But to get that much protein every day, you’ve got to make an effort. The average American only gets about 15% of their daily calories from protein, which isn’t a high enough proportion of your macronutrient intake to reap the fat loss benefits of a high-protein diet[*].
But not all protein supplements are conducive to losing fat or improving your health and wellness. Food allergens, artificial additives, and even sugar found in popular protein powders can derail your progress if you aren’t careful.
In this guide, we examine the top five protein powders for healthy weight loss according to scientific evidence, how to choose the best protein powder for your goals, unhealthy ingredients to watch out for, and more.
1. Whey Protein
Whey protein powder is a complete, high-quality protein supplement derived from milk protein[*].
You can use whey protein as part of a strategy to achieve a daily protein intake of 25-30% of your total calorie intake, which will increase your metabolic rate, improve fat-burning, decrease appetite, and enhance your overall weight loss results[*][*][*][*][*].
But regardless of your daily protein intake, whey protein is also backed by more scientific evidence overall for weight loss and appetite reduction benefits compared to other protein powders.
A 2014 meta-analysis found that based on 14 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with a total of 626 participants, whey protein showed a significant beneficial effect on body composition, including body weight and body fat[*].
And according to a 2010 study of 24 subjects, whey protein is more effective at increasing fat-burning compared to casein or soy protein[*].
A 2019 study also demonstrated that doses of 30-50 grams of whey protein increased metabolic rate more compared to casein protein (by up to 18% +/- 5%, total)[*].
Finally, a systematic review and meta-analysis of 9 randomized controlled trials published in 2018 found that whey protein supplementation improved body weight, total fat mass, and risk factors for cardiovascular disease in overweight and obese adults[*].
Not getting enough protein can limit your results when it comes to losing weight, in the gym, and in life. Perfect Keto Whey Protein is designed to enhance the keto diet and help anyone burn more fat, recover faster, and have more energy.
2. Collagen Protein
Collagen protein, also called hydrolyzed collagen or collagen peptides, is an animal-based protein made from collagen tissue.
The fat loss evidence for collagen protein is early and relates mainly to appetite reduction.
A 2008 study examining the effects of collagen peptides in lean and obese subjects found that consuming 20 grams of collagen increased levels of GLP-1 in all participants, which is suggestive of appetite reduction and could lead to improved weight control[*].
In other words, GLP-1 is associated with decreased appetite and lower body weight in overweight people, and collagen appears to support healthy weight loss by boosting GLP-1[*].
On the other hand, as we’ve already discussed in this article, consuming an adequate amount of protein daily is beneficial for weight loss, regardless of the type. And hydrolyzed collagen is an easy, convenient, healthy way to boost your total protein intake.
You can also think of collagen protein as a multi-tasking protein. Studies show it’s got some unusual effects not found in other proteins, including:
- Supporting cosmetic improvements in skin wrinkles, cellulite, skin roughness, and nail health[*][*][*][*][*][*]
- Decreasing joint pain and increasing mobility in athletes, people with arthritis, and people with back pain[*][*][*][*].
- Supporting bone health by increasing bone mineral density, promoting healthy bone formation, and potentially reducing osteoporosis risk[*][*][*].
You can take 10-20 grams of collagen peptides by themselves or mix them with whey protein for a protein blend to decrease appetite and increase fat-burning.
Collagen protein not only helps fight cravings and supports fat loss, but also supports skin and joint health. Perfect Keto Collagen Protein comes from grass-fed cows, contains added MCTs to support fat loss, and is non-GMO, gluten-free, dairy-free, and free of artificial sweeteners and fillers.
3. Casein Protein
Like whey protein, casein is a complete dairy protein found in milk.
According to a 2013 review of evidence from controlled clinical trials, the slow absorption rate of casein means it results in a longer-lasting feeling of fullness, while whey is more effective for short-term appetite reduction[*].
Evidence comparing the weight loss benefits of whey protein versus casein protein are mixed, so you might want to experiment with both to see what works for you, especially if you’re looking to curb cravings and feel fuller longer[*][*].
4. Pea Protein
Unlike whey, collagen, and casein protein, pea protein is a vegan protein source.
As a plant-based protein, pea protein has a lower quality score compared to whey and casein, which is typical of plant proteins in general[*].
Protein quality relates to the amino acid content (essential amino acids as well as BCAAs like leucine) and the digestibility and bioavailability of a protein[*]. Because pea protein is lower in some amino acids, and because it’s not as digestible compared to whey, it’s considered lower quality.
However, it’s a complete protein, and compared to most other vegan proteins actually scores relatively high on protein quality[*].
