Protein powder supplements can help women build lean muscle mass and lose fat. However, taking in more protein is not always a good idea. Ultimately, we’ve found that women who use protein supplements should monitor consumption carefully to avoid any possible risks. Read on for a guide to the best protein powder for women to reach their unique fitness goals.
Women’s Protein Powder Options
Protein can be consumed in the form of shakes, powders, bars, and other meal replacements. If used efficiently and in balanced doses along with exercise, it can be very helpful for increasing muscle mass and burning fat in women.
There are various sources of protein women can consume; however; protein powders are among the most popular for fitness goals. But what is the best protein powder for women, specifically? Let’s find out.
Protein powder supplements for women include:
- Whey Protein: Whey Protein powder is extracted from the liquid left over from making cheese. It’s probably the most popular animal protein supplement for building muscle during resistance exercise and contains all nine essential amino acids.
- Casein Protein: Casein is one of the two main proteins in milk. It’s different from proteins like Whey because it absorbs into the body more slowly, which prevents the muscle from breaking down during cycles of fasting (like when you’re sleeping).
- Soy Protein: Soy is a vegetable protein made from the beans of a plant called Glycine Max. It is a good substitute for animal-based proteins with no saturated fat or cholesterol, making it a healthier option. Because of its female health benefits, soy may be the best protein powder for women.
- Chia Protein: Chia is a vegetable protein found in the seeds of a plant called Salvia Hispanica. They are great sources of fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals.
- Collagen Protein: Collagen is the most common protein found in the human body. It comes from gelatin and supports the growth of bones, cartilage, muscle, eyes, skin and the digestive tract.
- Egg Protein: Egg Protein usually refers to animal protein from chicken egg whites. It is beneficial because it is easy to digest and includes all nine amino acids.
- Flax Protein: Flax Protein comes from a plant called Linum usitatissimum, a source of fiber and linen. Flax is a vegan protein that’s good for heart health and can act as a natural laxative.
- Hemp Protein: Hemp protein comes from processing the seeds of non-intoxicating strains of the Cannabis-Sativa Plant. Since seeds are high in fiber with a 3-1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, they may offer unique health support.
Possible High Protein Intake Risks for Women
Some studies say it can be harmful for women to consume too much of any one protein source (especially animal proteins). Therefore, it seems like a good idea for women to be selective about which proteins they consume, as well as how often they consume them.
Here is a list of possible risks associated with protein consumption for women. Keep in mind that these are only associations and do not necessarily prove causation.
Links to Ovulatory Infertility
Studies suggest that ingesting too much animal protein may increase women’s’ chance of infertility. However, using vegetable proteins in place of less healthy animal proteins and carbohydrates more often is associated with much lower risks of ovulatory infertility in women.1
Links to Heart and Blood Sugar Issues
Animal proteins have higher fat content and cholesterol content than most vegetable proteins. Because of these factors, too much animal protein is linked to coronary heart problems, diabetes and other issues in women.2
In other words, when women consume too much of one protein source that is simultaneously high in fat, carbs, and/or sugar, they put themselves at risk for problems down the road. This is especially true for women who don’t exercise.
Possible Metabolic Issues and Weight Gain if Not Used Correctly
Research shows that the body doesn’t necessarily use protein in an effective way when it consumes too much of it. Actually, excess protein may cause metabolic difficulties for the kidneys, bones and liver.
Similarly, extra protein turns into fat that gets stored in the body when we don’t work it off with exercise.3 This is caused by an unbalanced energy demand in the body.
Conflicted Links to Osteoporosis
Taking in protein causes acid to be released into the body. Normally, the body uses calcium to neutralize acid released by protein. When we consume too much protein, however, the body may start to take calcium from our bones, leading to bone weakness.4 This may happen especially to older/aging women who are losing bone mass and calcium in the body.
