Seven best protein powders for weight loss in 2024, picked by a certified trainer

Want to know the best protein powders for weight loss? From whey to plant-based options, I’ve tried them all

Best protein powders for weight loss 2023: Quick Menu

Close up on man's hand scooping protein powder into flask

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The list in brief ↴
1.
Best overall: Dymatize ISO100
2. Best premium: Transparent Labs
3. Best taste: MyProtein Clear Whey Isolate
4. Best protein content: Innermost The Lean Protein
5. Best vegan: Vegan Wondershake
6. Best for juice fans: Naked Nutrition Clear Naked Whey
7. Best flavor variety: Gold Optimum Nutrition
How to choose
FAQs

I’m a fitness journalist and level 3 personal trainer, and my clients often come to me looking to shed body fat and get lean. One of my first tips is that they check they’re getting enough protein, which helps with satiety (how full we feel after a meal).

An easy way to increase the amount of protein you’re getting is by using protein powders, which are concentrated forms of protein derived from plants, eggs, or dairy. If you’re looking for the best protein powder for weight loss, I recommend something low in sugar and fat. This double whammy will mean fewer calories in your morning shake, which can help you hit the calorie deficit you need for weight loss.

As a quick disclaimer, protein powders are not always the answer for weight loss. A lot of people can get sufficient protein from their food intake. In fact, consuming excess protein powder can cause weight gain, if it contributes to an overall calorie surplus in your diet.

Kylie Bensley, founder of Sulini Nutrition, explains: “As protein causes fullness, powders are often a go-to source for weight loss, but what’s more important is how you are utilizing your protein. At the end of the day, overall calorie consumption is what matters most.”

Bearing all that in mind, I’ve spent the last ten years trying, and writing about, all the best-selling protein powders, looking closely at protein content, taste, texture, mixablity, value for money, and added nutrients. Here’s my round-up of the best I’ve ever tried.

Kylie Bensley dietitian
Kylie Bensley

Kylie Bensley is a highly regarded clinical dietitian with a wealth of expertise in nutrition. With an unwavering dedication to patient care, Bensley has spent over a decade working in renowned medical facilities in Boston and Cambridge, MA. Throughout her extensive career, she has provided invaluable guidance to patients recovering from surgery, establishing herself as a leading and trusted authority in the field.

Maddy!
Maddy Biddulph

Maddy Biddulph is a certified level 3 personal trainer and nutrition advisor who has been testing protein powders for a decade. Based in the UK, she helps busy moms prioritize their health and fitness, build muscle, lose body fat, and get into the best shape of their lives.

The quick list

Need a quick overview? Below you can find the best protein powders for weight loss that we’ve tested, all of which contain a high amount of protein with low carbs, sugar and fat.

The best protein powders for weight loss

You can trust Fit&Well We give honest reviews and recommendations based on in-depth knowledge and real-world experience. Find out more about how we review and recommend products.

Best overall

Dymatize Iso100 hydrolyzed protein powder

(Image credit: Maddy Biddulph)

1. Dymatize ISO100

Best protein powder for weight loss overall

Specifications

Serving size: 32g
Protein per serving: 25g
Fat per serving: 0.6g
Carbs per serving: 0.8g
Sugar: 0.5g
Calories per serving: 114kcal

Reasons to buy

+
Mixes well with water
+
Range of flavors
+
Very good value

Reasons to avoid

-
No additional vitamins or minerals
-
Tub is very large 

Overview: Dymatize’s ISO100 is a high-quality protein powder containing pure hydrolyzed whey isolate. This type of protein has been filtered to remove most of the sugars and fats, and is partially broken down or ‘pre-digested’ by enzymes, making it easier to digest. See our piece on whey protein vs whey isolate, if you want to dive into the details on these different types of supplement.

At around a dollar per serving, this product is great value. Gluten-free, and mostly free of lactose and cholesterol, it has 16 flavors including classics like fudge brownie and chocolate peanut butter. Some versions have sucralose, artificial flavors and sweeteners, while others have Stevia and natural flavors, so check your label. Unfortunately, it's not suitable for vegans.

