If your goal is weight loss, protein shakes are DEFINITELY a good way to go! They’re the perfect addition to any diet and workout program. In fact, they can help to make your diet more effective, not to mention a whole lot easier.
Below, we’re going to get into the complete guide to making awesome protein shakes for weight loss. We’ll look at why protein shakes can help you lose weight, what you can use to make them, and when to have a protein shake. By the time you reach the end of this page, you’ll know everything you need to make that perfect protein shakes for weight loss.
Why Protein Helps with Weight Loss
When you think of protein shakes, no doubt your mind flashes to a heavily muscled bodybuilder gulping down an entire blender full of liquid. But that’s not all protein shakes are good for! In fact, there are A LOT of reasons you should be drinking protein powder for weight loss:
More Muscle— Yes, protein powder will help you to build muscle. However, it doesn’t have to be those massive, swollen muscles you see on career bodybuilders. There are many protein powders that target lean muscle mass, helping you to build sleek muscle rather than sheer size. The more muscle you have, the faster you burn fat. Increasing your muscle mass is the key to better weight loss— not just now, but in the long term!
Faster Metabolism— Increasing your muscle mass will speed up your metabolism drastically. Muscle burns a lot more calories than fat, so increasing your lean muscle mass will force your body to burn more energy. Once you’ve torched the calories you already ate, your body has to tap into your stored fat. This leads to not just weight loss, but fat-burning! Protein shakes will give you a metabolism boost that can lead to serious long-term, sustainable weight loss.
Feel Fuller— Have you ever finished a protein shake and thought, “What can I eat next?” Of course not! Protein shakes are incredibly filling. But more than that, they’re satiating. When you have a protein shake, you occupy your digestive system for a few hours, but you also trigger the appetite hormones that tell your body you’re satiated. You’ll find that having a post-workout protein shake is the best way to recover from an intense training session, and it can keep you full until your next meal.
Controlled Calorie Intake— When you’re hungry, you can go all out and eat WAY too much. We’ve all done it! But with a protein shake, you know exactly what you’re putting into your body. Your average scoop of protein powder contains between 100 and 160 calories, and you know what’s in the milk, fruit, and other ingredients added to your protein shake. It’s much easier to stick to your healthy calorie intake when having a protein shake. Much less risk of overeating!
As you can see, protein shakes are EXCELLENT for weight loss. They’re not just good for bodybuilders and athletes, but they can be an awesome option for anyone who is trying to shed those last few pounds.
What to Use for Your Protein Shakes
Now that you know the “why” it’s time to get into the “what.” Specifically, what the heck should you be putting in your protein shakes?
There are so many ingredients to choose from, and it can be tough to decide what makes a good protein shake. Thankfully, we’ve done the research to find out what your best protein shake choices are.
There are so many different types of protein to choose from:
Whey protein is fast-acting and easy to digest, but those with lactose intolerance can’t handle it.
Egg white protein is slower-acting, great for those with lactose intolerance, and packed with nutrients, but it doesn’t have as good an amino acid profile as whey protein.
Soy protein is vegetarian and vegan-friendly, but there is the risk of phytoestrogens (which decrease testosterone).
Pea protein is also 100% vegan/vegetarian and far less likely to be GMO, but it’s not as easily digestive or bioavailable as whey protein.
Each protein has its pros and cons, and it can be difficult to choose the one that suits your needs best.
For most people, whey protein is the best option. Unless you’re vegetarian/vegan or you have to avoid lactose, it’s the protein that has the best nutritional profile, the highest amount of amino acids per serving, and delivers the best results. It’s also the best-tasting!
Flavor is another thing to think about:
Vanilla flavored protein powder is one of the most common options, and you’ll find it’s usually a fairly mild-tasting protein powder. It mixes well with just about any fruit, and it tastes great with most liquids.
Chocolate-flavored protein powder is good for those who don’t like the “chalky” texture of vanilla-flavored protein powders. It also has a stronger flavor that will hold up when mixed with water or almond milk.
Citrus-flavored protein powder usually comes in either orange or lemon flavors, and it’s usually mixed with sports drinks or juices. It’s a great option if you want to make green smoothies and veggie-heavy protein shakes.
Unflavored protein powder is great for mixing with juice, water, soups, and stews. However, it tends to be more expensive and is never truly “flavorless.”
Of course, you can find all sorts of crazy flavors: double chocolate, cookies and cream, caramel, cappuccino, and the list goes on. These flavors tend to be hit and miss—either they’re absolutely delicious, or they’re nowhere near as good as the basic chocolate or vanilla.
The flavor of your protein powder will affect the types of protein shakes you make. But that’s not the only thing that matters.
The liquid you use for your protein shakes is almost as important as the protein powder itself.
