Most protein powders are built for extreme muscle gainers. But the right protein powder can help you lose weight, especially if it contains cutting edge ingredients that aid metabolism and help keep appetite at bay. Nutritionist Rick Hay explains exactly what to look for
Protein supplement ingredients are practically a language of their own. A rather confusing one at that. The rule of thumb, says nutritionist Rick Hay, a lecturer in weight management at the College of Naturopathic Medicine is, ‘if you can’t pronounce it, then it’s unlikely to be good for you’. Good news is, research shows that supplementing the diet with quality protein powder, from whey or vegetable sources such as rice, pea or hemp and made into a smoothie can both increase performance and lower fat levels in the body. Now a new generation of protein powders enhance this effect by including cutting edge ingredients for muscle recovery, metabolism and aiding the nervous system – all essential if fat loss if your goal. Here, Rick Hay lists six key ingredients to look for in your protein powder for weight loss.
‘One of the key ingredients is carnitine, it’s well researched and it has a wonderful role to play in the body with the metabolism fat, not only getting rid of the fat but helping to burn it and transport it out which is what we want.’ A systematic review of the evidence for carnitine and weight loss done published in Obesity Review in 2016 showed that supplementing with it did indeed lead to a decrease in Body Mass Index over time.
2. Matcha green tea
‘Another ingredient you need to look at is matcha green tea, green tea imparticular is well researched and comes with many other benefits, cognition, better mood and it’s a lovely antioxidant as well. Scientific studies show that drinking up to five cups of green tea a day can increase daily metabolism.’ Countless studies have shown green tea benefits metabolism. In one, done in 2014 at Penn State University, mice on a high-fat diet that consumed green tea extract and exercised regularly experienced sharp reductions in final body weight and significant improvements in health. After 16 weeks, high-fat-fed mice that exercised regularly and ingested green tea extract showed an average body mass reduction of 27.1 percent and an average abdominal fat mass reduction of 36.6 percent. The mice on the green-tea-extract-and-exercise regimen also experienced a 17 percent reduction in fasting blood glucose level, a 65 percent decrease in plasma insulin level and reduction in insulin resistance of 65 percent – all substantial improvements related to diabetic health.
‘If you’re looking to help your muscles recover after you’ve worked out or you want to help them if you’re stressed and they’re feeling a little tight, one of the key ingredients look for is glutamine; a muscle relaxant. Glutamine also has other benefits to the nervous system and is used to to help stress and anxiety.’ It’s also essential to the normal healthy functioning of the immune system and in the maintenance of healthy muscle, especially if you’re exercising.
4. Plant based proteins
‘Plant based proteins are effective ingredients to improve energy production in the body and at a mitochondrial [cellular] level as well. They’ve got an array of key amino acids that help to deliver to the cell that energy you need to give you that burst of sustained energy. Such proteins are not metabolised as quickly as some of thought sugary carbohydrates and so they can help keep yo0u fuller for longer between meals. Look for a combination of plant proteins such as pea, hemp, rice and pumpkin seeds are to ensure you get a healthy mix if essential fats and a wide-ranging amino aside profile – especially if you are vegan.’
Plant protein may also help suppress appetite more than meat protein. In a fascinating study published in December 2016 in the journal Food & Nutrition researchers from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark fed 43 healthy young men who were normal weight or slightly overweight three different meals: a high protein meal based on legumes, a high protein meal based on meat, and a low protein meal based on legumes. After eating the high protein legume-based meal in the morning, participants ate about 100 calories less for lunch. These participants rated their appetite as lower than they did after eating either the meat-based meal or the low protein legume-based meal.
MORE: 9 BEST PLANT PROTEINS
‘Inulin is an ingredient that you might of heard a lot about as its anti-acing and fat-burning benefits have been touted in the press. Inulin is a fibre that comes helps burn fat around the abdominal cavity and this fat is called visceral fat, which is often around our internal organs, so it’s the most unhealthy form of fat. Unhealthy diets and being overly stressed can lead to visceral fat so inulin is an ingredient to look out for to lose that fat on the outside and inside.’ One randomised controlled trial published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism on 44 subjects found that those supplementing with inulin lost five per cent of their body weight in 18 weeks.
One of the questions I get asked a lot is, what sweetener can I use? What sweetener can I look out for? I’m a big fan of stevia, I’ve used it for years, its a plant-based sweetener that doesn’t upset the body’s regulatory system, doesn’t cause sugar spikes and helps prevents hunger – unlike most artificial sweeteners.
All these ingredients can be found in Healthista’s new Lean Vegan or Whey Diet Protein powder £24.95 for 500g. Available to buy in Creamy Vanilla, Rich Chocolate and Berry Burst flavours .
Rick Hay is an Anti-Ageing and Fitness Nutritionist with many years clinical experience in nutrition, naturopathy, botanical medicine and iridology. He specializes in obesity treatment and weight management. He writes a regular Natural Health and Fitness Blog for Healthista. Find out more at rickhay.co.uk. Follow Rick on Twitter @nutritiomalphys