Taste test: I tested the Gourmet Chocolate flavor, which tastes indulgent and rich when mixed with milk (both regular and plant-based). This is also one of the very few protein powders that tastes great with water. It is such a fine powder that it mixes very well, and I didn’t find any lumps, even after a quick 30 seconds of shaking.

I added it to batter mix and it gave my pancakes a strong chocolate flavor, which my kids loved. I’ve often found that low-sugar and low-fat powders can taste a bit bland, but this product offers a big bang for your buck on both taste and quality.

Best premium

Transparent Labs 100% grass fed whey protein isolate

(Image credit: Future)

2. Transparent Labs 100% Grass-fed Whey Protein Isolate

Best premium protein powder

Specifications

Serving size: 32.96g
Protein per serving: 28g
Carbs per serving: 1g
Sugar per serving: 0g
Fat per serving: 0g
Calories per serving: 120kcal

Reasons to buy

+
Fat and sugar-free
+
Premium ingredients

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Limited range of flavors

Overview

Transparent Labs’ Whey Protein Isolate has a clean profile and even cleaner taste, and it’s refreshingly rich considering it is sugar and fat-free. With 28g of high-quality isolated protein per scoop, it’s easily digestible and delicious.

One of the biggest advantages of buying this product is that its whey is sourced from grass-fed, hormone-free American cows. The powder is also free from gluten, preservatives, artificial sweeteners and food dyes. It has a good flavor range, from classics like Milk Chocolate, French Vanilla and Strawberry Milkshake to more interesting ones such as Mint Chocolate Chip and Cinnamon French Toast.

Taste test

I tested the Milk Chocolate flavor and it really hit the spot. Just the right balance of sweetness without being sickly, and it’s missing the synthetic chalky aftertaste cheaper protein powders often have.

It mixes well with both milk and water (my favorite was 50/50 of each) and behaves well when blended into pancake batter, muffins, and oatmeal. The main drawback is the price. It is one of the most expensive protein powders for weight loss that I’ve tested, the high-quality ingredients and taste justify this.

Best Taste

MyProtein Clear Whey Isolate (strawberry kiwi flavor)

(Image credit: Harry Bullmore / Future)

3. MyProtein Clear Whey Isolate

If you don’t like the shake consistency of most protein powders, try this clear option

Specifications

Serving size: 25g
Protein per serving: 20g
Carbs per serving: 0.9g
Sugar per serving: 0.5g
Fat per serving: 0g
Calories per serving: 85kcal

Reasons to buy

+
Delicious taste
+
Super low calorie

Reasons to avoid

-
Lower protein content

Overview: MyProtein’s Clear Whey Isolate was winner of the best protein powder/shake in the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Awards 2022 and is one of the brand’s bestsellers for good reason. Using hydrolyzed whey protein isolate, it’s a light and refreshing juice-like drink rather than a milky shake. It comes in 10 flavors: apple, mojito, orange, orange mango, pineapple, raspberry, lemonade, tropical dragon fruit, watermelon, and strawberry kiwi. It has 20g of protein per 25g serving, which is lower than other entries in this guide, but it’s got the lowest calorie content, at 85kcal. It’s suitable for vegetarians but not vegans, or anyone dairy-free, as it contains milk. It also contains a sweetener (sucralose).

Taste test: I tried the strawberry kiwi flavor and it’s the best-tasting protein mix I’ve tested. It’s more of a refreshing juice drink than a milkshake, which I prefer, and has a fine consistency that mixes well with water. I found that it blended well with pancake mix and I imagine the tropical flavors would work brilliantly in high-protein ice lollies.

Once you’ve mixed it together, you need to wait for the natural foaming to settle. It says 15 seconds on the packaging, but I found it was more like a minute before the foam reduced, and even then it still had some bubbles. The only reason it’s not at the top of the list is because it has a slightly lower protein content per serving than other options, though it’s still a brilliant option if weight loss is your main goal.

Best For Protein Content

Innermost Lean Protein Powder in packaging and mixed with water in a glass

(Image credit: Future)

4. Innermost The Lean Protein

Best for protein content

Specifications

Serving size: 40g
Protein per serving: 31g
Carbs per serving: 2g
Sugar per serving: 1.1g
Fat per serving: 1g
Calories per serving: 148kcal

Reasons to buy

+
High protein per serving  
+
Contains ingredients to promote sustainable fat loss 

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited flavors (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry)
-
Only available in one size (18.3oz/520g)
-
No measuring scoop

Overview: Innermost's Lean Protein has a high protein count (31g per 40g serving) and is packed with weight-loss supplements, including acetyl L-carnitine, inulin and Yerba mate. However, it has a higher calorie count than the other products in this list.

