You may turn to protein shakes to help curb your hunger when you're on a weight loss diet, or you may need them for an extra boost of protein when you're bodybuilding. Either way, you may want to discover the most filling protein shakes that will keep you energized and full for longer.
To create the most filling protein shake, choose from a variety of the most high protein powders, whether animal-based like whey or plant-based like pea or soy. Mix these in a blender with nutritionally balanced, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nut butters and low-fat dairy to fuel your muscle gain and weight loss.
The Power of Protein
Protein is a key component of any fitness or diet plan. That's because it's one of the most important nutrients you can eat: It's crucial for nearly all bodily functions, and every cell in the body contains some protein.
Protein is a macronutrient that makes up everything from your hair and nails, to enzymes and hormones. It provides your body with essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of different parts of your body, including muscles, bones and skin.
According to a July 2017 study published in Food Hydrocolloids, protein has shown the most consistent evidence to be the most effective macronutrient that can provide you with satiety, or fullness. A high-protein breakfast has also been shown to help curb hunger later in the day so you don't overeat, according to Harvard Health.
Protein, thus, helps you lose weight, avoid overeating and maintain body weight into the future. This is one good reason why adding protein shakes into your daily diet can help you reach your fitness goals.
It can also boost your metabolism. When you eat and digest food, your metabolism increases, which is called the thermic effect, according to Harvard Health. Protein, in particular, is more satiating due to having a higher thermic effect, making your body take longer to burn it. This is why it's often considered an essential part of any weight loss plan.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, according to Harvard Health. Using this USDA protein intake calculator, you can estimate how much protein you need every day depending on your body weight.
Based on the calculator, a 30-year-old male would need to eat about 69 grams of protein per day. A 50-year-old woman who's fairly active, meanwhile, would need about 44 grams of protein per day.
Animal-Based Protein Powder
Now that you know protein's power as a satiating nutrient, you can begin learning about what types of protein powders may make the most filling protein shake. The most effective protein shakes to curb hunger could involve protein powder that comes from animal products.
Of course, protein in its most complete form tends to come from animals, whether it's meat, dairy or seafood. That's because animal-based proteins from meat and fish tend to have all nine of the essential amino acids, compared to many other types of proteins that may be lacking in some.
A small September 2014 study published in Nutrition Journal tested whether a high-protein yogurt snack in the afternoon could work better as appetite control than other high-fat snacks. In the study with 20 participants, researchers found that eating the yogurt snack resulted in less afternoon hunger compared with eating chocolate.
Eating yogurt also delayed the participants eating again by half an hour, compared to eating chocolate and crackers, which made them want to eat sooner. It's safe to say that choosing high-protein foods — even if they're low in fat or carbohydrates — could help you with your weight loss goals.
The most popular types of animal-based protein powders include whey protein, casein and egg protein powder. Whey protein, perhaps one of the most common types of protein powders, comes from dairy products like milk or cheese. Bodybuilders and athletes often turn to whey protein as a supplement, as it may be useful in boosting exercise, treating malnutrition and healing wounds, according to Mayo Clinic.
But it can also be a great choice to make protein shakes to curb hunger. An August 2017 study published in Clinical Nutrition found that whey protein may decrease short-term and long-term appetite. Both whey and casein protein powder contain all nine essential amino acids as well.
Plant-Based Protein Powder
Some may argue that eating animal products (whether it's meat, seafood or dairy) is the only way to truly feel full and get all essential nutrients. But it's possible to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet that's protein-packed as well.
Whether you're hoping to switch to plant-based foods or you want to keep your protein shake recipes varied, choosing plant-based protein powders may be for you. The most common plant-based protein powders include chickpea, pea, hemp, navy bean and soy protein powder.
Aside from soy protein powder, which actually is a "complete protein" containing all nine essential amino acids, most of these protein powders lack one or a few amino acids and will need to be combined with other proteins. You can, however, make that happen by mixing and matching different plant-based protein powders as well as protein-packed whole foods like vegetables and whole grains.
In fact, research has shown that protein from plant sources may be just as effective as protein from animal sources at keeping you satiated. In a January 2018 study published in Nutrients, researchers found that eating vegetable proteins like fava beans and split peas provided people with the same amount of energy an fullness as animal proteins like veal, pork and eggs.
Read more: Are Too Many Protein Shakes Bad For You?
Most Filling Protein Shake Recipes
You don't have to drink your protein powders with only water or milk. Mix them with other nutritious whole foods like yogurt, nut butters or vegetables to make the most filling protein shake.
Oatmeal shake: Oats are one of the most nutritionally packed grains out there, containing plenty of fiber, vitamins and even a good amount of protein. Because they're popular for bodybuilders in restoring glycogen levels after a workout and making you feel full, they could be a great addition for protein shakes to curb hunger along with additions of almond milk, cinnamon and fruit.
Banana shake: Mix some whey or pea protein powder with a banana, almond milk or water and blueberries into a smoothie. Get your protein fix along with the potassium and other nutrients bananas hold, such as Vitamin B6, fiber, potassium, magnesium and vitamin C. This can be one of the best protein shakes for weight loss.
Almond butter shake: Adding some extra protein to your protein powder shake can only help you further with the muscle gain and energy fuel you need. Adding almond butter to a protein shake along with fruit can also help you feel more full. A September 2014 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition showed that eating almonds mid-morning improved satiety.
- Food Hydrocolloids: "Revisiting the Role of Protein-Induced Satiation and Satiety"
- Harvard Health: "Extra Protein at Breakfast Helps Control Hunger"
- Harvard Health: "The Truth About Metabolism"
- Harvard Health: "How Much Protein Do You Need Every Day?"
- United States Department of Agriculture: "DRI Calculator for Healthcare Professionals"
- Nutrition Journal: "Effects of High-Protein vs. High-Fat Snacks on Appetite Control, Satiety, and Eating Initiation in Healthy Women"
- Mayo Clinic: "Whey Protein"
- Clinical Nutrition: "Effect of Whey Protein Supplementation on Long- and Short-Term Appetite: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials"
- Nutrients: "Protein From Meat or Vegetable Sources in Meals Matched for Fiber Content Has Similar Effects on Subjective Appetite Sensations and Energy Intake-A Randomized Acute Cross-Over Meal Test Study"
- Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health: "Oats"
- Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health: "Bananas"
- European Journal of Nutrition: "A Mid-Morning Snack of Almonds Generates Satiety and Appropriate Adjustment of Subsequent Food Intake in Healthy Women"