Do protein supplements make you fat? The simple answer is no. Only eating too much makes you fat. Eat too much of anything and you will get fat.
Protein supplements include:
- Whey protein powders
- Casein protein powders
- Whey/casein blends
- Protein bars
- Meal replacement products
- Weight gainers
- Egg protein powder
- Soy protein powder
Only three of the protein supplements on this list contain quite a few extra calories: protein bars, meal replacement products and weight gainers. Some protein powders contain extra sugar and/or fat for taste, but the calories per serving is generally nothing to be concerned about.
Protein Bars. Protein bars come in all shapes and sizes. Calories for protein bars can range from 150 to a whopping 400 per bar. Protein bars can be used in between solid food meals, or when you are on to the go and don’t have access to your staple protein sources.
While they are often filled with extra sugar and fat so they taste good, protein bars will not make you fat. They simply do not contain enough calories per bar to make you fat.
Meal Replacement Products. Meal replacement products are sold in many different forms, from drinks to pancake mixes. The following is a sample list of some of these products, along with an average amount of calories per serving.
- Optimum Nutrition 100% Oats and Whey. 200 calories per serving.
- Met-Rx Meal Replacement Powder. 240 calories per serving.
- Protein Plus Pancake Mix. 190 calories per serving.
- Meso-Tech Complete. 280 calories per serving.
Just like protein bars, meal replacement products are not calories dense. They contain some extra sugar and fat for taste, but overall the calorie intake per serving is nothing to be concerned about. In fact, they contain fewer calories per serving than most solid food muscle building meals.
Weight Gainers. Weight gainers contain a HUGE amount of calories, generally 600-1200 calories per serving. Used recklessly, they can cause you to pack on the pounds.
Weight gainers are an excellent choice for individuals who have a hard time gaining weight (obvious, huh?), but will only cause a trainee to gain excessive amounts of fat if combined with a poor eating plan.
Protein Supplements and Fat Gain
You gain fat when you overeat. If you are trying to gain muscle and strength, you will have to gain “some” fat along the way. Even the most shredded bodybuilder gains 20-30 pounds in the off-season.
With that said, protein supplements will only cause you to gain excessive amounts of bodyfat if your eating is reckless. Slow weight gain is good. Combined with progressive resistance training it should lead to quality muscle gains while adding a minimal and acceptable amount of fat.
On the other hand, rapid weight gain is often a bad sign. If you are not underweight, rapid weight gain is usually mostly fat.
It is quite common to see the following statement on bodybuilding and lifting forums:
I supplemented with protein and got a belly!
Nine times out of 10 the person making this statement is as thin as a rail, overate during a misguided bulk attempt, and had a very poor training approach (with little to no progression).
The “belly” that developed is either 2 pounds of extra fat, which really isn’t a belly at all, or it is a protruding, full stomach that is only noticeable because the trainee is as thin as a bean stalk. It’s rarely, if ever, what you or I would consider to be a “belly”.
In addition, most lifters screaming about their “bellies” are ab obsessed. They stare into the mirror for hours dreaming of having a ripped six-pack. While there’s nothing wrong with having a six pack (obviously), it is unhealthy and obsessive to fret over the addition of several extra pounds of belly fat.
Another common misconception is the idea that if you eat one extra gram of protein above and beyond what is required to build muscle that you will get fat. This is not true. Extra fat is only gained by overeating, and this usually happens from eating junk – not a few extra grams of protein.
No one ever turned into a sumo wrestler from eating extra protein. It is hard to overeat protein to the point where you gain fat.