With the vast selection of supplements available on the market today, it often becomes a task in itself to choose which supplement best suits you and your specific goal. Are you training for endurance, strength, or do you just want to live a more healthy life?
To support your goals, there is a myriad of supplements and categories to choose from but what we’ll cover here today is which is the best protein powder for women.
Which protein powder should women choose and why should they choose it?
There are a few different types of protein powders that are available on the market such as plant-based protein — soy, hemp, rice, and pea protein; beef protein — whey, casein, and egg protein. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, fear not. We will break it all down into more easy-to-understand terms and hopefully answer any questions you may have.
Protein Powder Basics
There are a few misconceptions still floating around about protein powders. Even after the fitness industry has risen to where it is now, some people still ignorantly believe that protein powders are some form of steroid or is an unhealthy thing to put into your body. Both, very untrue.
The idea that protein powder is a “steroid” sprung from the early years when it began gaining traction in the mainstream market. People knew that gargantuan bodybuilders were on something (steroids), saw them walking around with their protein shakes, and thus protein powder became a steroid. Stereotype much?
As for the health concerns that they carry, there are a few things to keep in mind when using or thinking of buying a protein powder; does it contain any allergens; do I need it (i.e. are you already consuming a lot of protein, to which adding protein powder might negatively affect your liver).
Here are a few small things to think about when choosing a protein powder:
- Taste — It doesn’t have to taste like a chocolate bomb exploding in your mouth, but it has to taste like something you think you’d be able to stick with for an extended period of time.
- Mixability — Not all shakes are created equal. Some mix so well they taste like milkshakes. Others mix not so well and you end up eating chunky bits of protein from the bottom of your shaker cup.
- Nutrition — This is an important point to be aware of. Sometimes people think that they’re buying protein, all the while it’s a mass gainer or meal replacement shake. Those two are very different to protein powder. Although the aforementioned might contain protein, they also contain a hefty amount of carbs, and sometimes fat. Always check the protein, carb, and fat content. The lower the fat and carbs, the better.
- Value — Always keep an eye out for the number of servings per container. A typical serving of protein powder would be 30 grams in weight, containing ~22 grams of protein.
Choosing a protein powder at first isn’t much of an easy task with all the variables that come into play; which brand, flavor, or color should I choose? Most of that should come down to personal preference after you know what to look for in a quality product that will provide you with the needed materials to aid you in your journey. Now that you have the nitty gritty on what to look out for when considering a protein powder, let’s move on to
Now that you have the nitty gritty on what to look out for when considering a protein powder, let’s move on to what most women want after pizza’s, of course. And that’s weight loss.
Protein Powder and Weight Loss
Let’s get one thing straight before we move on: protein powders DO NOT make you lose weight. They can certainly aid you in the process but they most definitely do not bring about weight loss as a standalone product. Perhaps if you were to infuse some carnitine or CLA’s into the protein powder then it might have that desired effect.
Many companies make money by slapping on a fat loss sticker onto their products knowing that it’s something people want. I mean, who doesn’t want to lose weight?
This isn’t to say that you can’t use protein powders to aid your weight loss endeavors. When a person subjects themselves to a caloric deficit, protein begins to play a rather important role. As your calories begin to drop your body will become more catabolic (the breaking down of tissue — either fat or muscle), and it does this to make energy for everyday bodily functions and activities such as going to the gym.
Which Protein Powder Should You Choose?
Earlier we made mention of a few pointers that should be kept in mind when choosing a protein powder. Below, we’re going to discuss the different types of protein powders available on the market today. And we’ll start off with the most popular form of protein…
Whey protein is produced from the leftovers of milk when it coagulates. The leftover by-product consists of 20% whey protein and 80% casein. The liquid whey is separated from the curds (casein) and filtered from any non-whey ingredients. What’s left is then sent to a drying tower to turn the liquid into a powder.
Whey protein is considered a whole protein because it contains all nine essential amino acids and is quite low in lactose content. Among the amino acids found in whey is leucine. Now leucine plays the biggest role in protein synthesis, especially post-workout when you have those micro tears in your muscle tissue. Whey protein has been a staple of many a gym goer for years on end because of its protein content and quick digestibility, making it the ideal post-workout protein source.
There are three kinds of whey proteins to be found:
- Whey Protein Isolate — This form of whey has been processed down to the point where there is almost no fat or lactose content and is nearly 90% protein.
- Whey Protein Concentrate — Whey Concentrate contains relatively low levels of fat and carbohydrates. The protein content is dependent on how concentrated it is. On the higher end, the protein content can be as high as 90% and as low as 30% on the lower concentrates.
