What is the difference between Protein Powder & a Meal Replacement?

There is a lot of talk out there about Protein powder.  Is it good for me?  Will it help me lose weight?  Should I be taking it?   All great questions - time for some science based answers!!

Are Protein Powders and Meal Replacements the same thing?

Absolutely not!  There is a vast difference between a Protein Powder and a Formulated Meal Replacement.  A Protein Powder is literally just that - protein!  Most Protein powders contain just protein, flavour and sweetener.  In contrast, a Formulated Meal Replacement (like FastFx) does contain protein but it also has all the fibre, vitamins and minerals you need to meet your daily requirements.

So... Meal Replacements have protein but Protein Powders don’t have the other essentials Meal Replacements have.  And actually, FastFx has more protein than most Protein Powders.  The average Protein Powder has 19-24 grams of protein per serve (and nothing else), FastFx has 27.4 grams of protein, plus all the other essentials you need.

So, while FastFx does contain lots of protein - It is not a protein powder.  It is a Formulated Meal Replacement.

Can Protein Powder be used to replace a meal?

Absolutely not!  Protein Powder is a supplement and must be used in addition to a healthy meal.  It cannot be used safely to replace a meal because it only has one part of what you need for a balanced diet.  Meal Replacements (that meet the NZ and Australia Food code) can be used safely to replace meals.  

Will Protein Powder help me lose weight?

Maybe, sort of.  Protein does help you build muscle, which helps your metabolism burn more efficiently.  Our bodies also burn calories when we digest food and protein uses more calories in digestion than other foods (known as the thermic effect).  Protein also helps you feel full, and can reduce cravings, which helps if you are trying to reduce your calories.    So getting enough protein can certainly assist in weight loss. 

But, it is important to note, while you need a good level of protein (for weight loss and general health), you don’t need too much (more on that below) and if you are taking a Protein Powder in addition to a meal (which you should be) you could end up eating more calories and may actually put on weight.  Protein powder can be helpful if you aren’t getting enough protein through your normal diet but, just remember, if you are trying to lose weight, the average protein powder has 100 calories per serve.

How much protein do I need?

The average person needs about 0.8g of protein per kilo of body weight.  So, if you are 80 kilos, for example, you need about 64 grams of protein each day.  If you are an athlete (or working out more than an hour each day, most days of the week) then you need 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilo of body weight.

If you use FastFx to replace three meals a day, then you will get 81.9 grams of protein - well above the recommended amount.

Can I eat too much protein?

Yes!  While protein is essential for health (for cell repair and muscle mass etc), research suggests that eating more than 2g of protein per kilo of body weight  might actually be harmful. So for our 80kg person, it could be dangerous to eat more than 160g of protein per day.    Too much protein can increase your risk of cancer, liver and kidney damage, cholesterol, kidney stones and gut problems.

Should I be using a Protein Powder?

It depends on your goal.  

If you are trying to lose weight, then you should use a Meal Replacement, not a Protein powder.  Protein powder will either fail to give you all the nutrients you need (if you are using it to replace a meal) or it will add unnecessary calories to your diet.  

If your goal is to gain muscle mass and you are a high performing athlete, or if you are not getting sufficient protein from your diet, then protein powder can be a helpful addition.  But, if you are eating a normal diet and not training intensely for a marathon, you do not need to use a Protein powder.


Use Protein Powder if…
  • you want to build muscle mass
  • you are training hard for a sporting event
  • you need to supplement the protein in your diet

    Use a Meal Replacement if…
    • you want to lose weight


    Unless you are an elite athlete, save your money.  If you want to lose weight, opt for a Meal Replacement instead.