Whey protein is a great supplement to add to your diet when you want to increase your protein intake. It can be especially helpful when you’re trying to lose weight and you want to maintain as much muscle mass as possible.
In this article, we’re going to cover why consuming whey protein is important for weight loss, how much protein you should consume when you’re on a weight loss journey, and how you can incorporate whey protein into your weight loss diet.
Why Is Whey Protein Important For Weight Loss? (4 Reasons)
Here are four reasons why taking whey protein is important when you’re on a weight-loss journey:
- It Helps To Maintain Muscle Mass
- It Can Boost Metabolism
- It Improves Satiety
- It Is Less Easily Stored As Fat
1. It Helps To Maintain Muscle Mass
Consuming enough protein is important for anybody but it becomes even more important when you’re trying to lose weight. Protein is an essential macronutrient for the body. It’s especially important to help maintain your current level of muscle mass, despite being in a calorie deficit.
One study showed that increased protein intake reduced the loss of lean muscle mass in athletes when they’re on a weight loss program.
2. It Can Boost Metabolism
Protein intake can increase the thermic effect of food. This refers to the amount of energy that is used to digest the food that you eat and turn it into energy.
Out of the three macronutrients, protein takes the most energy to break down (i.e. it has the highest thermic effect). Therefore, consuming more protein can increase your daily energy expenditure and enhance your weight loss.
One study showed that a high protein intake can boost the thermic effect of food by around 7 kcals per hour, resulting in an increased energy expenditure of between 50-and 75 calories a day.
3. It Improves Satiety and Energy Levels
High-protein diets can increase the levels of satiety hormones in the body (GIP, GLP-1) and decrease the levels of hunger hormones (ghrelin). This can help you to eat less by reducing your appetite while you’re trying to lose weight.
In other words, a higher protein intake can stabilize your energy levels and help you to feel fuller for longer.
4. It Is Less Easily Stored As Fat
Compared to fats which contain 9 kcals per gram, protein is lower in calories with just 4 kcals per gram.
Excess protein is less easily stored as fat than excess carbs or dietary fats because of the way the body processes each macronutrient. When you’re on a weight loss journey, minimizing how much excess energy your body stores as fat is beneficial.
One study showed that excess protein is stored as fat at an efficiency of 66%, which is roughly 15% and 30% less efficient than carbs and fats, respectively. Therefore, consuming more protein can minimize the amount of fat that your body stores if you overeat.
Of course, you can increase your protein intake without using protein powder. However, whey is a great option for increasing your daily protein intake without adding a lot of extra calories, carbs, or fat into your diet.
How Much Protein Should You Take If You Want To Lose Weight?
According to the NASM, the average person should aim for an intake of anywhere between 1.6 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (0.73 to 1 gram per pound) when they are trying to lose weight.
Athletes and weight lifters should aim for between 2.2 and 3.4 grams of protein per kilogram (1 to 1.5 grams per pound) if they are trying to lose weight but continuing to train regularly.
How To Incorporate Protein Powder Into Your Weight Loss Diet
Here are some tips to incorporate whey protein into your diet when you’re trying to lose weight:
- Choose The Right Type of Protein For Your Needs
- Avoid Mixing It With Whole Milk
- Mix It With Additional Ingredients To Make A More Filling Drink
- Add It Into Home Baking
Step 1: Choose The Right Type of Protein For Your Needs
There are several different kinds of protein powders available aside from whey protein. The first step is always to consider which type of protein is the best for your needs and preferences.
Whey isn’t appropriate for everybody. You might not like the taste of whey or you might have certain dietary restrictions that mean you can’t consume it.
For example, if you are vegan or dairy-free, whey is not going to be appropriate for you because it contains milk. In this case, you might prefer to go for soy, hemp, or pea protein powder to increase your protein intake.
Step 2: Avoid Mixing It With Whole Milk
To cut down the calorie content of your protein shake, avoid mixing it with whole milk.
Instead, mix it with water or non-fat milk. Whole milk contains around 150 calories per cup and non-fat milk has approximately 10 calories per cup, so you could be saving yourself at least 140 calories, depending on how much milk you normally use in your shake.
If you prefer a thicker consistency for your protein shakes but still want to reduce the calorie content, mix whole milk and water half and half. This will maintain the creamy texture of your protein shake while making it more weight loss-friendly by saving you around 70 calories per cup.
Step 3: Mix It With Additional Ingredients To Make A More Filling Drink
If like many, your protein shake serves as a pre-or post-workout meal, it’s a good idea to add some extra ingredients to your shake in order to make it more filling. Otherwise, you might end up reaching into the snack cupboard just an hour after your shake because you’re still hungry!
Turn your protein shake into a healthy smoothie by adding in some oats and fresh fruit. The complex carbohydrates in the oats will keep you fuller for longer. The plant-based fibre in the fresh fruit will aid digestion and feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
When you’re on a weight loss journey, you are often more prone to nutrient deficiencies because you are eating less than usual. Adding a variety of different fruits and vegetables to your protein shakes or smoothies will increase the micronutrient content and reduce the risk of nutrient deficiencies.
Step 4: Add It To Home Baking
If you love to make pancakes or waffles in the morning for breakfast, add a scoop of whey protein powder to your usual recipe. Whey protein generally has between 20-and 30 grams of protein per scoop.
Similarly, if you’re baking some cookies or muffins at home, turn them into protein-filled snacks by stirring whey protein into the mixture before baking.
If you get a flavoured whey protein powder, you can use the protein to add extra flavour to your homemade products. For example, if you are making a chocolate cake, stirring in chocolate whey will enhance the sweet flavour. If you’re making fruity pancakes, use strawberry or banana whey alongside fresh fruit in the recipe.
You can get unflavored whey protein, which is perfect if you don’t want to add any extra flavour to your cooking or baking but you still want to bump up the protein content.
Final Thoughts: Key Takeaway
Consuming protein in your weight loss phase is beneficial to aid in muscle retention, increase metabolism, and make you feel fuller for longer periods throughout the day.
Some people struggle with getting their protein intake, which is why whey protein is great for filling that gap.
Once you find the right whey protein, ensure you mix it with either water or skimmed milk, add nutrients (like oats and fruit) if you’re consuming pre or post-workout, and find recipes that help you incorporate it into your baking.