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How does protein powder work for weight loss?
Protein is considered the “building block” of the body and is vital for many functions. Protein powders can be either 100% protein made from soy, whey (milk protein) or casein (milk protein). Some protein powders do contain added fats, vitamins and other nutrients.
Protein helps fuel the body and decrease the need for calories. You can technically replace one or even two meals a day with protein powder and then a healthy meal and snacks. This helps to give the body needed energy to burn excess fat. The key is to replace one or two meals with protein shakes and then increase your exercise.
The importance of added protein in our diet is the simple fact that our body does not store protein like it does fat. Carbohydrates and fats are stored for future use. Protein is eaten and then used and then eliminated. It is as simple as that! Understand, however that our bodies do need the vitamins and energy in carbohydrates and fat, so the trick is all about balancing them. Here is a good way to make a protein shake: (See Figure 1)
Figure 1: Protein Shake Recipe
Courtesy of musclehack.com
It is always important to speak with your physician before starting this type of diet. Added protein has benefits of replacing empty calories, providing nutrition for healthy skin, bones, muscles, skin and nails. On the flipside, extra protein without drinking enough fluids can put a strain on the kidneys.
What are the different types of protein powder?
Protein powder is made from a few different sources. One is a vegetable source, soy. The other two come from milk protein; whey and casein. They all work about the same in the body and can be found anywhere that protein powder is sold. Let’s take a look at the individual protein powder types:
- Soy Protein – This type of protein comes from soybeans, a vegetable source. It contains a high amount of anti-oxidants that are good for the body. It is easily digestible and most often used for total meal replacement.
- Whey Protein – This is one of the proteins in cow’s milk. It is very easily digested and excreted from the body quickly. Because of this, it is not as widely used for total meal replacement.
- Casein Protein – This is the main protein found in cow’s milk. This protein remains in the body for longer periods and absorbs very slowly. This is the best choice of animal proteins for total meal replacement.
- Egg Protein – This is derived from chicken eggs and contains very high quality amino acids. It is naturally cholesterol free if made from pure egg whites, but this type is not commonly used as a total meal replacement. It is good for people who cannot tolerate soy or milk products.
Take a look at the chart below to see some of the advantages and disadvantages that animal vs soy proteins have on the body. (See Figure 2)
Figure 2: Protein Powder Comparison
Courtesy of edgeeffects.com
The type of protein powder you choose is really about cost and your dietary preferences. If you are vegan, you will probably want to choose the soy protein powder. Cost wise, the whey protein tends to be more expensive than soy. The thing to look at here is which one is more effective. Body builders who use proteins for building lean muscle tend to use the whey protein more often because of the high concentration of protein. Soy on the other hand, has less cholesterol and can reduce the incidence of heart disease. This is an important point to consider with using protein powder for weight loss.
What is the best protein powder for weight loss?
The best protein powder for healthy weight loss appears to be soy based protein powders. Soy is a vegetable based low-cholesterol protein supplement that is low in cholesterol and fat. It also contains loads of healthy anti-oxidants that are good for the body. Soy can and is most often used for total meal replacement. Soy protein powder can be used to make protein shakes that are taken up to twice daily.
Coming in second would be casein protein powder. For people who are not lactose or milk intolerant, this protein stays in the body for long periods of time making it an optimal animal protein meal replacement. The one thing to consider is the amount of animal fats and cholesterol in animal proteins in this type of protein powder.
Last would be whey protein. This is also acceptable for people who can tolerate cow’s milk products. This type of protein is quickly absorbed and excreted, which does not make it a good total meal replacement. But, it can be used to replace a snack or two during the day.
The data shows that soy based protein powder is the best protein powder for healthy weight loss. It is a complete protein and also contains heart healthy anti-oxidants that benefit your body while you’re losing weight. Soy is vegetable based so it is acceptable for vegetarians, people who are milk intolerant and anyone else choosing to use soy. Some people may be sensitive to soy, but it is rare.
Using protein powder for weight loss should include a healthy diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, small amounts of carbohydrates and dairy along with increased fluids. It is important when using a protein supplement to increase fluid intake to prevent strain on the kidneys. Extra fluids also assist with the body flushing out toxins and fat from weight loss.
Again, remember that before starting any weight loss program check with your physician and get a general health check-up. Make sure you tell your doctor that you plan to use protein because they may want to do a quick blood test to check your kidney function first. This weight loss supplement is generally safe for most healthy people, but it can cause issues with underlying conditions such as; kidney failure, diabetes and soy products can make thyroid conditions worse.
Protein has many health benefits including; building healthy skin and nails, assisting the body to heal from injury and giving the body the fuel it needs to build muscle. Take your time and find a good supplement that suits your needs best.