Will pre-made protein shakes make you gain weight? Today, we're diving into the details of protein shakes and weight loss.
Will Protein Shakes Make You Gain Weight?
The main component of a protein shake is going to be protein (duh). Pure protein sources, such as whey protein, soy isolate and egg white protein, have been found to help improve body composition.(1) This means that protein helps to increase muscle mass while decreasing body fat percentage.
When looking to achieve a weight loss goal, the scale isn't a great method to track your progress. For example, 5 pounds of muscle mass takes up a significantly smaller amount of space than 5 pounds of fat. So if you lose 5 pounds of body fat while gaining 5 pounds of muscle mass, your clothes will fit better and your measurements will decrease, but the scale will make it appear as if nothing has changed.
With this in mind, protein shakes can cause you to gain weight, but it will likely be in the form of muscle mass, not fat mass.
However, there is one major caveat: how much sugar is included in a protein shake.
Sugar increases the storing hormone insulin in the body. When insulin is high, the fat burning process, called lipolysis, is turned off. This means if a protein shake contains added sugar, your insulin levels will raise and the body may begin storing body fat instead of burning it.
The combined effect of a sugary protein shake is that you might increase your muscle mass from the protein, but you'll also likely increase your fat mass from the added sugar.
When looking to achieve a body recomposition goal, where you lose body fat while maintaining or increasing muscle mass, you want to limit all forms of added sugar. If you choose to use a protein shake, make sure it's free of any added sugar to maximize your results.
How much sugar your body can tolerate will depend on how carbohydrate sensitive you are. You can take a free quiz to help determine if you might be carbohydrate sensitive by clicking the button below.
Are Protein Shakes Good For Weight Loss?
As noted above, increasing your protein intake can aid in improved body composition. And having increased muscle mass has been found to aid in increased insulin sensitivity.(2) As the body becomes more insulin sensitive, it can begin to more easily shift back into a state of fat burning.
However, one study notes that by eating fat along with protein sources, you can further increase your muscle synthesis (new muscle creation) and therefore increase the weight loss perks.(3)
You can easily add high quality sources of fat with your protein by mixing your protein powder into a low sugar, higher fat smoothie. Adding fat along with protein also helps to reduce snacking and sugar cravings by increasing the satiety hormone CCK.