With so many protein powder options on the market, it can be tough to know which one would be the best protein powder for women. Protein is an essential macronutrient that helps build muscles and promote fullness. Women can use protein powder to recover after a tough workout and to support their weight loss goals.
There are many choices and a variety of reasons you might want to use protein powder. The best protein powder for women for weight loss is different than the best option for athletes recovering after a workout. We know, selecting a protein powder can seem overwhelming!
Luckily, we’ve done the research and narrowed down the options to 10 great protein powders for women. Let’s take a deep dive into the importance of protein so you can make an informed decision about the best protein powder for your health goals.
Our Tops Picks
How We Selected the Best Protein Powder for Women
When selecting the protein powders, I looked for options that were created specifically for women. I chose products with low sugar levels, so these could fit in a weight loss plan. I also selected a variety of protein sources to fit a number of different dietary plans.
In addition to my degree in nutrition, I worked as a Demo Specialist for Whole Foods Market and led a cooking club for a local elementary school! I simply love all things health and nutrition. Still, it’s important to note that I am not a Registered Dietician or a doctor and you should always consult with a health professional before taking a new supplement.
What Is the Best Protein Powder for Women?
These 10 protein powders are great for women who want to lose weight, recover after a workout, or meet their nutritional goals on-the-go.
You may also be interested in the best protein powder for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
FitMiss is a gluten-free protein source designed to support women’s weight loss goals. This is a low-sugar protein powder that is packed with superfoods, like broccoli and blueberries.
- Less than 100 calories per serving
- 1g sugar per serving
- 16g protein per serving
- Contains milk so it isn’t a vegan option
We chose Orgain Organic Plant Based Protein Powder because it is one of the best plant-based protein powders for women.
This powder is made with pea and brown rice protein. It has a great chocolate flavor even though it doesn’t include any added sugar or artificial ingredients.
- USDA Organic
- 0g of sugar
- Some may not like the taste
Her Natural Whey is a great option for women interested in building lean muscle tissue. This gluten-free whey-protein powder is made without artificial sweeteners.
It has 20g of protein per serving so it helps keep you full so you won’t need to snack between meals!
- Whey from cows without rBGH
- No artificial sweeteners
- Made in the USA
- Gluten Free
- Can cause GI issues for those allergic to dairy
Tone It Up is a great plant-based protein option for women on the go. You can simply mix this sugar-free powder with milk for a delicious and filling meal. The powder is made with clean, gluten-free ingredients that can help boost your metabolism.
- 90 calories per serving
- Gluten Free
- Helps build lean muscle
- More expensive than similar products on the market
Physician’s Choice offers a double hydrolyzed collagen powder for enhanced absorption.
This powder is made with digestive enzymes that break down the collagen into amino acids your body can use. This is a great option for a post-workout protein powder.
- Double hydrolyzed for enhanced absorption
- Grass fed
KOS is a plant-based protein source made with fiber and enzymes to keep your digestive system running smoothly. This vegan powder has 20g of protein per serving and is a great option for women who need a filling meal on the go.
- Blend of 5 plant-based proteins
- Healthy fibers and digestive enzymes
- Some reviews said it was grainier than other powders
VEGA makes a great plant-based protein powder made with real food ingredients. This powder includes 20g of protein and no added sugar. It is vegan, non-GMO, and made with superfoods like spinach and broccoli.
- No added sugar
- 20g of plant-based protein
- Some may not like the taste
We selected the Garden of Life Sport protein because it is a nice plant-based option for athletes. Women can use this organic powder to build muscle or recover after a workout. This clean protein powder includes 30g of complete protein and over 5g of BCAA amino acids.
- 30g of plant-based protein
- Boosts immune system
- Some may not like the taste
This grass-fed whey protein is made with fiber, superfoods, and probiotics. It is a great meal-replacement option. Women can also use this gluten-free powder to recover after a workout.
- 25g of grass-fed whey protein
- Gluten Free
- Includes probiotics for healthy digestion
- More expensive than similar products on the market
Manitoba Harvest is a perfect option for women who want a clean, simple, and organic plant-based protein. This unsweetened powder has 13g of fiber and 13g of protein per serving. It is made with good fats and can easily be mixed with fruit and greens for a superfood-rich meal.
- 13g fiber
- 12g plant based protein
- USDA Organic
- Some reviews said it was grittier than other powders
What is Protein Powder?
Now that we’ve looked at the best protein powder for women, let’s take a step back. What exactly is protein powder?
Let’s take another step back to answer the question, “what is protein?”
