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Utilizing Protein Powder for Weight Loss

scooping protein powder in a shaker for weight loss support

Using protein powder for weight loss has become a trendy supplement that’s gotten much attention. There’s now ample research showing that a high-protein diet can support weight loss and prevent weight regain.[1,2]

Beyond helping build and repair muscle, a diet high in protein can have a hormone-regulating effect that encourages increased satiety (feeling full), which in turn helps to reduce food intake.

This has spurred quite an interest in protein powder as a potential weight-loss tool. However, along with this trend is a call to action to choose quality protein powders and use them mindfully. 

Here I discuss the benefits of utilizing protein powder to aid your weight loss efforts, how to choose the best products for the job, and how to use them to help lose weight.

What Defines the Best Protein Powder for Weight Loss?

heaping scoop of the best protein powder to help with weight loss

There are certain qualities and characteristics to look for in protein powders that can help support your weight loss efforts. These include:

  • Clean ingredients: Perhaps one of the most important factors is consuming clean protein powder that’s free of artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, and synthetic additives. Despite being low in sugar and calories, these ingredients can still elevate blood sugar levels and hinder your weight loss efforts.
  • Low sugar: Regardless of where you stand on consuming sugar, research indicates that consuming protein supplements low in sugar can help to improve weight loss.[3] 
  • Low calories: Protein powders vary widely in calories per serving. Some of the lowest-calorie protein powders are as little as 80 to 120 calories (typically providing about 15-20g protein). Others have upwards of 160 to 200 calories, which often contain more fat and carbs. 
  • Fiber: The presence of more fiber in a protein powder can be beneficial for weight loss. A systematic review linked fiber intake with lower body weight, and some types of fiber contributing to increased fullness and reduced appetite.[4]
  • Protein isolates: Protein powders go through different extraction processes. While protein concentrates still retain some fats and carbohydrates, isolates undergo further processing to be reduced to mostly just protein.
  • Type of protein: Both plant-based and animal-based protein powders (e.g. whey or casein) can help with weight management, but plant-based options are typically lower in fat and higher in fiber and nutrients, which can be even more beneficial. 
  • Amino acid profile: These are the building blocks of protein. Look for a protein powder with a strong, diverse amino acid profile, particularly protein powders high in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) like leucine, which is crucial for muscle protein synthesis.

Some products are designed specifically for weight management, often containing ingredients to help stimulate metabolism or enhance satiety. 

Of course, your dietary preferences also play a pivotal role in determining the best protein powder for you. Many options are vegan, keto, paleo, low-FODMAP, low-sugar, or a combination of the latter.

What Protein Powder Products are Best for Weight Loss?

best weight loss protein powder scoop

It’s difficult to pin ‘the best’ weight loss protein powder to just one product. There are several that I recommend based on your lifestyle and nutritional needs. 

All of these are vegan protein powders that are free from gluten, soy, and dairy. While I stand behind all of these products, some recommendations contain affiliate links (see my affiliate disclaimer for more info.)

PlantFusion Complete Protein

plantfusion complete protein powder weight loss

PlantFusion Complete Protein is a low-carb, zero-sugar protein powder that provides 21g of amino-rich protein in a 120-calorie single-scoop serving.

Sweetened with stevia and monk fruit extract, PlantFusion Complete Protein is both keto-friendly and diabetic-friendly (won’t elevate blood sugar), but also comes in a natural/no-stevia option.

Although it’s low in fiber, the protein blend is a powerful combination of pea protein, artichoke protein, organic sprouted amaranth, and organic sprouted quinoa. These sprouted ingredients are often more digestible and bioavailable to your body.

Aside from the stevia-free option, most flavors are sweet-tasting and delicious, elevating anything you put it in. This protein powder flies under the radar for weight loss but deserves high praise for testing and Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs).

Find it on Amazon

Ora So Lean & So Clean

ora so lean protein powder for weight loss

So Lean & So Clean is a product from Ora that’s touted as one of the cleanest protein powders for weight loss. Not only is it third-party tested for purity, certified organic and vegan, and non-GMO, but it’s free from artificial ingredients and fillers.

