Can protein powder cause weight gain?

Can protein powder cause weight gain? Making these 3 mistakes that you might be making while consuming protein powder can make you gain weight instead of losing it.

Protein powder is widely consumed by fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and those aiming for muscle growth. It plays a crucial role in weight loss due to its ability to promote satiety and preserve lean muscle mass. However, some individuals experience weight gain when using protein powder. If you have experienced the same, you should know that protein powder directly can not cause weight gain. Rather, it occurs when you consume more calories than you burn regardless of whether it comes from protein shakes or any other food and drinks.

To know the reasons behind weight gain while using protein powder, Health Shots spoke to Nupuur Patil, a certified nutritionist.

Why does protein powder cause weight gain?

First of all, understand that weight gain is not the only result of consuming protein powder. It depends on various other factors as well. When used appropriately, protein powder can be a valuable tool to achieve fitness goals, including weight management. Here are 3 major reasons why protein powder can result in weight gain:

1. Calorie surplus

Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth, and incorporating protein powder into one’s diet can help meet daily protein requirements, especially for individuals engaged in regular physical activity. However, Patil explains that an unintended consequence—weight gain—may arise when the increased protein intake contributes to a caloric surplus. A caloric surplus occurs when an individual consumes more calories than their body burns in a day. This surplus can lead to weight gain over time, as excess calories are typically stored as fat.

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protein powders
Consume protein powder in moderation. Image Courtesy: Adobe Stock.

2. Excessive carb and fat content

Protein is one of the three macronutrients, alongside carbohydrates and fat. Patil elucidates, “Excessive intake of carbohydrates and fats, in addition to protein, can contribute to an imbalance in your macronutrient intake.”

These three nutrients play a crucial role in providing energy and essential vitamins and minerals for proper bodily function and overall health. When you eat more of these macronutrients than you need, your body converts the extra energy into fat tissue, which is stored in the body for later use.

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3. Lack of physical workout

Some individuals may mistakenly believe that protein powder alone can lead to weight loss or muscle gain without considering their overall diet and physical activity. If you consume protein powder but do not exercise, this can result in low energy demand, and due to this, the energy provided by protein powder is converted to glucose and eventually stored as fat. However, if you’re someone who works out daily, chances are that your body will be able to use protein to help repair, build muscle, and aid in weight loss.

Which type of protein powder is weight loss friendly?

Different types of protein tend to have different effects on the body. Hence, the type of protein you are consuming also matters when it comes to weight loss. Some protein powders contain added sugars, fats, or other ingredients that contribute to overall caloric intake, resulting in weight gain.

“Choose a protein powder aligned with your weight loss goals. Opt for high-quality, low-calorie protein powders with minimal additives like whey isolate or plant-based proteins. These lean sources enhance satiety, support muscle retention, and aid fat loss,” suggests the expert.

What are the types of protein powder suitable for weight loss?

When it comes to choosing the protein powder for weight loss, you may try these 5 options:

1. Whey protein: Derived from milk during the cheese-making process, whey protein aids post-workout recovery and boosts weight loss. Packed with amino acids, whey protein can help with muscle growth as well.

whey protein
Whey protein powders are best for weight loss. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

2. Casein protein: Also derived from milk, casein has a slower digestion rate compared to whey. This results in a sustained release of amino acids, which provides a feeling of fullness, and reduces the risk of snacking and excessive calorie intake.

3. Pea protein: Ideal for vegetarians and vegans, pea protein is plant-based and easily digestible. It contains all nine essential amino acids, supporting muscle preservation during weight loss.

4. Soy protein: Another plant-based option, soy protein, is derived from soybeans. It is a complete protein, meaning it contains all essential amino acids. Soy protein has been associated with various health benefits, including improved heart health and weight loss.

5. Hemp protein: Another vegan option, hemp protein is not packed with protein but with fatty acids and fibre, supporting overall health.

How much protein do you need?

Protein is crucial for muscle repair, immune function, and overall health. Including different sources of protein, such as meat, dairy, beans, nuts, and protein supplements, in your diet ensures a well-rounded amino acid profile. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is based on factors like age, sex, and activity level. Generally, adults should aim for 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For a more active lifestyle or muscle-building goals, the range might be 1.2 to 2.2 grams per kilogram. Athletes engaged in intense training may require even higher amounts.

Protein shake
Don’t go overboard when consuming protein powder. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

How to consume protein powder for weight loss?

To maximise weight loss benefits with protein powder, incorporate it wisely into a balanced, calorie-controlled diet and exercise routine. Patil advises beginning your day with a protein-packed breakfast, such as a shake with protein powder, almond milk, and fruit. You can also use protein powder as a post-workout recovery by blending it with water or milk.

Be mindful of portion sizes, as excess calories can hinder weight loss. Replace higher-calorie snacks with protein-rich alternatives, like a shake or protein bars. Stay hydrated and follow a healthy lifestyle for weight loss!