Protein powder was first popular among competitive bodybuilders as far back as the 1950s. But now, nearly everyone’s in on the benefits of adding protein to their diet with protein powder, and for many reasons. Protein is important for pretty much the entire body—not just muscle, but hair, skin, nails, and organs, too. Trusted sources recommend that adults should consume between 10% to 35% of their calories from protein, so the average woman should shoot for 46 grams or more daily. For those who find it difficult to consume that much protein, adding a supplement may be a viable option. For already active women or those who want or need to lose weight or build muscle, adding protein may help achieve results faster. Fortunately, there’s protein powder specially formulated for women who want to lose weight, improve athletic performance, supplement during breastfeeding, and more.
Buying Guide for Protein Powders for Women
Why buy protein powder for women?
To bring clarity to the question of how, as a woman, to find the right protein powder for you: It’s likely that most protein powders will work for both sexes. That is to say, don’t worry that you’ll grow facial hair because you’re consuming a protein powder targeted for men. You, too, can consume protein powder for men. However, this buying guide will connect you to protein powders that may have ingredients known to be especially helpful for women’s health and goals and highlight common feminine concerns like hair, skin, and nail health.
What should you look for in protein powder for women?
- Protein Type: It’s vital to check the type of protein source the product is based on. You may be allergic to some proteins like whey if you have lactose intolerance, or soy, eggs, and so on. Those ingredients are the most commonly used ones in protein powders, so keep your eye open. Many consumers love using whey protein powder because it contains all the essential amino acids and is easy to digest. Soy is also a good protein source and is known to benefit women, in particular, with balancing hormones during menopause and reducing cholesterol. For those who eat vegan, there are plant-based proteins such as rice, pea, and hemp-based powder.
- Health Goals: We know the general benefits that protein powder has to offer: muscle gain, weight loss, workout recovery, and supplemental nutrition. Still, it doesn’t take a scientist to notice that protein powder products are marketed to target customers who share common health goals, dietary preferences, even personal values. You may find it helpful to use these indicators as signposts to discover your desired protein powder. As a woman, you may want to lose, maintain, or gain weight or muscle. If you have a tight schedule and little time for healthy meals, perhaps your health goal is to lower stress. A quick meal-replacement smoothie can be a lifesaver. Many women from young to old hold a strict vegan diet and find it hard to meet their daily nutritional requirements. Others turn to protein powder to optimize their nutrition to excel at CrossFit, MMA, or sports. Some women simply want more lean muscle.
- Dietary Preferences: At the moment, there’s a handful of diet trends in circulation, including the Mediterranean diet, Paleo, plant-based, keto, DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), MIND (combines aspects of the Mediterranean and the DASH diet), the Dukan diet, and even more. If you follow one or more of these diets, you’ll want to look for the recommended protein sources in protein powder and check the specific ingredients to ensure the powder is compatible with your diet.
What should you know about added ingredients in protein powder?
A common point of confusion is the difference between whey protein isolate and concentrate. The concise answer is that whey, the liquid remaining after processing milk for yogurt, for example, is used in two different ways to make isolate and concentrate. To render isolate, the whey undergoes more processing to remove lactose, fat, and as a result, contains 90% or more protein by weight. On the other hand, whey concentrate is made by drying the liquid whey. Whey concentrate powder consists of up to 80% protein by weight, 20% of carbohydrates. The same processing is applied to create pea protein isolate and concentrate. You may be familiar with common sweeteners used in protein powder, like erythritol, sucralose, corn syrup, stevia, and monk fruit. Some protein powders contain superfoods such as wheatgrass, chia seeds, and acai. And this is only a short introduction to the ingredients found in protein powders!
Our Picks for the Best Protein Powders for Women
Pros: If you follow a vegan diet or prioritize plant-based proteins and organic food, then stay and read about the qualities of Orgain protein powder. First off, the three protein sources include pea protein, brown rice protein, and chia seeds. Pea protein is naturally hypoallergenic and contains all nine essential amino acids and branched-chain amino acids. Brown rice contains important amino acids and protein. Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids and are approximately 19% protein. In addition to high-quality plant protein, Orgain contains 50 organic superfoods, including sprouted grains, fruits, grasses, greens, herbs, and more. Orgain doesn’t contain carrageenan, GMOs, gluten, dairy, soy, lactose, added sugar, preservatives, and artificial ingredients, and it was developed by a medical professional.
Cons: Not everyone likes the taste. Some people think it tastes grainy, chalky, and plant-like. Compared to other protein powders, Orgain is a bit higher in carbohydrates (15 grams per serving), which may make it a no-go for those following the keto diet, for example. Also, it’s a little pricier than similar brands.
Bottom Line: You can easily blend Orgain into smoothies, baked goods, shakes, soups, and more. Somehow, it’s chock-full of greens and fruits, but it doesn’t overpower other foods. It’s a great supplement to aid in muscle gain and support a busy yet healthy lifestyle. So, ladies who are on the lookout for healthy, clean food and who want to up their protein, try it out!
