The most popular form of protein taken by fitness enthusiasts is whey protein, but this may not be the best choice when fat loss is your goal.
Whey is a fantastic protein when your goal is to enhance your body’s ability to build muscle. It is a complete protein and is quickly absorbed into the blood where muscles, made hungry for protein by weight training, absorb it up like a sponge. Research has clearly shown that whey is the protein of choice after a workout because it stimulates muscles to grow, especially when taken within an hour of finishing your workout. Whey protein, however, is not the best choice in between workouts and meals.
You may be wondering, if it is so good after a workout, why is it not as good between workouts or between meals?
Unfortunately, whey’s strengths for building muscle are also its weaknesses when it comes to fat loss. Whey absorbs so quickly that it is almost like injecting a big dose of protein directly into the blood. This is a good thing when muscles are hungry, but when they are not it poses a problem for two reasons:
- Spikes in protein can stimulate insulin secretion which shuts down fat burning
- Whey protein absorbs fast and thus clears the blood quickly. This means that your blood levels of important amino acids will not stay elevated for long.
When fat loss is the goal we need to keep insulin levels down and sipping on whey protein all day may cause the body to do the opposite. This could pose a problem for many people whose main focus is fat loss.
In addition, the body constantly needs protein to rebuild tissues such as the vital organs, red blood cells, bones, etc. When these tissues need protein building blocks the body first looks to the blood for these building blocks. If the blood does not have sufficient levels of amino acids then the body will disassemble the muscles in order to get them. This causes a loss of our precious muscle. To keep the body from dipping into the muscle for building blocks, we want to trickle-feed the body with proteins from slowly digesting and absorbing proteins that offer all essential amino acids.
Ideally, we should be getting our protein snacks from foods such as chicken, eggs, and lean meats. By the way, if you want the recipe for making the perfect hardboiled egg, check out Blythe’s article “Eggs…Are They Really the Perfect Snack for Fat Loss?”
When we are in a rush, however, a protein shake can be a simple and fast food alternative. An argument could be made to use a protein supplement that digests slowly in order to give the body a sustained source for precious amino acids. Soy protein could be a great alternative to whey, and I have plenty of experience using this protein shake in people looking to lose fat. Other slowly digested proteins include:
- Rice protein
- Yellow Pea Protein
- Hemp Protein
As a final note, it’s important to know that this article is speaking to which shake is best for snacking in between meals. I will talk more about how to use whey to support your fat loss efforts in future podcasts and blogs. There is so much more to the subject of protein shakes, way too much to include in one blog post. So, stay tuned!