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Whey protein & weight loss: Benefits & how to use

Can you use whey protein for weight loss? Learn about the benefits and risks of diet whey protein for weight loss in our handy guide.

We all need protein in our diet, and one of the most popular protein supplements is whey protein.

No wonder whey protein is becoming so popular, with studies showing that regular consumption can help build muscle mass, support your hormone production, and even help keep your bones strong.

There is more to whey protein, however, as it is also thought to help you lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way when you use it alongside a balanced diet and regular exercise.

But just how can whey protein help you lose weight?

We'll tell you all you need to know!

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Why do we need protein?

Protein in your diet is vital as it is a building block for many of our body's functions and processes.

Protein is a macronutrient made up of strings of essential amino acids that we need to grow, repair, and maintain bones, muscles and more.

There are so many reasons we need protein in our diet, from acting as a building block for bones, muscles, and skin to repairing tissues, oxygenating your blood, digesting food, and regulating hormones.1

Our protein needs change over time to reflect what our body needs. On average, you need 0.75 grams of protein for every kilogram of your body weight.2

Reaching your protein goals through your diet alone can be difficult, so this is where protein supplements, like whey protein, come in handy!

3 ways whey protein helps with weight loss

Trying to lose weight can be difficult, but when it comes to losing weight, protein is essential.

Alongside all the other great benefits to keeping up with your protein needs, having enough protein can help boost your metabolism, reduce your appetite, and help you lose fat without losing muscle – all contributing to your weight management.

In fact, studies have shown that nutrient-dense protein shakes twice a day improved weight loss in participants, with many seeing a more significant loss in both weight and body fat.3

However, you must focus on eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly alongside consuming whey protein for the best results.

Here are 3 main ways whey protein may help with weight loss:

It may help you feel fuller for longer

It is thought that whey protein can help reduce your appetite and keep you fuller for longer.

Specific hormones in our bodies control our appetite: CCK, PYY and GLP-1.4

Protein has been found to increase the levels of these hormones whilst decreasing levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. This balance helps to keep our appetite balanced throughout the day and stops us from reaching for unnecessary snacks.5

But scientists studying the effects of whey protein on your appetite highlight other factors like your body weight, your eating patterns and other health concerns can all affect your feeling of 'fullness' after eating.6


It can increase your metabolism

Your metabolism is the process of converting calories into energy by your body, even when resting. Muscle mass is the main factor in your metabolic rate, but it is also related to your gender, activity level and age.7

We already know that consuming more whey protein alongside regular exercise can help you build muscle mass.

But, if your muscles play a key role in keeping your metabolism healthy, it is believed that more muscles result in a healthier metabolism that allows your body to convert more calories into energy faster.8

In fact, research has shown that after six weeks of following a high protein, calorie-restricted diet, individuals gained more muscle and lost more fat as a result than those on a low protein diet.9

So, eating enough protein alongside exercise can increase your lean muscle mass and give your metabolism a boost at the same time.


It may help you maintain a calorie deficit

Helping you feel fuller for longer and boosting your metabolism, whey protein is thought to help reduce your calorie intake.

Feeling fuller for longer means you are less likely to eat more than you need, keeping your calories down - great if you're actively trying to eat in a calorie deficit, as you won't feel like you need to reach for that mid-afternoon snack as often.

In a small study, scientists found that eating a high-protein breakfast helped older adults eat fewer calories later in the day than those who ate a low-protein breakfast or skipped breakfast entirely.10

Your body also uses more energy when digesting protein than other macronutrients like fats and carbs, so you burn more calories and body fat here too. This is called the thermic effect of protein and helps boost your metabolism while keeping your calories down.11


How to take whey protein for weight loss

So, now we know the potential ways whey protein can help with weight loss, but how we take it to do so is also important.

When it comes to whey protein, it is vital to remember it is a supplement, not a meal replacement. It should be something you add to your diet, as proper nutrition is equally important for weight loss to ensure you get enough minerals, fibre, and vitamins.12

Most people will get enough protein daily, especially if they eat protein-rich foods. But for an additional protein boost, a protein shake once a day (especially at breakfast) with whey protein powder is considered one of the best ways to take whey protein for weight loss.

Whey protein powder is an easy and convenient way to add more protein to your diet that still contains all 9 essential amino acids your body needs. Simply mix your whey protein powders with milk or water for a delicious protein shake.

You can even boost your protein shakes with whole foods like berries and greens to get more nutrients that your body needs in one go. Check out our DIY protein shake recipes to find your inspiration!

It is essential to exercise regularly when it comes to weight loss and it is even more important when you are also taking whey protein.

Why not combine a whey protein shake with some light resistance training? Some research shows that whey protein is absorbed faster by your body, which makes it an excellent choice after exercise.13

Side effects of using whey protein for weight loss

Whilst there are so many potential health benefits to whey protein, there are some things to consider before you make it part of your routine.

Consuming too much of any kind of supplement can do more harm than good, so always take whey protein in moderation. In fact, in some cases, consuming too much whey protein can result in weight gain instead of weight loss.14

Most research suggests that high-protein diets are safe, but those with underlying conditions, particularly with their kidneys, should check with a doctor before eating a high-protein diet.15

You should also avoid whey protein if you are lactose intolerant, as whey is derived from milk and will contain lactose, just like natural whey protein sources like milk, cheese, and yoghurt.

To ensure you aren't consuming too much protein, you can calculate how much protein you need by following the guidance of 0.75 grams for each kilogram of your body weight. So, if you weigh 65kg, your estimated protein intake would be around 49g of protein per day.2

You should always check with a doctor before taking any supplement, and whey protein is no different. Your doctor can advise whether adding whey protein to your diet is safe for you and guide you on how much you should take.

The bottom line

Whey protein certainly has some benefits in helping you lose weight, from reducing hunger to boosting your metabolism and helping you cut down on calories. But there are always things to consider.

You most likely get enough protein in your diet through the foods you eat. So, whilst whey protein offers a great supplement to boost your protein intake, it is essential not to cut back on whole foods and natural protein-rich food as these provide your body with nutrients often absent from protein powders.

Always check with a doctor if you're keen to add whey protein to your diet. Once you have established if whey protein is right for you, you can find the best protein for your needs.

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. 

Last updated: 3 January 2023


  1. https://www.piedmont.org/living-better/why-is-protein-important-in-your-diet
  2. https://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthy-sustainable-diets/protein/
  3. https://academic.oup.com/cdn/article/4/Supplement_2/1638/5845416?login=false
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32699189/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32768415/
  6. https://www.jandonline.org/article/S2212-2672(16)00042-3/fulltext
  7. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/metabolism/art-20046508#:~:text=Metabolism%3A%20Converting%20food%20into%20energy,energy%20for%20all%20it%20does
  8. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S152586101630113X
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26817506/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25889354/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31021710/
  12. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/managing-your-weight/12-tips-to-help-you-lose-weight/#:~:text=Foods%20containing%20lots%20of%20fibre,and%20beans%2C%20peas%20and%20lentils
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5852756/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3529694/
  15. https://academic.oup.com/advances/article/6/3/260/4568653

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