Can protein shakes help you lose weight?

Protein supplements are a staple of weightlifters, bodybuilders and anyone wanting to build extra muscle. They do a great job of helping maximise your weightlifting performance and also soothe sore muscles during recovery. However, some people also use protein supplements, especially protein shakes, to aid weight loss.

But do they actually work? Will protein shakes actually help you shed those pounds or are you better off leaving them well alone?

In short, yes protein shakes absolutely can help you lose weight! There are a few main reasons why…

Protein makes you feel fuller for longer

Do you find yourself getting hungry in between meals? It can be horrible getting a rumbling stomach knowing you still have a couple of hours until your next meal. Protein can help combat that feeling as it actually helps you feel fuller for longer.

This happens because protein inhibits the production of a hormone called ghrelin, which makes you feel hungry. It also increases levels of other hormones that make you feel full.

In one study, participants upped their protein intake from 15% to 30% of their total calorie intake. Without actively trying to limit their portions, they found they were consuming 441 calories fewer each day. Over the course of the 12-week study, they had lost an average of 11lbs.

Reduction in cravings

It’s one thing feeling hungry, it’s another having cravings for something naughty! If you’re getting real cravings for something, it can be difficult to ignore it. If these cravings aren’t curbed, they can lead to bingeing and consuming a huge amount of unwanted calories.

However, protein can actually help reduce cravings. A study of overweight men had them increase their protein intake to 25% of their overall calories. The result was a 60% decrease in cravings, while the desire to snack at night was cut in half.

Increased metabolism

As well as helping you consume less food, protein can also help your body harder to process the food you do eat by speeding up your metabolism. Your body burns calories when digesting food – this is known as the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF).

Compared to fats and carbs, protein has a much higher TEF meaning it burns more calories to digest. In fact, in some studies, it’s been shown that you can burn around 100 calories per day just through having a high-protein diet. One study found that participants on a high-protein diet burned a whopping 260 more calories than a low-protein group.

Be careful you don’t overdo it

While the above can help you lose weight for the reasons stated, you have to bear in mind that protein shakes do contain calories. If you’re eating regular meals and consuming too many protein shakes as well then you probably won’t see the benefits.

A protein shake is not intended to replace meals and is intended as a supplement to a healthy diet. If you are intending on replacing meals you need to look for a ‘meal replacement’ shake. If are on a diet plan, make sure you follow it closely and do so safely.