Protein is an integral part of our daily nutrition, along with carbohydrates and fats. Constituting 20% of human body, protein is one of the three macronutrients essential for cellular structure and function.
Interestingly, protein is not stored in the human body thus needs to be consumed daily to achieve health benefits. An adequate amount of protein in the body helps repair cells, make muscle mass, strengthen bones, improve immune response, and a lot more.
Protein is responsible for numerous vital bodily functions, including,
- Cellular growth,
- Enzyme induced activities,
- Signaling of chemical messages across the brain,
- Providing a rigid structure to the cells,
- pH regulation, regulate body fluids,
- Stores and transports nutrients,
- Boosting immunity, and
- Providing energy.
Since protein is essentially involved in bodily functions, its deficiency may cause serious health problems, such as stunted growth in children, skin degeneration, swellings in lower limbs, fatigue, hunger, and much more.
Note that protein is made up of 20 amino acids, out of which 11 are non-essential and produced by the body. In contrast, the rest of 9 essential amino acids aren’t synthesized by the human body.
It is, therefore, necessary to include a protein supplement that would compensate for the need for essential proteins.
Role of protein in weight loss
You might have heard of people seeking to lose weight often include extra protein in their everyday diet. It could have driven you skeptical on how supplementing your diet with protein can aid in weight loss? Let’s understand how!
Protein helps to lose weights in various ways;
- 1. It suppresses appetite and reduces hunger – several studies have shown that adding protein to a regular diet has made the subjects feel full and reduced the craving for midnight snacking. Protein does it by elevating the levels of appetite-reducing hormones (GLP-1, PYY, and CCK) in the body and reducing hunger hormone levels (ghrelin). (1,2,3)
- 2. It improves metabolism – upon eating, our body burns nearly 10% calories while breaking down food to release energy. This is known as the thermic effect of food. However, protein consumption requires more energy to be broken down, which results in improved metabolism. Protein digestion burns approximately 30% calories, which is considerably higher than carbohydrates (5-10%) and fats (0-3%) (4,5,6)
- 3. Increases muscle mass – in ordinary conditions, when you lose weight, your muscle mass is the one that starts to shed quicker, leading to decreased metabolism. Consuming more protein-rich food builds up your muscles while stimulating more calorie burn (7,8)
- 4. No regaining of weight, once lost – tremendous metabolic, muscle growth, and appetite reduction effects of protein help prevent weight regain for a considerable amount of time.
These are a few yet immensely valuable facts that make extra daily protein consumption worthwhile. For weight loss, choosing an effective protein supplement is crucial that would help you lose weight while maintaining overall health.
Why protein powders?
Protein supplements are available in tablets, capsules, and powder forms. All of them serve the purpose with more or less no difference. The choice, however, depends on the consumers as to how they want to consume it.
Some people have trouble swallowing tablets and capsules, so they prefer opting for powder formulations. Protein powders are convenient to use; take a scoop full of powder and dissolve in water, milk, or a yogurt smoothie. You can cook protein powders in your favorite meals too.
Protein powders are relatively convenient to consume!
Which protein powder is best for weight loss?
Now the big question arises! How many protein powders are commercially available, and which one is the best to use for losing weight?
There are two primary sources to derive protein; animals and plants. Protein’s structure is basically a chain of amino acids, and the significant chemical difference between both these forms is, animal protein consists of all 9 essential amino acids, whereas plant protein lacks 1 or 2.
While animal proteins are a complete source of protein, different blends of plant proteins can also serve as one complete protein source.
Let’s get a deeper insight into the composition, pros, and cons of animal and plant proteins to decide which one is best for losing weight.
Animal-based protein powder
Since animal-based protein sources provide all essential amino acids, they are considered the highest quality protein sources. Animal protein sources include egg, milk, and meat, which provide many other valuable nutrients, including vitamin B12, Vitamin D, zinc, iron, etc.
The main types of animal protein powder are those derived from milk (casein, whey), eggs, and bones (collagen). Except for collagen, all other forms of animal protein contain all essential amino acids.
