Protein Powder For Weight Loss 

When it comes to weight loss, the prevailing thought in diet culture tends to be, that eating less equates to losing weight. While watching the calories on your plate does have its place in weight loss plans, sometimes what those calories are made of can matter much more than the overall number.

What if we told you that consuming more might actually help you lose weight? No, it isn’t the fun, sugary junk food that we all love (sadly). It is something even better, both for our bodies and our minds: protein powder. Found in every cell in our bodies, protein is the foundation of just about every physiological function you can think of. How does knowing this help with weight loss? Let’s find out! 

Protein 101

The human body is made up of more than one hundred thousand different proteins, comprising approximately 20% of our system. While that is less than the 60% of water in our system, it is a lot by nutrient standards. For those looking to keep their bodies at optimal fitness, this means that consuming enough protein is key to weight management. 

At its core, proteins are made up of amino acids, important building blocks in the human body. There are two types of amino acids, essential and non-essential. Essential amino acids are ones we cannot make on our own, therefore, we have to get them from the protein-rich foods we eat. When the proteins we consume are broken down, the result is amino acids. Amino acids are invaluable because they help create and repair everything from muscles to bones, and even our hormones and enzymes. 

Just like carbohydrates and lipids, proteins contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Unlike the first two food groups, however, protein is the only macronutrient containing nitrogen, too. Nitrogen is essential for protein synthesis in the body. This makes protein the main focus for those looking to lose weight or gain muscle, as it can have the largest impact on body composition in the shortest amount of time. In addition to using protein powder for weight loss, protein is a powerhouse nutrient that plays a role in systems all over the body! 

Five Roles of Protein in the Human Body

1. Structure and Motion

Of the hundred structural proteins in the body, collagen is probably the most well-known and abundant, comprising 6% of body weight and 30% of bone weight. Because of its strong, fibrous makeup, collagen is what gives our skin, muscles, tendons, and more their flexible yer durable characteristics. Structural proteins are responsible for our ability to move and maintain a healthy exercise routine. This is why many protein powders also contain collagen peptides, intended to improve skin and joint conditions. 

2. Enzymes and Hormones

Hormones and enzymes are proteins that conduct and communicate specific chemical reactions throughout the body. Every function we rely on to run smoothly, from nutrient breakdown in our stomachs to regulating insulin and blood glucose levels, requires the work of hormones and enzymes. All on its own, the liver contains over one thousand enzyme systems! Without protein, our bodies can’t do the work we need from them, leading to slow or even malfunctioning systems that manifest in pain, illness, and weight gain. 

3. Balance, Fluid Exchange, and Transport

By eating enough protein, we are giving our bodies the best chance at maintaining homeostasis. A balanced diet quite literally equals a balanced body! The protein in our body facilitates the movement of fluid throughout our system and the transport of other molecules, like oxygen. For example, when pH levels in our body become too basic or acidic, even a small change from the norm can be cause for alarm. Proteins (namely albumin and hemoglobin) help to maintain pH balance by acting as buffers in molecule concentration. 

4. Tissue Regeneration and Wound Healing

When it comes to wound healing, immune support, and muscle/tissue growth, protein is the body’s biggest ally! Antibodies are proteins that circulate in the blood and destroy unwanted or dangerous invaders (like viruses and bacteria) in our systems. Other proteins have the job of rebuilding tissue that has been damaged, like cuts or muscle tears from exercise, and regenerating new tissue. 

Though our skin is the main tissue we think of, cells inside our body, like the lining of our stomachs, can play an even bigger role in our body composition. Failure to consume adequate amounts of protein can prevent our bodies from healing, impair our ability to absorb nutrients, and slow hair and nail growth. Protein is not just a factor affecting how we look on the outside, it is important for how our bodies function internally, too. 

5. Energy Production

Although it is not the first source of energy that our bodies turn to, protein can be used to fuel us throughout the day. Meals rich in protein offer us long-lasting energy as compared to the quick energy bursts that come from carbohydrates. Both sources of energy are necessary for maintaining overall wellness and satiation. Higher levels of protein may help facilitate body weight management by preventing a decline in resting energy expenditure (REE), the calories you burn while your body is at rest. Because your REE accounts for up to 75% of the calories you burn each day, increasing this number could lead to more significant weight loss. 

Sources of Protein

Now that we know what protein does in our body, it is important to know where we find it and how much we should be getting to maintain a healthy lifestyle, lose weight, or bulk up. 

According to Harvard Health, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein in adults is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight. For a 140-pound woman, for example, that is about 50 grams of protein a day. For some people, though, this isn’t enough to maintain or reach their wellness goals. For example, in older adults, who are more at risk for developing an unhealthy weight, an increase in protein may lead to lean body mass

Athletes and those who adhere to plant-based diets may also need more protein than the RDA. One study comprised of female vegetarians indicated an increase of 12 grams of protein was needed to reach similar nitrogen loss levels (the criteria for determining RDA) as non-vegetarians. 

