The importance of protein for everyone is undeniable.
Our body utilizes amino acids to synthesize hormones, enzymes, and antibodies and for muscle growth.
Our organs, cells, tissues, nails, and hair comprise amino acids.
Protein powders are one of the reasonable ways to add a high-quality protein source to the diet. They are widely available, convenient to consume, and easily fit into everyone’s diet.
Earlier protein powders were only associated with men, but women can consume them too.
In fact, the market is flooded with protein powders for women that are specifically formulated considering the nutrition needs of women.
Besides protein, they may contain nutrients vital to women’s health, like iron, calcium, folic acid, and biotin.
The daily protein requirement of women varies between 0.8-1 gram of protein per kg body weight per day. However, depending on the exercise intensity, it may go up to 2 grams/kg body weight.
In this article, we’re going to review the best protein powders for women and their benefits.
Sounds good? Let’s dive in.
What are Protein Powders?
Protein powders are nutritional supplements containing protein in powder form derived from sources like milk, pea, egg, hemp, collagen, and soybean.
The most valuable part of protein powders is that they are a good source of all the required amino acids our body can’t produce independently, like BCAAs. Each amino acid has an individual role to play in the body, and any lack may cause deficiency and affect the smooth functioning of the body.
Women with an active lifestyle can take protein powder to tone muscles, boost athletic performance, and lose weight. One can enjoy protein powders with water, milk, smoothies, shakes, etc. It can be a fantastic mid-meal snack option for anyone, including women with a sedentary lifestyle or desk jobs.
Benefits of Protein Powders
Different protein powders are available, varying in their source and composition. It won’t be wise to say that one is better. For example, some prefer unflavoured proteins and some plant-based protein powders. All of them are beneficial; however, the selection should be based on physical needs, exercise level, and health condition.
Let’s examine the benefits of protein powders specifically for women.
Women usually feel sceptical about taking protein powders, fearing that it might make them look bulky. But it is a myth because women have high estrogen levels, not testosterone.
Protein powders can help women with an active lifestyle to tone their muscles, gain strength and preserve lean muscle mass. Increasing age makes it challenging to maintain muscle mass, and protein shakes can aid in that.
Numerous studies have observed enhanced physical performance effects of taking protein supplementation. One such research was done on healthy adults between 18-50 years of age to evaluate the same. The intake of protein supplements was associated with more notable gains in strength and muscle mass 1.
Studies support that protein-rich foods modulate several hormones influencing body composition. They promote ghrelin (satiety hormone) levels, boost metabolism and reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels. They prevent untimely food cravings by maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and reducing overall calorie intake. It is advisable to include high-protein foods during weight loss as they are more satiating than carbs and fats.
A 12 weeks study on individuals taking whey protein in the diet observed a 6.1% reduction in body fat mass and a reduced risk of obesity 2).
Support Post-Workout Recovery
Post-workout recovery of muscles for maintaining a healthy lean muscle mass. Daily repair of muscles is essential to speed up post-exercise muscle soreness and DOMS. Damaged muscles can lower strength and overall exercise capacity.
Clinical studies also support protein supplements’ potential to facilitate muscle function recovery and reduce muscle soreness.
Protein shakes promote a steady amino acid supply to support the recovery and restoration of muscle fibres. This is why taking a protein shake after your workout is suitable for minimizing catabolism.
Protein is approximately 50% of the bone volume and about one-third of its mass. The bone protein matrix undergoes constant turnover and remodelling; therefore, an adequate supply of amino acids and minerals is vital to support the formation and maintenance of bone across the lifespan.
Clinical studies support that women are more prone to osteoporosis than men. Therefore, protein plays a critical role in optimizing bone health 3. Protein shakes can assist in maintaining a healthy bone density and reduce bone weakening in the later stages of life.
Beautiful Hair, Skin, and Nails
Protein deficiency is the leading cause of hair loss, weak nails, and wrinkled skin. Women often take collagen treatments to reduce the visibility of wrinkles and tighten their skin. Collagen is nothing but the most abundant protein in the body. Including protein-rich foods like protein powder can help reduce the signs of ageing and facilitate healthy hair and nail growth.
Keratin treatment is popular among women to smoothen their hair and make them lustrous. Keratin is nothing but the main protein in our hair and is essential to add strength to hair roots and add bounce. Therefore, protein deficiency can make our hair dry and brittle 4.
It has been found that about 90% of our hair strands enter the growth phase together that lasts for 2-3 years. After the growth phase, they enter the rest phase for around three months, after which the growth phase starts again.
Inadequate protein can affect the growth phase reducing the potential to grow new hair.
Better Immune Health
Inadequate protein intake can take a toll on our immune health. Protein synthesizes immune cells and antibodies that fight against diseases and protect us from illnesses.
Proteins are the backbone of the body’s defence system, and protein powders are excellent for delivering good-quality protein to stave off infections.
