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best protein powders to lose weight

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In addition to achieving a calorie deficit, getting enough protein is essential for successful weight loss. However, it can be challenging to meet your daily protein targets without a clear strategy. 

If you’re struggling to get in enough or feel too much, incorporating some of the best protein powders to lose weight can help you fit it in. But with so many options, it can be hard to know which to choose. Should you choose a whey or plant-based option? What’s the best brand? Should you take protein powder every day? 

Today we’re sharing the 5 best protein powders for weight loss recommended by my registered dietitian colleagues and myself. We’ll also answer common questions I hear from clients about protein powder in the hopes the answers will help you, too.

1. Best overall

Orgain Organic Plant-Based

orgain plant-based protein powder for weight loss

I have used Orgain products for years because of their high quality, and this one is no different. Orgain is founded by Dr. Andrew Abraham, an experienced doctor and cancer survivor.

Orgain makes a whey-based protein powder and a plant-based option. I switch between both because I like to vary my protein sources. I think which you choose is based on your lifestyle and personal preferences. My favorite is the vanilla protein powder, as I find that flavor very versatile to mix into different recipes.

While whey was previously thought to be superior to plant-based protein, newer research shows pea protein (which is in Orgain) is comparable to whey in its quality and muscle-building capabilities.

In addition, a small subset of people are sensitive to whey protein, as it is derived from cow’s milk. If that is the case for you, the plant-based version made from pea protein may be a better choice. 

I particularly appreciate this as one of the best protein powders to lose weight as it is not high in calories and tastes good, but is free from artificial sweeteners. Many other protein powders contain artificial sweeteners to enhance the taste when the sugar content is low, which in excess may not be best for your overall health.

Pros:

  • Contains 21 g of protein per serving
  • No added sugar
  • All natural flavors
  • Tastes great
  • Affordable
  • Routinely tested for heavy metals
  • GMP-certified for good manufacturing practices

Cons:

  • Contains erythritol, a sugar alcohol

Nutrition facts per serving (2 scoops):

  • Protein source: Pea, brown rice, chia seed
  • Calories: 150
  • Protein: 21 g
  • Carbs: 15 g
  • Fat: 4 g
  • Sugar: 0 g

Other notable ingredients: It contains erythritol, a commonly used sugar alcohol, and stevia as the sweetener sources. If you can recall, one study showed a link between higher erythritol levels in the blood and an increased risk of heart attack. However, it was seen to be an association, not yet a direct cause, and there was a stronger link in those with already established heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure.

Cost: $31-$33 for 20 servings

My favorite ways to enjoy Orgain protein powder is mixed with water or almond milk post-workout, in a smoothie for a quick lunch, or in my overnight oats for a protein boost.

Key takeaway: Orgain Whey or Plant-Based protein powder is my top pick for an overall protein powder for its quality ingredients and great taste. If you’re not sure if erythritol is safe for you to take, always discuss this with your doctor.

2. Best plant-based

Bare Performance Nutrition 

Bare performance nutrition protein powder

Image credit: Bare Performance Nutrition

Bare Performance is one of the highest-quality options if you’re looking specifically for a plant-based powder. 

“My favorite plant-based protein powder is the vegan protein from BPN. It provides 21 g of protein in 120 calories, making it mostly a protein source without too much excess fat or carbs. 

Protein powders can be helpful for vegans who are active or need a little help getting extra protein to meet their needs. My favorite flavors are peanut butter cookies or vanilla. It has a smooth texture and great taste, unlike some other vegan powders I’ve tried in the past,” says Blair Persyn, dietitian and owner of the high-protein vegan blog  biteswithblair.com.

Pros:

  • Provides 22 g of protein
  • Contains high-quality pea protein
  • Informed-Sport certified and tested for banned substances
  • Includes digestive enzyme blend

Cons:

  • Difficult to find full ingredient list
  • Contains tree nuts

I had to do a little digging to find the full ingredients list, as it wasn’t listed in one of the many product pictures like many other products. However, I found it on the website as you get closer to purchasing.

Nutrition facts per 1-scoop:

  • Protein source: Pea, watermelon, pumpkin
  • Calories: 120
  • Protein: 21 g
  • Carbs: 2 g
  • Fat: 3.5 g
  • Sugar: Less than 1 gram

Other notable ingredients: Stevia, digestive enzyme blend, and MCT oil. MCT stands for medium-chain-triglycerides, a partially broken-down type of fat. According to some research, MCT oil can serve as a more immediate energy source for your brain and body and may enhance fullness.

