September 18, 2023 3 min read

I've been around fitness for a long time ... and I'll agree that one of the first things I was told is to make sure I'm using protein powders ... because that's how you get big muscles & gain weight.

More recently, I've had clients tell me they're staying away from protein powders ... so that they don't get too big & "bulky".

If protein and protein powders specifically make you gain weight ... these clients are probably doing the right thing, but is that actually true?

Do protein powders really make you gain weight or contribute to a "bulky" look?

Well ... it depends.

Do protein powders themselves, just by using them, make you gain weight ... no. 

They most definitely do not.

There's only one way to gain weight ... and that's eating enough calories to do so.

Can you use protein powders to add extra calories to your day, if you're someone who's wanting to put on weight or muscle ... absolutely you can.

But just using protein powders and not actually eating in a calorie surplus (meaning eating more calories than you burn on a daily basis) ... will not lead to any weight gain at all. 

So, the take-home point here ... is that you have to be eating enough calories to gain weight, regardless of your protein intake or the use of protein powders.

But if you're wanting to build muscle (aka gain healthy weight), under the right circumstances ... protein powders can definitely help.

If you're looking to stack on some muscle (and minimize fat gain at the same time) ... you should shoot for roughly 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. That can be a hard to do on a daily basis ... and using protein powders a couple times per day can make it a lot easier.

And if you consistently hit that protein goal ... you'll most likely start to gain some muscle, and keep body fat down as well.

There's a lot more that goes into building muscle than just sufficient protein intake of course ... but you see the point here.

Now, as I've learned more about nutrition and fitness over the years ... I've come to understand that not only does protein powder itself not lead to excess weight gain ... it's actually one of the best tools to help you with WEIGHT LOSS.

In fact, it's one of my very first supplement recommendations when it comes to accomplishing a weight loss goal ... because not only does protein play a role in muscle building, but protein also has what's called a very high thermic effect.

This means when you eat enough of it ... it can actually help you burn MORE calories. But it's also important to remember, that just like with building muscle & gaining weight ... losing weight also comes down to how many calories you're eating.

If you're not burning more calories than you eat ... you won't lose weight. No matter how much protein you're eating or drinking.

But, protein powders can be a fantastic tool to help with fat loss ... as long as you're also making sure to pay attention to your overall calorie intake.

The main takeaway for you should be that protein powders can help with both healthy weight gain & weight loss... long as the rest of your plan reflects the goals that you have.

We know that finding the right protein shake & plan for your specific goals can be tough to do ... and that's where we can help!

All of our Sports Nutrition Specialists at your local Supplement Superstores location can help you figure out which protein is best for your goals ... and we'd be more than happy to help!

Just swing by and see us anytime ... and we'll make sure you're set up for success.

*This post was written by Andrew Lynn, who has a B.S. in Nutrition & Dietetics. He's also a N.A.S.M. Certified Personal Trainer and N.A.S.M. Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist.