Key Takeaways

  1. No kind of protein powder will directly burn body fat or help you lose weight on its own, but protein powder can help you eat sufficient protein every day which will make it much easier to lose weight.
  2. The best protein powder for weight loss will be one that gets the majority of its calories from protein, has very few artificial sweeteners, flavors, or dyes, and should taste good and digest easily.
  3. Keep reading to learn the pros and cons of different kinds of protein powder such as whey, casein, and plant-based protein powder, whether you should get a protein powder blend, and more.

You’ve probably heard that eating protein is important for losing weight. 

You’ve also probably heard that protein powder is particularly effective for weight loss. 

If you snoop around online for weight loss tips, one of the first pieces of advice you’ll find is that you should start sipping protein shakes to slim down. 

And that raises the question—what’s the best protein powder for weight loss? 

Well, before we can answer that question, you first need to understand a ground truth about weight loss: no protein powder, shake, or other supplement can make you lose weight on its own. 

Instead, weight loss is the result of proper diet and training—supplements only amplify your efforts in the kitchen and gym. 

Now for the good news: protein powder absolutely can help you lose weight if you use it to support your healthy eating habits and training program. And the kind of protein powder you choose can make a difference in your results.

So, in this article, you’ll learn . . . 

  • Why protein is important for weight loss
  • What to look for in the best protein powder for weight loss
  • And more.

Let’s start at the top: why should you worry about your protein intake in the first place?

Would you rather listen to this article? Click the play button below!

Want to listen to more stuff like this? Check out my podcast!

Why Is Protein Important for Weight Loss?

how to use protein powder for weight loss

Research shows that high-protein dieting beats low-protein in every way, especially when you’re trying to lose weight.

Eating adequate protein helps you . . . 

In other words, eating sufficient protein makes losing fat and gaining muscle easier across the board. 

How much protein should you eat to lose weight? 

Studies show you should eat about 1 to 1.2 grams per pound of body weight per day to lose fat, which works out to around 30 to 40% of your total daily calorie intake for most people. 

For example, I weigh 175 pounds, so I’d want to aim for around 175 to 210 grams of protein per day when trying to lose weight. 

Check out these articles if you’d like to learn more about the benefits of high-protein dieting and how to make it work for you: 

The Top 4 Scientifically Proven Benefits of a High-Protein Diet

How Much Protein Do I Need? The Definitive (and Science-Based) Answer

How Much Protein You Should Eat to Build Muscle

Summary: Eating a high-protein diet helps you lose fat and gain muscle faster, recover faster from workouts, retain muscle better while restricting calories, and feel more satiated by your meals (and thus less likely to overeat).

Want to find the perfect supplements for you?

Take the Quiz

Does Protein Powder Help You Lose Weight?

No—not by itself.   

There’s nothing inherent about any kind of protein powder that helps you automagically burn body fat. 

In fact, you don’t need to take any supplements to burn fat or build muscle.

The real reason you should consider taking protein powder for weight loss, though, is that eating sufficient protein from whole foods every day can be impractical.

This is particularly true if you have a hectic schedule, travel frequently, or work a job that makes it difficult to prepare or buy high-protein meals regularly. 

The bottom line is that protein powder will not directly help you lose weight. 

What it will do, though, is help you reach your daily protein target (~1 to 1.2 grams per pound of body weight per day), which will reduce hunger, muscle loss, and your chances of overeating, and increase muscle gain and workout recovery—all of which will help you lose weight much faster. 

So, if you decide to use a protein powder, the next question is, what’s the best kind for weight loss?

Summary: No kind of protein powder will directly burn body fat, but protein powder can help you eat sufficient protein per day which will make it much easier to lose weight.

How Much Protein Powder Should You Eat to Lose Weight?

How to Choose the Best Protein Powder for Weight Loss

As you now know, you don’t need to eat protein powder to lose weight, but doing so can make the process easier. The next logical question, then, is how much protein powder is too much? 

