Protein Powder May Be Causing You To Gain Weight ( And Not The Type You Want)

Let’s give a warm welcome to my latest special guest blogger, Kate Egan!

Kate is a dietetic intern and MBA candidate coming at us today with a very interesting take on protein powder, and how it may actually be causing you to GAIN weight.

We tend to think of protein powder as a muscle gain/fat loss super supplement, but is it really?

Protein Powder May Be Causing You To Gain Weight ( And Not The Type You Want)

Kate Egan

If I had a dollar for every time that an acquaintance or friend wanted to talk to me about protein, I would probably be able to quit my day job. (Kidding, but it would be pretty close). With people close to me knowing that I am a very soon-to-be Registered Dietitian, this is one of the most common questions I get. “Do I need more protein? Should I be drinking protein shakes?”

Unfortunately, protein powder has become the new “thing” for young adults, especially those who are athletes or wannabe bodybuilders. Overzealous coaches and personal trainers are handing out protein powder like water, and have convinced everyone from grandmothers walking on the treadmill that they NEED more protein if they’re working out, and that it NEEDS to come from powder.

Here are some facts: In one scoop of protein powder, there is usually somewhere around 20g of protein and 100-150 calories, depending on what type of powder it is. So people who drink two protein shakes in a day are taking in about 40g of protein and up to 300 extra calories. Those totals may even be higher, depending on the variety of protein supplement you are using.

Meanwhile, in one cup of chopped chicken breast there is around 40g of protein and only around 200 calories. Having two eggs will give you 12g protein for just around 150 calories, and 2 tbsp of nut butter will bring you in around 10g of protein for just under 200 calories as well. Having a container of greek yogurt in the morning will give you almost 20g of protein for just 100 calories.

Now, you might be looking at some of these numbers and thinking, “But those calories are higher than the protein powder! What’s your point?”

Excellent question! The issue with protein powder and protein shakes is that people view them as a supplement – they are taking in protein shakes as liquid calories rather than as a snack or a meal. Meanwhile, the food sources are considered a part of a meal or a snack – for example, a cup of chopped chicken is about the amount you’d put on a large salad or a big bowl of pasta, and you’re going to recognize that it’s keeping you full until your next meal. For someone who isn’t an elite athlete working out for hours a day, taking in 200-300 extra calories of protein shake a day can be extremely detrimental to goals of weight loss.

All in all, I will leave you with my usual advice – always food sources first!

I could not agree more Kate!! Thanks so much! Like what she had to say? Check out Kate on Instagram

Andy De Santis RD MPH