Water— Tasteless and containing ZERO calories; water is the perfect option for those who want to lose weight. However, most protein powders taste pretty gross when mixed with water.
Milk— This is the liquid of choice for those who want to enjoy their protein shake. It’s a bit higher in calories (120 or so per cup), but it hides the “powder” taste of the protein. It’s also the best to ensure your digestive system can easily break down and absorb the whey. On the downside: lactose.
Nut Milk— Almond and cashew milk are the two most popular “milk” options for the lactose intolerant. They’re best when mixed with a strong-flavored protein powder, as the protein powder helps to hide the “faux milk” flavor.
Soy Milk— Yet another good option for mixing with most protein powders! Soy milk actually adds more protein to the mix, so it’s a good way to improve the amino acid profile of your protein shake.
Yogurt— If you’re going for more of a smoothie than a protein shake, you’ll definitely want to try yogurt. It’s higher in fat (good for fat-burning) and calories than milk, and it’s a bit thicker. However, it’s also a tad sour, so it pairs beautifully with most fruits–even citrus fruits!
Juice— If you have a citrus-flavored or flavorless protein powder, you can make yourself a smoothie or juice-based shake. It’s great for those who want to add more veggies or fruits to their daily diet!
The Added Ingredients
Once you’ve chosen your type of protein powder and the liquid you want to use, there are a lot of ingredients you can add to your “perfect” protein shake:
Fruit— Most protein shakes tend to have some kind of fruit in it: strawberries, blueberries, bananas, pineapple, oranges, mango, and the list goes on. Fruit provides an extra dose of natural sugar, along with vitamins and antioxidants. However, remember that too much sugar is bad for you, and it could actually set back your weight loss. Limit yourself to one serving of fruit per shake!
Veggies— For those who are trying to lose weight, adding veggies to your protein shake is a great way to go. Not only will you increase your fiber intake, but you can get more of those fat-burning nutrients found in dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale. However, veggies don’t mix well with milk-based protein shakes. If you want your shakes to taste good, you may want to add veggies into a shake made with juice as the base.
Grains— Oats make an awesome addition to your protein shake. It provides a bit of carb to restore your energy after working out. However, remember that grains provide carbs, which you want to try to limit to lose weight. Add no more than a spoonful or oats, granola, or other grains into your smoothie.
Seeds— Amaranth, flax seeds, and chia seeds are just a few of the awesome seeds you can add into your smoothie. Seeds are packed with not only protein, but also fiber, minerals, and antioxidants. A spoonful of seeds can make your protein shake A LOT healthier!
Nuts— Nuts contain healthy fats (Omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats) that will promote weight loss and improve your heart health. However, they’re also high in calories thanks to all that fat. Adding a spoonful of peanut butter, almond butter, or even raw nuts into your shake will make it more of a meal than a snack. However, if you’re having a protein shake as a meal replacement, adding nuts will be a good way to get more fiber and healthy fats!
Spices— Nothing adds delicious flavor to your protein shakes like organic vanilla extract, cinnamon, cloves, and pumpkin spice. Best of all, these spices contain zero calories and A LOT of flavors. You won’t need them thanks to the fact that your protein powder is already flavored, but they can add a bit of variety to your protein shakes.
Dark Chocolate— Because YES! Who doesn’t love chocolate? Dark chocolate is bittersweet, meaning it were low in sugar and packed with antioxidants. It makes an excellent addition to any shake, and it will do wonders to improve your cardiovascular health.
You have the list of ingredients, so it’s up to you to mix and match them according to your weight loss goals and diet allowances. The beauty is you have SO MANY options so you can make a different protein shake every day!
When to Drink Your Protein Shakes
You shouldn’t be drinking protein shakes just because they’re delicious, but they should serve a purpose. The time of day you drink them will determine what that purpose is:
Morning— It’s a well-known fact that a protein-heavy breakfast is the best way to kick off your day! Not only will it give you lots of energy for the work morning, but it will keep you full–preventing you from snacking mid-morning.
60 minutes before a workout— If you want more energy to push yourself hard, have a protein shake an hour before your workout. It will provide the fuel your muscles need to hit those weights or the running track harder.
Immediately after a workout— Post-workout protein shakes speed up repair and recovery and stimulate the growth of new muscle tissue. This is potentially the BEST time of day to have your protein shake.
Lunch— Instead of eating lunch, why not substitute it for a protein shake? It’s rich, tasty, and the perfect way to fill up without overdoing it on calories. Protein shakes are a good meal replacement, especially if you mix in a lot of other ingredients (fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, etc.).
Just before bed— Having a small protein shake before bed will give your body the nutrients it needs to make repairs overnight. Just make sure to choose a slow-acting protein (like casein), as that will deliver amino acids in a steady stream rather than a sudden burst (like with whey protein).