Keep in mind that studies on this subject have been inconsistent. Many studies say the opposite, that protein can help maintain bone health as long as you have enough calcium.5
- In addition, all links to osteoporosis in women are associated with animal proteins, not vegetable proteins.6
So, again, the best protein powder for women will probably be vegan in origin.
Is Protein Consumption Dangerous for Women?
Overall, the real danger in protein consumption for women seems to be in consuming too much animal protein. Studies generally conclude that women who exercise regularly and limit their intake of fatty animal proteins like red or processed meats don’t tend to experience the risks above. Essentially, ingesting too much of anything is never good for the body.
General Protein Powder Benefits for Women
Fat Loss and Lean Muscle Gain
Protein powder supplements can help women lose weight by providing satiety and controlling the appetite. In other words, supplying the body with as much protein as it can take helps women build muscle mass, get rid of more calories faster, and avoid overeating.
Balancing protein sources and exercising are the keys to maximizing weight loss and muscle gain benefits from protein in women. While animal protein does have every essential amino acid, it also has more fat, carbs and cholesterol than vegetable proteins like soy. Animal protein is also linked to risks of certain diseases, as mentioned above.
As such, women should use vegetable proteins more often than animal proteins to avoid any risks. Women also need to exercise so protein and its macronutrients don’t turn into fat.
Decrease Health Risks
All women can benefit from regular exercise combined with the right amount of protein for their body and age. However, older women benefit on a wider scale because it can help build and maintain deteriorating muscle mass during aging.
If protein breakdown in older women is balanced out by consuming more protein and exercising, they will end up with a lower risk for health issues like frailty and loss of muscle tissue.7 The older women get, the more calcium and protein their bodies require to maintain bone strength and prevent illness like heart disease, kidney disease and certain cancers.
Soy Protein Powder Benefits for Women
Soy protein may be the best protein powder for women. It contains a class of phytoestrogens called isoflavones, which may have unique health benefits for women. Phytoestrogens are plant compounds that mimic women’s natural estrogen hormones. As a result, they may make us respond as if natural estrogen were present.
Our analysis of the research shows that most results on soy-related health benefits to women are somewhat inconclusive.8 However, let’s look at what we know.
It has been assumed that soy protein can help women and their babies during pregnancy because it’s a great source of vitamin D. Soy milk and fortified milk are actually the only consistent sources of vitamin D you can physically consume.9 However, this is just an assumption with little evidence to prove it.
Additionally, soy protein seems to help reduce the effects of BPA on mothers and babies during pregnancy. BPA is a chemical associated with “higher body weight, increased breast and prostate cancer, and altered reproductive function.”
Research shows that soy protein helps control hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, and hyperinsulinemia. Because of this, it may help women keep blood sugar under control.9 This is good for women with and without diabetes to help prevent any issues.
Consuming soy proteins instead of animal proteins reduces concentrations of cholesterol, lipoproteins, and triglycerides to help prevent heart disease.10
Soy products, including soy protein powders, are associated with benefits for overall cardiovascular health.
Keep in mind, however, that in the Fall of 2017 the FDA proposed they might take back their claim that soy can prevent coronary heart disease.
Soy protein seems like it helps women who are reducing excess body fat.11 However, more research may be required to determine whether soy protein has long-term positive effects on weight in widespread populations.
Still, soy protein is undoubtedly a great alternative to animal proteins like red meat and processed meats that are much higher in fat, carbs, and cholesterol. Furthermore, soy has even shown to lower cholesterol in some instances.
A recent data analysis uncovered that soy protein is helpful in both preventing breast issues and maintaining treatment of breast health issues after diagnosis and treatment.12
According to the findings, it only takes about two 8 ounce glasses to enact these benefits. Researchers analyzed data on 6,225 women with breast health issues from the U.S. and Canada. Keep in mind, however, that the study included women who were mostly of the upper to middle class with healthy lifestyle routines.
A new study says consuming vegetable proteins like soy can even help women prolong the onset of menopause and maintain reproductive function longer. This is important, because early menopause causes 10 percent of women to lose their ovarian function before age 45.
