Whey Protein Vs. Plant Protein For Weight loss: A Dietitians Review

Dietitians review of whey vs plant protein

How many times have you heard that you must focus on protein to lose weight?

And how many times have you tried to increase your protein intake just to find yourself unsure of which TYPE to consume?

Does the type of protein you eat really matter as long as you’re meeting your macro goals?

These are all great questions that I’m frequently asked from clients who are looking to lose weight, work on increasing their lean body mass and reduce body fat. 

And I get it! This is definitely a question I had years ago when I was following a flexitarian diet. I had to learn about protein, where to find it? Which one was best? How much should I have each day? And so forth. 

Today, I’d like to review our findings based on scientific research! As a dietitian nutrition coach, I always go back to evidence based practices. 

So, let’s dig in!

Whey– A very popular one here! Who hasn’t heard of whey protein? I mean, anyone who started working out has probably been told to take whey protein to aid with their weight management goals and muscle building. 

Are they wrong? Let’s see! 

First, whey is a co-product of creating cheese and therefore yes, it comes from dairy. 

A recent study explains how whey protein is a great source of leucine (an essential amino acid) which is beneficial for muscle repair and growth and is an easy to digest protein. 

Interestingly, the article also mentions how those who have less body fat tend to consume higher intake of leucine. 

Whey also digests faster than casein, which is beneficial for muscle growth.  

The article also explains how whey protein is “the best” protein for weight loss and reduction of waist size due to the improved feeling of fullness.

It helps improve body composition when paired with resistance training. 

When compared to red meat, whey protein was found to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce body weight! 

So, yes, it’s great choice!

Soy– Soy protein is also one of the most popular plant proteins found on soybeans and has no cholesterol! Because this protein has all eight essential amino acids, it’s also a great choice (so many options! It’s great to have GOOD options)

 A study found that soy was a better choice for body weight reduction when compared to whey and casein. Also, the FDA explains how the intake of 25 grams a day of soy can help reduce cholesterol levels by ~12%!!

What many may find is that as you learn more about food groups, you will see how they FUEL and IMPACT the human body. Sometimes you begin with the goal to lose weight and find that on the way, your labs improved too! 

Pea– A study from April, 2022 found no difference between whey and pea protein when practicing resistance training when taking 25 grams of protein after workouts, preferably high quality. 

As a weight management dietitian, I typically recommend a starting point of 20-30 grams of protein PER meal. After working on macros, that typically changes. 

Similar to whey protein, pea protein also contains essential BCAA, specifically valine, leucine and isoleucine which play an important role in muscle production. 

The article explained how consuming leucine helps repair damaged muscle from resistance training, especially for beginners or those returning to the active lifestyle that includes resistance training! 

However, the bioavailability may be lower compared to an animal based protein supplement. Further, it’s not a complete protein by itself. You may find products with pea and soy to make it a complete protein.

Is this a good choice? It’s not bad! Just make sure to complete this protein with other sources to make it complete.

How Can Protein Help With Healthy Weight Loss?

Here are some of my most common recommendations when working on healthy weight loss and protein intake. 

  1. Mix it in!- Make smoothies, add to cold/hot cereals and even when baking! If you find yourself having a low protein meal, ask yourself if you can supplement it with a protein powder. 

For example, I may find a high fiber but low protein cereal. In that case, I mix in my protein powder in the milk and then add the cereal. This way I can easily meet both my fiber and protein goals for that meal. 

If you don’t have time for breakfast, make a low calorie smoothie with your protein of choice. To make it a complete meal, you can mix in oats, protein, fruit, veg and chia/flax seeds! And get your day going strong! 

Making a cake? Find a recipe that adds protein powder to aid with satiety! This can help you feel fuller and reduce the amount you eat. 

  1. When you’re considering what to eat, think first “what’s my protein?” Consider the protein and get comfortable reading nutrition facts panels! As mentioned, I typically recommend starting with 20-30 grams per meal each day! 

Low protein intake can lead to snacking throughout the day which you may want to limit if you’re looking to lose weight. Also, if you want to have stable blood sugars, having set meal times may be key! 

  1. Practice! Practice makes perfect. Learn what proteins are and what choices you have. You want to make sure you have a variety of options to avoid getting bored. I can’t express how often I hear, “I’m tired of eggs!”

Again, get comfortable learning which proteins have higher levels of fat. You wouldn’t want to ONLY focus on protein and forget the other stuff! 

Take your time and really learn, trust me, it’ll be worth it! Patients and consistency are vital!!  

So, What’s The Conclusion

Get enough protein in! 

This does not mean GO ABOVE AND BEYOND as you also want to be mindful of the stress on your organs. As this study explains, excessive intake of protein can have negative effects on the liver, heart and kidneys.

And since whey and soy are food allergens, they may “trigger” allergies. 

Working with hundreds (even thousands at this point) of individuals, I can tell you most who are unable to lose weight and/or gain weight are due to low intake of protein. However, as my clients already know, it may be low intake of fiber, or both!

Yes, fiber intake also helps with satiety and can help prevent over consumption of foods, especially highly processed carbohydrates like soda, chips, cookies and so forth. 

If you’re starting your weight management journey, simply start by learning what protein is and reading nutrition facts labels. Get comfortable with this! 

If you’re focusing on protein vs plant protein before learning about foods groups, you may be skipping steps. 

Also, make sure you’re PRIORITIZING foods over supplements! In general, aim to have less processed products and MORE real foods. 

As I always mention to my clients, building a strong foundation of nutrition takes time and each step MUST BE ACKNOWLEDGED! It’s the simple truth. 

Avoid skipping steps, be patient and CONSISTENT! 

Just like Dory from Finding Nemo says, “Just keep swimming.” It works!!

Are You Looking For Guidance?

Looking for guidance with your weight management journey?

Want to work with a qualified and experienced dietitian nutrition coach?

Contact us today for a FREE discovery call! 

Save time and relax your mind knowing a qualified health professional will guide you, no more googling! 

If you’re looking to work on healthy weight loss while including your FAVORITE foods, and IMPROVING your HEALTH, this program is for you!

Contact us today and get started!! 

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