The abundance of protein shakes and smoothie ingredients available in grocery stores and health food markets can be more frustrating than helpful when you need to make a decision about what to drink. Often, the freshest and healthiest shake is one you can make at home from natural ingredients. Whether you prefer to buy or prepare a shake, though, keep a few pointers in mind that can boost your weight-loss results.
A nutritious, well-balanced protein shake can accomplish a number of objectives in a healthy weight-loss plan. For one, it helps you refuel after a difficult workout and can prevent the feeling of ravenousness you might get following vigorous exercise. Protein shakes can also curb your overall hunger and calorie consumption, because lean protein is an especially satiating nutrient. Finally, when used as a meal replacement, a protein shake may be even more successful for weight loss. According to 2003 research from a team at Columbia University, overweight and obese subjects who consumed soy-based meal replacements lost more weight than those who went without the replacements and followed a low-calorie diet.
Ideally, your protein shake will have a nutritious source of low-fat protein and other ingredients that are both flavorful and healthy. For weight loss, some of the best protein sources to put in shakes are silken tofu, nonfat Greek yogurt, skim milk, low-fat cottage cheese and low-fat frozen yogurt. Fresh or frozen fruit can provide natural sweetness as well as helpful vitamins and minerals. Feel free to experiment with healthy add-ins, such as nut butter, unsweetened cocoa powder, ground flaxseed or wheat germ. If you’re looking at a commercial shake, always check the nutrition facts label to get a sense of how healthy the product is before you buy it.
The ingredients in your shake are important, but the calorie count may be even more so. After all, calories are what ultimately determines weight loss; to slim down, you need to consistently burn more calories than you consume. If your shake is simply serving as a post-workout snack or energy boost, you may want to cap it at about 200 calories to avoid significantly increasing your daily calorie total. But if you’re using your shake as a replacement for a full meal, it’s better for it to contain between about 300 and 500 calories, so it’s substantial enough to keep you satisfied.
Drinking a protein shake following your workouts can help with weight loss, but it’s not a guarantee that you'll drop pounds. Especially if you drink shakes in addition to your regular meals, you may find it difficult to lose weight with the extra calories you’re consuming. The other food you eat also makes a difference. If you’re following a high-protein diet to lose weight, be cautious. Long-term high-protein diets may increase the risk of liver and kidney problems as well as heart disease and nutrient deficiencies. Before you make any major changes to the way you eat or start a new weight-loss plan, speak with your doctor.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.