They’re not just for body builders nor will they make you bulky! And yes, you can use protein shakes to lose weight — they’re not just for getting stronger! Let’s learn some more about this important part of the fitness world that many women often overlook…
What are Protein Shakes?
Protein shakes are a food supplement, and are predominantly made from a mixture of protein powder and milk, though water is common as well. Whey protein is one of the most popular and widely available types of protein powder on the market but you can also find soy, casein, hemp, rice and pea options.
Because they serve to send amino acids to the muscles, they are often used to aid the body’s recovery process after athletic workouts but they are growing in popularity as a weight loss supplement too. If you are working out or on a weight loss diet, your efforts will be aided with the addition of protein shakes to your diet.
Protein Shakes to Decrease Appetite
Protein can have a positive impact on appetite, largely because it encourages the production of hormones that suppress your appetite while also decreasing ghrelin, a hormone which controls hunger pangs.
Studies have shown that consuming high amounts of protein leads to decreased appetite and increased satiety (essentially, how “full” you feel). High protein breakfasts have a bigger effect on ghrelin levels compared to high carbohydrate breakfasts.
Protein is also helpful for weight loss as it helps you to feel fuller for longer and reduces the potential for snacking in between meals. Research participants also reported feeling less hungry when eating high-protein meals compared to meals high in fat.
Another study found that eating snacks that contained a good deal of protein led to participants eating less at their next meal and improved blood sugar levels, especially when compared to a low protein alternative or not eating at all.
In addition to this research, a study on overweight men found that those who ate high protein diets felt fuller during the day and did not feel compelled to eat late at night than the group who ate less protein.
The impact of protein for weight loss has been studied, with one study finding that increasing daily protein intake from 15 to 30 per cent enabled participants to consume more calories without needing to adjust their portion control.
These additional calories did not lead to weight gain; in fact, participants actually lost weight by doing this.
The combination of the effects on appetite and satiety suggests definite potential for using protein rich shakes as part of a weight loss plan and indeed, this has been studied.
Research looking at appetite and food intake in athletes suggested that 20g of whey protein as a shake after breakfast had an impact on hunger and led to at least a 50 per cent decrease.
There was no significant difference above 20g, suggesting that this is the optimum amount to be taken as a protein shake.
Protein Shakes to Boost Metabolism
Protein has another big role to play in weight loss as it helps to increase metabolism so that the body can burn fat more easily. A high protein diet has been proven to cause your body to burn more calories naturally as you go about your normal day.
This is largely because it helps to build muscle, which speeds up the body’s metabolism as muscle burns a greater number of calories compared to fat.
In one study, participants were given food and shakes, some of which contained a higher level of protein than the other. Over a 6 week period, the higher protein group gained more muscle and also lost more fat.
Not everyone will gain similar amounts of muscle as a lot will depend on how much you have in the first place.
Protein also affects metabolism due to the amount of calories that are needed as part of the digestion and conversion process. A study found that between 15 and 30 per cent of protein calories are used up for this, compared to up to 10 per cent for carbohydrates and up to 3 per cent for fat.
Misconceptions About Protein Shakes
Many women have a lot of hesitancy when it comes to protein shakes, thinking that they’ll taste terrible or make them bulky. Fitness expert Jillian Michaels clears up these issues in this video:
Hopefully this has cleared up any issues or questions you have about protein shakes. Add them into your diet and give your body the nutrients it needs while also speeding up your metabolism and decreasing your hunger. What’s not to like? Enjoy!