Are you drinking protein shakes as part of your overall weight loss plan? Smart move… As research shows that increasing the amount of protein in your diet is one sure-fire way to move the scale in your favor. Unfortunately, this is only part of the equation. Probably quite surprising to you, you could actually be drinking your protein shake all wrong (or choosing the wrong one) – and this could have a disastrous effect on your weight loss results.
So, how do you know what the best protein powder should look like (and which ones are total duds)? It all comes down to the ingredients in the shakes, along with the ingredients you add into them. And sometimes what “looks” healthy, is far from it. Our in-depth research on hundreds of diet shakes has led us to the answers you’re seeking to find the best protein shake to ensure your weight loss success. Read on to learn more…
How Protein Shakes Assist With Weight Loss
Before we get started on the mistakes to avoid when it comes to making your protein shakes, first let’s take a look at the evidence in support of them. Some of the major reasons that a protein shake can help you slim down is that it can help boost your metabolism and energy levels, increase your satiety, supply your body with vital nutrients – and do it all for a very low calorie cost.
As you probably guessed, protein is the star ingredient in these diet shakes, since it’s been proven that a high-protein diet is beneficial for weight loss. In one study, protein was shown to help obese patients lose weight and become healthier by helping them burn more fat and store less fat (preventing a cycling effect of weight loss then regain).
But protein isn’t the only ingredient in the shake that matters. The true key to weight loss success is finding the best protein shakes to use as meal replacement shakes – which are a proven tool for weight loss. In one study, meal replacement diet shakes were shown to be just as effective as other weight loss diets for treating obesity – with the participants finding the shakes to be more convenient than other dieting methods, and therefore being more compliant to the program.
So, how do you turn a protein shake into a “healthy food” that you can then use to propel your weight loss forward? Let’s find out…
3 Rules to Making Healthy Protein Shakes
1) Choose a smart protein powder
We get it… whey is an incredibly popular choice for protein shakes. In fact, most of the diet shakes geared for muscle-building and weight loss use some type of whey protein powder within the shake formula. Now, we don’t have anything against whey protein when it’s used the way it should be… which is to enhance your workout performance and help with fitness gains.
The problem comes (in our opinions) when you use a whey protein powder as a meal replacement for weight loss. This is because whey is a highly “insulinogenic” food. What does this mean? It means that it can trigger a large release of insulin after you eat it. This, in turn, can cause you to be hungry again shortly after you consume whey, likely craving something sweet.
Solution: We’re a huge fan of plant-based protein powders, particularly because they have also been shown to assist with muscle-building and weight loss, and also provide added health benefits. A plant-based protein shake including pea, brown rice, hemp or other plant proteins will provide a ton of fiber for lasting, stable satiety – along with added vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and superfoods to boost immunity and assist with good digestion.
The only plant-based protein powder we don’t recommend is soy, simply because most soy used today is genetically-modified, and soy itself has estrogen mimicking abilities that could potentially lead to health problems.
2) Avoid “sneaky” unhealthy ingredients
Some of the most popular protein shake brands may also be the worst ones for you. One of the sneakiest culprits on product labels? Sugar. Mostly because it’s the last thing you would expect to find on a health product geared towards weight loss. But sugar can come in many different forms, and added sugars (especially fructose) are a leading cause of obesity and other diseases in our world today.
Solution: Look for a shake with as little added sugar as possible (note that added sugars are now noted on product labels under the Carbohydrates section, so you can easily spot them). Then check the ingredient list to make sure the sugar alternative is something safe. Definitely stay away from artificial sweeteners, which can be just as bad as actual sugar in how they react in your body. Instead, we prefer plant-based Stevia, which doesn’t spike blood sugar or increase your appetite like actual sugar.
3) Be careful with your smoothie add-ins
Finally, once you choose the best protein powder for you, make sure to avoid pitfalls when you’re making your shakes. Remember how sugar can make or break your protein powder? Well the same goes with your smoothie ingredients. This is because so many “healthy” foods also contain sugar if you choose the wrong kinds.
Some examples are fruit-flavored yogurts, sweetened nut milks and commercial fruit juices. In addition, even dried fruit can be a problem if you eat it in access – which is easy to do since it’s so much smaller than real, whole fruits.
Solution: Instead of focusing on sweet additions to your smoothies, start with healthy fats – which give your drinks a creamy, desirable consistency. Whereas sugar can increase your hunger, fats will do the opposite – and instead provide lasting satiety. Plus, that whole thing about fats being bad for you… totally wrong! Instead, healthy fats supply your body with tons of nutrients and can actually help with your weight loss goals.
Some great healthy fat options include avocado, unsweetened nut butters, plain Greek yogurt, and coconut or MCT oil. Then, add in some leafy greens and one serving of fresh, whole fruit for abundant nutrients and flavor.
Want to learn more about diet shakes and even compare features of some of the best diet shake brands today? Use our diet shake comparison tool to help you find the best protein powder for you… so you can make protein shakes that support your ultimate wellness and weight goals!