A two-scoop serving provides 22g of protein and 130 calories. While pea and rice protein are the primary sources (providing a complete protein combination), there are 19 organic superfoods ranging from kale and cranberry to broccoli and turmeric.

So Lean & So Clean is a zero-sugar protein powder that’s sweetened with organic stevia and monk fruit extract. It’s also flavored with cocoa, chocolate, and vanilla flavors. The unflavored option is stevia-free and is even lower in carbs (1g) and calories (110 per serving).

While Ora might appear like a premium boutique brand, one 22.9oz tub provides 20 servings. So, you’re getting quite a bit of protein for a modest price. 

Find it on Amazon

Garden of Life Fit: High Protein for Weight Loss

Garden of Life Fit High Protein Powder for Weight Loss

Garden of Life Fit: High Protein for Weight Loss provides 28g of protein sourced from a wide variety of plants, most of which are sprouted and all of which are organic. It’s also incredibly rich in amino acids, providing just over 5g of BCAAs per serving.

Branded as a weight loss protein powder, this product contains organic Svetol®, which is a green coffee bean extract as well as organic Ashwagandha. While this combination is believed to help burn fat and satisfy hunger, the former ingredient has been studied to help reduce body fat percentage.[5]

Garden of Life Fit is a certified USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, Certified Vegan, NSF Certified Gluten Free, and Informed Choice Certified (Trusted by Sport). In short, it’s a comprehensive and trusted protein powder for individuals looking to support their weight loss goals.

Find it on Amazon

Wholier Organic Plant Protein

wholier organic plant protein powder for weight loss

Wholier Organic Plant Protein is highly rated as one of the cleanest protein powders for third-party tested purity and contains no artificial ingredients, including ambiguous ‘natural flavors.’

One serving delivers 21g of protein made from five powerhouse sources, including brown rice, yellow pea, flaxseed, sunflower seed, and pumpkin seed. Although it’s slightly higher in fat (5g) and calories (160 calories), Organic Plant Protein provides 5g of fiber and just 2g of low-glycemic coconut sugar.

Stevia-free and sweetened with organic monk fruit extract, Wholier Organic Plant Protein has a smooth, creamy, and delicious taste. It’s a truly junk-free supplement with no bloat-causing fillers, emulsifiers, and gums, and it’s an underrated protein powder for weight loss.

Find it on Amazon

Garden of Life Sport Protein

garden of life sport weight loss protein powder

Designed with athletes in mind, Garden of Life Sport is a high-protein blend that provides 30g of amino acid-rich protein and 160 calories per serving.

Sweetened with organic stevia leaf extract, each full serving (which is two round scoops) has less than 1g of sugar. Garen of Life Sport is a true keto-friendly protein powder that’s also suitable for diabetics or anyone seeking a minimal sugar option.

Not only is Garden of Life Sport entirely organic and non-GMO, but the protein powder is made from an abundant variety of sprouted legumes and seeds. It’s digestion-friendly, allergen-free, and loaded with 5.5g of BCAAs per serving. 

Garden of Life Sport also provides a heavy dose of probiotics as well as an antioxidant-rich recovery blend made from apple, tart cherry, turmeric, blueberry, and goji berry. It’s the one protein powder that I purchase the most frequently.

Buy it on Amazon

MRM Veggie Elite Protein

mrm veggie elite protein powder for weight loss

MRM Veggie Elite is another underrated protein powder that’s well-designed for weight loss. Not only is incredibly delicious across all four flavor options (Chocolate Mocha being my favorite), but its macronutrient profile is ideal for weight management.

A 140-calorie, single-scoop serving provides 24g of protein, 3g of fat, and only 4g of carbs, including 3g of fiber. The protein blend is a simple pea and brown rice blend that delivers a complete protein and 4.6g of BCAAs per scoop.

Despite having little-to-no sugar, MRM Veggie Elite is sweet-tasting with stevia leaf and monk fruit extract packing the flavor. Available in a generous 2.4lb tub that provides over 30 servings, this athlete-focused protein powder provides strong ROI for both weight loss and your budget.