Taste test: I tested the 'Smooth Chocolate', which was really tasty. It had the right balance of subtle sugary flavour without being sickly or overwhelming. The texture was spot on—light and airy. It blended easily with no clumps and had a thick, smooth consistency. I tested it with both cow’s milk and water; I have to admit it tasted better with milk. I also mixed the powder into pancake batter and my kids loved it.

It does contain sweeteners, so should be avoided by people with sensitive stomachs. It comes in a resealable bag, but doesn’t have a measuring scoop, which was a shame.

Best Vegan

Tub of The Protein Works Vegan Wondershake on a table

(Image credit: Future / Harry Bullmore)

5. The Protein Works Vegan Wondershake

Best vegan protein power for weight loss

Specifications

Serving size: 25g
Protein per serving: 20g
Carbs per serving: 1.9g
Sugar per serving: 0.1g
Fat per serving: 0.6g
Calories per serving: 89kcal

Reasons to buy

+
Vegan
+
Tastes great
+
Good range of flavors 

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

Overview: This is a solid option for those following a vegan diet, with a respectable 20g of protein in a 25g serving. It has a remarkably low calorie count, at 89kcal, and comes in plenty of pleasing flavors. It's derived from four different plant-based sources: pea, soy, pumpkin, and brown rice. The company stops short of describing this as a complete protein (a protein source containing all nine essential amino acids, required by the human body) but they do say that this mix contains both fast and slow release proteins, which can support your general wellbeing.

Taste test: A lot of vegan shakes are grainy, but the Vegan Wondershake is an exception to this rule, delivering a smooth, creamy texture when mixed with either water or milk. It tastes great too; I tried the chocolate caramel biscuit flavor, which gave an enjoyable Biscoff-esque taste.

If you want something a bit plainer to mix into smoothies, there are nine other options, ranging from vanilla and double chocolate to chocolate peanut cookies and strawberries and cream. - Reviewed by Harry Bullmore

Best for juice fans

Naked Nutrition Clear Naked Whey (Grape)

(Image credit: Naked Nutrition)

6. Naked Nutrition Clear Naked Whey (Grape)

Best for juice fans

Specifications

Serving size: 26g
Protein per serving: 20g
Carbs per serving: 3g
Sugar per serving: 0g
Fat per serving: 0g
Calories per serving: 100kcal

Reasons to buy

+
Minimal ingredients
+
Free from artificial sweeteners

Reasons to avoid

-
Not many flavors available
-
Can't use it with milk

Overview: Naked Nutrition’s Clear Naked Whey isolate powder is high in protein (20g per 26g serving), low in carbs and has 0g of sugar and 0g of fat. Just as with all of the firm’s products, it doesn’t contain additives like artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors (it uses vegetable juice for color). The product is also lactose-, GMO-, gluten- and soy-free and has just six ingredients. It comes with extras (i.e. vitamin D, iron, calcium and potassium) and is 100 calories per serving—making it a good choice for anyone trying to lose weight, or reduce their sugar and fat intake.

Taste test: Clear Naked Whey is a bit different from your usual protein drink and rather than the milkshake flavor and consistency I’m used to, it’s more of a juice. You mix it with cold water—this stuff foams up a lot when you shake it—then the natural foaming dissolves after about a minute. It doesn’t need too much shaking as the powder is very fine. I tested the grape flavor, which has a nice mix of sweet and tart and is similar to a flavored water drink. I noticed a bit of a gelatin taste in the first few drinks, but it didn’t bother me. It’s refreshing, fairly high in good quality isolate protein (20g per 26g serving) and low carb. And if you don’t like the sound of grape, it also comes in lemonade and fruit punch flavors.

