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CAN PROTEIN SHAKES AID WEIGHT LOSS?
WHY A DIET HIGH IN PROTEIN IS GOOD FOR FAT LOSS
Yielding approximately 4kcal (energy) per gram, protein is the macronutrient that aids muscle tissue growth and repair in the body, and hence the amino acids that make up complete proteins are known as the building blocks of muscle. A diet high in protein is therefore incredibly beneficial for someone seeking weight loss since carbohydrates (also 4kcal per gram) and fat (9kcal per gram) can result in a surplus of energy when ingested, which may in turn be stored as glycogen and unwanted fat.
The title of this article is ‘can protein shakes aid weight loss?’ however it’s important that we don’t get too hung up on ‘weight loss’ and in fact more to the point, ‘fat loss’. When you strive for weight loss, or a more aesthetic appearance and body composition, it is the amount of muscle mass and body fat that you carry that will define the appearance of your body. This further qualifies the requirement for dietary protein, as the goal is to preserve and even increase your lean muscle mass, whilst decreasing excess body fat. After all, the higher your muscle mass is, the higher your resting metabolic rate.
Another key attribute of dietary protein is that it increases satiety (i.e. keeps you fuller for longer), and protein shakes are an incredibly convenient and often cost efficient source of protein to consume at any time throughout the day to reduce hunger cravings. It helps that they’re often pretty sweet too, so rather than reaching for crisps or biscuits, shoot for a protein shake!
“There’s so many, where do I start?!”
I hear you! There are so many supplement brands in the market right now, and so it’s important to compare protein shakes before diving straight in there and buying the first one in sight. You should be looking for proteins high in protein and low in carbohydrates and fats, as previously discussed, and you’ll also find diet formulas with added ingredients to support weight and fat loss goals. Ingredients to look out for in such diet protein formulas include, Green Tea Extract, CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid), L-Carnitine and Glucomannan.
“Are protein shakes better for me than food?”
This is a tricky one, as there isn’t necessarily a yes/no answer. Yes, they are more convenient and time saving. Yes, they are generally cheaper per serving of a food equivalent. Yes, they are tasty and will help to curb any cravings for indulgence in something laced in sugar. Yes, they are high in protein and low carbohydrates, fat and calories, and unless you wish to eat your way through a lonely chicken breast, you’ll struggle to find a food source with a similar nutritional breakdown. However, protein shakes are a supplement, and so you should use them as just that - to supplement your diet. There are essential micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that you’ll be missing out on when choosing a protein shake over nutrient dense wholefoods.
To summarise, protein shakes are high in protein and low in calories and in my book, can certainly have a place for someone seeking weight and/or fat loss, but as a supplement and not as a replacement. Use post-exercise to stimulate protein synthesis and start the recovery process, and in-between your meals as a snack and to suppress appetite. Train hard, and best of luck in your 2016 body composition change journey!