Protein Shakes for Weight Loss: How Do They Work?

If you want to lose weight, there are many different approaches you can take. A popular option is using protein shakes for weight loss. Harnessing the power of protein could just be what works for you, but before you jump into this type of diet plan, you should learn more about protein and how this type of shake works as part of a weight loss program.

Do keep in mind that you should never start a diet without first talking to a medical professional. The information here is for education only. While it makes a good starting point, you should talk to your doctor before you begin using protein shakes for weight loss to get further important information.

How Does Protein Help With Weight Loss?

Protein is essential for your body. It also supports your body in different ways. The right amount of protein can assist you with weight management. Healthline explains that protein helps to boost your metabolism because when you consume it, it takes more energy to digest. The result is your body burns more calories just to process the protein.

Protein also helps to prevent muscle loss. Because muscle burns more calories than fat, having adequate muscle means you burn more calories each day naturally. It makes you feel full longer and increases your appetite-reducing hormones, which means you don’t get hungry as often and when you eat, you will likely eat less.

So, by using protein shakes for weight loss, you help ensure you get enough protein to enable you to lose fat and build muscle. However, you should keep in mind that weight loss still always comes down to burning more calories than you consume. So, what is in your protein shake could negate its benefits.

What Is a Protein Shake?

Protein shakes can be very simple, such as powder mixed with water, or they can be more complex, such as powder mixed with fruit, vegetables, and other ingredients. Some shakes are not quite as healthy as others because they include a lot of sugar, which increases the calorie content. Some may include milk or yogurt, which increases calorie and fat content.

You can buy pre-made protein shakes. They are convenient because you just open and drink without the need to mix the ingredients yourself. However, you have little control over what is in them. Often pre-made shakes contain a lot of sugar or other added ingredients that make them less helpful for use as protein shakes for weight loss.

Medical News Today notes that protein shakes for weight loss that you make yourself or buy pre-made can also include vitamins and minerals, which is beneficial if you find it difficult to get these nutrients through what you eat. Protein is the main nutrient, but many protein powders also include essential amino acids or fats. So, you may get additional benefits from a protein shake diet.

How to Use Protein Shakes for Weight Loss

Very Well Fit explains the normal diet plan using protein shakes for weight loss is involves replacing two meals a day with shakes, ensuring your diet is low in fat and calories. However, you do need to pay attention to your total protein intake. Too much protein can lead to weight gain.

You should aim for 20 grams of protein per shake. Keep your total protein consumption to 25 to 35 percent of your total daily calories. Also, never use shakes as the only way you get protein. Make sure to include it in your daily meal as well. Stick to low-fat protein sources.

The Mayo Clinic reminds you that you should not just add protein shakes to your regular diet and continue eating the same. This will increase your overall calorie intake and lead to weight gain because the shakes include calories that add to your overall calorie intake. Protein shakes for weight loss work best when they replace a whole meal. However, never replace all your meals with a shake. Eat at least one regular meal per day.

Most people will not have any side effects from drinking protein shakes for weight loss. However, if you have a sensitivity to lactose, you could experience diarrhea, cramps and bloating. This is avoidable by choosing protein powders that do not contain whey or casein. The only other side effect noted is weight gain. If you do not watch the calorie content of your shake and meal each day, you could consume too much protein or too many calories, leading to weight gain instead of loss.

What Protein Powder Is Best?

You can use many different protein powders in your protein shakes for weight loss. You may choose a powder based on what it is made from or what it contains. If you have allergies or dietary preferences, you also need to keep that in mind.

If you cannot have lactose or if you are vegan, there are many different non-dairy options. These are not as preferable when it comes to taste for many people, though. You may need to add more ingredients to get the taste where you like it. Keep in mind that adding more ingredients to your protein shakes for weight loss could add more calories.


The most popular and what studies show as the best type is whey. Whey comes from milk. Eating Well explains it helps with weight loss the most if you spread consumption throughout the day. It also has the best impact because it is the most effective at building muscle, which leads to more fat loss. Aaptiv also notes whey dissolves easily, making it very appetizing. It also digests quickly to provide immediate fullness.