- 1. You will get all essential amino acids from animal protein powder.
- 2. Whey animal protein is relatively easy to dissolve and absorbed by the gut. In contrast, casein tends to stick around the gut, being less absorbable.
- 3. Whey, derived from milk, also helps in muscle build-up
- 4. Collagen is obtained from bones and cartilage and helps improve the elasticity of the skin. Other benefits include strengthening nails, hair, and bones.
- 5. Since animal protein helps gain muscle mass, it stimulates healthy metabolism, which may help reduce weight in a healthy manner.
- 6. Animal protein powder tastes better than plant ones giving more of a neutral flavor.
- 1. Animal protein powders may be harmful to lactose-intolerant individuals.
- 2. Any allergy to animal-based proteins will lead to worse side effects.
- 3. Animal-based protein intake may increase the risk of heart diseases, elevated cholesterol levels, and diabetes type 2.
- 4. The concentrated form of whey and casein has 80% protein content, while the rest are carbohydrates and fats. Be sure you buy an isolated form that has around 95% protein content in it.
- 5. If you are vegan, animal protein sources are not an option for you.
Plant-based protein powder
Although plant-based proteins lack one or two essential amino acids in their composition, the lacking is compensated with a blend of different plant proteins.
Plant-based protein is considered the healthiest one to achieve the benefits of protein without any health risk.
Plant protein powders are primarily derived from rice, soy, hemp, pea, chia, or pumpkin. Some sources are rich in one essential amino acid, and some are rich in others. Therefore the best practice is to use a blend of a variety of sources.
- 1. Provides extra fiber.
- 2. If you are looking to go vegan, plant proteins are the best choice.
- 3. Easier to digest.
- 4. Better for weight loss as plant protein minimizes the chances to regain the weight once it is lost.
- 5. Plant-derived protein powders have lesser unwanted excipients in them, unlike animal-derived protein powders.
- 6. Plant-based protein intake is associated with fewer diseases, which is not the case with the animal-based protein diet.
- 1. It doesn’t taste good. Feels like chalky syrup since it is derived from green leafy plants, the taste isn’t much palatable.
- 2. The solubility of plant protein powder is considerably poor than animal-derived protein powder.
- 3. Since plant-based protein powders lack one or two essential amino acids, you need to blend two or more protein sources to meet the daily protein need.
- 4. Soy-based plant proteins are chiefly synthesized by GMOs, so it’s better to be avoided.
- 5. Any peculiar allergy to plant-based protein may lead to worsening of the condition.
Now that I have described the difference between animal and plant-based protein powders, you have comprehensive information in hand about the pros and cons of both kinds of sources.
Keeping in mind the benefits and negatives of both sources, it’s now up to you what you choose. Suppose you’re looking to gain muscle mass; in that case, you need to consume both animal and plant protein to get a balanced amount of nutrition in your body.
As for a vegan, I would recommend using different plant protein powders to get an optimal protein value.
As explained in the beginning, protein-rich foods help lose weight, no matter if the source is animal or plant based. The choice is yours, depending on your preferences and lifestyle.
If you ask me, I would suggest more plant-based protein to be included in the diet as they promote metabolism better than animal-derived ones. Moreover, there are fewer risks associated with a vegan diet.
Before opting for protein supplements, be mindful that overconsumption of protein may cause serious health issues. Protein toxicity happens when you take an excessive amount of protein without balancing it with other macronutrients.
It may cause kidney failure in severe cases. However, a little imbalanced dose can also backfire, resulting in more weight gain.
Therefore, it is pivotal that you take care of the amount of protein you’re consuming on a daily basis. It includes both dietary and supplementary protein.
Whatever protein source you choose to add to your diet, make sure you don’t go overboard. I know losing weight gets on your nerves at times, and you need to get rid of it as soon as possible, no matter what.
Trust me! These extra pounds will shed away like they were never there; you only need to be slow and steady in the process.
I hope this article was beneficial to you and I hope it gave you the value you were looking for. If you have any questions or comments you can leave them below and I will be more than happy to engage like normal.