Should You Drink Protein For Weight Loss?

Joe Fowler
Author: Joe Fowler Time for reading: ~7 minutes Last Updated: November 29, 2022
Should You Drink Protein For Weight Loss?

Usually, people buy this supplement in an attempt to build muscle mass. But will protein be useful for weight loss? We decided to look into this issue.

It all depends on your diet.

What is protein?

Protein powder is a dietary supplement that consists of protein separated from other components. It is obtained from milk, eggs, soy, peas and other high-protein products.

Once in the body, protein behaves in exactly the same way as protein in food — it is broken down into amino acids and used to produce energy, create enzymes, and build new tissues.

As a rule, people buy protein in an attempt to build muscle mass: a high amount of protein is simply necessary for muscle hypertrophy. However, those who just want to lose extra pounds will need protein supplements.


How protein helps to lose weight

Numerous scientific works show that a high amount of protein helps to get rid of extra pounds of fat, both during strict diets and without restrictions on the number of calories.

For example, in one experiment, during six months of a high-protein diet (25% protein, 30% fat, 45% carbohydrates), participants lost 9 kg of weight and 7.6 kg of fat. At the same time, people ate as much as they wanted, and they chose the dishes themselves.

Below, we will analyze in more detail the mechanisms by which protein helps to lose weight.

Reduces the feeling of hunger

The protein increases the amount of glucagon-like peptide-1 (HGP-1), cholecystokinin (CSK) and peptide YY-hormones, which affect the feeling of satiety, and also reduces the level of the "hunger hormone" ghrelin.

In addition, a high amount of protein in food increases the synthesis of enzymes that trigger the production of glucose in the liver and its further conversion into glycogen. The brain receives a signal that there are enough nutrients, and the feeling of hunger subsides.

These features of protein help you feel full longer after eating and eat less in general, even without calorie restrictions.

Increases energy expenditure at rest

After eating, the body needs a certain amount of energy for its processing and assimilation. This effect is called food thermogenesis.

Fats require only 0-3% of their nutritional value to be digested, carbohydrates require a little more - 5-10%. But in order to process protein, the body has to spend 20-30% of the energy received from food.

Thus, due to food thermogenesis, protein increases metabolism at rest: you spend more calories without any exercise, which helps you get rid of extra pounds faster.

Supports muscle mass

When the body is at rest, about 50-80% of all energy goes to maintaining muscle mass, while adipose tissue practically does not spend calories. Thus, the more muscles a person has, the more energy he spends.

In the process of losing weight, you lose not only fat, but also some percentage of muscle mass, and the stricter the diet, the more muscle will be burned. Protein helps to maintain muscle mass and a high level of metabolism even without physical exertion, and together with training, it can even increase it.

Who should try protein powder for weight loss


In most studies on the benefits of protein for weight loss, protein accounted for 27-30% of total calories, or 1-1.6 g of protein per 1 kg of body weight.

You can easily get this amount from simple foods and get all the benefits described above, as well as vitamins and trace elements.


You should consider buying protein powder if you:

  • You eat little and irregularly. Drinking a protein shake is much easier and faster than eating 200 g of chicken breast or a pack of cheese.
  • Follow a vegetarian diet. Protein from plant food is absorbed worse than protein of animal origin, so without meat, dairy products and eggs it can be problematic to get your daily allowance.
  • Afraid to overdo it with calories. Powdered protein has much less carbohydrates and fats than regular food, so with the help of a supplement, you can cover the need for protein without particularly selecting your diet.

Who should not use protein for weight loss

Oxidation of protein amino acids increases the risk of stone formation.

In healthy people, even 2.8 g of protein per 1 kg of body weight per day does not affect kidney function, but if you have problems with this organ, you should consider other ways to lose weight.

How to choose protein for weight loss

There are many types of protein powder:

  • Whey - protein from cow's milk, effective for losing weight and preserving muscle mass, and at the same time it is quite cheap. Whey protein concentrate contains 10-55% lactose, isolate - only 0.5% milk sugar. If you are lactose intolerant or on a strict carb restriction, choose the latter. But consider that it costs more.
  • Casein is another protein obtained from milk. It is rich in calcium and phosphorus, is perfectly absorbed by the body and slows down the emptying of the stomach. From the reaction with stomach acid, casein turns into a clot, which is slowly digested, gradually releasing amino acids and providing a feeling of satiety for a long time.
  • Egg is the best protein for satiety, but also one of the most expensive. It is no accident that scrambled eggs have become a classic breakfast dish: egg white is almost completely absorbed by the body, suppresses hunger for a long time and forces people to eat less in the next 24 hours.
  • Beef - suitable for weight loss even better than whey. In one experiment, participants on this type of protein lost 2.5% more fat than those who drank whey.
  • Pea - suitable for vegetarians, provides the same feeling of satiety as whey protein and casein.
  • Soy and rice - also suitable for vegetarians. These types are less effective at reducing body fat, waistline, and hunger than whey protein, but still provide better results than carb supplements or no additional protein.

How to use protein for weight loss

Protein powder is diluted in water or milk, and also added to dishes and desserts: cookies, pancakes, muffins, cheesecakes.

To find out how many grams of protein you need to eat per day, determine your daily protein requirement, and then at least roughly calculate how much you eat in regular meals.

For example, if you weigh 70 kg, the daily rate will be 70-112 g of protein. If you eat three meals a day and get about 25g of protein from regular foods at each meal (75g in total), you'll need to drink another 37g of protein to completely cover your protein needs.

If you consume less protein with regular meals, the dose of protein can be increased, but try to consume it in portions of 20-25 g at a time: this amount is guaranteed to be absorbed by the body.


How long can you drink protein for weight loss

High-protein diets lasting from 6 to 12 months do not harm health, but it is not known whether it is safe to eat this way for a longer period of time.

For example, one cohort study found a relationship between high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets (on average, 76 g of protein and 208 g of carbohydrates per day) and the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.


Perhaps such results are associated with high consumption of meat and milk - both of these products contain a lot of protein, but at the same time increase the risk of cancer. It can be assumed that if you increase the level of protein at the expense of protein powder, it will not cause negative health effects.

To reduce the risks, add more healthy foods with carbohydrates to your diet: grains and legumes, vegetables, fruits and berries. They will provide vitamins, antioxidants and fiber necessary for the health of the cardiovascular system and reduce inflammation in the body — the cause of many serious diseases, including cancer.

Scientific sources:

  • Protein – Which is Best?, source
  • Clinical Evidence and Mechanisms of High-Protein Diet-Induced Weight Loss, source
  • Randomized trial on protein vs carbohydrate in ad libitum fat reduced diet for the treatment of obesity, source
  • Contribution of gastroenteropancreatic appetite hormones to protein-induced satiety, source
  • Ghrelin enhances appetite and increases food intake in humans, source
  • Effects of energy-restricted high-protein, low-fat compared with standard-protein, low-fat diets: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, source
  • Body weight control and energy expenditure, source
  • Diet, fluid, or supplements for secondary prevention of nephrolithiasis: a systematic review and meta‑analysis of randomized trials, source
  • How much protein can the body use in a single meal for muscle-building? Implications for daily protein distribution, source
  • Protein Diet Has No Harmful Effects: A One-Year Crossover Study in Resistance-Trained Males, source
  • Can milk and dairy products cause cancer?, source
  • The inflammation theory of disease, source

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