- Whey Protein Hydrolysate — Hydrolysate is considered a predigested whey protein because it has already been through partial hydrolysis, which is a process that takes place in the human body in order to absorb protein. The upside about hydrolysate is that it digests and is absorbed much faster than both isolate and concentrate. The biggest drawback for hydrolysate is its price tag.
As you’ve probably read above, casein is also derived from milk. Unlike it’s “sibling”, casein digests much slower than whey does and releases at a more steady pace, which is why casein is most often consumed before bedtime and not post-workout.
That’s not to say that you should only consume casein before you go to bed. Casein can be consumed during the day for a steady release of nutrients into the bloodstream. The only time when casein is not recommended is post-workout. Because whey contains so much of the amino acid, leucine, it is the go-to protein for maximum post-workout nutrient absorption.
In addition to your post-workout whey, it wouldn’t hurt to add casein before bed to further assist in recovery.
Egg protein is made from pure egg, excluding the yolk, making them low in fat content. If you’re allergic to dairy or milk proteins, then egg protein is an option worth considering.
Egg protein has a high biological value, meaning that it is absorbed by the body in the most efficient manner and is also a medium digesting protein, making it an ideal shake to have before heading off to bed or any other time during your day.
In recent years, vegan protein has gained a hefty amount of popularity in the fitness community. Plant-based proteins also contain amino acids but fall short to beef protein due to its weaker absorption ability and incomplete amino acid profile.
That’s not to say that you won’t get the same amount of protein from plant-based proteins as you would with beef, it’s just that it won’t be absorbed as well or be as beneficial to your progress.
Here are some of the more popular plant-based proteins you can find:
As surprising as it may be, rice actually makes for a good source of protein. Rice protein also has a high biological value and amino acid profile.
Soy protein is pretty much a two-way street. On one hand, it’s a great source of protein, and on the other, it carries possible negative effects for men. The reason being, soy products have estrogen-like molecules.
Men who consume high amounts of soy will experience estrogen-like side-effects such as sperm reduction and fat gain.
Soy doesn’t nearly affect women the same way it does men. In fact, there might even be benefits in using it such as reducing the risk of heart disease and breast cancer.
With all the hype surrounding hemp protein, it really isn’t that beneficial a source of protein. In spite of it containing lots of nutrients, its protein content is pretty low.
Apart from all that, hemp protein’s absorption abilities are much less than that of its peers. In my opinion, hemp protein shouldn’t be used as a protein source but rather as a food source.
So, What’s Our Selection of The Best Protein Powder For Women?
Now that you have enough information to make your own informed decision regarding choice of protein powder, we have gone ahead and made our own top 5 list of what we think the best protein powder for women is.
PES Select features a premium combination of whey and casein, making it an ideal all-around protein shake. With its carb and fat content low, it makes PES Select a diet-friendly protein powder to use with 24 grams of protein, < 1 gram of carbs, and 1.5 grams of fat per serving. Giving you a total of 110 calories.
Another protein powder that utilizes the combination of whey (isolate) and casein. Quest have become known for their protein bars, Quest Bars, but we think that their protein powders may just be what we most like them for.
However, it contains 7 grams of carbs which still isn’t much, but if you’re on top of your calories then you should be able to squeeze those 7 grams in. This protein powder contains 20 grams of protein and 1.5 grams of fat per serving.
Labrada Nutrition brings you the Jamie Eason Signature Series 100% Whey. For those who don’t know, Jamie Eason is a household name in the fitness industry, as is Lee Labrada (founder of Labrada Nutrition). These two names have come together to bring you one of the top protein powder products available. However, this protein powder contains 25 grams of protein, 8 grams of carbs, and 3.5 grams of fat, making it quite high in calories per serving which is 160kcals.
Gold Standard 100% Whey has been the front runner for many years when it comes to providing the highest quality product. This is a whey protein isolate powder, and if you remember, whey isolate is low in both fat and carbs, making it ideal for a fat loss program. Gold Standard contains 24 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbs, and 1.5 grams of fat.
Another leader in the industry is Dymatize ISO100. Featuring the purest whey isolate on the market today with high amounts of BCAA’s and leucine. Containing 25 grams of protein, 1 gram of carbs, a 0 grams of fat per serving.
Now that you have all the information and know-how on what the best protein powder for women is, we encourage you to go out there and chase your goal down with passion, drive, and your protein powder companion.
Remember to select the right protein powder based on what you want to achieve and not because everyone else at the gym is using it.