Best Protein Powders For Weight Loss And Muscle Gain

Best Protein Powders For Weight Loss And Muscle Gain
 Weight Loss

As the building blocks of life, protein is a highly significant fuel source for the body. This essential nutrient develops and repairs muscle fibers and metabolizes the biochemical processes that occur in the body. A regular consumption of protein throughout the day ensures that the muscle tissues get a sustained supply of amino acids, thereby creating the best anabolic environment for development. But apart from that, protein is also a prerequisite to a healthy weight loss.

Researchers say that a human body requires 1.5 to 2 grams of protein for each pound of body weight. But getting this recommended amount through the natural sources can be a bit tricky. It’s here protein shakes, and powders come in.

What Are Protein Shakes/Powders?

Protein powders or shakes are basically concentrated sources of protein obtained from plant and animal sources. There are three most common types of protein powders, which include:

a. Protein Concentrates:

Protein concentrates are produced by extracting protein from food, using acid, heat or enzymes. This type of protein powder contains 60 to 80 percent protein. The remaining is composed of calories derived from carbohydrates and fat.

b. Protein Isolates:

Protein isolates contain around 90 to 94% of protein. This type of protein is taken through a filtering process, which removes all the carbs and fats, leaving just the protein.

c. Protein Hydrolysates:

Protein hydrolysates, also called the pre-digested protein, is produced by breaking down isolates and concentrates into a single amino acid. This helps the body absorb protein quickly and easily, maximizing muscle growth and recovery. Protein hydrolysates also raise the insulin levels, thereby keeping you satiated for a longer time.[1

How Protein Powder Help You Lose Weight?

A consistent supply of protein in the body boosts the metabolism and curb appetite, helping you lose body fat without losing any muscle. Protein shakes, made by mixing protein powder with water and other ingredients are proven to provide similar effects to the body. It increases the levels of appetite-curbing hormones like PYY GLP-1 and CCK while reducing the levels of hunger hormone in the body.

Protein shakes, combined with strength training exercises, also prevent metabolic slowdown and muscle loss. It also keeps you full for a longer time.[2] [3]

Types of Protein Powders:

The major types of protein powders include:

1. Whey:

Whey, the water-soluble milk protein, is one of the most popular and beneficial protein powders. It’s inexpensive, contains all the nine amino acids required by the body and is digested and absorbed faster than other protein sources. Leucine, one of the nine amino acids, boosts the muscle protein synthesis to facilitate post-workout recovery. It also contains biologically active micro-fractions like glycomacropeptides, beta lactoglobulin, alpha lactalbumin and lactoferrin. These micro fractions enhance the fat burning process and suppress appetite to exacerbate weight loss.

2. Whey Isolate:

Contrary to what most people believe, whey and whey isolate are not same protein supplements. The primary difference between both is the amount of lactose, protein and fat levels each contain. Whey protein powder contains 80 to 85% protein, while whey protein isolate contains over 90% protein. Since Whey Isolate contains a high concentration of protein, it is best recommended to people engaging in muscle build-up or intense exercises. Whey isolate is best taken before or after the workout sessions to initiate faster muscle recovery.

3. Casein:

Just like whey protein, even casein is derived from milk and milk product. But unlike whey and whey isolate protein powders, which stimulate rapid protein synthesis, casein is a slow protein and can take around 3 to 4 hours to peak the protein synthesis and 7 hours to be completely absorbed by the body. It delays the absorption of amino acids into the bloodstream, reducing the rate of muscle protein breakdown.[4]. Casein also forms a gel while interacting with the stomach acid, thereby making feel fuller for a longer period. Experts opine that night is the best time to take Casein, so that it can repair and regrow the muscles in the sleeping hours.

4. Egg Protein:

We all know that eggs are an excellent natural source of high-quality protein. In fact, out of all the whole foods, eggs are proven to have the highest protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score. But if you’re not very fond of eggs, you can substitute it with egg protein powder. Egg protein powder, made just from the egg whites, is the second highest source of leucine after whey. An animal research has proven that egg protein is similar to whey powder in its ability to stimulate the muscle growth.[5] And the negligible carbohydrate and fat content make it a winner. The only concern with egg protein powder is that unlike whole eggs, egg protein powder fails to keep satiated for a longer time because of the absence of egg yolk in it.

5. Hemp Protein:

Hemp protein has been around for quite some time now, but is considered inferior to other forms of protein because of the insufficient amount of leucine and lysine in it. It contains just 50% of protein, while other options discussed contain at least 80% of protein. Furthermore, hemp protein isn’t digested as well as rice, pea or even whey protein.

6. Brown Rice Protein:

Brown rice protein, a plant-based supplement, is gaining extreme popularity with vegans and vegetarians. An eight-week-long study concluded that the effects of both rice protein and whey protein in terms of muscle strength, composition and recovery were more or less similar. [6] Brown rice protein has around 80% of biological value and tastes scrumptious.

7. Pea Protein:

The biological value of pea protein is more or less equal to that of brown rice protein. Besides, it has a high level of leucine, which is required for maximized muscle growth. Experts recommend a combination of pea and rice protein for optimum results.

8. Soy Protein:

Soy protein, a vegetarian protein isolated from soybean, is rich in two essential amino acids, glutamine, and arginine, which help in the muscle and stamina recovery. Glutamine hastens the healing process and keeps the energy levels high, while Arginine dilates the blood vessels, allowing it to travel faster through the body. And it is free from cholesterol and fat too!

But soy protein isn’t that great for men. A study conducted at Harvard University found that soy foods, including soy protein, reduced sperm count in men due to the presence of isoflavones in it.[7] But this effect varies according to the presence or absence of intestinal bacteria in the body.