Find it on Amazon

Vega Sport Protein

vega sport protein powder for weight loss

With well over a decade’s reputation as Vega’s flagship sport protein powder, Vega Sport is a high-protein blend that provides 30g of protein in one hefty scoop. 

While this protein powder isn’t specifically designed for weight loss, it has the qualities to help you lose and manage weight. Beyond being high in protein, it contains only 4g of carbs, 1g of sugar, 3.5g of fat, and 2g of fiber. 

The total calorie count is a bit more on the high side with 170 calories per scoop, but remember you’re getting a tremendous amount of protein, primarily from peas, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and alfalfa protein. 

Vega Sport Protein also contains antioxidant and recovery-enhancing ingredients like tart cherry, bromelain, turmeric, and probiotics. It’s a lot like Garden of Life Sport, but isn’t fully organic, which reflects its lower price.

Find it on Amazon

How to Use Protein Powder for Weight Loss Support

How to Use Protein Powder for Weight Loss Support

Protein powder can be a useful supplement to help support weight loss. But keep in mind that it’s just that; a supplement among many tools in your arsenal to achieve a better version of yourself. 

Because protein powder alone isn’t going to shed extra pounds, it’s important to know how to use it properly. Below I share some tips on how to effectively utilize protein powder to support your weight loss objective.

Is Your Goal Weight Loss or Fat Loss? 

consuming the best protein powder for weight loss and fat loss

When many people say they’re trying to lose weight, what they truly mean is they’re trying to lose fat. Unless you’re a competitive cyclist like me who’s trying to lose overall weight, most individuals want to keep as much lean muscle mass as possible while shedding extra fat.

Protein powder can be a powerful aid in helping build lean muscle mass, but keep in mind that muscle weighs more than fat in terms of equal volume. So while you could be trimming fat, building muscle, and looking more trim, you could actually be gaining weight. This begs the question of whether you’re goal is to lose overall weight or to lose fat. 

If fat loss is your goal, using protein powder after exercise, particularly resistance training, can help allocate your protein and calorie consumption toward muscle repair and recovery, instead of being stored as excess fat. This approach is deemed more effective and sustainable than pure weight loss strategies alone.

There’s ample that research suggests combining higher protein intake with resistance training can lead to greater fat loss and preservation of lean mass (despite a calorie deficit) making it a beneficial approach for individuals looking to lose fat and improve body composition.[6]

Meal Replacement Supplement

weight loss protein powder meal replacement smoothie

Protein powder can play a powerful role as a meal replacement tool, which can help facilitate your weight loss objectives. Many high-protein meal replacement powders can be mixed with just water for an adequate meal. But these products also typically contain other macro and micronutrients, like additional fat and carbs.

Using the protein powders mentioned above provides a complete source of protein that’s suitable as a meal replacement. You may want to try different smoothie blends for added nutrients. But the goal here is to ensure you’re getting sufficient protein while substantially cutting the calories you’d otherwise be consuming in a whole-food meal.

Creative Ways to Use Protein Powder for Weight Loss

How to use Plant Protein Powder with Coffee for weight loss

There are endless things you can mix protein powder with, from oatmeal and smoothies to protein balls to baked goods. Being mindful about how you incorporate protein powder into your weight loss strategy is key. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

  • Protein powder pudding: One of my favorite concoctions is to mix protein powder with low-sugar almond milk or just water. With the right consistency, it makes for a guilt-free, late-night pudding snack that curbs hunger cravings while keeping calories low.
  • Keto-friendly smoothies: The ketogenic diet, though trendy, has been shown to help people lose weight. High-fat protein smoothies can be a powerful tool, but make sure you keep sugar and carbs as low as possible. Avoid protein powders that contain more than 1 gram of sugar per serving.
  • Protein-enhanced foods: Protein powder can also be added to foods like oatmeal, pancakes, or baked goods to increase the protein content. Because the flavor may be over-powering, unflavored protein powder can be a nice alternative.
  • Protein-enriched coffee: Mixing protein powder with coffee (or tea and other beverages) can be a creative way to get more protein in your diet through unconventional means. This ‘hack’ can also help ward off hunger cravings.
  • Other creative protein uses: Other examples where you can sneak protein powder into everyday vegan food sources include chia seeds, hot cereals, soups, sauces, dressings, hummus, and batters. These might seem like unusual ideas but can be creative ways to get more protein in your diet and keep you fuller for longer.

