Your Ultimate Guide To Protein Powder For Women – How To Choose and What To Look For
If you’re a woman looking to improve your health, decrease your body fat percentage, and take your workouts up to a whole new level, one thing that you should be considering is using a good quality protein powder.
Many women are fast to shy away from protein powder because they have a strong tendency to think that protein powders are only for males who want to get big and bulky, packing on pounds and pounds of muscle weight, but this isn’t the case at all.
In fact, if the truth is told, it’s women who need protein powder more often than men. Check out our top 5 picks here
When you stop and think about the nature of the foods that most men typically crave, meat is it. They want steak, chicken, ribs, fish, and on and on it goes.
What Do Most Women Crave?
Ice cream, pasta, bread – CARBS! As such, men generally don’t have much of a problem reaching their protein requirements for the day because they simply prefer these types of foods.
Women however, they struggle a whole lot more simply because we don’t have the desire to snack on a piece of chicken after a hard day at work. We want cookies, cake, something sweet.
Since protein is such a vital nutrient that is required for success on any diet plan, if you aren’t getting enough in, it’s going to cause major issues in your progress.
Furthermore, protein is also going to play an important role in overall health as well, so you need to make sure you’re getting enough for those reasons as well.
Quite simply, if there is one nutrient you don’t want to fall short in, protein would be it.
Get Serious About Meeting Your Protein Requirements
Fortunately, protein powder makes it easier. Furthermore, protein powder comes in so many great tasting flavors – chocolate, vanilla, butterscotch, cookies and cream, fruit flavors, and so on, that you’ll be hard pressed to find one that you don’t enjoy. As women, we typically experience food cravings for these flavors, so using protein powder can be a fantastic way to combat those cravings before they start
Protein powder is quick and simple – just mix a shake and go, or you can even use it with other foods such as your baking, in yogurt, in oatmeal and so on to make getting your protein needs met a piece of cake (and you might actually find protein powder cake recipes out there as well!).
Getting a protein powder however Isn’t as easy as walking into your local supplement store and picking up the first tub that you come across.
With so many different varieties out there for what you can buy, it’s important that you make an informed decision.
Let’s first go over some of the main benefits that using a protein powder will provide before talking about what you should look for when purchasing a protein powder and then giving you a brief run-down of the various types that are available.
Why Use A Protein Powder Anyway?
The first thing to go over is why you should be using a protein powder in the first place. Meeting your protein requirements is going to be vital for a number of reasons including:
Maintaining lean muscle mass
Keeping hunger levels down
Keeping blood sugar levels stabilized
Repairing and rebuilding muscle tissue after a hard workout
Ensuring optimal immune system function
Assisting with the production of enzymes/hormones/neurotransmitters
Keeping your metabolic rate higher
Additionally, one of the benefits of using protein powder is that depending on the particular variety that you choose to use, you’ll also get a good dose of calcium as well. This can help to encourage stronger bones as well as maintain good muscular contractions.
So as you can see, protein plays a number of key roles in the body. While you can of course get protein from food sources as well, most women simply aren’t taking in sufficient amounts from whole foods, which is why protein powder then becomes key.
What To Look For In A Protein Powder
So what do you need to look for in a protein powder you’re thinking of purchasing?
The first thing that you’ll want to make sure of is that it’s lower in calories. There are some protein powders out there, commonly referred to as ‘weight gainers’, which as the name suggests, are aimed to help people gain weight. Also as the name suggests, these are likely not the protein powders for you.
Most women don’t purposely want to gain a high amount of body weight, so the name itself should scare you off. But always do make sure that you look at the nutritional label of the protein powder you’re going to buy to ensure that it doesn’t have a high amount of carbohydrates – and sugar added.
Weight gainers are notoriously high in sugar content, so something you definitely want to avoid if staying lean is in your set of goals.
You ideally want to find a protein powder that’s around 100-120 calories per scoop and contains around 20-30 grams of protein total. The more protein and fewer grams of carbs and fats, the better.
In addition to checking the calorie and protein content of any protein powder you’re considering consuming, you’ll also want to look at the ingredient label as well.
Does it have a number of added ingredients – sweeteners, preservatives, and other flavor additives?
Stay away from those products that do as much as possible. While some of these ingredients may not necessarily be all that harmful to your health, they aren’t exactly going to be beneficial either. The more pure the protein powder you can purchase, chances are the better it will be for your body overall.
Obviously each of you will have your own thoughts and feelings on sweeteners, so you may or may not be okay with their presence. This is something you’ll have to think about and determine for yourself.
After both of these are in order, then the last thing to think about is the overall type of protein powder that you’re selecting.
This is what we’ll discuss next.