Pros: If you’re looking to improve the health of your hair, skin, nails, Protein for Her is worth a look. The designers behind this product added three fundamental ingredients to make that a possibility: conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), biotin, and rBGH-free whey protein. CLA is known as a powerful antioxidant and immune system booster. It’s also believed to amp up metabolism, which can be a huge help if you’re trying to lose weight. The body needs biotin for healthy nails, skin, and hair. Biotin also assists in converting food into energy for a strong metabolism. Finally, Protein for Her uses only rBGH-free whey protein concentrate. Plus, it comes in chocolate, vanilla, and caramel mocha flavors.
Cons: As a whey-based protein powder, Protein for Her is unsuitable for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant. Another potential drawback is that the powder contains some synthetic ingredients that may or may not be harmful to humans. And as is the case for most protein powders, some people will dislike the taste and texture.
Bottom Line: Presumably, Protein for Her is a great all-around option for women concerned about nail, skin, and hair health and who want to lose or maintain weight, gain lean muscle, and simply have more energy.
Pros: For women who want to eat clean and support the environment at the same time, Natural Force organic whey protein offers a solution. Its grass-fed whey protein is just that—one ingredient; most of the appeal is what it’s not. Natural Force is free of sugar, sweeteners, additives, fillers, flavors, and lecithin. Just look at the ingredients list if you’re suspicious. What’s more, this whey protein powder contains only 10% lactose and casein found in milk owing to the twice-filtered process Natural Force uses to make its premium protein powder. Because their product contains one ingredient, it has more in the way of muscle-building powder. You get maximal amino acids and BCAAs. Finally, Natural Force uses BPA-free, recyclable packaging that contains little plastic.
Cons: Not everyone wants an unflavored whey protein; many people prefer flavors to make taking a protein powder more enjoyable. The packaging is a bit weak, and the price is steeper than others for how much you get.
Bottom Line: “What you see is what you get” is an apt motto for this 100% pure whey protein powder. So if you like what you see, Natural Force may be a great option for you. Not only does the supplement support metabolism and lean-muscle growth, but humane and environmental-friendly processing practices. Furthermore, Natural Force ensures its protein powder is safe for consumption through third-party lab testing for purity and quality and certification by USDA Organic.
Pros: If you want to lose weight, it’s important to gain lean muscle to keep your health and metabolism up. Her Natural Whey provides the ingredients that are known to help you meet those goals as well as encourage you to add in exercise. The brand name really suits the product, as this protein powder is as au natural as you can find. Containing a combination of whey protein concentrate and isolate from grass-fed cows, Her Natural Whey commits to grass-fed, rBGH-free dairy. You won’t find any artificial sweeteners either. One scoop yields 20 grams of quality protein, 3 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fat, and only 110 calories. Plus, it contains a decent amount of calcium, which plays a critical part in bone and heart health, and an impressive amino acid profile. Users report that Her Natural Whey mixes well, tastes great, and satiates the appetite.
Cons: While whey protein concentrate is generally low in lactose, Her Natural Whey includes skim milk, so if you have lactose intolerance, you may want to consider a different product. As with every protein powder, there’s a chance you won’t like the taste of Her Natural Whey, but many users report otherwise. Finally, if you want to gain muscle mass, not just lean muscle, Her Natural Whey may not be the protein powder supplement necessary to meet your goals.
Bottom Line: To add to the advantages of Her Natural Whey, we should mention that the product contains 5 grams of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): leucine, isoleucine, and valine. BCAAs help the body increase muscle, decrease soreness, and reduce post-exercise fatigue. If you’re a woman who values rBGH-free, grass-fed dairy products, practices vigilant nutrition, and hopes to meet weight or athletic goals, we recommend you give Her Natural Whey a try.
Pros: This special blend of protein powder sets it aside from other products we’ve reviewed. The idea is that the variety of protein sources provides its female consumers more nutrition than other similar brands. This blend includes GMO-free soy protein isolate and GMO-free and rBGH-free whey protein concentrate. Furthermore, whey protein is considered a slow-release protein, which means that your body benefits from the powder for longer periods, which is great for keeping energy up. Also worth noting is its concentration on women’s health and digestive support. To support bones and cell and tissue growth, Aria includes calcium, vitamin D, phosphorous, and biotin. GMO-free prebiotic vegetable fiber, acidophilous, and organic aloe vera boost digestion, which is important because the body will be able to break down and use all the benefits this powder has to offer. Two scoops of Aria protein powder yield 15 grams of protein and only 90 calories—not bad! Plus, users overwhelmingly report that Aria tastes great.
Cons: While some ingredients are specifically added to support digestion, some women may be sensitive to soy. There are several filler ingredients, which can be a drawback for some. While there are a few GMO-free ingredients, the only organic ingredient is aloe vera.
Bottom Line: It’s clear that this protein powder is created specifically for women. Given the product’s ingredients and the focus on women’s health and wellness, this protein powder seems promising for those who want more than to lose weight or build muscle. Maybe it’s the protein powder for you.
Now that you have a better idea of why protein is important, how it can help you meet your health and fitness goals, and the benefits of various protein sources and added ingredients, hopefully, you’re ready to opt for one of the great products we reviewed here. You know your body, lifestyle, values concerning food, and goals best, so pick one based on your preferences.