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Do All Protein Powders Make You Gain Weight?

Posted on April 17, 2014

Do All Protein Powders Make You Gain Weight?Dividerimage

It's well know that protein is an essential part of our diets. As a component of every cell in your body, it is an important building block in everything from bones and muscles to skin and blood. Your body uses it to build and repair tissue, and it is important for general health as well as muscle recovery and repair. 

Whether you are an athlete or not, protein is something you need relatively large amounts of in your diet to stay healthy, and as your body does not store it there are no reservoirs to draw from when you're running low. This means if you do endurance or cardiovascular exercise and so are burning off more calories, you will need even more protein, as the body starts to break down muscle if it does not have enough fuel. Similarly, if you are looking to build muscle as a body builder or power lifter, you need even more protein to aid in achieving the maximum gains. 

One effective way to make sure you're getting the right amount of protein, especially if you are an athlete or have a limited diet, is to use protein powders to supplement what you eat. However, some people are worried that using protein powders will make you gain weight and put on fat, a misconception that we will try and dispel here. 

While it is technically biochemically possible for protein to make you gain weight and fat, this would only happen if you were ingesting extremely high numbers of calories or extremely large amounts of protein. If you take the correct amount of protein suggested for your size, lifestyle, and end goals, you will only see positive effects. 

Ultimately, you don't actually bulk up just from eating protein or using protein powder. Protein itself doesn't make you gain either fat or muscle, as it depends on whether you're doing any physical training such as lifting weights, and what else you are eating. If you're looking to gain weight in the form of bulk and muscle mass, ensure you are on a specific nutrition program and engaging in strength training, as well as increasing your protein intake, in order to gain lean muscle.

Some protein powders, for example mass gainers, can have a negative effect in terms of weight and fat gain if taken incorrectly and without the correct training. The purpose of mass gainers is to help those who struggle with gaining weight and mass, due to a fast metabolism or because they are unable to eat large portions. If this is not a problem for you, you should not be taking mass gainers. The way they work is by giving you a calorie surplus, by combining the protein with carbohydrates and healthy fats. If you take too much mass gainer, or use it without engaging in strength training, this results in the excess calories being stored as fat. 

However, while mass gainers may have this effect, other protein-only powders are unlikely to. In fact, if anything protein powders can be effective in aiding weight loss. Protein is great for hunger control, as for a start it is very filling, giving you greater feelings of satiety. It also gives a slow release of glucose into the bloodstream, rather than causing the spike in blood sugar that carbohydrates do, meaning you have sustainable energy throughout the day, and resulting in fewer cravings. While you still want to include healthy fats in your diet, protein powders are especially good for weight loss as they can be virtually fat and calorie free. 

Ultimately, the effects of protein powders come down to the way you take them, and other aspects of your lifestyle such as diet and exercise. Obviously, if you consume very large amounts of protein, while being sedentary and eating a high calorie diet, you're likely to put on weight, but no more so than if you had this lifestyle without so much protein. Used correctly, protein can actually help you burn fat and shed pounds.