Ideal Shakes for Weight Loss: Whey Protein Shakes

Of the many protein and meal replacement shakes on the market, one type seems to be superior over the rest in terms of weight loss. Whey protein shakes have been shown to help improve body composition and promote weight loss, according to the McKinley Healthy Center of the University of Illinois. It’s important to point out that consistent exercise and a healthy diet are also essential factors in losing weight; there’s no such thing as a miracle weight-loss shake.

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Whey Protein

There are three main types of whey protein on the market, including concentrate, isolate and hydrolysates. Whey concentrate is the most affordable choice but is the lowest in overall protein content and highest in lactose, fat and cholesterol. Whey isolate is 90 percent protein by weight or higher, according to McKinley Health Center, so it may be the most beneficial in terms of losing weight. Whey protein features a high biological value – absorption rate and efficacy – so it is a superior protein source as part of a healthy diet.

Supporting Research

A 2008 study conducted by Joy L Frestedt and associates, and published in the journal, “Nutrition and Metabolism,” found that whey protein supplements helped increase the rate of fat loss and maintained lean muscle mass. The 12-week study had one group of participants consume a whey protein supplement once before breakfast and once before dinner. The other group consumed no whey protein. The whey protein group lost more than three times the fat as the control group and maintained more lean muscle mass. All of the participants in the study also reduced their daily caloric intake by 500 calories.

How Much Whey per Day?

The previously mentioned Frestedt study had participants consuming a total of 20 g of whey protein per day. This is consistent with the recommendations of the McKinley Health Center, which states 20 g to 25 g of whey protein is ideal for weight management and improvements in body composition. Whey protein shakes are best consumed in the morning when protein levels are low within your body and/or after a workout.

Safety/Risks

McKinley Health Center says whey protein shakes are generally recognized as safe. People with milk allergies may experience minor symptoms of stomach discomfort due to the lactose found in whey. Whey islolates and hydrolysates contain less lactose than concentrate varieties. Since whey protein supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, consult your doctor prior to starting a whey protein regimen.

Criticism

Whey protein shakes have been shown to promote weight loss in the aforementioned clinical study; however, some critics argue that these shakes, along with meal replacement shakes, may actually cause weight gain rather than weight loss. Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., LD. LD., of the Mayo Clinic says most Americans already consume enough protein, so additional shakes are not necessary. She argues it only adds unnecessary calories to your total caloric intake. Your doctor can help determine whether or not protein or meal replacement shakes are ideal for you.

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