Because protein is so important, it’s best to get your protein in any way you can rather than not get it. However, there are some major differences between having a solid food protein and a protein shake.
Protein powders come in all forms these days. Whey and Casein proteins from dairy, isolates from meat and eggs, as well as veggie protein powders (rice, pea, hemp).
The two biggest differences between protein powders and protein foods are digestion and fat content. When you eat a steak, the amino acids are slowly digested and taken up as your body breaks down the protein in the meat. This allows for a slower, more steady release of amino acids into the bloodstream. This is most important when your goal is to lose body fat. Many amino acids are glucogenic meaning that they can be converted into glucose in the liver and used as a carbohydrate.
When you get a surge of amino acids, like what occurs when ingesting protein powder, the amino acids are absorbed much faster, and this results in a higher insulin response than the slow digesting meat. This is advantageous after a workout, but during the day spiking insulin is not going to help you shed that muffin top. You will also lose a greater amount of your protein to conversion to carbohydrates.