It has been observed that people often avoid taking protein shakes during illnesses like fever or a common cold, assuming it is not required. But one can take protein shakes to prevent muscle loss due to loss of appetite and toughened immune action.
7 Best Protein Powders For Women
- Whey Protein
- Pea Protein
- Egg White Protein
- Hemp Protein
- Brown Rice Protein
- Plant-Based Protein Blends
Whey protein is the topmost preference among protein powders of many people and fitness lovers. It is derived from milk protein and has a high nutritional value.
Whey protein is a complete protein source because its impressive amino acid profile contains all essential amino acids. Women can take whey protein to improve their muscle strength, lose weight, and boost their metabolism. It can help preserve lean muscle mass in physically active women.
Whey protein supplements are available in various compositions like whey protein concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate. Women can choose based on their exercise intensity and fitness goal.
Since whey protein is dairy-based hence may not be suitable for lactose-intolerant people and vegans.
Pea protein powder is an incredible choice for vegans, lactose intolerants, and people avoiding dairy.
Pea protein is a quality source of Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), arginine, and iron. It may help promote muscle growth when paired with resistance exercise. Pea protein may also minimize cholesterol uptake and prevent fat accumulation. This, in turn, lowers the occurrence of health conditions like blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.
A study performed on 161 active individuals observed a tremendous increase in muscle thickness on supplementation with pea protein for 12 weeks 5).
Women who prefer allergen-free protein powders can take pea protein as it is hypoallergenic in nature. Pea protein is easy to digest and aids in weight loss.
Collagen protein is women’s best friend. Collagen supplements are not only good for strengthening muscles, but they also help reduce joint pain, the appearance of wrinkles, and sagging skin.
Collagen supplements are derived from sources like fish, poultry, and cattle. They are usually in peptide forms that are small amino acid chains, making them quickly digestible. A collagen supplement can provide 18-20 grams of protein per serving.
Collagen protein is good for both muscles and bones. Chicken collagen is considered suitable for relieving joint pain and inflammation. Women can use marine collagen protein to minimize hair fall, prevent dry skin and facilitate skin tightening.
Collagen protein powder is widely available and can be mixed in both cold and hot liquids.
Women allergic to fish, eggs, or shellfish should avoid taking collagen supplements containing these ingredients. Sometimes, it may cause abdominal discomforts like heartburn and fullness.
Women taking collagen supplements for skin and beauty-related concerns are advised to take collagen for at least eight weeks to see the visible results.
Egg White Protein
Whole eggs provide many nutrients besides protein, like folate, vitamins A and D, etc. But egg whites are primarily known for their superior quality protein.
Eggs are one of the best protein sources. They are used as reference proteins to evaluate the biological value (BV) of other protein sources. Egg protein is rich in leucine amino acid that helps stimulate new muscle growth.
Egg protein is easy to digest and low in carbs; hence women on a low-carb, dairy-free, diabetic, or ketogenic diet can choose egg protein powder.
As the name suggests, hemp protein is extracted from hemp seeds. It has a nutty flavour and contains healthy fats like omega-3 and 6.
Intake of omega-3 fats is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, depression, and better cognitive health. Hemp protein powder is plant-based; hence great for vegans and lactose-intolerants.
Studies have shown that hemp protein also exerts a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect 6.
Hemp provides a good amount of protein in a single scoop and other nutrients like dietary fibre, iron, potassium, and magnesium. It is perfect for women looking for a multifaceted protein.
Brown Rice Protein
Brown rice protein powder is another hypoallergenic option that is plant-based and vegan-friendly. Women can take brown rice protein to increase muscle mass and build strength.
Brown rice protein can help improve body composition by speeding up metabolic rate and calorie burning. Brown rice protein powder is slightly gritty and has a pleasant mouthfeel and texture.
It is a fantastic alternative to dairy-based protein powders for women.
Plant-Based Protein Blends
Plant-based blend protein powders contain various protein sources like pea protein, chia seeds, flaxseeds, spirulina, quinoa, hemp seeds, and brown rice protein.
Some plant protein sources have an incomplete amino acid profile, and blending them helps improve protein quality and overall nutritional value.
Plant-based protein powders are rich in plant compounds like antioxidants, dietary fibre, iron, calcium, zinc, B vitamins, and many more.
Plant-based proteins are good for enjoying the benefits of multiple protein sources in a single scoop. However, women with sensitivities or allergies must read the ingredient list, allergen-info, and warnings before opting for any plant protein blend.
One may find plant proteins with added nutrients like digestive enzymes, vitamins, minerals, etc. For example, Nutrabay Wellness Vegan Plant Protein is a natural protein powder enriched with superfoods like moringa, spirulina, and flaxseed extract, besides a plant blend.
Tips to Buy Women’s Protein Powder
Here are some crucial points to reckon with while buying any protein supplement.
