Using protein shakes is one of the most popular ways to lose weight today. There is a large range of different types. Some are intended specifically as a weight loss solution, while others are designed to be part of an overall diet plan. But do they work and what’s the best way to use them?
What Are Protein Shakes?
Protein shakes are mainly made from powdered protein supplements. They are most commonly made from soy, egg, whey, or plant-based proteins. You can add water or milk and even fruit to the powder to make a tasty, convenient drink.
Originally designed with athletes in mind, protein shakes replace the nutrients lost during exercise. These nutrients are vital for the body to repair itself. Over the last few decades, however, their popularity and range of uses have spread. There are now protein weight loss shakes designed as meal replacements or as meal supplements for more general health benefits.
There have been several recent studies that show there is a positive link between using protein shakes and losing weight. A study in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism in 2012 reported that over a six month period, subjects who used one or two shakes as meal replacements every day lost around 2% more of their total body fat than those who followed diet book advice. An earlier study published in the Nutrition Journal found that in a similar 40-week trial, subjects using meal replacement shakes lost as much as 12% of their total body weight compared to only 7% for those on more traditional diets.
Weight Loss Shake Tips
Eating natural foods is always the best way to give your body the essential nutrition it needs. However, protein shakes for weight loss can provide a low-calories alternative rather than missing a meal if you are trying to lose weight. Losing weight means burning more calories than the amount you get from eating. Most protein shakes contain between 100 and 250 calories, much lower than many average-sized meals, so they are an ideal replacement.
To use shakes for weight loss successfully as daily meal replacements use the following three steps as a guide.
- Have a protein shake instead of breakfast. A lot of people skip the first and most important meal of the day to help lose weight. However, this is a false economy. Eating a nourishing breakfast provides you with energy, starts your metabolism and stops you feeling hungry later. Studies have found that missing breakfast, “the most important meal of the day’’ can cause weight gain in teens and people in their mid-20s. A protein shake first thing in the morning can give you enough energy to get on with the day while cutting down on calories.
- Check the ingredients of your protein shake. Since your shake is taking the place of a meal, it is vital that it contains the same level of nutrients you would get from eating a well-balanced serving of food. It is especially wise to steer clear of shakes for weight loss that contain added or processed sugar. Dairy-based protein shakes do have sugars, but these occur naturally in things like whey and milk and effect the body differently. Trans-fats, high levels of cholesterol and a big sodium content are also things you should check for on the label. A plant based meal replacement such as those made by 310 Shake are ideal for avoiding any nasty additives.
- Eat healthily. Using protein shakes to replace a meal will have little effect if the rest of your eating habits are poor. You will not lose weight if you have a shake for breakfast but then eat hamburgers for lunch. Therefore it is important to make sure the meals you do eat are as well-balanced and healthy as possible with lean protein, complex carbohydrates, high fiber and healthy fats. These meals should also contain enough calories to keep your body performing properly throughout the day. On average a man needs at least 1,800 calories and a woman 1,200 calories per day to keep their metabolism correctly functioning.
If you eat too little and don’t provide your body with enough calories, the human automatic survival system kicks in as if there were a food shortage. Your body will slow down your metabolism to preserve body fat, effusively stopping any weight loss.
Finally, protein shakes for weight loss can be nutritious, tasty and simple meal replacements. As part of a well-balanced diet and regular exercise plan, they can really help you shed unwanted pounds.