Losing weight can be a major challenge. Countless attempts at diet and exercise, yet losing those few pounds can seem impossible. No matter how hard you work or how carefully you watch your diet, it never really seems to lead to that desired weight loss.
How frustrating is that? Why is losing weight so hard? While there are lots of reasons why our bodies fight to lose weight, perhaps it’s the approach we take that is the problem.
Many of us are focused on quick fixes and therefore start by making drastic changes to our diet and lifestyles. We try to work off a bad diet with intense and unsustainable exercise, or we take on quick fix solutions like eliminating entire food groups and unrealistic routines.
Whatever someone’s weight loss struggle might be, it’s important we understand that a few simple, yet sustainable additions or changes to our diet can make all the difference in the world.
Using whey for weight loss is one of those “difference-making additions”. You’ll be amazed by how whey protein powder and weight loss go hand in hand. Once you realize how taking whey protein can help you lose weight, you’ll be hooked!
What is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is made from the liquid that is the byproduct of turning milk into cheese. It’s that thin, watery-looking liquid that is usually discarded. But did you know that it’s actually one of the most nutritionally dense parts of milk?
Whey protein is a complete protein, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids required for good health. Additionally, it is particularly rich in a specific type called branched-chain amino acids. This unique combination of amino acids plays a significant role in why whey protein for weight loss or maintenance can be your key to a healthier tomorrow.
Does Whey Protein Help You Lose Weight?
While there is no magic pill when it comes to weight loss, research has found that whey protein can help you lose weight, when in conjunction with other healthy lifestyle habits.
As we mentioned, whey is a complete protein. A high protein diet has been linked to longer satiation (aka helping prolong the feeling of being full or content for longer) which in turn can curb your appetite and result in a lower calorie intake.
There are a few different reasons why protein helps reduce calorie intake. When you consume food high in protein, like whey, the protein will remain in your digestive tract, where it is then broken down to allow for its nutrients to be absorbed into your bloodstream. The result is a reduction in your appetite, as your body must work longer and harder to digest protein which in turn stimulates the release of hormones that work in conjunction with messages your brain processes to tell you that you are not hungry.
As a bonus, the whey protein also contains a peptide known as glycomacropeptide. This peptide stimulates the production of a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK), which signals to your body that you’ve had enough to eat. It stops you from wanting to eat more, preventing overeating.
The benefits don’t stop thee. A 2008 study found that taking whey protein as a dietary supplement helped to enhance weight loss. Simply put, the study discovered that whey protein and weight loss were directly linked.
All of the people in the study were given either a whey protein supplement (before breakfast and dinner) or a placebo. Their food intake was also reduced by 500 calories per day over the course of 12 weeks. The results of the study were quite interesting:
- Both groups lost a good deal of weight–pretty much the same amount.
- The whey protein group lost more BODY FAT than the placebo group.
- The whey protein group lost less muscle mass than the placebo group.
- The whey protein group had a lower fat-to-lean muscle loss ratio than the placebo group.
The only real difference between the two groups was the addition of protein supplements. The supplements helped them to lose weight AND body fat, proving that whey protein and weight loss are truly connected!
What does this mean for you and the average person? Generally speaking, the loss of any unwanted body fat means you are getting healthier, regardless of the number of pounds lost.
In addition, losing weight from body fat means the weight loss may be easier to maintain. Retaining lean muscle is the key to keeping weight off long-term. Muscle is what fuels your metabolism and helps optimize the amount of calories you burn daily.
Losing too much muscle while trying to lose weight may inadvertently slow down your metabolism. Over time a slower metabolism is what makes maintaining your weight loss difficult, as you have to eat fewer and fewer calories in order to stay at that same weight. Adding in whey protein for your weight loss journey can help you maintain your hard-earned results.
Weight Loss and Amino Acids in Whey Protein
As we mentioned, whey protein is packed with branched-chain amino acids. Leucine is one of the most important amino acids because it helps to stimulate muscle synthesis. This may be why those who use whey protein while trying to lose weight tend to hold on to lean muscle more than those who do not take whey.
