Best Protein Powders For Weight Loss

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Best Protein Powders For Weight Loss

When you start looking at the best protein powders for weight loss, you’ll find the options can be overwhelming. There are thousands of different brands to choose from with seemingly thousands of products for each brand. But don’t stop browsing just yet; we’ve done all the hard work for you and found what we think are the best protein powders for you.

Protein powders in general are of a 40-80% protein content and that is why they are getting so popular as a diet supplement. The primary health benefits of protein powders are weight loss, building muscle mass, and sustaining muscle mass when exercising. Protein powders especially whey protein usually contain between 80-90% protein content which makes them very effective in weight loss.

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Does Protein Powder Help You Lose Weight?

What’s vital to remember when trying to lose weight is that you need to consume less food than your body is burning. However, when you do this, your body loses fat, but you are at risk for losing muscle as well.

This, in turn, leads to a slower metabolism which stalls your long-term weight loss and muscle weakness, and can also hinder your exercise. Therefore, you must consume more protein than usual when in a calorie deficit to preserve your lean body mass. Protein powder can help you lose weight if it is helping to contribute to your protein intake while still staying within a calorie deficit.

Another important thing to note is that a scientific review found that consuming protein powder with your meals, rather than as a separate snack, can be more effective for weight loss. This is primarily due to the total intake of calories, and how the snack may add additional intake in the day.

So, Is Protein Powder Good for Weight Loss?

It absolutely can have its place in your weight loss efforts. However, don’t buy protein powder with the thought that it is going to be the golden ticket. Your food choices and behaviors are the bottleneck for the rest!

Research shows that a person looking to lose about a pound of fat a week should consume at between 0.6-0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight. This is almost double what the recommended amount of protein is for the average American. For someone that weighs 175 pounds, that is 105-123g of protein per day.

So how in the world can one eat all that protein? And vegetarians? Vegans? This is where protein supplements can come to the rescue.

How to Choose Protein Powder for Weight Loss

Consider the following when choosing your protein powder:

  • The type of protein – ie. whey, casein, rice, pea, plant protein mix, etc.
  • The amino acid composition – Is it lacking in any key amino acids? Does it contain the three BCAAS? Does it have over 2-3 grams of leucine (leucine is a trigger for muscle building)?
  • Look at the ingredients – Make sure there aren’t a lot of added fillers or unnecessary ingredients.
  • Look at the nutrition panel – Be mindful of the serving size, calories, carbohydrates, and fat in addition to the protein so that you know how the powder fits into your daily intake.
  • Cost – The cost of protein powders can vary widely.

Not all protein powders are created equal. Based on your goals, the amino acids (the building blocks of protein) can make quite a difference. For example, collagen may be great for the potential skin and joint benefits, but there is minimal leucine in collagen. Choosing whey or a plant-based blend can ensure you meet the leucine threshold for muscle building or maintenance.

How to Use Protein Powder for Weight Loss

There are three main things I recommend keeping in mind for using protein powder for weight loss:

  • it should not replace whole foods – it is a supplement to what you’re already eating
  • protein powders can be a convenient way to close the gap in your protein intake versus your protein needs
  • the timing of your protein intake, and how much you consume at one sitting matters

With all of that in mind, here is a list of some of the most common protein powders on the market.

How often should you use protein powder in a day?

To get the most out of any protein powder, Schubert recommends only consuming one serving a day. The rest of your protein should come from what you eat, which can provide additional nutrients you won’t find anywhere else (even in the *best* powder). And, drinking a protein shake after working out “can help rebuild muscle and bone and repair connective tissue damage,” she adds, so consider throwing one in your gym bag before you hit the elliptical.

But remember, protein shakes shouldn’t be used as a meal replacement, says Megan Byrd, RD, a nutritionist in Oregon. “Protein powders don’t have enough calories or nutrition to be actual meals,” she says. Instead, they can be used to make snacks like baked goods and smoothies healthier and more filling, while adding to their nutritional value.

What should you look for in a protein powder if you’re trying to lose weight?

First things first, Byrd suggests choosing a protein powder that is high in fiber, high in protein, and low in carbs. “These types of protein powders will help keep you full longer, curb cravings, and help prevent sugar highs and crashes during the day,” she explains.

You’ll also want to opt for the unsweetened kinds because they won’t add in sneaky sugars that could actually be sabotaging your weight loss efforts, per Zeitlin.

Here are some other things to keep in mind when making your pick.

Check the label. Make sure you look for something with at least 20 grams of protein, less than 10 grams of total carbohydrates, and at least three grams of fiber per scoop. You should also look for protein powders that are naturally sweetened using ingredients like monk fruit extract, stevia, and natural flavors. “Avoid protein powders that use sucralose, sugar alcohols, aspartame, Splenda, and other artificial sweeteners,” says Byrd. She also recommends avoiding milk powders, milk solids, and gluten since they are unnecessary fillers that can cause bloating and other GI issues.

Opt for a protein blend if you’re going plant-based. Whey, casein, or egg-based proteins are complete proteins, meaning they have all nine essential amino acids that help your body better absorb and make the most of your protein source. If you want a plant-based protein, look for a blend (like pea and rice)—these can also feature a complete amino acid profile.