Cost: $37-$45 for 27 servings

“I use it in my morning oatmeal nearly every day, and it keeps me full for hours,” says Blair. 

Key takeaway: Bare Performance is a solid plant-based protein powder for those who follow a vegetarian diet and are looking for help boosting their protein intake.

3. Most affordable

Dymatize Elite Whey

Dymatize Elite Whey protein powder

    Image credit: Walmart.com

    If you’re on a tighter budget, Dymatize Elite Whey is another quality protein powder that is pretty affordable compared to others. 

    Dymatize is a well-known brand that manufactures clean products with minimal ingredients. This whey protein comes in three flavors: chocolate, vanilla, and cookies ‘n’ cream. Whey protein is specifically shown to be fast-digesting, providing quick energy, and is great for any time. 

    “Elite Whey is pretty affordable compared to other brands and is Informed Choice certified” – Ellen Landes, MS, RDN, CPT of the www.therunnersdietitian.com. Informed Choice certified means the product is vetted and tested to ensure it doesn’t contain any potentially unsafe substances. Basically, it is an added layer of protection.

    Pros: 

    • High protein content at 25 g
    • Multiple flavors available
    • Affordable
    • Contains BCAA’s for recovery
    • Includes amino acid leucine for muscle activation
    • Informed Choice Certified

    Cons: 

    • Contains artificial sugars (sucralose and Equal)

    Nutrition facts per 1-scoop:

    • Protein source: Whey/dairy-based
    • Calories: 140
    • Protein: 25 g
    • Carbs: 2 g
    • Fat: 3 g
    • Sugar: 2 g

    Other notable ingredients: Sucralose, Acesulfame potassium (Equal), and thickeners like Carrageenan. It’s important to note that in large quantities, carrageenan may negatively impact gut health. If you’re concerned about this, I’d recommend choosing another product that does not contain this thickener.

    Key takeaway: Overall, this product is a solid choice to help bump up your daily protein intake and fuel workout recovery. 

    4. Best for sensitive tummies

    Transparent Labs Whey Protein Isolate

    Image credit: Amazon

    If you have a sensitive tummy, the last thing you want is a protein powder that leaves you running straight for the bathroom. Transparent Labs Whey Protein Isolate is a highly bioavailable protein that is light on the stomach and goes down easily. A whey protein isolate is different than a more commonly consumed whey concentrate in that the isolate is higher in protein and lower in carbs and fat as it has some of these other ingredients filtered out.

    Because of this, it is lower in lactose than whey protein concentrates, and this is one reason it can be easier to digest for those who are lactose-intolerant.

    In the protein (and supplement) world, Transparent Labs is a trusted brand that is banned, substance-tested, and contains clean ingredients, including no artificial ingredients, food dyes, or preservatives. 

    If you like exciting flavors, it is also available in multiple yummy flavors. These include chocolate and vanilla peanut butter, french vanilla, and oatmeal chocolate chip cookie.

    Pros:

    • Informed Choice certified
    • Grass-fed
    • Free of artificial ingredients
    • Is a protein isolate – contains more protein and less carbs and fat
    • No added sugars
    • Suitable for lactose-intolerance

    Cons:

    • More costly compared to other brands

    Cost: $57 for 30 servings

    Key takeaway: If you have a sensitive tummy or are lactose-intolerant, you may want to give Transparent Labs Whey Protein Isolate a try.

    5. Best tasting 

    NAKED Whey Chocolate

    Image credit: Walmart

    When it comes to protein powder or anything you eat, it has to taste good. For the best-tasting protein powder to lose weight, NAKED Whey Chocolate is the winner in our nutrition community. Here’s what my colleague Gaby had to say about it:

    “NAKED Whey Protein Chocolate has that authentic, rich chocolatey flavor because it has organic cacao powder in it. In fact, it only has three ingredients in it, so you know exactly what you’re mixing into your smoothie. 

