little over a dollar per serving. A simple shake mixed with water would cost less than a bottle of soda from a grocery store fridge.
The same company makes pea protein, an alternative source of plant-based protein to soy for those who are lactose intolerant, variations of protein sources, and several different flavors. However, even if you choose just one flavor—say, chocolate—you’ll have no shortage of recipe options available.
- Healthy Protein Cocoa Puffs - Breakfast cereals with the marshmallows and the vivid colors and the all-around tastiness aren’t the most healthy. As incredible as they are, they’re usually cut out of diet plans for weight loss, but this chocolate breakfast brings them back.
- Mocha Protein Shake - As I love coffee, I love tasting it every chance I get. This recipe gives you your morning coffee and your morning shake in one.
- Chocolate Workout Brownies - Brownies are a classic dessert, and one of the last you might expect to be made healthy. But it’s true. The banana and chocolate flavored powder take the white flour out of the equation and frankly, if you’re using chocolate protein powder, you don’t need the cocoa powder either.
Supplements may not be a fast track to a lean, chiseled body, but they can help. Fitness can be a frustrating lifestyle and there comes a point when you want to grab at anything to make it easier. Using protein powder for weight loss can help ease the process of dieting as you work on your goals.