Look for something with at least 100-150 calories per serving. This range is typically average for a protein powder, says Bryd. “Anything lower and I would question the ingredients and [satiety]. Anything higher and I would assume there are more fats and carbs than needed in that protein powder,” explains Byrd.

Consider the flavor. If you’re new to protein powder, start with classic flavors, like vanilla or chocolate, says Byrd. And, if you don’t enjoy them, you can use them up by mixing them into foods like pancakes, waffles, protein donuts, smoothies, and baked goods.

Opt for a powder made with natural ingredients and added benefits. “It’s always a bonus when protein powders have extra health benefits, such as added greens, prebiotics, probiotics, essential vitamins and minerals, and electrolytes,” Byrd points out.

Nutritionists shared their favorite protein powders for weight loss.

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1. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Isolate

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“This protein powder is a mixture of whey protein and hydrolyzed isolate, which means it is not only quickly digested, but also contains a higher amount of protein per serving than regular whey protein, which is great for building lean muscle,” says Jonathan Valdez, RDN, the owner of Genki Nutrition and a media spokesperson for the New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “It is also low fat and contains only a gram of carbohydrates for anyone watching their carb intake,” he adds.

What’s more, supplements aren’t closely regulated, but you can feel safe using Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard because the ingredients have been verified by a third party called Informed Choice.

Per serving: 110 calories, 0.5 g fat, 190 mg sodium, 1 g carbs, 25 g protein

2. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides

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Not only is Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides packed with 18 grams of protein to stimulate lean muscle growth and help combat cravings, but it also contains 20 grams of collagen peptides, which promote joint health, as well as hyaluronic acid to keep your skin glowing.

“The peptides are the perfect addition to your morning coffee or afternoon smoothie to get that extra protein boost and they’re NSF-verified, so you can be confident in the ingredients you’re choosing with each sip,” Valdez says.

Per serving: 70 calories, 110 mg sodium, 18 g protein

3. Garden of Life Meal Vanilla Powder

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“This vegan protein powder is made from a blend of pea protein, brown rice proteins, and a combination of whole grains including millet, quinoa, amaranth, as well as seeds like chia, flax, and lentil,” says Valdez.

Per serving: 130 calories, 2 g fat, 190 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 20 g protein

4. RSP Nutrition AvoCollagen Protein Powder

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“People tend to forget that fat is very satiating, so adding a fat-based product like AvoCollagen can [provide] the satiety one needs to prevent overeating later,” says Monica Auslander Moreno, RD, the founder of Essence Nutrition. Plus, the oleic acids in the avocado oil help fight inflammation, and the collagen peptides go easy on the gut and help repair damaged tissue and muscles post-workout.

Per serving: 90 calories, 4 g fat, (0.5 g sat fat), 4 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 10 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 10 g protein

5. Quest Multi-Purpose Protein Powder

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Adding powder to smoothies is nice and all, but this one can be baked into peanut butter bars or even tossed into a tomato sauce. “One scoop has only 100 calories and no sugar since it’s simply pure protein, which makes it a perfect addition to any recipe to increase its nutrient density,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, the lead dietitian and manager of Wellness Nutrition Services at Cleveland Clinic Wellness & Preventive Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio.

Per serving: 100 calories, 0.5 g fat, (0 g sat fat), <1 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 115 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 23 g protein

6. Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein Powder

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With this bone broth protein powder, you’ll be absorbing 20 grams of protein per serving. The blend also contains hydrolyzed collagen, so you’ll be giving some extra support to your gut and skin too. Byrd also loves that the powder is made with natural ingredients. “This protein powder has minimal ingredients that are all-natural, which is amazing,” she says. “It also has 20 grams of protein per scoop, is gluten-free, and doesn’t have any added sugars.”

With nearly 6,000 positive reviews on Amazon, this powder is a fan-favorite, and you don’t have to stick with your basic vanilla flavor. It’s available in chocolate and turmeric too, unless you prefer the unflavored option.

Per serving: 90 calories, <1 g fat, (n/a g sat fat), 2 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 150 mg sodium, n/a g fiber, 20 g protein

7. Isopure Whey Protein Isolate Powder

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Instead of adding a spoonful of honey or cocoa powder to your morning oatmeal, Leah Kaufman, RD, a nutritionist in New York City, suggests sprinkling a serving of this powder on top. It packs a huge punch of protein (25 grams, to be exact), in addition to satisfying even the pickiest sweet tooth.

Per serving: 100 calories, 0 g fat, (0 g sat fat), 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 240 mg sodium, 25 g protein

8. Orgain Grass-Fed Whey

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TBH, tasty protein powders are often hard to come by. But “Orgain is a superior option,” says Lisa Moskovitz, RD, the CEO of The NY Nutrition Group, a private New York City-based nutrition practice. Snag this one when you want a good protein powder with zero artificial ingredients or sweeteners.

Per serving: 150 calories, 3.5 g fat, (1.5 g sat fat), 14 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 140 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 21 g protein

9. Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein

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“Ascent uses only natural ingredients, and it has 25 grams of protein for only 110 to 130 calories, depending on the flavor,” says Tara Collingwood, RD, the team dietitian for the Orlando Magic. “It’s also an excellent source of all essential amino acids.”

Per serving: 130 calories, 1 g fat, (0 g sat fat), 5 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 140 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 25 g protein

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