    Plus, you won’t have to worry about an aftertaste that you may get with other chocolate protein powder brands. Blending Naked Whey Chocolate with frozen cherries or mixed berries and half of a banana is my favorite way to make it after my workouts. In two scoops, there are 25 grams of protein, so the shakes keep me full for a while,” Gaby McPherson MS, RDN, LDN https://www.linkedin.com/in/gabydietitianwriter

    Pros:

    • Great tasting
    • Only contains 3 ingredients
    • All natural flavorings

    Cons:

    • Contains 3 grams added sugar
    • More pricey

    Nutrition facts per 2-scoops:

    • Calories: 160
    • Protein: 25 g
    • Carbs: 8 g
    • Fat: 3 g
    • Sugar: 5 g

    Other ingredients: Organic coconut sugar, organic cacao powder

    Cost: $21.59 for 12 servings

    Key takeaway: NAKED Whey is a great choice if you’re looking for a quality whey protein powder that tastes great. 

    What to look for in a protein powder

    When shopping for the best protein powder to lose weight, it’s important to look for a few key characteristics:

    Protein source – There are many protein sources, such as whey, casein, and eggs, as well as plant-based sources like soy, pea, brown rice, and more. Whey protein is high quality and contains all the essential amino acids (i.e. protein and muscle-building blocks), supporting a faster metabolism. However, if you prefer plant-based or can’t tolerate whey, you can look for various plant-based options instead.

    At least 20 grams of protein per serving – If you’re on a weight loss journey, opting for a high protein-to-calorie ratio is key to meeting higher protein needs while keeping calories in check. This is why I recommend choosing a protein powder with at least 20 grams of protein per serving. All 5 products on this list meet the mark. 

    Minimal added sugar – If you’re trying to lose weight (or even if you aren’t) it’s essential to keep added sugar intake to a minimum. Too much added sugar is associated with chronic inflammation and weight gain, particularly around the belly. Look for 3 grams of added sugar or less per serving.

    Third-party testing and certification – To ensure quality, try to look for products that are independently tested, are manufactured under Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP-Certified), or state they are free from banned substances. 

    Bottom line

    Choosing the best protein powder to lose weight doesn’t have to be confusing. By looking for options with minimal added sugar, at least 20 grams of protein, and being independently tested, you can ensure quality and a nutritional profile that supports lean muscle building and weight loss.

    While it’s always ideal to get in your protein from food, incorporating a quality protein powder into your routine is a convenient way to fill in the gaps on the days you struggle to get in enough. You can enjoy your protein powder in water, almond milk, smoothie, or my favorite – mixed in with overnight oats.

    No matter how you enjoy them, tracking your daily food intake is always helpful to ensure you’re meeting your macro targets while staying within a calorie deficit to lose weight. This will support weight loss and enhance fullness, making it easier to lose weight and stay motivated without feeling deprived. Because that’s what healthy, sustainable weight loss is all about!

    If you need more accountability and guidance in losing weight healthily, contact me to schedule a free call. I’d love to learn about your goals and see how I can help you overcome any barriers that are getting in your way!

    FAQs

    Should you take protein powder every day? Unless you’re a professional bodybuilder or athlete or engage in heavy resistance training, taking protein powder a few days a week is likely adequate. It’s also ideal to get in the majority of your protein from food sources that are more filling and nutrient-dense. You can also try premade protein shakes and protein bars for added variety.

    How much protein do I need every day? Based on the latest dietary guidelines, the recommended daily allowance for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kg each day. However, newer research has shown this is likely not enough for the average person to stay satisfied and maintain lean body muscle (i.e. muscle). We review this in my sustainable weight loss program if you’re unsure how much protein you should have. We’ll meet 1:1 to determine precisely what your daily protein needs should be and how to break it down throughout the day in a way that works for you.

      When should you take protein powder? You can take protein powder at any time of day, but it may be most effective before or after a workout for fuel and recovery. 

      Is protein powder bad for you? When consumed in moderation, protein powder is generally safe for most people. The concerns lie if you are using them to replace many of your meals, are taking one with a lot of added sugar, or have kidney problems where protein intake needs to be restricted. Always consult your doctor to determine if they’re safe for you,

      What are the benefits of protein powder? Protein powder serves as a convenient and portable protein source, can help you meet your daily protein needs, aid in workout performance and recovery, and support weight loss and satiety.

      The information in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace personalized guidance from a qualified healthcare professional. For individualized recommendations, consult your doctor or registered dietitian specializing in weight loss.