Best flavor variety

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100& Whey protein powder in a tub and mixed with water

(Image credit: Future)
Best flavor variety

Specifications

Serving size: 30g
Protein per serving: 24g
Carbs per serving: 1.3g
Sugar per serving: 1g
Fat per serving: 1.2g
Calories per serving: 113kcal

Reasons to buy

+
Good neutral flavor
+
Mixes well
+
Limited number of ingredients

Reasons to avoid

-
Not pure whey isolate
-
Packaging not eco friendly

Overview: Optimum Nutrition is popular brand, and the company's flagship product is the Gold Standard 100% Whey. It's a versatile and price friendly option, which comes in a wide variety of flavours. It contains soy, so isn’t suitable for anyone with related allergies.

Taste test: I tested the Double Rich Chocolate flavour with 120ml cold water, as recommended on the packet directions. When mixed with water the product has a strange aftertaste and runs a little thin, but I didn’t find this happened when I tried it with milk instead.

In its milkshake form, the drink has a dark chocolate flavour, which is a little bland but not too sweet. It also had a slightly chalky feel and left some residue in my glass after drinking.

I didn’t love it as a drink (although I'm aware it's a favorite with other Fit&Well team members) but found it worked well in my oatmeal and pancakes. I found that the artificial taste of the sweeteners, flavors and thickeners was overpowering.

More tried-and-tested powders

The above protein powders are the best that we’ve tested, offering great taste and consistency with minimal fat and sugar. However, we’ve also tried out the below options. They didn’t quite make it into the top of our list, but here’s how they fared in our testing.

Impact Diet Whey being tested and reviewed by Maddy Biddulph

(Image credit: Maddy Biddulph)

Impact Diet Whey

Specifications

Serving size: 60g
Protein per serving size: 38g
Carbs per serving: 6.0g
Sugar per serving: 2.1g
Fat per serving: 3.9g
Calories per serving: 220kcal

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to mix
+
Not overly sweet

Reasons to avoid

-
Comparatively high calories, sugar and fat

Overview: For a weight loss product, the MyProtein Impact Diet Whey is surprisingly high in calories, which is why it didn’t make it into our official list at the top of this page. It is very high in protein (38g per 60g serving) but that could be because it’s recommended to have a double scoop. 

It comes with added L-glutamine, CLA (a fatty acid), green tea and choline (a B vitamin), which are supposed to be weight loss aids, but more research is needed to prove that. If you are trying to lose weight, these extra ingredients aren’t going to make much difference—you need to be in a calorie deficit for safe and sustainable fat loss.

Taste test: I tested the chocolate brownie flavor of the Impact Diet Whey, and it mixes really easily with no clumps. It’s not overly sugary tasting, which is my preference, but it’s chocolatey enough to satisfy a sweet tooth. I tested the powder with milk and water. I prefer the milky creamy combo but it also tastes fine with water. I added it to my pancake batter and it has a deep chocolate flavor. It’s also good in oatmeal and breakfast muffins. This is a great tasting powder with a decent amount of protein, but if you’re after a low calorie powder there are better brands available.

VitClear Vegan Pea Protein

(Image credit: Future)

VitClear Vegan Pea Protein

Specifications

Serving size: 30g
Protein per serving: 22g
Carbs per serving: 2g
Sugar per serving: 0g
Fat per serving: 1.5g
Calories per serving: 80 kcal

Reasons to buy

+
Decent taste for pea-based powder

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Artificial ingredients

Overview: High in protein, and with just six ingredients, this vegan pea protein powder comes with 77mg of bone-boosting calcium per serving. From the ingredient list, it’s worth noting that two of them are N&A (Natural and Artificial) flavors, and silicon dioxide, a chemical mix of silicon and oxygen that is used as an anticaking agent. It also has the sweetener Stevia. I tested the chocolate flavor, made from Dutch cocoa powder, and it comes in at $59.99, which is on the more expensive side for this 2lb tub, but the price includes shipping costs. It comes with a plastic scoop so you can measure out the right amount without any guesswork.

Taste test: I’ll admit, I’m usually not a huge fan of the taste of pea protein, but this is probably just because I’m used to whey, so it’s an unfamiliar rather than unpleasant taste. The VitClear Vegan Pea Protein is one of the tastier ones on the market in my opinion, and has a good flavor when blended with both water and milk. It mixes well, with no clumps, and has a smooth creamy texture. It’s high in quality pea protein, offering 22g per 30g serving, sugar-free (although it is sweetened with Stevia), and has only 80 kcal per portion. It’s also GMO and gluten-free, however, it is made in a factory that processes milk, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish, so anyone with allergies should avoid it to be on the safe side.


