Are protein shakes good for weight loss?
Though having enough protein in our diet is essential and can help us lose weight without losing muscle, “extra” protein does not equal extra weight loss benefits.
Before we go any further, let’s do a quick ‘science bit’ recap of protein in the body.
is contained in all cells and tissues in our bodies so is essential for growth, repair and staying in good health.
provides the body with approximately 10 to 15% of its dietary energy
is the second most abundant compound in the body after water
helps us feel full and satisfied after eating
So, protein is important to our bodies yes. However, most of us are easily able to eat enough protein in our diets. If you can’t get enough protein through food, it’s possible a supplement, like a shake, may be a good idea. You can always pop into your pharmacist to discuss whether protein shakes are right for you.
Protein and weight loss
The British Nutrition Foundation states that: “Protein-rich foods tend to make people feel fuller than foods rich in carbohydrates or fat. So including a lean source of protein with a meal can help to minimise feelings of hunger and decrease overall energy intake.” In other words, making sure you eat a portion of protein in your meal can help you feel full and give you energy, without too many calories. But, while studies have shown protein-rich diets compared with low-fat programmes are more effective in the short term, no differences have generally been reported over a longer duration (e.g. after a year) and more studies are needed for us to conclude whether there are any long-term benefits.
However, when it comes to our muscle mass, protein is key. People who are obese or have a lot of weight to lose can risk losing muscle mass as they lose weight. A review of all the data we have on this subject concluded that a lower calorie diet with adequate (but not excessive) protein, combined with physical activity, is the best way to maintain muscle mass while losing weight.
Again though, it is important to note that most people can get enough protein through their food, so adding in a protein shake will not necessarily be of value.
Protein shakes as meal supplements
The best way to get to, and stay at, a healthy weight should involve small changes that you can stick to for life. So crash diets or plans where you only drink shakes are generally not recommended. Furthermore, many protein shakes will provide protein but not all the nutrients you get from food. Plus, choco-bannana shake for lunch may sound great, but it gets boring fast!
In short, having enough protein as part of your diet is important to help you feel satisfied and support your body in maintaining muscle mass, as well as other functions. But you’re better off following a nutritious diet with enough protein included than using supplements such as shakes.
Why not speak to a pharmacist offering weight loss services near you? They can offer scientifically-backed information and advice, as well as prescribe supplements if appropriate.