In addition, women only needed to take in about 6.5 percent of vegetable protein in their daily diet to enact a 16 percent lower risk of early onset, which isn’t an extreme amount.
Furthermore, some studies have also shown that isoflavones in soy protein help women with menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and and night sweats by mimicking estrogen 13; however, others say the opposite.14
Women’s Protein Powder Nutritional Content
Women interested in using protein powder to gain lean muscle and lose fat should choose sources with less fat, sugar and carbs.
Therefore, we’ve created a chart that breaks down the macronutrients in every protein supplement you can buy to help women find the right sources. Here are the macronutrient breakdowns for each protein powder per every 100g.
Best Protein Powder for Women – Supplements’ Nutritional Value Per 100g
What’s Different About Women’s Protein Powder Supplements?
The biggest difference between female protein powder supplements and male protein powder supplements is the macronutrient breakdown. Women have unique health and fitness concerns, hence the best protein powder for women will tend to have less sugar, fat calories, carbs, and even a little less protein than male supplements.
They also tend to be labeled in feminine packaging flaunting fun, delicious flavors as well as their organic, non-GMO, and gluten free makeup. The best protein powder for women may have a slight advantage over a men’s product. However, overall they are pretty similar to men’s protein powder supplements; in some cases they are the same.
In conclusion, protein supplements have the power to benefit any women who works out with the intention to lose fat and gain lean muscle. However, women must monitor consumption closely and choose protein sources wisely.
The best protein powder for women will contain a healthy balance of muscle-building protein and low-calorie, low-carb, low-sugar content for ultimate gains and losses.
Protein, especially soy protein, is also beneficial to women with certain health issues and menopausal symptoms. However, these benefits mainly only affect women older than 40. Regardless, since we will all be older some day, it seems like a good idea to keep these benefits in mind as well.
Examples of Women’s Protein Powder Supplements
- MusclePharm FitMiss Delight Review
- Jamie Eason Signature Series Whey Protein Isolate Review
- Gym Vixen Sexy Recover Review
- Am J Obstet Gynecol et al. Protein Intake and Ovulatory Infertility. 2008 Feb; 198(2): 210.e1–210.e7.
- Delimaris, I. Adverse Effects Associated with Protein Intake above the Recommended Dietary Allowance for Adults. 2013.
- Pesta DH and Samuel VT. A High-Protein Diet for Reducing Body Fat: Mechanisms and Possible Caveats. 2014. 10.1186/1743-7075-11-53.
- Protein. The Nutrition Source. Harvard C.H. Chan School of Public Health.
- Bonjour JP. Protein intake and bone health. 2011 Mar; 81(2-3):134-42.
- Feskanich D et al. Protein Consumption and Bone Fractures in Women. 1996 Mar;143(5):472-9.
- Deutz NEP et al. Protein intake and exercise for optimal muscle function with aging: Recommendations from the ESPEN Expert Group. 2014 Dec; 33(6): 929–936.
- Patisaul HB and Jefferson W. The pros and cons of phytoestrogens. 2011. Jan-Jun; 5(9): 41–47.
- Montgomery KS. Soy Protein. 2003; 12(3): 42–45.
- Reynolds K et al. A meta-analysis of the effect of soy protein supplementation on serum lipids. 2006 July. 98(5):633-40. 2007 Feb; 4(2): 72–82
- Velasquez MT and Bhathena SJ. Role of Dietary Soy Protein in Obesity.
- Gallagher, S. Isoflavones in food associated with reduced mortality for women with some breast cancers. TuftsNow. 2017 Mar.
- Bedell, S, Nachtigall M, Naftolin F. The pros and cons of plant estrogens for menopause. 2014 Jan;139:225-36.
- St Germain A et al. Isoflavone-rich or isoflavone-poor soy protein does not reduce menopausal symptoms during 24 weeks of treatment. Menopause. 2001 Jan-Feb; 8(1):17-26.