Protein powder pros and cons: What to look for to support weight loss and overall health

  • 3 Minutes Read
Joanna Kriehn
Joanna Kriehn, MS, RDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

Among the protein powder pros and cons, one thing is sure-protein is an essential nutrient no matter what eating plan you follow. When it comes to weight loss, consuming more protein in your diet helps you reduce hunger and increase fullness. So many options on the market make it overwhelming to figure out which supplement powder to purchase. Consider these pros and cons of protein powder to find the best product to meet your dietary needs and help you reach your weight-loss goals.

Protein powder pros and cons

Protein powder pros and cons depend on what type of plan you are following

Are you following a plant-based diet? Is your focus weight loss and making sure every calorie counts? Clearly, protein powders conveniently help you get more protein in your diet, but how do you choose? Let's look at the most common types based on the source of the protein.


If you don't have any dietary restrictions, you have a variety of protein powders from which to choose. A milk-based, high-quality protein, whey protein powder is often the most affordable. It is noteworthy from a nutrition standpoint because of its high biological value, meaning it is very usable by the body. It also contains high amounts of leucine, an essential amino acid that triggers muscle protein synthesis. To reduce calories, look for a powder with little-to-no added sugar. Many manufacturers have moved beyond the traditional vanilla and chocolate flavors with more exciting choices for your palate, such as pumpkin spice, berry, and peanut butter.


You have a fairly plentiful collection of protein supplement powders to enjoy when following a soy-free diet plan. Keep watch for powders that contain whey, egg white, seeds (pumpkin or hemp, for example), peas, collagen, or casein as their base. If you are trying to lose weight, soy-free protein powders can fit your plan as long as the calories stay in check. Read the nutrition facts panel to find the lowest-calorie, highest-protein option.


While weighing the protein powder pros and cons, you may prefer or require dairy-free. If so, steer towards powders labeled as vegan. If you avoid dairy because of lactose intolerance, there are several lactose-free, but dairy-based, powders available. They are derived from milk protein, and yet the lactose or milk sugar is removed during processing. For those with dairy allergies, powders derived from soy, peas, collagen, egg white, seeds, or a mix of dairy-free proteins are safe considerations, depending on processing.


If you follow a plant-forward diet, you're in luck! You can find single-ingredient powders such as pumpkin seed or hemp seed powder or blended products as in pea protein mixed with seed and grain proteins. One of my favorite types is hemp seed protein powder which provides 15g of protein per 1 ounce of powder plus 5g of dietary fiber. Read the ingredient list carefully as some powders may contain plant-based proteins as well as sweeteners like honey.


A protein that binds tissues in fish and animals, collagen is a popular supplement. One ounce of collagen protein powder contains 25g of protein. In addition to providing protein, a collagen-based powder may benefit bone, joint, and skin health. Look for collagen from cage-free, range-free, antibiotic-free sources.

Allergy alert

If you have a food allergy, read the fine print before buying a protein powder. Although a product may be marketed as plant-based and contain vegan-only ingredients, it may be manufactured in a plant that processes egg, milk, and soy.

The MyNetDiary app allows you to easily track protein, calories, carbs, and fat. With our free membership, you can also track trans fat, sodium, fiber, and calcium. With Premium membership, track other nutrients, and work with other supportive features. For guidance on how much protein and other macronutrients you need for weight loss, check out this resource.

Situations where a protein powder might supplement a balanced diet

-Recovering from injury
-Before or after certain workouts
-Boosting your protein intake to maintain muscle for strength and balance. This becomes especially important for older adults
-Supplementing daily protein needs when food falls short while you're trying to lose weight

Easy ways to use animal-based and plant-based protein powders

Cons of using protein powders regularly

At the end of the day, most people can meet their protein needs by eating whole foods without requiring protein supplements. But if you find you're coming up a little short, then weighing the pros and cons of protein powder will help you make the best decision for your needs.

Still new to MyNetDiary? Learn more today by downloading the app for FREE.

Sep 21, 2020
Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

Start Your Free
Food Diary Today

Sign up Devices