Making sure that my clients have the right amount and type of protein shakes is an important part of my job as a fitness coach. And that’s particularly important for female clients as the amount per serving is very different from what men need.
To find the best options available, we teamed up with a dietitian and 14 clients to do our research and create a comprehensive list of the best protein powders on the market today.
We ended up testing dozens of different products over five weeks.
Here’s what we found.
The Best Protein Powders For Women
- Best Overall Protein Powder for Women: Transparent Labs
- Cheapest Protein Powder for Women: Garden of Life Raw Organic Fit Vegan
- Best Unflavored Protein Powder for Women: Naked WHEY
- Best Value Protein Powder for Women: VITAL PROTEINS
- Best Vegan Protein Formula for Women: Vega Sport Premium
- Best Digesting Protein Supplement for Women: Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth
- Best Protein Powder for Women's Weight Loss: KOS Vegan
- Best Protein Powder for Female Athletes: Garden of Life Organic Vegan Sport
- Best Tasting Protein Powder for Women: Myprotein Impact Whey
- Best Sugar-Free Protein Powder for Women: Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein
- Best Protein Powder for Pregnancy: Cira Nutrition Bright Whey Protein Powder
Our Top Product Recommendations (December 2023)
1 - Transparent Labs 100% Grass-fed Whey Protein Isolate (Best Overall)
At the top of our list of best protein powders for women is this grass-fed whey protein powder from Transparent Labs.
The first reason is it has more grams of protein than Naked Whey, which is second on the list, and Vital proteins, the third protein on the list.
In addition, Transparent Labs protein is free from any artificial sweeteners and flavors, meaning your gut health is secured.
It is sourced from grass-fed cows and processed into a protein isolate, which is lower in fat and lactose . As the product page claims, it contains one of the highest protein-by-weight ratios in the supplement industry, at 88%.
You also have a great choice of flavors, and the whey protein powder mixes easily without requiring a blender. Most of my clients, including myself, loved the compact, convenient, and tasty shakes we were able to make on a consistent basis.
- Type: Whey Isolate
- Dose: 28 grams
- Calories: 120
- Superior quality whey sourced from grass-fed cows
- Refined as a whey protein isolate for faster absorption rate
- Available in tasty and natural flavors and it easily mixes with water in a shaker
- Free from artificial sweeteners and flavors to not mess up your gut health
- For free shipping, you’ll need to place an order for $99
2 - Naked WHEY (Best Unflavored)
What I like about this Naked Whey product is that it delivers high-quality whey from grass-fed cows in America. The company also makes sure that these are cows from small family-run farms and not mass-production.
The tubs are also available in large sizes so that you have enough protein powder to last you for many weeks and even months.
I personally liked the unflavored version, which is ideal if you like adding protein powder to a morning green smoothie but don’t want to mix in a flavor.
Naked Whey has less protein per serving than Transparent Labs protein by 3 grams.
However, Naked Whey has much more than Vital Proteins, an extra 15 grams per serving.
- Type: Whey Protein
- Dose: 25 grams
- Calories: 120
- Sourced from grass-fed cows on American family dairy farms
- Available as an unflavored option to add to smoothies
- Available in a large 5-pound tub for bulk order savings
- The chocolate flavor is a bit too sweet tasting
3 - VITAL PROTEINS Collagen Peptides (Best Value)
Vital Proteins collagen peptides is one product that every woman should consider adding to their daily routine.
While this is an abundant protein in the body, getting a boost can ensure that your hair, skin, and nails become stronger .
Our testing team has agreed that it can make a considerable difference in joint health as well.
I also noticed during my testing that you can easily mix it into your morning smoothie or even add it to a cup of coffee to gain a great boost for the day.
Vital Proteins collagen peptides protein has the least amount of protein per serving compared to the Naked Whey and Transparent Labs protein.
- Type: Collagen Peptides
- Dose: 10 grams
- Calories: 40
- Great source of collagen to support joint, hair, and skin health
- Ideal for mixing with cold or hot water
- The unflavored powder is ideal for mixing in with morning breakfast smoothie
- The tub is quite small, and there are limited flavor options
4 - Vega Sport Premium Protein (Best Vegan)
Here is the first one of our vegan plant-based proteins, and Vega Sport has created a great blend of pumpkin, sunflower, and pea protein.
This should give you a much broader range of amino acids to support muscle mass and recovery times .
We also liked that the company has added some probiotics into the mix. Our tests also indicate overall improvement to the gut flora, digestion, and immune health.