Protein, along with carbohydrates and fat, is one of the three macronutrients our bodies need to function. Protein is an energy source that also helps with:
- Blood clotting
- Immune response
- Tissue repair
- Hormone production
Protein is naturally found in both plant and animal products. As you saw above, there are many types of protein powders. These can be made from milk, egg, soy, rice, hemp, pea, and a few other natural sources.
Why Should Women Consume Protein Powder?
You should always speak to your doctor, Registered Dietitian (RD), or health care practitioner before starting a new supplement routine.
According to the Center for Disease Control, 10-35% of your daily calories should come from protein. However, if you’re strength training (which you should be!), you should aim to eat closer to 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body fat on your body to encourage muscle growth and maintenance.
Most RDs agree that women can get all of the protein they need from real, whole foods. It is generally recommended to choose a well-balanced diet of whole foods instead of relying on supplements. However, we all know this isn’t always possible or realistic with busy schedules, parenting, and traveling.
Women can use protein powder to help meet their protein needs when they are on the go. Protein powder can be used in these ways:
- mixed into a smoothie or a shake
- used in recipes
- mixed into yogurts or yogurt parfaits
- in your coffee
- for protein pancakes, waffles or french toast
- check out Pinterest for a number of different ideas!
Female athletes can consume protein powder to help their muscles recover after a tough workout and to preserve or build lean muscle mass
Protein powder is also helpful for weight-loss plans. Marie Spano, R.D notes that “when cutting calories, a female actually needs more protein than if she is consuming enough calories to maintain her weight.”
What are the Different Types of Protein Powder?
There are many different types of protein powder on the market! The 8 most types are:
- Brown Rice
- Mixed Plant
Whey is the most common protein powder variety. It comes from milk and contains all of the essential amino acids. This is a great option for a post-workout recovery protein powder.
When browsing protein powder options, you might notice two types of whey: isolate and concentrate.
These two whey protein types are essentially the same but they are prepared slightly differently. Isolate is left with more protein and less fat and carbohydrates than the concentrate version.
Like whey, casein is made from dairy. Women can use this to boost their immune and digestive systems.
Casein takes a while to digest so it works well in meal-replacement shakes.
Collagen is a plentiful protein source found in the connective tissue of animals. Supplemental collagen is often marketed as the best type of protein powder since it can help with joint health, skin health, and weight loss.
But, many RDs are skeptical of these promises.
Collagen isn’t a magical protein source and you shouldn’t pay extra for this type of powder over another source. It’s hypothesized that the benefits of collagen are simply related to getting the right amount of protein.
Soy is a plant-based protein option made from dehydrated soybeans. It can help reduce cholesterol and rebuild bone mass (which is useful for those dealing with osteoporosis).
Soy protein has also been used to help women manage their menopause symptoms.
Brown rice protein is another great option for vegetarians or those following a gluten-free diet. This protein is high in fiber and antioxidants. It can help regulate your cholesterol and keep your kidney and liver functioning properly.
But, brown rice is not a complete protein source. This powder should be combined with another variety, like pea protein.
Pea protein is a vegan option that can be added to other varieties to form a complete protein source.
An added bonus is that pea protein is a great source of iron. Plus, it is hypo-allergenic and easily digestible.
Hemp protein powder is made from the whole hemp seed. This vegan protein source is packed with omega 3 fatty acids, iron, fiber, and antioxidants.
And, no, while it is made from the Cannabis Sativa plant, you won’t fail a drug test from hemp protein powder! Hemp contains only a trace amount of THC.
Most plant-based protein sources don’t contain all of the essential amino acids you need. That’s where mixed plant protein comes in.
Mixed plant protein powder combines different varies so you can get a complete plant-based protein option.
How to Select Your Protein Powder
With so many options, it can be tough to know which protein powder to choose. As you make your decision, keep these points in mind:
Check out the ingredients label before purchasing your protein powder. Make sure that protein is the first ingredient and there are no unnecessary additives, like maltodextrin or cellulose.
The sports dietitian, Georgie Fear, R.D, also says that the powder should contain less than 5g of carb and 2g of fat per serving.
Look for Low Sugar
Pay attention to the amount of sugar in your protein powder. The American Heart Association recommends that women limit their daily sugar consumption to 24g or less. Some protein powders contain 23g in one scoop!
Compare Macronutrient Breakdown
In general, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine says adults should get “45 to 65 percent of their calories from carbs, 10 to 35 percent of them from protein, and 20 to 35 percent of them from fat.”
Each woman has a different macronutrient need based on their age, health status, and activity level. Pay attention to the levels on the ingredients label to see what if the powder your nutrition goals.
Protein powders are available at all price points. When comparing prices, be sure to compare the price per serving not just the total price.
