One of the main reasons protein powder is so popular is the many benefits it offers. However, there are two main reasons most people use these products – for weight loss and to improve their muscle gains.
Protein has consistently been shown to be highly effective at helping achieve both of these goals. Multiple studies have found that an increased protein intake can help burn fat while retaining lean muscle. We also know that protein is a key building block for muscle growth and can have a direct impact on recovery times.
The supplement market, acknowledging this, is now swamped with a wide range of protein powders. While companies might claim their product is the best, most seem to be quite similar. So, how do you pick the right protein powder for you and your goals?
Here, we look at which is the best protein powder for weight loss and muscle gain. We also explore some of the other ways you can boost your performance and maximise your progress.
The power of protein – how it helps you lose weight and build muscle
These days, protein supplements are seen as a crucial component of any fitness regime. Whether you are training for a marathon, want to maximise your gym gains, or looking to lose a little weight, chances are you are using at least one protein product. And, if you aren’t… you really should be!
Whatever your goals, high-quality protein will play a crucial role. It supports muscle development, speeding up your recovery, and helping repair and protect lean muscle. It is also the macronutrient that fills you up the most, helping suppress your appetite.
What’s more, protein has been shown to help achieve both of these goals at the same time. It protects lean muscle mass, encouraging the body to burn more fat. And this benefit can increase over time as the body composition changes.
It is worth noting here that to get the benefits of protein, you also need to have a sufficient intake of important amino acids, like leucine. Leucine helps the body process its protein intake, breaking it down for use by the muscles and other organs. It is considered an essential amino acid. Because it isn’t produced by the body, it must come from dietary sources.
Want more information on how protein can help you achieve your fitness goals? Take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Protein Powder.
Why whey is the best protein powder for weight loss and muscle gain
When it comes to protein powders, there are now hundreds of different products to choose from. If you don’t know what you are looking for, this can be quite daunting. From protein sources to favours and additives, the options are endless. How do you know which will be the best protein powder for weight loss and muscle gain?
Here at MAX’S, we like to keep it simple and focus on the best all-around protein – whey.
When you look through our great range of protein powders, you will see that they all contain whey. This is because whey is widely considered the highest performing protein supplement available.
Here are just a few of the reasons we love whey
- Whey is a great natural source of protein. Most forms of whey contain at least 80% protein.
- Whey is a ‘complete’ protein. It contains all 20 amino acids and a wide range of other essential nutrients and minerals.
- Whey is easy to digest. As a milk extract, the body knows how to break down whey. And, as most whey products contain only traces of lactose, they are even suitable for people with sensitive stomachs.
- Whey is widely available. It is a by-product of many dairy manufacturing processes (e.g. cheese making), so it can easily be sourced.
- Whey is cost-effective. Because whey is so widely available, it is affordable.
Importantly, there is a lot of research backing up the effectiveness of whey.
Various studies have shown that adding whey protein to your diet can help with weight loss. One reason for this is that whey protein increases leptin levels within your body. As leptin is what makes you feel full, it plays a key role in regulating appetite.
Many studies have also shown that whey protein can help increase the rate at which you burn fat. This is because it protects your lean muscle mass, which burns more calories at rest. As such, it is one of the best protein supplements for changing your body composition.
There is also ample evidence showing whey protein’s significant impact on muscle growth. As a lean source of high-quality protein, whey provides the body with the crucial elements for recovery, repair, and development. Also, as whey protein has a high level of leucine, it is easily processed by the body.
When choosing a whey protein, you will notice that there are three main kinds available:
- Whey Protein Concentrate. This is the most cost-effective option and usually contains around 80% protein content. As it has a more balanced macronutrient profile, it can be better for those looking to put on muscle. Many people also prefer the smoother texture and creamier flavour of Whey Protein Concentrate.
- Whey Protein Isolate. This is a more refined product that usually contains around 90% protein content. As a cleaner protein source, it can be better for weight loss and suits those who want greater control over their macronutrient intake. As it is so highly filtered, it is also better for those with sensitive stomachs or lactose intolerance.
- Whey Protein Hydrosolate. This is an even more refined product that partially breaks down the whey protein. This makes it easier to digest and can help speed up absorption. As it is effectively partially pre-digested, this is the best whey protein option for those with sensitive stomachs.
Not sure which whey is right for you? Check out our article comparing the different types of whey protein.
Have you considered a Shred & Burn or Lean Gains Blend?
If you are serious about losing weight or gaining muscle, a blend might help speed up your progress. These products combine all the benefits of whey protein with other specialised supplements to support specific training goals.
For example, if your goal is weight loss, you may want to consider a Shred & Burn blend. These products usually include different types of whey proteins, as well as slow-release proteins (like casein), for sustained protein release. They also include a range of ingredients (like caffeine and guarana) designed to boost your metabolism and help you burn fat.
Alternatively, if you want to build muscle, a Lean Gains blend can help you put on major mass. These products usually include a range of different proteins (including multiple whey proteins), carefully balanced with carbohydrate complexes and ingredients that support muscle recovery and growth. Best of all, these products are designed to deliver clean gains, helping you add muscle without putting on extra fat.
If you want to really step up your gym game, there are a range of other products you can add to your supplement stack. Some will help with recovery, others will boost your metabolism, and there are even things you can take to help with stamina and concentration. For more information about some of these, see our articles on the 5 Best Supplements for Shredding and the 5 Best Supplements for Epic Muscle Growth.
Remember: It’s supplementation, not replacement
While the right protein powder can help you on your fitness journey, it can’t do it alone. Simply upping your intake of protein won’t be enough to achieve your goals – it takes a lot of hard work and plenty of commitment. It doesn’t matter whether you want to get lean or bulk up; no amount of protein powder will make up for a poor diet or exercise regime.
With that in mind, in addition to adding a high-quality whey protein to your diet, you should make sure you are eating right. As the old saying goes, ‘the best bodies are made in the kitchen’. You need to be purposeful with what you eat and when, as this will have a major impact on your progress.
No matter how high quality it is, protein powder shouldn’t be used as a meal replacement. While this may be tempting (particularly if you are trying to lose weight), most of your protein intake should come from lean dietary sources, like eggs and poultry. If you need help refining your eating plan, check out our Ultimate Nutrition Guide.
Also, you need to make sure your training regime is as on point as your supplement game. If you aren’t regularly pushing your body, the extra protein you are getting will have nothing to do. While this will probably lead to you putting on weight, it won’t be the kind of weight you want.
Whatever your goal is, your exercise plan should be tailored to suit. If you are trying to lose weight, focus on things that get the heart rate up and help build lean muscle. If you are trying to build muscle, your workouts should be all about resistance. If you need help mastering your exercise plan, check out our Ultimate Training Guide.