Makers of protein shakes may say that their products help lower body fat or promote weight loss. But protein shakes aren't a magic way to lose weight.
Some studies find that consuming a higher than usual amount of protein in your diet may offer benefits. For example, eating or drinking products that are high in protein may help you lower body fat, keep lean muscle, feel full and lose weight. But evidence is limited. And studies often test many protein sources and not only protein shakes.
Replacing meals with protein shakes may help you lower your daily calories, which can help you lose weight. But in time you'll need to start eating solid food again. Eating solid food may cause excess weight to return if you don't make smart food choices. And if you rely too much on protein shakes to replace daily meals, you'll miss out on the healthy benefits of whole foods.
Since protein has calories, consuming too much can make it harder to lose weight. This can happen if you drink protein shakes along with your usual diet and you're not eating less calories or exercising.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans state that an average adult needs about 46 to 56 grams of protein a day. This amount depends on your weight and overall health. As long as you're eating a healthy diet, you likely don't need to add extra protein through protein shakes or other sources.
Keep in mind that the key to losing weight is burning more calories than you consume. Choose healthy foods, such as:
- Whole grains such as brown rice or whole-wheat bread
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese
- Protein-rich foods such as skinless chicken breasts, eggs, fish, beans, peas, lentils, soy products, nuts and seeds
And avoid eating too much food with added sugars, salt or saturated fat.
Also add physical activity to your daily routine. Aim for about 30 minutes of activity, such as brisk walking, most days of the week. And do strength training of all major muscle groups at least two times a week.
April 27, 2022
From Mayo Clinic to your inbox
Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.
ErrorEmail field is required
ErrorInclude a valid email address
To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which
information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with
other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could
include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected
health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health
information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of
privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on
the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.
Thank you for subscribing
Our Housecall e-newsletter will keep you up-to-date on the latest health information.
Sorry something went wrong with your subscription
Please, try again in a couple of minutes
See more Expert Answers
- AskMayoExpert. Healthy diet (adult). Mayo Clinic; 2022.
- Healthy eating for a healthy weight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/. Accessed April 6, 2022.
- Protein foods. U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/protein-foods. Accessed April 6, 2022.
- Colditz GA. Healthy diet in adults. https://www.uptodate/contents/search. Accessed April 6, 2022.
- 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov. Accessed April 6, 2022.
- Van Baak MA, et al. Dietary strategies for weight loss maintenance. Nutrients. 2019; doi:10.3390/nu11081916.
- Cuenca-Sanchez M, et al. Controversies surrounding high-protein diet intake: Satiating effect and kidney and bone health. Advances in Nutrition. 2015; doi:10.3945/an.114.007716.
- Kim JE, et al. Effect of dietary intake on body composition changes. Effects of dietary protein intake on body composition changes after weight loss in older adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition Reviews. 2016; doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuv065.
- Hector AJ, et al. Protein recommendations for weight loss in elite athletes: A focus on body composition and performance. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2018; doi:10.1123/ijsnem.2017-0273.
- Duyff RL. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. 5th ed. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 2017.
- Raymond JL, et al., eds. Krause and Mahan's Food & the Nutrition Care Process. 15th ed. Kindle edition. Elsevier; 2021.