Leucine is also needed for the production of protein beyond muscle. Your body uses energy to turn amino acids into proteins, which are then used to create and repair muscle fibers. This process requires energy, which means you are burning calories. The result will be a boost to your metabolism.
This important branched-chain amino acid also helps to increase the oxidation (burning) of fatty acids. This is because your body uses fatty acids for “low output” energy.
Glucose (blood sugar) is used when you need a sudden burst of energy, or for anaerobic exercise. But when you are using small quantities of energy, your body can activate fatty acids in order to leave your blood glucose untouched. This essentially taps into your fat stores, helping to reduce the fat in your body.
Whey protein helps support weight loss in a variety of ways, but what is the most effective way to add it to your routine?
How to Use Whey for Weight Loss
When looking for whey protein, always choose the highest quality product. Consider our Vital Whey by Well Wisdom. Made from grass-fed cow’s milk, it’s a biologically-active whey protein that is easily digested and provides your body with all the amino acids needed to lose weight and build muscle. Definitely a good addition to your weight loss plan!
If you are not sure how to use whey protein or need creative ideas, check out our recipe section for smoothies, bars, and other healthy recipes.
One thing to note if you want to use whey protein for weight loss is be calorie aware. While our Vital Whey protein only contains 80 calories per scoop, adding a ton of high calorie ingredients to a smoothie can significantly increase the calorie count.
Avoid large servings of calorie-dense items like nut butters, whole milk, or even fruit. While these can be used in small quantities for flavor, the calories can add up. So while whey protein can help with weight loss, calories still matter.
More Helpful Weight Loss Tips
Just because you’re taking whey protein, that doesn’t mean weight loss is guaranteed. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill. You have to be smart about your weight loss if you want to see results. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your weight loss efforts:
- Increase the intensity of your workout. High-intensity training burns more calories and builds more muscle.
- Watch what you eat! Keep a food journal, and make yourself accountable. You’ll end up eating far less, and you’ll be less likely to cheat on your diet.
- Go for raw. Fresh fruits, veggies, seeds, and nuts should be the most important foods for your diet. They’ll increase your weight loss and decrease your calorie intake.
- Quality over quantity. Make sure the food you eat is nutritionally dense to give you the most bang for your buck. Avoid any food that is high in calories but provides little nutritional value.
- Drink more water. Water is proven to help you lose weight, as it can speed up your metabolism and reduce your appetite.
- Try green tea. Green tea contains antioxidants that will target your body fat, making your exercise and weight loss diet more effective.
- Get high quality protein. Not just from whey protein powder, but from chicken, eggs, and fish. Eat less red meat and pork, and add more legumes to your diet.
Follow these tips, add in a high quality whey protein, and you’ll find that weight loss is much easier!
- Coker, R. H., Miller, S., Schutzler, S., Deutz, N., & Wolfe, R. R. (2012). Whey protein and essential amino acids promote the reduction of adipose tissue and increased muscle protein synthesis during caloric restriction-induced weight loss in elderly, obese individuals. Nutrition Journal, 11, 105.
- Westerterp-Plantenga, M. S., Lemmens, S. G., & Westerterp, K. R. (2012). Dietary protein – its role in satiety, energetics, weight loss and health. The British Journal of Nutrition, 108 Suppl 2, S105–S112.
- Córdova-Dávalos, L. E., Jiménez, M., & Salinas, E. (2019). Glycomacropeptide Bioactivity and Health: A Review Highlighting Action Mechanisms and Signaling Pathways. Nutrients, 11(3). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11030598
- Frestedt, J. L., Zenk, J. L., Kuskowski, M. A., Ward, L. S., & Bastian, E. D. (2008). A whey-protein supplement increases fat loss and spares lean muscle in obese subjects: a randomized human clinical study. Nutrition & Metabolism, 5, 8.