There are lots of misconceptions today about gaining and losing weight. Some feel they can eat certain foods almost indefinitely without gaining weight, while a few bites of another kind of meal will instantly pack on the pounds.
Fortunately for fitness enthusiasts, the scientific formula for gaining or losing weight boils down to a simple formula: calories in vs. calories out. As long as you are consuming more calories than you burn, you will gain weight, and vice versa.
Of course, in reality we have access to many different kinds of foods with varying nutritional properties, not to mention daily responsibilities that can make healthy eating choices difficult. Even those with the best of intentions can find themselves getting stuck on their weight loss or gain journey due to a lack of understanding the caloric profiles of the foods they eat.
Protein is one nutrient that is sometimes misunderstood. Because of its association with building muscle, many believe that consuming whey protein powder or supplements in other forms will make them add body weight.
The truth is, protein alone – or any other specific type of macronutrient including fats and carbs – will not make you gain weight. You only gain weight by consuming more calories than you burn. In the context of gaining weight, it doesn’t matter what you consume to create a caloric surplus. It’s always best to get your energy from nutrient-dense calories that will keep you fueled up for your day.
The specific answer to this question depends on the blend you’re consuming and how often you’re consuming it. At Gainful, we make some protein powder blends for people who are trying to gain weight – typically, they want to build muscle or maintain strength or endurance. Those blends intentionally have more carbs and calories in them than some of the other blends we offer.
On the other end of the spectrum, we also create protein powder blends with ingredients that support weight loss goals. In both cases, the timing and quantity of protein consumption are just as important as the ingredients.
At the end of the day, weight loss and weight gain are all about caloric intake. If you have too many servings of protein powder per day – or any other kind of food or whey protein supplements – your overall calorie intake might go up, which can in turn cause you to gain weight. If you're looking to maintain or lose weight, stick to the recommended daily serving for your blend.
Most importantly, your weight depends primarily on the quantity and quality of the whole foods you eat throughout the day alongside your high-quality protein. Research indicates that consuming excessive amounts of processed foods can lead to weight gain. With careful monitoring of your daily diet plan, you can ensure you're getting enough grams of protein to help with muscle building without adding excessive body fat.
Whey protein, whether consumed in foods or a healthy protein powder mix, will not cause an increase in weight or fat. However, if you consume more calories than you burn – whether those calories are from whey protein shakes, or any other types of whey protein – your body will store the excess energy. The place you put that energy as weight depends on several factors, including your age, gender and genetics. Most people typically lose weight around their midsection last and add it there first.
Working out, whether done via resistance training or cardio exercise, is an important part of controlling your weight. Resistance training will not only help you burn calories, it provides numerous health benefits like improved endurance and strength as well as an increase in muscle mass.
Because of how valuable working out is for lean muscle growth and overall health, we advise everyone to partake in some form of regular exercise. However, even if you are consuming protein shakes and not working out, it doesn't mean you'll gain weight. You'll be burning fewer calories and consuming more, so it's certainly more likely, but as mentioned: weight loss is a simple matter of burning a higher number of calories than you take in each day.
Put simply, you need more calories than your body burns to gain weight. Safely gaining weight requires an increase in both muscle mass and fat. Excessive fat, on the other hand, can be unhealthy. This is why it's so important to choose quality protein sources. For weight gain, it is recommended that you add 1-2 pounds per month by consuming no more than 500 extra calories per day. Whether you consume those calories via a weight gain meal replacement smoothie or quality whey protein isolate supplement depends on your own preferences and lifestyle.
Protein is an essential part of any weight gain strategy since it's the key nutrient in building muscle. Your body needs access to branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) – the building blocks of protein – as fuel for the muscle protein synthesis process. It's important to seek out complete protein sources that have essential amino acids, which your body can't make on its own.
One potential drawback of increased protein consumption is more satiety (feeling full), which can make it difficult for some people to reach their daily calorie goals. For weight gain, it is recommended that you consume around 0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight, although you can go higher depending on your overall daily calorie plan. If you aren’t used to it, this can feel like you are eating or drinking a lot more than normal.
Other common side effects of a high protein diet include bloating and cramping – especially for those who are sensitive to dairy products and consume whey. If you are new to protein powder, you might want to experiment with different kinds of protein sources like soy or pea protein, until you can find one that feels best.
Controlling your protein intake is vital to reaching your fitness goals. Bodybuilders, athletes and fitness enthusiasts from all walks of life who want to build muscle typically focus on a high protein diet. On the other hand, if you want to lose weight, a well-timed meal replacement protein shake can help you stay full throughout the day so that you don't consume too many calories.
But whether it comes from whey powder shakes or from whole foods, consuming protein alone won't make you gain or lose weight. The only thing that determines whether you will add weight to your body – in the form of muscle or fat – is your daily intake of calories. Take in more calories than you burn, and you'll gain weight. Burn more than you take in, and you'll lose weight.
Weight loss on its own may be a simple formula, but you'll still want to consume high quality protein sources so you can maintain energy and nourish your body throughout the day. Whether you're looking for a delicious post-workout smoothie or a power breakfast that will start you off on the right foot in the morning, be sure you are consuming quality protein from trustworthy manufacturers that are honest and upfront about their ingredients. The right protein supplements will help you make fitness an easy, enjoyable part of your lifestyle.