When you’re trying to lose weight, adding enough protein to your diet is extremely important for your success. Protein gives your metabolism a boost and slows down the digestion of food – making you feel full for longer. You’re already drinking smoothies to help with your weight loss journey and adding protein powder in smoothies can help you even more.
We get the most benefit from protein, like all other foods, when we consume it in whole food form. Let’s face it, though. We’re drinking smoothies to lose weight because they are fast and convenient. There just isn’t enough time to make complete meals all the time and smoothies are definitely a better alternative to fast food, junk food, or skipping meals.
Having said that, we also need to be sure we’re creating healthy and nutritionally balanced smoothies that help us with our weight loss goals. This means including a combination of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, protein, and fiber. If you want to learn more about making nutritionally balanced smoothies, check out my guide How to Create Weight Loss Smoothies that Work (and don’t leave you starving).
The benefits of protein for weight loss
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the average woman consume 46 grams of protein a day and the average man consume 56 grams per day. Some experts believe we should actually be consuming more protein than that if we are active or trying to lose weight in order to keep muscles strong and metabolism active.
Protein helps to boost your metabolism, maintains and builds muscle, and makes you feel full faster and for longer. By adding more protein to your diet you will feel more satiated throughout the day and will snack less. This, in turn, leads to fewer calories consumed throughout the day.
Over time, the more protein you eat throughout the day leads to fewer total calories consumed. This can add up to some great weight loss results.
How protein powder in smoothies helps with weight loss
Blended food (like smoothies) doesn’t take as long to digest as whole foods do. This means a couple of things about your smoothie. First, the foods are digested faster so you will feel hungrier again sooner after drinking the smoothie than you would with whole foods.
It also means that the nutrients in your smoothie are absorbed faster. On the surface, this doesn’t seem like a bad thing, except that it includes the sugar in the smoothie (any added sweetener and the sugar in the fruit). This can cause a spike in blood sugar followed by a sugar crash that will leave you hungry and tired soon after you finish the smoothie.
Both points mean that you can feel hungry again soon after drinking your smoothie. This may lead you to eat more right after finishing your smoothie or you might snack more in between meals. Neither of which will help you to lose weight.
The fastest and easiest way to boost protein in your smoothie is to add protein powder.
Even if you’ve added fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains to your smoothie, protein powder will add to the overall satiety of your smoothie.
Satiety is how full you feel after you eat something. If you don’t feel satiated, you’ll want to eat more until you feel full. Feeling satiated is very important to weight loss because it means you eat less over time.
As hard as we try, we’re probably not going to blend the perfectly balanced smoothie every time. Life happens: we’ve run out of ingredients or run out of time.
Putting protein powder in smoothies is an easy way to boost its weight loss benefits by increasing it’s satiety.
Types of protein powders
Listed below are some of the more popular types of protein powder available. Since they are common they can be purchased in your local stores or online.
Whey protein is derived from cow’s milk and is known as being the best source of protein. That’s mainly because it’s a “complete” protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids. These 9 amino acids are essential because our bodies cannot make them and rely on us consuming them. Whey enters the blood stream faster than any other type of protein which is good for providing muscles with the fuel needed to make it through a workout and build muscle.
Casein is the main protein in milk and is absorbed much slower than whey protein. This makes it not as efficient at building muscle but can help to make you feel full for longer.
Soy protein is made from ground soybeans. It digests at a moderate rate – slower than whey. Like whey, it’s a complete protein and is considered the most effective plant-based protein for maintaining or building muscle.
Pea protein is derived from the yellow pea and is the most highly digestible of all plant-based proteins. It isn’t a complete protein, though, so you may want to combine it with another type of plant-based protein like hemp or rice.
Hemp protein is made from ground hemp seeds. In addition to protein, hemp contains a good amount of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Similar to pea protein, hemp protein is not a complete protein. Try pairing hemp protein with pea or rice protein make a more complete protein.
What to look for in a protein powder
There are many different protein powders on the market ranging from pure protein to combinations of protein and other nutrients. Unless you want to use protein powder to build some serious muscle (body-builder type muscle) you don’t need to limit yourself to protein-only powders.
Many protein powders are a combination of protein, fiber, healthy fats and other nutrients. These are the kinds of powders I use because I’m really looking to help make a nutritionally balances smoothie. I also like the flavors they have to offer.
No matter which powder you chose to buy, there are some things to look out for:
- Beneficial fats: The body needs both unsaturated and saturated fats to function. Fats, including some saturated fats, are a major source of energy and provide building blocks for cells.
- Healthy carbs: Most carbohydrates should come in the form of fiber – not sugars. Fiber provides many health benefits including heart health and digestive health. Insoluble fiber helps you feel more full between meals and can help you bulk when you’re eating your meal so you eat less. Both of these are very important to a weight management program.
- Low glycemic (low in sugar): The glycemic index is the measure of sugar in your blood. The lower the glycemic index number, the less likely you are to have a sugar crash. Sugar crashes can lead to more snacking which does not help with your weight management.
- Complete GMO-free protein: Protein supports muscle maintenance and growth. Muscle burns calories – the more you have, the more calories you burn at rest. You don’t have to be a weightlifter to get the benefits from protein. Including more protein in your diet will help you stop losing lean muscle mass. Protein also helps you feel full while you’re eating and keep you feeling fuller longer between meals.
Protein powders come in neutral flavors, or in flavors such as vanilla or chocolate. My personal favorites are the vanilla or chocolate flavors because they are complimentary in my smoothies. All of my smoothies are made with either chocolate or vanilla flavored protein powders although you can certainly add a plain flavored powder.
Unless you have specific reasons to use a particular type of protein powder, I recommend either whey or soy protein powders. They are the most common and can be found anywhere, and are complete proteins.
You can learn more about the protein powder I use in all of my smoothies here.
Try protein powder in your next smoothie!
Putting protein powder in your smoothies will boost its protein content. Some brands of protein powder also include fiber and other nutrients to help you get the most out of your smoothies.
Protein and fiber in your smoothie will help to make you feel full faster and longer. This means you eat less and snack less in between meals.
I add protein powder to all of my smoothies to help me lose and maintain my weight. Several years ago I started drinking smoothies with protein powder to lose 15 pounds. I lost it all within a few months and I’ve kept it off drinking protein smoothies.
I’d love to hear about a recipe you added protein powder to and how your experience was in the comments below!
If you’d like to learn more about how to create nutritionally balanced smoothies, download my free guide:
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