Luckily for us, sources of protein (both plant-based and animal-based) are abundant and can be found in the foods we eat and through dietary supplements like protein powder. Types of protein that contain all nine amino acids are considered complete proteins. These are foods like quinoa, meat, and soybeans. Other sources of protein, which may be missing some amino acids, are commonly paired together (like rice and beans) to create complete proteins. 

Despite years of research, there is still a common misconception that meat and animal products are the only way to get enough protein in your diet. While there are many healthy sources of protein found in animals, plant-based sources are readily available and can even be better for those worried about high levels of saturated fats and cholesterol found in meat. 

Plant-based proteins like brown rice protein or hemp protein, also provide us with fiber and vitamins that can’t be found in animal products. When looking for ways to get protein in your diet, don’t forget about your veggies or your protein shake!

The Scoop on Protein Powder

One of the reasons so many people turn toward dietary supplements is for their convenience. You morning multi-vitamin before you head out the door, an electrolyte packet during your workout, and one of the most well-known of all: protein powder. 

Protein powder is a supplement widely used by athletes, the elderly, busy parents, and just about anyone looking to boost their protein intake. While there are tons of foods that contain protein, sometimes it isn’t easy to get as much protein as you need, especially if you are looking to lose weight or use it as a main source of your daily caloric intake. 

Protein shakes come in all different flavors, sizes, and textures, and can be made with a variety of protein sources. Finding the best protein powder for you will be based on your own wellness goals, lifestyle, and dietary preferences. When it comes to finding the right protein powder, it is normal to end up with a lot of questions. To make it easier, we’ve broken down some of the common types of protein powders below!

Types of Protein Powder

Animal-Based Protein

Animal-based protein powders, also known as whey protein powder or casein protein, are one of the most common dietary supplements on the market. Whey and casein are two types of protein found in cow’s milk. These proteins are isolated and dried to create dairy-based protein powder. 

Another type of animal-based protein is collagen. Made from the connective tissue of animals (cows, fish, and chicken), collagen is often added to protein powders to improve the appearance of skin, nails, and hair, and has been thought to aid in joint and gut health. 

Plant-Based Protein

For those who prefer to stay away from animal-based protein, or are looking for dairy-free protein powders, plant-based protein is the way to go! Seeing an increase in attention over the last 5 years, plant-based protein can be made up of pea protein, soy protein, brown rice, hemp protein, or a mixture of many different types. One of the added benefits of plant-based protein is that it is naturally lower in fat than animal-based proteins and contains high amounts of fiber. 

Some ingredients to look out for in any protein powder (plant-based or animal-based) are artificial sweeteners and added calories. Protein powder with extra sugar, artificial coloring, or unhealthy ingredients should be avoided, as they can adversely affect your health and wellness goals. However, natural protein powder free from additives can give you a higher amount of protein per serving with fewer calories, making it a good addition to any diet, specifically those looking to lose weight. 

How to Incorporate Protein Powder Into Your Diet

Drinking protein shakes is just one way to utilize protein powder. Did you know there are entire cookbooks dedicated to the use of protein powder? From protein cookies to protein-enhanced soups and muffins, there is a recipe out there for everyone. 

While protein powder is still a dietary supplement and shouldn’t be used to replace regular meals, using it as an ingredient to boost protein in cooking and baking can help diversify how and when you use your protein powder and keep you full for longer. 

Increase Protein, Decrease Cravings

One of the top reasons so many eating plans fail is because they fail to keep you full. As we all know, an empty stomach leads to uncontrollable cravings. While we might be fine during the day, one of the biggest culprits is the late-night cravings. According to a study investigating the effects of dietary protein on eating frequency, eating more protein may be able to decrease cravings which lead to overeating. 

In the study, the group who consumed higher amounts of protein had fewer late-night cravings and preoccupation with thoughts on food. Part of the reason for this is that protein, taking longer to digest, gives us the sensation that we are full longer than meals that are lower in protein. If you want to eat less while still satisfying your appetite, protein powder might be the all-star ingredient you have been looking for. 

Is Protein Powder Good for Weight Loss?

To put it simply, yes! Using protein powder for weight loss or weight management can be a powerful tool. Increasing your protein intake is safe for those looking to maintain or achieve a slim figure. In fact, it may even help you reach your goals sooner! The best way to know if protein powder is right for you, try it out for yourself! 

At 10X Health we know that wellness goals are better achieved together. If you want support on your weight loss journey, contact us today to be connected with one of our wellness experts! 

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