Consider Dietary Restrictions
If you follow a specific diet, pay attention to the ingredients in each protein powder. Stay away from whey or collagen if you follow a vegan diet. There are plenty of plant-based protein powders to choose from!
Think About Health Goals
Think about your health goals before selecting a protein powder. Are you trying to build muscle or lose weight? Or, do you just want a healthy meal-on-the-go? Whey is a great post-workout recovery protein powder. Look for a no-sugar-added powder if you are trying to lose or maintain weight.
Some people experience an allergic reaction to whey protein powder since it is made from cow’s milk.
If you have a dairy sensitivity, you might feel have stomach cramps, gas, or diarrhea after consuming whey protein. Consider non-dairy options (such as pea or hemp) as an alternative.
Consider Frequency of Consumption of Protein Powder
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for how often you can consume protein powder. Think back to your health goals when you are making this decision.
Most RDs agree that you can get all of your protein from your diet, so most people shouldn’t need to consume protein powder every day.
If you are an athlete or strength train regularly, use the powder a few times a week to recover from especially tough workouts.
As always, consult with your doctor or RD to decide what is best for you and your health goals.
What is the Best Protein Powder for Women for Weight Loss?
We chose this option as the best protein powder for women for weight loss. There are some great choices on the market, but this powder stood out since it is an affordable complete protein option.
This powder is also made with superfoods and promotes weight loss and lean muscle development.
How Can Women Use Protein Powder for Weight Loss
Women can use protein powder to aid in their weight loss goals. Monica Auslander Moreno, RD, and founder of Essence Nutrition explains that protein powder helps promote a sense of fullness, which keeps you from overeating.
When you are trying to lose weight, you want to lose fat instead of muscle. Protein powder can also help preserve lean muscle mass during your weight loss journey. Protein shakes are also an easy weight to control how many calories and macronutrients you consume.
If you use protein powder for weight loss, the type of protein powder (whey, soy, pea, etc.) isn’t as important as the ingredients label.
Look for a powder that is free from added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and calories. The Cleveland Clinic also advises avoiding powders with branched-chain amino acids, since these are recommended for weight gain.
What are the Benefits of Protein Powder for Women?
There are many benefits to using protein powder. The main benefits women for women are:
- Weight Control: As we discussed earlier, protein powder can help aid in your weight loss goals. This supplement keeps you full, which helps prevent overeating.
- Muscle Growth: Protein powder includes amino acids that help build muscles. It can be difficult to get enough of this amino acid from your diet. But, protein powder can help supplement this amino acid so you can see your muscles start to tone and grow.
- Recovery: After a tough workout, women can use protein powder to help their muscles and tissues recover. This also helps prevent injury.
- Reduce the Risk for Sarcopenia and Osteoporosis: According to research, protein powder can help reduce the risk of developing two diseases that often affect post-menopausal women: sarcopenia and osteoporosis.
Frequently Asked Questions the Best Protein Powders for Women
Are you still thinking about which protein powder is right for you? Let’s look at these FAQs about protein powder:
What is a good protein shake recipe for women’s weight loss?
There are so many delicious protein shake recipes for weight loss! Here is one of our favorites from Shape Magazine:
Berry Weight-Loss Smoothie
Makes 1 serving
- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup frozen mixed berries
- 1 scoop whey protein powder
- 1 tablespoon flaxseed
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds
- Handful of leafy greens (optional)
Add the liquids to your blender. Then, add the fruit, protein powder, greens, and seeds. Blend until smooth. If needed, add more water or almond milk to thin out the smoothie.
Do protein shakes help you lose belly fat?
Unfortunately, protein shakes don’t directly help you lose belly fat.
But, you can use these shakes to follow a weight loss plan. As your body is in a calorie deficient state, it may use belly fat and other fat stores for energy.
Is it bad to drink protein shakes every day?
Protein shakes are a supplement that can help you reach your health goals. It is not necessarily good or bad to consume these shakes every day. But, it is still important to consume nutrients from whole foods.
Consider limiting the shakes to 5 days a week (or less). Focus on eating nutrient-rich whole food protein sources on the other days.
Final Thoughts on the Best Protein Powder for Women
As you pick the best protein powder for you, think about your health goals. Protein powder is a supplement that can help with weight loss and lean muscle development.
There are many different types of protein options, so you need to select the one that is right for you. Protein powders, especially the 10 included on our list, are a great option for women on the go. Simply mix the protein into water, milk, or a smoothie for a filling and nutritious meal.
We especially love this protein powder option, but it’s great that there are so many organic, vegan, and clean protein powders available for women.