Tub of Isopure Whey Isolate Protein Powder on a table

(Image credit: Future)

Isopure Whey Isolate Protein Powder

Specifications

Serving size: 31g
Protein per serving: 25g
Carbs per serving: 0g
Sugar per serving: 0g
Fat per serving: 0g

Reasons to buy

+
25g of protein in each 31g serving 
+
No sugar or carbs 
+
Boosts immune system 

Reasons to avoid

-
Contains milk, soy, and nuts 
-
Very grainy

With 25g of protein per each 31g serving and zero sugar, carbs, and fat, Isopure Whey Isolate Protein Powder is a great match for those who want to watch their calorie intake and retain lean muscle.

But that’s not the only plus point to this whey protein powder. It will work wonders for people who want their protein shakes to work as hard as they do. That’s because it’s also packed with Vitamin C, Zinc, Vitamin E, and naturally occurring BCAAs.

All these vitamins can provide immune support and optimum muscle health. According to the manufacturers, the protein blend will help you stay full between meals to help you support your weight management efforts.

The reason that it's not sitting higher up in the guide? It mostly comes down to taste. I found that it was incredibly grainy, even when mixed into oatmeal. I also made the mistake of opting for the strawberry flavor, which is an unnervingly artificial pink color.


TB12 Plant Based Protein tub and scoop

(Image credit: Future)

TB12 Plant-Based Protein

Specifications

Serving size: 32g
Protein per serving: 24g
Carbs per serving: 3g
Sugar per serving: 0g
Fat per serving: 2g

Reasons to buy

+
Available in vanilla, chocolate, and cookies and cream flavors
+
Blends well for a smooth shake
+
No sugar

Reasons to avoid

-
Fine powder clings to surfaces and clothing
-
Not great mixed with water

This vegan-friendly powder comes from NFL quarterback Tom Brady's TB12 supplement range and offers a sizeable amount of protein per serving. It's a pea protein-based powder, which in my experience, can be a bit variable. Fortunately, that wasn't the case here.

The instructions suggest mixing a 32g scoop with plant-based milk or water, so I used two non-dairy milks (almond milk and barista-style oat milk) and water. I tried water first, but the consistency was a bit too grainy and lacked flavor.

However, the non-dairy milk fared a lot better and blended to create an enjoyable, easy-to-drink protein shake. The oat milk worked best to create a smooth consistency, probably thanks to the oil in the barista blend.

I tried the vanilla flavor (it's also available in chocolate and cookies and cream) and was pleased with the taste. It didn't taste artificial, although, with plant-based stevia instead of sugar, it wasn't as sweet as you'd expect.

The TB12 Plant Based Protein comes in two tub sizes, 1kg and 600g, offering 30 and 18 servings, respectively. And if you want to invest without breaking the bank, you can subscribe and save 10% on the regular price.


The Protein Works Vegan Protein Extreme bag and shaker on a table

(Image credit: Future)

Specifications

Serving size: 35g
Protein per serving: 28g
Carbs per serving: 2g
Sugar per serving: 1g
Fat per serving: 1g

Reasons to buy

+
Mix of protein sources
+
Nutrient packed
+
Large number of flavors

Reasons to avoid

-
Only ships from UK
-
Contains soy
-
Consistency quite grainy

If you're vegan, then you'll want to avoid whey-based products, making The Protein Works Vegan Protein Extreme a great option. Made up of five different sources of protein, it offers a complete amino acid profile.

For a vegan powder, it compares well to whey-based products in terms of protein content, providing 28g per serving. And while the soy-based powder might not be as good as whey for satiety, this option does still have a relatively low sugar content and packs in plenty of vitamins and minerals.

The powder comes in a variety of flavors, from apple cinnamon swirl to classic smooth vanilla. I tested the chocolate silk and found the taste mild, pleasant, and not overpowering. It scores highly with most reviewers too, although anyone who likes sweet and strongly-flavored shakes might find it a touch on the bland side.