One thing to keep in mind when trying to lose weight is that whole foods are generally going to be more filling and nutrient dense than supplements, including protein powders and bars. Thus, a good rule of thumb is to get no more than about 30 to 40% of your total daily protein needs from protein powder and bars. 

Using myself as an example again, if I’m aiming to eat around 175 grams of protein per day to lose weight, I’d want to get no more than about 50 to 70 grams of that from protein powder, or about two to four scoops per day.  

There’s nothing unhealthy about eating more protein powder than this, per se, but if you need to get more than a quarter of your total protein needs from supplements every day, it’s a red flag you may need to put more effort into proper meal planning.

Summary: You can get anywhere from zero to 40% of your total daily protein intake from protein powder. Eating more than this isn’t necessarily unhealthy, but you’ll have an easier time losing weight if you get most of your protein from whole foods.

The Best Protein Powder for Weight Loss Is . . . 

Whatever helps you reach your total daily protein target and suits your budget and preferences.

That’s it. 

While you’ll often see fitness gurus, credentialed “experts,” and especially social media “influencers” beating the drum for one kind or brand of protein or another, the reality is that just about any high-quality protein powder is going to work just fine for weight loss. 

You’ve probably also heard people claim that you want to choose a protein powder that’s “hydrolyzed” or “cold-processed” or “ultra/micro-filtered,” but this is all just window dressing.

You can read this article to learn more, but the bottom line is that most of these “special” processing methods are unnecessary and are only used to pad the producer’s profit margins.

This isn’t to say that the kind of protein powder you buy doesn’t matter at all, just that most of the criteria people use when buying protein powder aren’t useful. 

So, what should you care about when purchasing protein powder? Here are three questions to ask yourself before choosing the best protein powder for weight loss.

Do at least 80% of the calories in each serving come from protein? 

Many protein powder manufacturers cut costs by including cheap, unnecessary, “filler” ingredients in their protein powders like large amounts of maltodextrin, cheap amino acids, and even flour.

A simple way to sidestep many of these shenanigans is to ensure at least 80% of the calories in each serving of protein powder actually come from protein.

You can find this number by multiplying the number of grams of protein per serving by four (protein contains four calories per gram), and then dividing the result by the total number of calories in each serving of protein.

For example, Whey+ contains 22 grams of protein and 100 calories per serving, so here’s what the math would look like:

22 x 4 = 88

88 / 100 = 88%

Thus, Whey+ is 88% protein, which is outstanding. 

In general, 80 to 90% of the calories in high-quality protein isolates will come from protein (a protein isolate is a protein powder that’s had as much of the fat, carbs, and other ingredients removed as possible). Now, this method isn’t foolproof, mind you—companies can still goose their protein content by adding cheap amino acids—but it helps eliminate a lot of low-quality options.

This method is also only really viable for animal-based protein powders, as plant-based protein powders will always have a higher percentage of fat, carbs, fiber, and other ingredients mixed in. When choosing a plant-based protein, a good rule of thumb is to ensure at least 50 to 60% of the calories per serving come from protein.

For example, Plant+ contains 25 grams of protein and 160 calories per serving, which means 63% of the calories in each serving come from protein. 

Summary: Only buy animal-based protein powders where at least 80 to 90% of the calories per serving come from protein, and plant-based protein powders where at least 50 to 60% of the calories per serving come from protein.

Does the protein powder contain any artificial sweeteners, flavors, or dyes?

While artificial sweeteners may not be as dangerous as some people claim, studies suggest that regular consumption of some of these chemicals could be harmful to our health and that more research is needed.

That’s why it’s generally wise to opt for protein powders that contain natural sweeteners like stevia and erythritol instead of artificial ones like aspartame and acesulfame potassium (especially if you plan on consuming them on a regular basis). 

Research shows that not only are natural sweeteners like these safe, but they can also confer several health benefits, including better insulin sensitivity, an improved cholesterol profile, improved blood glucose control, potential anti-cancer effects, lower blood pressure and inflammation levels, and more.