A good protein supplement will always be free from unwanted additives and fillers. One must prefer protein powders with minimal ingredients, without added preservatives, artificial colours, and banned substances.
The protein source is one of the major deciding parameters for buying any protein supplement. A person can choose based on diet preference and recommendations.
For example, women allergic or intolerant to soy, milk, or gluten can opt for pea, hemp, or brown rice protein. People with diabetes or on a keto or Atkins diet can use low-carb protein powders.
In contrast, animal-based protein fans can use whey, egg, collagen, or casein protein powder.
It is advisable to check the added sugar content. Manufacturers of flavoured protein powders may add sugar or other sugary additives to provide sweetness.
However, one may use protein supplements containing zero-calorie sweeteners like sucralose or stevia. These are sugar substitutes that do not cause blood glucose spikes.
Always consider a reputed and trustable brand like Nutrabay for protein powders. The product must be FSSAI-approved and preferably manufactured in a GMP-certified facility. A good brand will always provide the lab certificate to maintain transparency of the ingredients without false claims.
Price is another factor one must consider while buying a protein supplement. Protein supplements come in varying price ranges.
Never buy, assuming that the costlier, the better. You can get good quality protein supplements in an affordable range.
Which protein is best for weight loss for females?
Women can opt for low-carb protein supplements providing good protein content to support their weight loss goals.
What are the top 5 protein powders?
Which is a good protein powder for women in India?
What are some good types/brands of whey protein for women?
Many good brands may provide clean ingredients, lab reports, and premium quality protein without harmful additives, like Nutrabay, Optimum Nutrition, MyProtein, Dymatize, and MuscleTech.
What is the best protein powder for a female doing gym?
Active women like gym-goers and athletes can opt for any good-quality protein powders available. However, the selection might vary depending on the health goal. One can try Nutrabay protein powders that offer various whey, casein, and plant proteins.
What is the best protein supplement in India?
Here are some of the best protein powders in India
Nutrabay Pure Whey Protein Concentrate
Nutrabay Gold Vital Whey Protein
Optimum Nutrition (ON) Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein
Isopure Zero Carb Whey Protein Powder
What protein drink is the best to help women lose weight?
Women can opt for any good-quality protein powder with less carb content and a decent amount of protein with fewer calories, for example, Nutrabay Gold Whey Isolate Protein. However, if you prefer a plant protein, you can consider Nutrabay Wellness All-Natural Plant Protein, which has the additional benefit of superfoods, vitamins, minerals, and digestive enzymes.
What is the best kind of protein for women?
The selection of protein powders generally varies based on individual needs and fitness goals, as one supplement can only be perfect for some. But protein powders comprising a high-quality protein without artificial colourings, additives, and harmful contaminants are the best to consider.
Which is the best whey protein powder in India?
Here are some of the best protein powders loved by fitness lovers and athletes:
Nutrabay Gold Whey Protein Isolate
Ultimate Nutrition Prostar 100% Whey Protein
Nutrabay Pro Nitro Build Whey Protein
Optimum Nutrition (ON) Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein
BigMuscles Nutrition Frotein
- Pasiakos, S. M., McLellan, T. M., & Lieberman, H. R. (2014). The Effects of Protein Supplements on Muscle Mass, Strength, and Aerobic and Anaerobic Power in Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review. Sports Medicine, 45(1), 111–131
- Frestedt, J. L., Zenk, J. L., Kuskowski, M. A., Ward, L. S., & Bastian, E. D. (2008). A whey-protein supplement increases fat loss and spares lean muscle in obese subjects: a randomized human clinical study. Nutrition & Metabolism, 5(1
- Shams-White, M. M., Chung, M., Du, M., Fu, Z., Insogna, K. L., Karlsen, M. C., LeBoff, M. S., Shapses, S. A., Sackey, J., Wallace, T. C., & Weaver, C. M. (2017). Dietary protein and bone health: a systematic review and meta-analysis from the National Osteoporosis Foundation. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, ajcn145110
- Bolke, L., Schlippe, G., Gerß, J., & Voss, W. (2019). A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study. Nutrients, 11(10), 2494
- Babault, N., Païzis, C., Deley, G., Guérin-Deremaux, L., Saniez, M. H., Lefranc-Millot, C., & Allaert, F. A. (2015). Pea proteins oral supplementation promotes muscle thickness gains during resistance training: a double-blind, randomized, Placebo-controlled clinical trial vs. Whey protein. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12(1
- Rodriguez-Martin, N. M., Montserrat-de La Paz, S., Toscano, R., Grao-Cruces, E., Villanueva, A., Pedroche, J., Millan, F., & Millan-Linares, M. C. (2020). Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) Protein Hydrolysates Promote Anti-Inflammatory Response in Primary Human Monocytes. Biomolecules, 10(5), 803