I found the consistency thick and a bit claggy. The texture is always the biggest challenge with vegan protein powders, so I had expected it to be less smooth than a whey powder. Because the powder contains flax (to promote satiety) there were also some grainy bits in the mixture.

However, the product is available in three different sizes (14, 28 and 57 servings) which is definitely a draw. It’s also GMO free, palm oil free and gluten-free.


Tub of Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Plant Based Protein Powder on a table

(Image credit: Future)

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Plant Based Protein Powder

Specifications

Serving size: 37g
Protein per serving: 24g
Carbs per serving: 5g
Sugar per serving: 0g
Fat per serving: 3.5g

Reasons to buy

+
Fine powder which mixes well
+
Complete amino acid profile

Reasons to avoid

-
Only two flavor options
-
Vanilla flavor is very sweet 

This vegan-friendly Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Plant Based Protein Powder is Vegan Society-approved.

It is a blend of pea and rice protein, with 24g of protein per serving and a complete amino acid profile. It comes with added vitamins too, including B12, which can be a difficult vitamin to find in a vegan diet.

It's an excellent option, but it does only come in two flavors; chocolate and vanilla. I tried the vanilla flavor and was surprised at how fine the powder is for a vegan protein powder. But don’t let this deceive you.

I mixed a scoop with 300ml of water and shook it in a protein shaker for 30 seconds. It was surprisingly thick, and a little gritty. In fact, I found 500ml of water to be a more ideal ratio, so this powder definitely lends itself better to smoothies and bakes instead.

Another thing to note is that the flavor is definitely on the sweeter side, and could be a little sickly for some people when drunk as a liquid. It did, however, mix really well into oatmeal and the flavor is pleasant topped with sliced banana.


How we test

I test these products by trying them with water, milk and mixing them into food, too (like protein pancakes and hearty oatmeal). I evaluate them for their texture as well as their aftertaste—a common problem with protein powders is that they're overly sweet, but I only recommend ones that I don't personally find overwhelming.

I also carefully select the products I choose to test by looking for low-fat, low-sugar and low-calorie content.

How to choose the best protein powder for weight loss

Dietitian Kacie Varvrek says third-party testing is one of the most important things to look out for in a protein powder. “Supplements are not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so labels can be inaccurate, or supplements can contain ingredients not found on the label."

"Third-party certification is obtained when an independent organization evaluates the supplement and vouches for its quality. You will see a certification stamp on the product if a supplement is third-party tested.”

Vavrek advises looking for a powder that is low in added sugars and artificial flavors. Some of the most popular protein shakes and powders have high levels of sugar or sweeteners mixed in, so it’s worth comparing ingredient labels before you purchase.

You'll generally find that whey protein or whey isolate fit this bill. According to Vavrek, whey protein “contains essential amino acids and is the highest in leucine; an amino acid thought to trigger muscle building.”

In addition, some trials, such as this randomized controlled trial from 2015, have found that adding whey protein to a regular diet could reduce appetite by increasing satiety. But you also need to find the right level of protein for your needs.

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein is 0.36g per pound of body weight, so the average 200lb man needs around 72g of protein daily. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans say that men between the ages of 19 and 59 are already eating too much protein.

On the other hand, if you're training to build muscle, the International Society of Sports Nutrition advises eating up to 1.36g of protein per pound of body weight, to optimize muscle growth. Once you've found the right level, consider the amount of fiber, too.

Fiber added to your protein powder can help you stay full for longer, maximizing your weight loss. If you can’t find an affordable protein powder with added fiber, you can add your own by including a spoonful of flax seeds.

But we wary of so-called ‘weight-loss’ ingredients added to protein powder, says Vavrek. “Additives, such as acetyl l-carnitine, don’t have any proven weight loss benefits. No supplements or additives will increase metabolism or burn fat.”

Finally, Vavrek’s advice is to pick a protein powder with a taste that you actually like. There’s no point gulping something noxious back every morning in a bid to lose weight, as you’re more likely to seek out sweet or high-fat foods to make yourself feel better. A protein powder should always be an aid to weight loss, not a solution.

