Weight loss protein powders – what to look out for

Weight-loss is one of the most popular uses of protein powder, even being used as total meal replacement shakes. So what should you look out for?

How do they work?

Proteins have a ‘thermic’ effect, meaning that they create heat in the body through the process of digestion. Since proteins take a lot of energy to digest, you burn more calories after eating a meal high in protein,” says nutritionist Rosie Mansfield.

What to look for

Accredited practising dietitian Duncan Hunter, has the following advice:

  • If the protein powder doubles as a meal is to check for a greater proportion of protein than carbs and minimise sugars.

  • Many popular meal replacement-style ‘shakes’ can contain up to 50 per cent sugar! Compare labels’ 100 g column for an easy reference.

  • If you’re buying a VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diets), seek out added fibre. 

  • Also check whether the product is part of a program with online or face-to-face support.

How much and when

Any time you’d normally eat a meal.


A meal replacement should provide slightly more energy than a snack – think 1,000 to 1,200 kJ compared to 400 to 600 kJ.

NEXT: Is fasting the key to weight loss?



Diet & Nutrition