Many supplements also contain artificial dyes, known as “azo dyes,” such as FD&C Yellow #5 (also known as tartrazine), FD&C Blue #1 (also known as Brilliant Blue), FD&C Red No. 40 (also known as Allura Red AC), and others.

As with artificial sweeteners, the consumption of azo dyes might not be as harmful as some would have you believe, but there is evidence that these chemicals can cause various negative effects in the body.

And while artificial flavors appear to be benign, they just aren’t necessary. Natural flavors taste equally good.

Now, you may have heard some ex-purts on the Internet claim that even natural sweeteners interfere with weight loss by stimulating your sweet tooth. This couldn’t be more wrong. 

Study after study has shown that low- or no-calorie sweeteners do not encourage overeating or boost appetite or cravings. In fact, most research shows they help people eat less and lose weight more effectively. 

Summary: Although it’s still unclear whether or not artificial sweeteners, dyes, and flavors are harmful to health, they aren’t necessary—natural options taste just as good and come with more or less no downsides. 

Does the protein powder taste good and digest easily?

Good protein powder shouldn’t taste like a supplement.

Instead, it should taste creamy, smooth, and refreshing when mixed with plain water. And it should taste even better when mixed with milk or a milk substitute.

If your protein powder tastes plasticy, synthetic, or just “off,” like water that’s been sitting in a plastic bottle too long, you should buy something else.

Not only should your protein powder taste good going down, it should sit well and not cause bloating, gas, cramps, or burps. 

Many people assume that these problems are just part and parcel of consuming protein powder, but they’re usually the result of low-quality powders, unnecessary additives, or traces of lactose, which often upset people’s stomachs.  

That’s why you want to choose protein powders that are made from high-quality dairy and are lactose-free, which shouldn’t cause indigestion, stomach aches, or gassiness.

Of course, the only way to judge the taste and digestibility of a protein powder is to try it yourself, which is why it’s also a good idea to buy from companies with many positive reviews and that offer a money-back guarantee. 

For example, this is why Legion offers a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee on all of our products. We want you to be able to try our protein powders (and other supplements) risk-free, so you can judge their taste and quality for yourself. 

Summary: High-quality protein powders shouldn’t taste synthetic, artificial, or plasticy. Instead, they should taste creamy, smooth, and refreshing when mixed with plain water, and digest easily without causing indigestion, gas, or stomach aches. 

Which Is Better: Whey, Casein, or Plant-Based Protein? 

best protein powder for weight loss and muscle gain

The three most common protein powders you’ll see advertised are whey, casein, and plant-based protein powder. 

If your goal is just to lose weight, it doesn’t much matter which one you choose. That said, there are some subtle differences between them that may draw you to one versus another.

Let’s look at what sets them apart.

Whey Protein

Whey protein is by far the most popular type of protein supplement out there, because you get a lot of protein per dollar spent, it tastes good, and its amino acid profile is uniquely suited to muscle building and recovery.

You can take whey protein any time, but it’s particularly effective as a post-workout source of protein because it’s rapidly digested, which causes a dramatic spike in amino acids in the blood.

There really aren’t any downsides with whey protein, except some people find that they can’t tolerate more than about two scoops (~50 to 60 grams) before they run into stomach problems. 

Personally, I’ve never had a problem with this, and as you learned a moment ago, you shouldn’t need to eat much more protein powder than this per day anyway.

If you want an all-natural, delicious whey protein powder, try Whey+. It’s a 100% naturally sweetened and flavored whey isolate that is made from milk sourced from small dairy farms in Ireland, which are known for their exceptionally high-quality dairy.

What’s more, you can choose from over a dozen different flavors of Whey+, including French Vanilla, Mocha Cappuccino, and Cinnamon Cereal.

Casein Protein Powder

Casein digests slightly slower than whey, providing a steady stream of amino acids to the muscles for growth and repair.

Most scientific research shows both whey and casein are more or less comparable when it comes to building muscle, so which one you choose largely boils down to personal preference. 