It’s also available in great flavors, and our favorite ones are chocolate, peanut butter, and mocha.
- Type: Pumpkin, Sunflower, and Pea Protein
- Dose: 30 grams
- Calories: 160
- Plant-based protein powder is an ideal choice for vegans
- Comes with added probiotics for improved gut health
- Available in tasty flavors that mix into a smooth drink
- It’s not available in larger tubs with bulk discounts
5 - Garden of Life Raw Organic Fit Vegan Protein Powder (Cheapest Option)
The second one of our plant-based options comes from Garden of Life, and the added bonus with this one is that it’s also certified organic. There are many vegan athletes who are very particular about the quality of the brown rice and pea protein mix.
You’ll also notice that the nutrition label has a long list of vitamins, which means that you could end up saving by not needing some other vitamin supplements.
And it’s also available in a large tub that should last most people for more than a month.
During the testing phase, I noticed it mixes pretty well with water.
- Type: Pea And Brown Rice Protein
- Dose: 42 grams
- Calories: 180
- Comes with added fiber, vitamins, and probiotics
- Organic plant-based protein powder for maximum nutritional value
- Available in large tubs for bulk discount
- Some of the flavors are a bit too strong
6 - Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein Powder (Best Digesting)
Another fantastic option for getting a large dose of collagen is this Ancient Nutrition option.
The protein powder is based on chicken bone broth and comes with a GMO and hormone-free certificate.
That increases the purity and reduces the impact that lower-quality protein might have when the animals are pumped full of growth hormones.
Based on our observations and numerous tests, we found it is very easy to digest while also noting that it didn't have any bloating or stomach upset.
- Type: Chicken Bone Broth
- Dose: 20 grams
- Calories: 80
- Made from high-quality chicken bone broth for a strong dose of collagen
- Certified non-GMO and growth hormone-free
- Easily digested with no stomach issues reported
- Currently only available as an unflavored option
7 - KOS Vegan Protein Powder (Best for Weight Loss)
We’re back to a plant-based protein powder, and this one has a great mix of different plant sources.
This should give you all the amino acids you need to make your protein shakes ideal for workout recovery.
Our tests indicate that it also comes with a good dose of fiber and enzymes that make your stomach function more effectively .
“Digestive enzymes play a key role in breaking down the food you eat. These proteins speed up chemical reactions that turn nutrients into substances that your digestive tract can absorb.”
- Melinda Ratini, DO, MS, WebMD.com.
- Type: Flax Seed, Quinoa, Pumpkin Seed, Chia Seed, Pea Protein Powder
- Dose: 20 grams
- Calories: 160
- A great blend of five different plant-based proteins for a solid amino acid profile
- 3 grams of fiber and added digestive enzymes help with gut health
- Certified organic and gluten-free for maximum purity
- Some more flavor options would be great to avoid getting bored with the same one
8 - Garden of Life Organic Vegan Sport Protein Powder (Best for Female Athletes)
Our testing team found this vegan option to be another great choice for taking precise amounts of protein powder per serving with the smaller scoop size.
Based on our testing phase, that can be ideal for female athletes with lower body weight.
Each dose also delivers a good amount of BCAAs, which will promote improved muscle growth and faster recovery times after tough training sessions .
- Type: Pea, Bean, And Cranberry Protein Powder
- Dose: 15 grams
- Calories: 80
- Comes with a smaller scoop to make measuring exact amounts a lot easier
- Includes a great dose of BCAAs per serving for improved muscle growth
- Created by a certified B Corp and carbon-free company
- The flavors are a bit sweet, but you can water it down a bit more
9 - Myprotein Impact Whey (Best Tasting)
Here is another whey-based protein powder that our clients liked a lot. With 19 grams per serving, it’s a good amount for the average female athlete.
And the whey should also give you the ideal range of amino acids to boost muscle protein synthesis .
And the other overwhelming feedback we got from our testing team is that the chocolate flavor of this protein powder is very tasty and natural.
That’s not something we’ve found to be common with other products.
- Type: Whey Protein Powder
- Dose: 19 grams
- Calories: 100
- Good quality whey that helps build up more muscle mass
- Low in fat for a purer source of protein
- Comes in a tasty chocolate brownie flavor that mixes easily enough in a shaker
- The seal on the pouches can become a bit difficult to properly close
10 - Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein (Best Sugar-Free)
The final one of our recommendations is another vegan product that is also sugar and gluten-free to not mess up your diet.