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth Without The Sugar

what to look for in a weight loss protein powder supplement

Because many flavored protein powders contain stevia and monk fruit extract (two natural sweeteners that don’t raise blood glucose levels), you can use these protein powders to satisfy your sugar cravings without actually consuming sugar. 

Just be sure to avoid artificial ingredients like sucralose as well as sugar alcohols like erythritol. Not only do some of these synthetic sweeteners have serious health concerns, but they can also alter blood glucose levels, despite containing no sugar. 

Moderating Protein Consumption and Timing

weight loss exercise followed by protein powder drink

While you may find protein powder to be an effective tool for weight loss, you don’t want to be over-relying on it for every meal. Generally, the maximum amount of protein powder to consume per day should be limited to 40 to 50 grams for the average person, or about 2 to 3 scoops.

While most products I recommend above fall into the “clean” category (tested for heavy metals, contaminants, etc.), many protein supplements are riddled with fillers, BPA, lead, and other harmful substances that you don’t want to be consuming in mass.

Timing your protein intake is also crucial for weight management. After exercise or activity is an ideal window for protein consumption. But just like fat and carbs, consuming too much protein can be stored in the body as fat. This is why you want to moderate your protein consumption by consuming 25 to 35g of protein per meal, consuming this amount every few hours. 

This number varies widely from person to person, depending on factors like age, body composition, and training load. For example, an elite athlete can get away with consuming 40g of protein every few hours, while an older person may only need 25g. 

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About the Author

tyler tafelsky vegan protein powder review editor

This article was written by Tyler Tafelsky, the lead editor here at the Vegan Protein Powder Review. Endurance athlete and experienced writer in the health and nutrition space, Tyler has tried hundreds of different plant-based nutritional products and writes about his favorites here on this blog. View Tyler’s author bio or follow him on LinkedInTwitterFacebookPinterest, or Instagram. You can also visit his site to see what he’s up to.

Scientific References

  1. Moon J, Koh G. Clinical Evidence and Mechanisms of High-Protein Diet-Induced Weight Loss. J Obes Metab Syndr. 2020 Sep 30;29(3):166-173. doi: 10.7570/jomes20028. PMID: 32699189; PMCID: PMC7539343.
  2. Leidy HJ, Clifton PM, Astrup A, Wycherley TP, Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Luscombe-Marsh ND, Woods SC, Mattes RD. The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Jun;101(6):1320S-1329S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.084038. Epub 2015 Apr 29. PMID: 25926512.
  3. Dahlberg CJ, Ou JJ, Babish JG, Lamb JJ, Eliason S, Brabazon H, Gao W, Kaadige MR, Tripp ML. A 13-week low glycemic load diet and lifestyle modification program combining low glycemic load protein shakes and targeted nutraceuticals improved weight loss and cardio-metabolic risk factors. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2017 Dec;95(12):1414-1425. doi: 10.1139/cjpp-2016-0704. Epub 2017 Aug 11. PMID: 28800398.
  4. Clark MJ, Slavin JL. The effect of fiber on satiety and food intake: a systematic review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2013;32(3):200-11. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2013.791194. PMID: 23885994.
  5. Sudeep H, Shyam Prasad K. Supplementation of green coffee bean extract in healthy overweight subjects increases lean mass/fat mass ratio: A randomized, double-blind clinical study. SAGE Open Medicine. 2021;9. doi:10.1177/20503121211002590
  6. Antonio, J., Ellerbroek, A., Silver, T. et al. A high protein diet (3.4 g/kg/d) combined with a heavy resistance training program improves body composition in healthy trained men and women – a follow-up investigation. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 12, 39 (2015).