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Protein shakes are very popular, especially for weight loss. There are so many different types of protein shakes it can be confusing!

How do you know which shake works for weight loss? Maybe you have heard one is better than the other for weight loss, but you still have doubts. We will be exploring if you really can lose weight and keep it off by drinking protein shakes.

Do protein drinks work for weight loss?

Drinking protein shakes does work if you like drinking protein shakes and can be self-disciplined to be on a caloric-restricted diet. According to this 2017 study, the researchers did a 13-week low glycemic diet and lifestyle modification program. It combined a low glycemic load protein shakes. They found that this can help improve weight loss and multiple cardiometabolic risk factors. However, there were some limitations to the study as they had only a few participants, no follow-ups, a short 13-week timeframe, and no follow-up studies to show the results could be reproduced. 

In another study, different commercial weight loss programs were reviewed. The researchers compared weight loss, adherence, and commercial weight-loss programs to nutrition counseling among adults with overweight and obesity. Very-low calorie and low-calorie programs had greater weight loss at 4-6 months, but there was no difference beyond 6 months, and sticking to the diet was not reported. 

Overall, you can lose weight with protein shakes depending on your commitment and willingness to adhere to the diet.

How do you know which protein drinks are good?

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Many people wonder which protein drink is good that would benefit them. They question if it is worth getting and ask themselves what if they don’t like the taste. If not, they feel they wasted their money. 

Choosing a protein shake depends on a lot of things:

  • Your taste buds – what flavors do you like and will drink daily.
  • How much you are willing to spend.
  • Your need support such as group support, one-on-one nutrition counseling, or self-monitoring.

No matter what, if you want to use a shake-based weight loss program, a lot of self-discipline is required. The chart below summarizes the shake-based weight loss programs on the market. 

Comparing a Few Popular Protein Shakes 

Very-Low Caloric Meal ReplacementsPhysical ActivityBehavioralStrategiesSupportMonthly Cost
SlimFastNoneSelf-MonitoringOnline support$70
Atkins(choose low carbohydrate conventional foods or meal replacements)EncouragesIncreased ActivitySelf-MonitoringOne-on-one counseling, online coaching$10 for book
OptifastEncouragesIncreased ActivitySelf-MonitoringOne-on-one counseling, online coaching$665
MedFastEncouragesIncreased ActivitySelf-MonitoringOne-on-one counseling, online coaching
HMREncouragesIncreased ActivitySelf-MonitoringGroup sessions, telephone coachings, medically supervised

Information presented in this table was abstracted from program websites available December 2014 and from materials provided by some programs.

Beyond the list above, there are so many different meal replacements from vegetable-protein-based or whey protein-based. Most protein shakes are approximately 130-160 calories per bottle with about 20-30g protein and vary in carbohydrate and sugar. 

How Does it Work?

  • 2 Protein Shakes as Meal Replacements
  • 2 Sensible snacks
  • 1 Sensible Meal (A Healthy Plate)

The idea behind the protein shakes that lead to weight loss is that they are a very low-calorie meal replacement. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in. This creates a calorie deficit. When this happens, your body gets some of the fuel it needs from its stored fat and you lose weight. 

You’ll need a plan to maintain your weight loss. Also, many people reach weight plateaus when losing weight. When this happens, you should reassess your eating habits and increase your physical activity. 

Click here to see my client’s favorite picks for protein shakes for weight loss.