According to our tests, it has a good combination of multiple different plant protein sources providing 22 grams per serving, which is great for most female athletes.
We also all liked the vanilla flavor the most as it was natural and not too sweet and overpowering. I just wish it would come in larger tubs that would last more than a few weeks.
- Type: Pea, Bean, Brown Rice, Chia Seed, Chlorella, Flax Seed, Sunflower, Sesame, And Pumpkin Protein
- Dose: 22 grams
- Calories: 130
- Plant-based option with a broad mix of proteins, including pea and brown rice
- It has a natural vanilla flavor and mixes easily with water
- Sugar-free protein shake with added probiotics and enzymes for gut health
- It’s not available in larger tubs for performance athletes
How We Tested Best Protein Powders for Women
In our mission to identify the top protein powders tailored for women, we implemented a meticulous testing approach centered around the following pivotal criteria:
Recognizing that the foundation of any quality protein powder lies in its composition, we delved deep into the ingredient lists. We prioritized products that boasted natural, wholesome ingredients, steering clear of artificial additives, fillers, or any substances that could compromise health. Special attention was given to formulas enriched with vitamins and minerals beneficial for women's unique physiological needs.
Understanding the fast-paced lives many women lead, convenience was a key factor in our evaluation. We assessed how easily each protein powder could be integrated into daily routines, its mixability in various liquids, and the availability of single-serving packets for on-the-go consumption.
The ultimate test of any protein powder is its effectiveness. We gauged this by examining the protein content per serving, the presence of essential amino acids, and user feedback regarding muscle recovery, satiety, and overall health benefits post-consumption.
When comparing protein powders, it’s important to focus on the crucial characteristics that set them apart. The good news is that we’ve done our homework and taken these points into account for the above recommendations, so you can save yourself a lot of time.
The first thing you want to decide on when looking at protein powders for women is whether you want to buy milk or a plant-based product. And it’s not always just down to being vegan or not.
There are some other considerations as well.
The most common form of milk protein powder is whey isolate. Unless you’re vegan or have a significant dairy allergy, whey protein powders are one of the best options you have.
First of all, it’s easy to digest, and the body will absorb it fast to help with muscle recovery and build lean muscle tissue. Most importantly, it has a complete amino acid profile, which means that it will give you every critical amino acid your body needs .
The downside is if you are lactose or dairy intolerant or if you’ve decided to reduce your intake of animal products.
Vegan protein powders have come a long way since they first started to appear on shelves. You’ll now notice that the majority of them mix protein powder sources from different plants.
And there’s a good reason for that.
The majority of plants don’t contain all nine essential amino acids . So, if you took a supplement that only contains organic pea protein, then you wouldn’t get the maximum effect to build lean muscle mass.
The solution is simple, and the supplement industry has come up with some excellent blends of plant products per serving and solving the problem of not getting the full nutritional value.
“It is a fact that most plant proteins cannot make new proteins for basic body functions because they are incomplete. However, you will not necessarily be in a protein or amino acid deficit if you eat primarily plant-based protein.”
- Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN, nationalpeanutboard.org.
One thing you really want to see in protein powders for women is either a lower dose per serving or a serving scoop that makes it very easy to get a precise amount of protein powder.
Whether you boost your protein intake for building muscle tissue or weight loss, the average female won’t need to take as much protein as the average male with the same goals.
What you’ll see above is a list of products that either provide about 22 grams of protein per serving, or it’s easy to measure out smaller amounts.
Amino Acid Formula
I already mentioned this above, but it’s worth highlighting that you should always check the label to see if it lists all nine essential amino acids.
Studies have shown that a significantly increased protein intake with these essential amino acids is directly linked to improved muscle protein synthesis .
The majority of animal-based products will provide these, but as mentioned above, with plants, you need to go for a blended product of multiple different sources.
Additives And Fillers
The best protein powders should never contain any unnecessary fillers or artificial additives.
The most common thing you’ll see is artificial sweeteners and flavors, and you’ll notice the difference as soon as you taste them.
It’s just not possible to achieve the same flavor with chemicals as you do with natural sources.
There is plenty of evidence that these artificial ingredients could do considerable harm to your gut flora .
And that could have some negative knock-on effects on your body weight as well.
Flavor & Texture
Another very important factor to consider for protein powders is the flavor and texture.
I remember the days when a flavored protein powder tasted like crap and had loads of added sugar to make up for it.
