When I discuss protein shakes with my patients, most of them think that they are just for muscle building. They believe that drinking them will add BULK. The truth is, protein shakes can be one of the most powerful tools you use for fat loss!
The common belief of protein shakes is that meat head bodybuilders drink them and since they are big and muscular, that is what is going to happen to everyone who drinks them. While they are good for building muscle (if you aren’t getting enough protein in your diet), they are equally good for losing massive amounts of fat.
Instead of ADDING a shake or two in addition to your daily meals, you actually REPLACE a meal (or two) with a shake.
By doing this, you automatically lower your calorie intake while likely increasing your protein intake in one of the most convenient ways possible. This is a recipe for fat loss.
In fact, studies show that drinking meal replacement shakes are one of the best predictors of weight loss success.
Of course there is a lot of backlash against MLM (multi-level marketing) companies pushing their pyramid scheme shakes as weight loss miracles. The problem is that there is evidence to show they work well for weight loss as mentioned above. However, people regain their weight when they stop using them unless they manage to find other ways to keep their calories low like finding go-to meals that are similar in protein/calories.
Another argument people bring up is that whole food meals fill you up more so shakes are stupid. It’s obvious that a whole food solid healthy meal would fill you up more than a liquid meal. No one is arguing that. What gets lost in this discussion is practicality in this busy world of ours. We need convenient, fast, tasty, and low calorie/high protein meals. If you CAN make a low-calorie whole food meal for all of your meals, then do it. No need for protein shakes. However, if you cannot, then protein shakes as meals would be a good option.
You will want to get a protein shake that is high quality. I go with whey protein (and sometimes egg white protein). I only get protein powder that is 3rd party tested. Shoot for about 30 grams of protein at least in a shake. If that doesn’t fill you up, try for 40-50 grams. If that doesn’t work, see below about making a smoothie OR have an apple or other piece of fruit on the side (this is my favorite due to time constraints).
Here are some examples I use with my patients. I typically have them replace their worst meal (or meals) of the day in terms of calories:
- You usually run to a fast food joint and grab your favorite breakfast sandwich. Instead, drink a protein shake. I personally do a protein shake every morning with a serving of fruit and some nuts.
- You usually go to the local coffee shop and get a calorie-loaded latte and muffin. Instead, make a Lean Latte.
- You never have time to prepare lunch so instead you eat out? Bring a protein shake.
- Forgot to bring your sandwich or leftovers from home? Keep protein powder at work and make a shake.
- Don’t feel like cooking and you’re not super hungry? Make a protein smoothie with your favorite ingredients.
I will mention that dinner is the meal I least likely push to have a shake at for my patients. Many can and SHOULD have a family sit down meal to discuss the day and have a normal (but sensible) meal. If you’re single though, a protein shake is definitely an option.
Ways to make a protein shake:
- Just add water. This is the fastest and easiest way to do it. Get a good brand of protein powder, put 1-2 servings (20-40 grams of protein) in a shaker bottle, and then add water till you have the desired consistency. Drink up!
- Make a smoothie. Sick of boring plain protein shakes? Make a super tasty smoothie that will knock your socks off with taste while stripping your fat. My personal favorite is a chocolate peanut butter banana shake. Make sure you join my email course below to get updates on other smoothie recipes.
If you don’t like shakes, you can always make protein bars. They are more time intensive but can be a good change of pace too. Sign up for my email course below to get updates on recipes.
What about ready-to-drink shakes (the ones you just shake and open the top and drink)? I don’t recommend these often unless you really struggle with time. They are inferior in terms of protein quality, which means your weight loss efforts won’t be optimized. My favorite brand is Premier at Costco.
Do you need protein shakes to lose weight? No
Are they one of our most powerful tools we have for weight loss success? Yes!!