Kacie Vavrek
Kacie Vavrek

Kacie is a licensed and registered dietitian and a board-certified sports specialist in dietetics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics and a Master’s degree in Nutrition and Exercise Science.

FAQs

How effective is protein powder for weight loss?

A diet high in protein can help stave off feelings of hunger, which may result in fewer snacks and lower calorie intake at mealtimes. A study in the Journal of Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome found it can also increase metabolism, the rate at which food is turned into energy.

If you’re dieting, getting enough protein will help you sustain muscle mass while you lose weight. Moreover, studies, such as this paper on meal timing and obesity, find that higher energy intake in the morning is associated with lower levels of obesity.

Many people also replace a meal with a protein shake to speed up their weight loss. However, the Mayo Clinic advises against doing this in the long term, as it can mean that you miss out on nutritional benefits that foods contain, such as vitamins, minerals and iron.

Vavrek agrees, “Protein powders generally contain fewer nutrients than whole food protein options; so, while protein powders can help you meet your protein needs, they might not give you as many nutrients as a lean plant or animal protein source."

"Protein powders and shakes can be an easy source of high-quality protein, but it’s preferable to get most of your protein from whole foods. We do not need protein powders for weight loss.”

What is protein powder and how much do we need?

Registered dietitian Kylie Bensley says: "Protein powder is just a powdered form of protein made from either plants, eggs or milk. The main ingredient is typically soybeans, peas, rice, potatoes, hemp, whey, or casein. Powders can be blended with vitamins, minerals, fats, and flavors to maximize the benefit.

"Protein needs vary widely between each individual, both men and women, based on a variety of factors. The National Academy of Medicine recommends that adults get about 0.8 grams of protein a day for every kilogram that they weigh. So for instance, a woman who weighs 150 pounds would need 54 grams of protein."

What's the difference between whey protein and isolate protein?

Both whey protein (sometimes called whey concentrate) and whey isolate are by-products of the cheese-making process, but the latter is more filtered to remove most, if not all, of the lactose (milk sugar). This makes whey isolate a far leaner source of protein than concentrate, therefore a good choice for people trying to lose weight.

Bensley told Fit&Well: "Whey concentrate typically has between 10-15% protein content per serving with over 50% lactose and almost 2% fat. Whey isolate on the other hand has more than 90% pure protein content and less than 1% lactose."

What are the different types of protein powder?

Pea, soy, and hemp protein are made from plant protein sources. Whey, whey isolate, and casein are made from milk/dairy protein sources, explains Bensley:

  • Whey protein powder is the most commonly consumed protein powder. It is one of the fastest-digesting protein sources and can offer anywhere between 10-15% protein content per serving.
  • Whey protein isolate is higher in protein and lower in fat and carbs than standard whey protein. It also contains less lactose so may be more appropriate for people with lactose intolerance and sensitivities. It tends to be more expensive
  • Pea protein powder is technically a complete protein meaning it contains all the essential amino acids we need. It only contains low amounts of the methionine amino acid though, which is why it's often combined with rice protein, which has a higher amount of this particular amino acid.
  • Casein is digested slower than whey protein. Casein is the other type of protein found in milk products. It provides your body with a slow, steady release of amino acids, making it ideal before fasting situations, such as sleep. It is often marketed as a protein powder to take before bedtime.
  • Soy is also a complete protein derived from plant-based sources, with all the essential amino acids in appropriate ratios. If needing a vegan option, soy is ideal because the amino acid profile of soy is similar to cow's milk.
  • Hemp is another complete plant protein, however it does not contain much lysine, which plays an essential role in the production of carnitine, a nutrient responsible for converting fatty acids into energy and helping lower cholesterol. It tends to be a protein that is very easy on the stomach and is often combined with other plant-based proteins.
Maddy Biddulph

Maddy Biddulph is a freelance journalist specializing in fitness, health and wellbeing content. With 26 years in consumer media, she has worked as a writer and editor for some of the bestselling newspapers, magazines and websites in the US and UK. 

She is also a qualified L3 personal trainer and weight loss advisor, and helps women over 40 navigate menopause by improving their physical and mental strength. At Maddy Biddulph Personal Training, she runs one-to-one and small group training for menopausal women who want to get fit to ease symptoms and feel like themselves again.