These days, you want to look for dietary supplements that have minimal ingredients and use only natural flavorings.
The other thing that’s important is how well the powder mixes with water or almond milk. Some products will end up in a clumpy mess if you try to mix them in a shaker.
The only thing you can do then uses some form of a blender.
We tested all the above products, and you won’t have that kind of problem.
Organic Vs Non-Organic Protein Powders
This is generally a personal preference, but you’ll find that a premium protein powder will typically have organic ingredients.
Out of the best protein powders for women that we tested, most either had grass-fed whey or an organic plant source. And I would say that it’s not an accident that we had the best test results and feedback from these high-quality sources.
Protein Concentrate Vs Isolate
Most protein powders these days come as an isolate.
This is generally the purest form as it isolates the protein from any other remaining fat or carbs in the raw ingredients .
For example, a whey protein concentrate would still have quite a bit of dairy fat and sugars, which makes it less suitable for a lot of dieting efforts.
I would always recommend that you stick with an isolate as the best kind of protein type.
“Whey is processed to reduce its fat and lactose content, leaving mainly protein. Whey protein isolate may be better for people who have trouble digesting lactose (lactose intolerance).”
- Jabeen Begum, MD, WebMD.com.
And finally, protein powders come in all kinds of price ranges. But I would not recommend going for a budget protein powder because it usually means a lower quality with some additives to hide that quality and often bad flavors.
As your protein supplement will play a key role in your fitness journey, it’s not going to be a good idea to cut corners and possibly slow down your progress.
That being said, if you check out the above product recommendations, then you’ll see a good range of price options to better suit your budget.
The Role of Protein in Women's Health
Protein isn't just about building muscles; it's a vital component in the overall health of women. It forms the foundation of muscles, bones, skin, and more.
For women, especially those who are pregnant or in their senior years, the right protein intake can make a significant difference.
When selecting the best protein powder for women, it's essential to look for certain ingredients and third-party testing to ensure you're getting the best quality.
Should Women Take Protein Powder Every Day?
Yes, some women should consider taking protein powder every day.
Protein supplementation can have a significant impact on weight management and muscle definition. And that can help build a better physique and overall fitness levels.
Does Whey Have The Best Amino Acid Profile For Women?
Yes, whey has the best amino acid profile for women. It contains all nine of the essential ones that you have to take in through your diet.
And those also play a key role in supporting muscle recovery and strengthening muscle fibers.
How Much Protein Powder Should Women Take Each Day?
Women should take 15 to 20 grams of protein powder each day.
This is largely dependent on your height and weight, and one way to calculate this is using the 2 grams per pound formula. Just keep in mind that you’ll also be taking in protein with your food.
When Is The Best Time For Women To Take Protein Powder?
The best time for women to take protein powder is just after a workout session. This is when your muscles will require amino acids to start the recovery and repair process.
Why is Third-Party Testing Crucial for Protein Powders?
Third-party testing is crucial for protein powders because the FDA's regulation of dietary supplements is limited. By choosing protein powders that have undergone thorough third-party testing, consumers can be confident in the product's purity and label accuracy, offering an extra level of health assurance.
How Can Collagen Protein Benefit Older Women?
Collagen protein can benefit older women by supporting their muscles, bones, connective tissues, and skin. As its natural production dwindles with age, leading to skin issues and weakened bones, collagen supplements help older women enhance skin elasticity and bone strength, aiding in graceful aging.
Why is Meeting Protein Requirements Vital During Pregnancy?
Meeting protein requirements is vital during pregnancy due to growth and development factors. However, many women in the later stages of pregnancy don't consume adequate protein, risking fetal health and maternal well-being; hence, selecting the right protein powder is essential.
Why Should Women Prioritize Calcium in Protein Powders?
Women should prioritize calcium in protein powders because it strengthens their bones, which is crucial due to increased osteoporosis risk. By choosing protein powders enriched with a substantial amount of the Daily Value of calcium, women can holistically support their bone health and overall fitness journey.
Our Verdict on Best Protein Powders for Women
Based on our testing, feedback from clients, and input from our dietitian, I believe that Transparent Labs is the best protein powder for women.
It’s a high-quality whey isolate sourced from grass-fed cows, and it has the most protein by weight, which makes it easier for women to reach their daily protein goal with smaller shakes.
I also believe, based on my testing phase, that it has one of the most natural flavors available, and there are no unnecessary additives that might mess up your diet or gut health
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