Since casein digests slower than whey, you could argue that it might be slightly better at suppressing appetite (and thus aiding weight loss), but this is entirely theoretical. Even if this is the case, the difference would be minor. 

If you want a great-tasting, all-natural casein protein powder, try Casein+. It’s a 100% naturally sweetened and flavored casein isolate also made from milk sourced from small dairy farms in Ireland.

Plant-Based Protein Powder

If you don’t eat animal products or want to take a break from whey and casein, you can also get comparable results by taking a high-quality plant-based protein powder.

You can learn all about plant-based protein powders in this article, but the long story short is that the right mix of plant proteins (especially pea and rice) can be about as effective for muscle building as whey and casein. They also tend to be very filling, which makes them ideal for losing weight. 

The main downside of plant-based proteins is that they tend to have less protein per serving than animal proteins (you have to eat more calories of plant-based protein to get the same number of grams of protein that you’d get from an animal-based version). 

This is less of an issue with high-quality plant-based proteins like Plant+, though.

Plant+ is a 100% naturally sweetened and flavored blend of pea and rice protein that contains 25 grams of protein per serving. It’s also nutritionally enhanced with 10 added nutrients that vegan and vegetarian diets tend to lack, including vitamin D, beta-alanine, and creatine, as well as 4 digestive enzymes to help you better process and absorb every scoop.

So, if you want a delicious, low-calorie, plant-based protein powder, try Plant+.

Should You Get a Protein Blend?

best protein powder for weight loss and meal replacement

You may have heard that a blend of different kinds of protein powder is better for weight loss than a single kind of protein powder, but this is only true when you’re talking about plant-proteins. 

Most animal-based proteins such as whey, casein, and egg contain all of the amino acids your body needs to maximize muscle growth and recovery. In other words, they’re all “complete” proteins, meaning they contain all of the amino acids needed by the body. The only protein that’s lacking in this department is collagen protein, which is very low in essential amino acids and thus a poor choice for building muscle.

Plant proteins are a little different.

While all plant proteins are complete proteins (they contain at least traces of every essential amino acid), some are very low in particular amino acids and higher in others. 

For example, pea protein is high in every essential amino acid except methionine, while rice protein is high in every amino acid except lysine. 

By combining these two proteins, though, they make up for each other’s deficiencies, and you can create a more complete protein that’s about as effective for supporting muscle growth and recovery as whey protein. This is why the blend of the two is often called the “vegan’s whey.”

Some people also prefer protein blends due to their texture. For example, egg protein often has a thick, creamy mouthfeel which goes well with whey. 

That said, this isn’t necessary if you have a high-quality whey or casein protein—it should be plenty toothsome on its own.  

Summary: Protein powder blends aren’t inherently better than single kinds of protein powder, except in the case of plant-based protein powders.

The Bottom Line on the Best Protein Powder for Weight Loss

No kind of protein powder will help you lose weight on its own, but protein powder can help you eat sufficient protein per day which will make it much easier to lose weight.

Specifically, you should aim to eat 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day when trying to lose weight, which works out to around 30 to 40% of your total calorie intake for most people. 

Although there’s nothing inherently unhealthy about eating large amounts of protein powder every day, if you need to get more than about 40% of your total daily protein intake from protein powder, it’s a sign you may need to work harder at preparing healthy meals from whole foods.

When choosing the best protein powder for weight loss, ask yourself these three questions: 

  1. Do at least 80% of the calories in each serving come from protein? (Or 50%, in the case of plant-protein powders).
  2. Does the protein powder contain any artificial sweeteners, flavors, or dyes?
  3. Does the protein powder taste good and digest easily?

The three most popular kinds of protein powders are whey, casein, and plant-based protein powders. They’re all more or less equally effective for supporting weight loss, so choose whichever one gets your juices flowing.

If you go with a plant-based protein powder, though, a blend (such as rice and pea protein) is ideal.

If you liked this article, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever you like to hang out online! 🙂

What’s your take on the best protein powder for weight loss? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

 

+ Scientific References

Readers' Ratings

5/5 (3)

Your Rating?