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Casein is another dairy-based option. It is very thick, so it’s often mixed with other types of protein rather than being available on its own. Casein does produce a very creamy shake, which many people prefer. Plus, it absorbs slowly to keep you feeling fuller longer.


Soy is probably the most popular alternative option. You need to use only soy isolate, which is purified soy that will not cause hormonal effects. One issue with this is that soy protein powders do not dissolve as well as the dairy-based ones. It may need more blending to ensure you mix it well enough.

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Hemp protein powder is a plant-based protein alternative. It comes from the cannabis plant, but does not contain any drugs and will not produce drug-like effects. However, it is high in fat, so be careful with this when drinking protein shakes for weight loss. It also does not provide as much protein as other options, but it is high in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty oils, which provide health benefits.


Pea protein is another option for a plant-based protein. It is a complete protein just like protein from animal sources. Many people think it has an odd taste when made into protein shakes for weight loss.


Rice protein powder is generally only found in blends. It adds a nice amount of protein to protein shakes for weight loss, but some people find the taste odd.

Egg white

Finally, Nutrition Express states egg white protein is a good non-dairy option. It isn’t vegan, but it is probably the next best option to whey protein powder for those who need a lactose-free option. It tastes good, has a reasonable price, and is low in fat and carbs.

Tips for a Protein Powder Shake Diet

If you want to use protein shakes for weight loss, it may help to get some advice and tips on making this diet plan work for you. Keep in mind that using replacement shakes is not always the best for every person. You need to weigh the pros and cons carefully.

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Pros and cons

You need to be sure that you will be okay with eating just once a day. Some people do not have a problem with this, but others may not feel satisfied with just one meal. You also need to think about how you will make your shakes each day. Will you have the time to do it? If you buy pre-made shakes, then you have to consider the cost. These can get expensive to buy since you will need two every day. In addition, you still need to buy food for your one meal per day.

On the plus side, when you use protein shakes for weight loss, you do not have to count calories or create a complex diet meal plan. You only have one meal each day to worry about planning. In addition, it is very easy to just have a shake for a meal, especially when you make them ahead of time or use pre-made shakes.


Beyond making sure that the protein shakes for weight loss diet plan works for you, there are additional things you want to think about. Keep in mind that some protein powders are for weight gain specifically. You should always read the label. Make sure the calorie count is not too high. Also, check for added sugar and fat. Be especially careful with pre-made shakes, which could contain a lot of hidden calories and fat.

When making your own shakes, make sure to choose your ingredients carefully. Remember whatever you add to your shake will also add calories and maybe fat. Don’t add in sugar or sweeteners if you can help it. Use natural sweeteners, such as fruit and honey when needed.

When choosing a protein powder, Daily Burn suggests checking up on the manufacturer. Double-check that the company has a good reputation and certification. This helps to ensure you get a high-quality protein powder that does not contain contaminants.

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Making it work for you

Before you start your protein shakes for weight loss diet, get prepared. Make sure you have enough stuff to make your shakes for the whole week. You will need 14 shakes for seven days. Also, plan out your healthy meal. Make sure you include plenty of vegetables and try to keep it low in fat and carbs to maximize your results.

You should also allow yourself snacks, but keep them high protein and low fat. They should be small and filling. Also, don’t drink your calories. Besides the protein shakes, all your other beverages need to be zero calories and zero fat. Drink mainly water. You can also have plain coffee and tea.

In the beginning, you may want to count calories. You can get a quick calorie count for your shakes and then calculate the calories in your snacks and daily meal. Eat fewer calories than you burn. You can find many calculators online that can tell you your basic calories burned each day based on your height, weight, age, and gender.

Your Takeaways

When it comes to using protein shakes for weight loss, there are a few key points to remember. First, understand how protein can aid in your weight loss, but also understand that you cannot just drink protein shakes. You should only replace two meals each day with a shake. Always eat at least one well-balanced meal.

You also want to make sure that you choose the right protein powder to minimize side effects. Keep in mind the most common protein powder, whey, is dairy-based, so choose an alternative option, such as egg white protein, if you have lactose intolerance issues. Always read the label to ensure you know what is in the powder.

Finally, know this information is only to educate yourself about protein shakes. You should talk with your doctor before embarking on any type of diet. Discuss if protein shakes for weight loss would make a good option for you based on your health situation.


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