How to Lose Weight with Protein Shakes

Use low calorie shakes with protein for weight loss

protein shake diet for weight loss
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Many people try to lose weight with protein shakes. There are many protein powders, pre-measured mixes and commercial drinks that might make this strategy an easy choice. But can you really lose weight with a protein shake diet plan?

What Is a Protein Shake Diet?

A typical protein shake diet will replace one or two meals per day with a pre-purchased shake or one you prepare yourself using a whey or soy-based protein powder and some form of liquid.

Many dieters use water because it doesn't add calories, but you can also use milk or juice.

Let's take a look at one popular protein diet meal plan and consider a few points that may help you decide whether or not it's right for you.

Daily Meal Plan

  • Two protein shakes (usually 200-300 calories each)
  • Three small snacks (usually 100 calories each)
  • One full meal such as dinner (400-500 calories)

Should You Try a Protein Shake Diet?

Making the choice to follow a liquid protein diet plan is a highly individual thing. In short, yes, you can lose weight with protein shakes. A diet that reduces caloric intake will help you to slim down regardless of whether the calories come from solid food or liquid food. And since the protein shakes usually have fewer calories than the meals you would typically consume, you will probably see results.

In addition, when you boost your protein intake with shakes or smoothies, you help your body to maintain muscle mass.

You might even gain muscle if you are also doing strength training workouts at home or at the gym. A body with more muscle will burn more calories all day long than a body that has more fat.

The Best Protein Powder for Weight Loss Shakes

Whey Protein Powder Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 scoop (49 g)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 210 
Calories from Fat 45 
Total Fat 5g8%
Saturated Fat 1.5g8%
Cholesterol 135mg45%
Sodium 105mg4%
Potassium 140mg4%
Carbohydrates 8g3%
Dietary Fiber 0g0%
Sugars 3g 
Protein 30g 
Vitamin A 0% · Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 13% · Iron 0%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

There are different types of protein powder you can use in your weight loss shake. The type you choose can make a difference in whether or not your slim down plan is successful. Why? Because some protein powders are made for weight gain, not weight loss. They are high in nutrients, but also very high in calories. 

For example, Body Fortress Whey Protein Powder (see label) provide 210 calories and 30 grams of protein per single-scoop serving. Consumers are advised to combine a single scoop or a double scoop (420 calories, 60 grams protein) to their favorite beverage and blend. If you add the powder to eight ounces of low fat milk (122 calories), then your weight loss smoothie will either provide 332 calories or 542 calories.

But since this brand provides no hunger-busting dietary fiber, you might choose to add some fresh fruit. Your weight loss smoothie could total 400-600 calories, more than a typical diet-friendly meal. And it is very possible that you will get more protein than you need.

So what is the best protein powder for your weight loss shake? Calories matter. So check the Nutrition Facts label before you buy. You may need less protein (and fewer calories) than some brands provide.

Popular options include:

  • Whey protein powder. Whey is a milk protein that provides both essential and branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) that are helpful for building muscle. Whey powder is 11-15 percent protein. Whey concentrate is 25-89 percent protein and whey isolate is at least 90 percent protein. You'll see that many popular protein powders for body builders are made from whey isolate. 
  • Casein protein powder. Casein also comes from milk and provides a slow release of amino acids to help repair and build muscle. For this reason, some exercisers use this protein powder before and during workouts.
  • Soy protein powder. If you need a lactose-free or vegan protein powder, then soy might be your best choice. Soy provides all essential amino acids, including branched chain amino acids.
  • Pea protein powder is another popular option for people who want a lactose-free, vegetarian or vegan product. Pea protein is also a complete protein.

As you compare labels to find the best protein powder for you, remember that more protein is not always better. Get the right amount of protein for weight loss and muscle maintenance, but not so much that the extra energy eliminates your daily calorie deficit.

Before You Try a Protein Shake Diet

The first thing you must ask yourself is if you can manage your daily schedule if you eat only one real meal each day. A protein shake isn't a meal, it's a meal replacement. It can be a shock to your system to go from eating three meals a day to drinking two of them.

You should also consider how long you can maintain this type of liquid diet. A sensible diet will result in a 1-2 pound loss each week. So, for example, if you have 40 pounds to lose that means you'll face at least five months of eating this way.

Also, can you take the time and effort to plan calorie-controlled meals and snacks? It is critical to the success of your diet that your snacks and your daily meal are nutritious and healthy so that you maintain a strong body. You'll need to continue to buy a number of groceries in addition to protein shakes or protein powder.

Lastly, you simply must ask yourself if you have the will power to stick to it. When you have consumed your shake, you probably won't feel as if you have eaten what you are used to eating. It takes a lot of courage not to reach for another snack food, especially if you are surrounded by other foods at work or at home. There isn't much point to drinking protein shakes once or twice a day if you overeat the rest of the time.

In the end, trying to choose the best diet for you is a personal decision that only you can make.  Every diet plan has its own pros and cons. Some people actually like a protein shake diet because it is convenient and you don't have to decide what to eat twice a day. Others see them as too extreme and restrictive. If you decide to go on a liquid protein diet, or any other restrictive diet plan please consult your doctor first.

*Edited by Malia Frey, About.com Weight Loss Expert

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