The Types Of Protein Powders To Consider
All you really have to do is walk into any supplement store to see just how many different types of protein powders there are available.
At times, it can be very overwhelming. Fortunately, if you take some time to learn the pros and cons of each variety, you can quickly come to see which is going to be the best fit for you.
Let’s look at the main varieties you need to know.
Whey isolate protein powder is going to be protein powder that is rapid digesting and designed for around the pre and post workout period. It will break down quickly, therefore delivering the amino acids to your muscle cells in a hurry.
This is precisely what you want around the workout period and these protein powders are also typically fat free and very low in carbs as well, so have that added benefit.
They may not be the best option as far as hunger control goes however, so do keep that in mind. Since they break down rapidly, they’ll clear your system fast which could leave you hungry for more food.
Save them for right around the workout period and they will serve their purpose.
A whey concentrate is quite similar to an isolate only isn’t quite as fast digesting and is a more general form of whey. These whey protein powders will often contain a good dose of calcium, so you have that added benefit, but they also typically contain a few more grams of fats and carbs, so aren’t quite as lean as the isolates are.
They will be slightly better for hunger control and are a great general purpose protein powder to have on hand that can be taken in at any point throughout the day.
Whey concentrates are typically a bit cheaper as well compared to isolates, so if you’re on a budget with your protein powder, this will also be another advantage you’ll likely want to take into account.
Moving along, the next variety to consider is casein protein powder. These are a great protein powder to have for a woman who is dieting more intensely and looking on reducing hunger as best as possible.
These protein powders will break down more slowly in the body, delivering a steady stream of amino acids to the muscle tissues over time.
This makes them ideal for using before you go to bed for the evening as then you can release of protein to the muscle cells throughout the overnight fasting period.
Casein protein powders can vary in their calorie, carb, and fat content, so just read nutritional labels to ensure that you are purchasing one that will be ideal for you.
These protein powders are much thicker tasting as well, which some people prefer (while others aren’t as fond of), so just be aware of that before buying.
Due to their consistency, they are also a good protein powder to prepare protein pudding and other types of desserts with.
Meal Replacement Shakes
The next variation of protein powder that you may consider is a meal replacement shake. These are similar to weight gainers in nature, only the calorie level is more controlled.
Generally most women will want to avoid these unless you are specifically looking for a protein powder that is going to replace the traditional meal that you normally would eat.
If you aren’t able to have lunch or dinner for instance, they can fill in during those times, but since they are going to be lacking in dietary fiber as well as satiety, they aren’t exactly ideal.
Use them only on occasion at most if you really need them at that point and always do read the ingredient label so that you can find one that is as low in sugar content overall as possible.
Egg Protein Powder
For those women out there who are lactose intolerant or who may be part vegetarian and not consuming dairy as part of their plan, egg protein powder can fit the bill perfectly.
Egg protein powder is typically fat and carb free, so is 100% pure protein, making it great for those looking to get very lean.
It has a very high quality amino acid profile and a moderate digestion time, so can work well at just about any point during the day.
For those who can’t tolerate lactose, this is usually their main go-to option.
It’s not as widely available as whey based protein powders are, but you shouldn’t have a problem finding one flavor/brand you enjoy.
Soy Protein Powder
Another vegetarian option for protein powders if you also don’t want to be consuming eggs is soy protein powder.
There has been much debate about soy in general as some people feel it’s beneficial for the woman’s body while others claim it’s not and should be avoided.
Due to such debate, we won’t go into whether it’s right or wrong to consume here as you will have to make your own decision based on your personal beliefs.
Overall though in terms of a protein powder, soy protein is quite high in quality as well and can support estrogen levels due to the phytoestrogens that it contains. Note that it can contain lactose however, so won’t be ideal for those who are lactose intolerant.
Most soy protein powders are relatively low in fat and carbs, but once again, be sure to read the nutritional levels to be sure the one you’re choosing stacks up properly.
Hemp Protein Powder
Finally, the last protein powder to consider is hemp protein powder. This protein powder is the pure vegetarian option and is another good quality source of protein to consider.
Some hemp protein powders also contain a small dose of omega fatty acids as well, so that’s another benefit of them to take into account.
Getting sufficient levels of omega fats is important for overall health purposes, so if you’re struggling in that department as well, hemp protein powder may be ideal for you.
So there you have a brief list of all the main types of protein powder for women to consider. Don’t let yourself be afraid of adding protein powder to your diet because you think it’ll cause you to get big and bulky.
That isn’t the case at all. If anything, as long as you fit it into your daily diet plan properly, it will only cause you to get leaner and reach the fitness goals you’ve set for yourself.
Not sure which protein shake is best for you? Check out our top 5 weight loss shake reviews here