There’s no good reason to use pea protein instead of whey, collagen, or casein unless you’re vegan — keep in mind that whey and casein are vegetarian, but not vegan — but if you are, it’s a convenient way to hit your daily protein target.
What’s more, pea protein also has some scientific research supporting its appetite reduction benefits.
A 2012 British Journal of Nutrition study found that taking 20 grams of pea protein half an hour before eating pizza decreased calorie consumption by about 12%, which would likely lead to fat loss if repeated over time[*].
5. Soy Protein
Soy protein is another complete vegan protein option.
Compared to pea protein and other plant proteins, soy receives a higher protein quality score (although it’s still lower than whey and casein)[*].
A 2010 study found that soy significantly increased diet-induced thermogenesis compared to control, meaning that the researchers measured an increase in participants’ metabolisms when they took soy protein[*].
Overall, soy is worth considering if you’re vegan, but vegetarians and omnivores are better off with whey protein, casein protein, or collagen protein (omnivores only).
As part of a well-rounded weight loss plan, protein can support healthy weight loss.
One of the main mechanisms by which protein reduces body weight is through appetite reduction.
For example, one 2005 study found that doubling protein intake from 15% to 30% of daily calorie intake resulted in a daily calorie reduction of about 440 calories without any intentional restrictions on diet[*].
As a result, participants in that study lost a remarkable 11 pounds during the 12-week trial[*].
Protein also boosts your metabolism more when you eat it compared to other macronutrients, which can contribute to fat loss[*]. According to research, consuming whey protein can raise your metabolic rate by nearly 20%[*].
Studies of athletes and other individuals have shown that consuming extra protein during fat loss can help preserve lean muscle mass, too, which can help prevent metabolic slowdown or “starvation mode”[*][*].
Other evidence also suggests that increased protein intake can increase fat-burning, including during exercise, which contributes to fat loss results[*],
For most people, high-quality grass-fed whey protein is the most economical and versatile protein for increasing daily protein intake, and it’s also the protein supplement backed by the most studies for weight loss and other benefits like muscle recovery for active people[*][*].
Collagen protein isn’t as well-studied as whey for appetite reduction but likely offers some benefit in that regard[*]. However, it’s got a plethora of other compelling benefits not found in other protein powders, so it’s worth a try if you’re interested in cosmetic benefits for skin and nails, or experience joint pain[*][*][*][*].
Casein protein probably isn’t the first protein you should try for fat loss, but its slow absorption and digestion rate could offer some additional appetite suppression benefits if you want to fast for long periods of time between meals[*].
Unless you’re vegan, there’s not much reason to use pea protein, soy protein, or other plant-based sources. They’re lower quality and backed by less research compared to whey and casein, but they’re better than nothing if you don’t eat animal products[*].
Another consideration when selecting the best protein for your goals is avoiding sugar, allergens, food sensitivities, and unhealthy ingredients, which we’ll dive into in the next section of this guide.
As you shop for protein, here’s what you’re better off avoiding.
Added Carbs and Sugar
Whether or not you’re keto or low carb, sugar is bad news for your health. When you shop for a protein powder, check the nutrition facts and ensure there are no added sugars and no sugar or sugar-like ingredients on the ingredients list (such as high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, glucose, fructose, or dextrose).
Manufacturers sometimes add fillers to protein to save on costs. Coconut flour, psyllium fiber, and other ingredients add bulk and don’t provide you with the benefits of protein, so steer clear. If in doubt, check the nutrition facts — there should be a high protein content on the label and little or no dietary fiber or extra weight per serving relative to the protein content.
Preservatives and Other Artificial Ingredients
Preservatives like benzoic acid are designed to prevent bacteria from growing in food, prolonging the shelf life. Unfortunately, they can also kill off beneficial bacteria in your microbiome, so you’re better off avoiding them[*].
Allergens and Food Sensitivities
If you have a known allergy or food sensitivity, be sure to double-check the ingredients list and entire nutrition label of any protein before you buy it.
Common allergies or sensitivities to look for are:
- Tree nuts
- Wheat or gluten
- Dairy allergies (including casein and lactose)
However, some research suggests that whey isolate may be safe for people who are lactose intolerant because most or all of the lactose is removed[*].
For best results, keep in mind that protein works for fat loss by decreasing your appetite and boosting your metabolic rate, especially if you increase your overall daily protein intake to 25-30% of your total calories.
On a 2000-calorie diet, that translates to 125-150 grams of protein per day, some of which can come from whey and collagen. For most people, one shake per day is an excellent starting point, but make sure you also get high-quality complete protein from healthy whole foods in your diet.
Timing can also play a role in getting the best fat loss results from protein. Experiment with drinking a protein shake 30 minutes before meals, for breakfast, when breaking your fasting periods, or post-workout.