How Much Protein Powder Should You Take?

Typically, the daily protein powder intake should be 0.5 to 1 gram per pound of body weight. It may seem huge, but it’s necessary for people who want to lose weight. And those who want to add lean muscles will need slightly more than this.

Side Effects Of Excess Protein Powder Consumption:

Excess of anything is bad and same is the case with protein powders as well. Some of the side effects of protein powders reported include:

a. Digestive Trouble:

Although protein powders obtained from milk and milk sources have relatively less lactose than milk; they can still cause some discomfort like constipation, stomach pain, and diarrhea.

b. Heavy Metal Toxicity:

A study published in Consumer Reports discovered that protein powders contained traces of heavy metals like mercury, cadmium, and arsenic. A regular consumption of these metals can cause symptoms like headaches, constipation, and joint pains.

c. Risk Of Cancer:

Excess consumption of soy protein can increase the risk of certain cancer in both men and women. Soy protein contains high levels of phytoestrogens, which can increase the possibility of breast cancer or breast cancer recurrence in women. But studies on this subject is still inconclusive.

When Should You Take A Protein Shake?

Taking whey protein at the correct time can make a world of difference in building the extra inch on your arms or losing an inch from the hips. The three crucial timings for scheduling the portion of protein are:

a. Right After Getting Up:

The gap between the time you sleep and get up is the longest duration the body goes without food. So morning is arguably the best time to feed the body with protein.

Consume 30 grams of protein powder within 30 minutes of waking up. It will provide your body with the much-needed amino acids. Besides, protein shake is a way purer source of energy than regular doughnuts, coffee, tea or bagels.

b. Before Work Out:

Consuming protein shake 45 to 60 minutes before the workout will prime the body for the exercises ahead. Protein shakes will also give the body BCAAs and other essential amino acids that promote fat loss and muscle growth.

c. Post Workout:

Post workout is considered the single most important time to feed protein to the body, i.e. when it is preparing for protein synthesis.[8

Which Type of Protein Powder is Best?

With so many protein powder options available, figuring out the best can be really overwhelming. But experts say that whey protein powder is best for muscle gain, and a combination of whey and casein protein powder is best for weight loss. Vegans and vegetarians can consume brown rice or pea protein powder.

Best Protein Powder For Women:

Marie Spano, certified strength and conditioning specialist opines than women can benefit more from protein powder than men. Wondering how and why? We’ll tell you!

Women often fail to get the daily recommended amount of protein, especially when they’re trying to lose weight. It’s here protein powder can come to their aid. Whey protein is shown to be most effective in stimulating muscle protein synthesis in women, followed by casein. If you’re lactose intolerant, go for whey protein isolate over regular whey powder. And if you’re vegan, go for pea or brown rice protein powder.

For Muscle Gain: PEScience Select Protein, a blend of whey and casein protein is the ideal protein powder.

For Weight Loss: NLA Her Whey, with its gluten and fat free formula, is the considered the best protein powder for women who want to lose weight. It promotes a lean body by curbing appetite and promoting muscle recovery.

Best Protein Powder For Men:

For Muscle Gain: Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein and EAS 100% Whey Protein are best for gaining muscles as both the protein powders provide 24 to 26 grams of protein and 5.5 grams to 6.3 grams of BCAAs per serving.

For Weight Loss: Jay Robb Grass-Fed Whey Protein and Optimum Nutrition 100% Casein Protein with supremely high protein levels can help you in your weight loss endeavors.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. What to look for in protein powder for weight loss?

Type of whey is the first thing you need to check on protein products. A great protein powder will list whey protein isolates or whey protein hydrolysate as the first ingredient. Avoid products that contain whey protein concentrate as they have a much lower protein content as compared to whey or whey isolate.

Nutritional value is the second thing that you should look for while purchasing a protein powder. Look for details on fat content, calories per serving, carbohydrate count and artificial ingredients on the label of a protein powder jar. Avoid tubs that have “added amino acid” among the ingredients.

You may also need to do some math to see if the whey protein powder is top notch or not. Divide grams of protein per serving by the serving size, which must also be in grams. It will give you the idea of protein percentage in each serving.

2. Which protein powder is best for me to lose weight?

COR-Performance Whey by Cellucor is considered the best protein powder by the experts for losing weight. Containing 25 grams of protein per scoop, COR-Performance Whey will help you reach your RDA with just a couple of servings. Apart from that, COR-Performance also contains 5.5 grams of naturally occurring branched chain amino acids. 

Isoflex Whey Protein Isolate with no fat, no sugar and just a gram of carbs is also an excellent protein powder for weight loss. This one of a kind protein powders provides a whopping 27 grams of protein with just one scoop.

 3. What is the best tasting protein shake for weight loss?

Whey protein, in general, is the best tasting protein powder, but Prosource Nytrowhey Ultra Elite stands out from the rest. This supplement combines the best of high-quality whey hydrolysate and isolates proteins with leucine peptide technology that jump starts the weight loss process.

ON’S Gold Standard 100% Whey is also lauded for its creamy taste. What more! It comes in 13 flavors to cater to every taste bud.

4.  Are protein shakes good for weight loss?

Yes, protein powder, along with proper workout and diet, is one of the most important factors for a successful weight loss journey.

So these were the best protein powders in our opinion. You just need to select the perfect one, based on your fitness and health goals, tolerances, and dietary preferences. Remember, protein powder alone cannot help you lose weight and gain muscle tissues. You need to couple it with a progressive training regimen for best results.

Which protein powder would you recommend our readers? Tell us by commenting below.