The 8 Best Protein Powders for Women, According to a Dietitian

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Sprout Living Sunflower Protein at Amazon

"One serving provides 15 grams of plant-based protein, 2 grams of fiber, 2% of the daily recommended intake of calcium and 6% of the recommendation of iron intake."

Best Budget: NOW Sports Pure-Pea at Amazon

"A smart choice for anyone with food allergies."

Best Whey: Raw Organic Whey at Amazon

"High quality and certified organic."

Best Organic: Organic Life at Amazon

"Featuring high amounts of vitamins and minerals such as antioxidant-rich Vitamin E and mood-boosting Vitamin D."

Best Vegan: Philosophie: Cacao Magic at Amazon

"Using a base of organic hemp protein, this combines raw, organic cacao and chia seeds for a mega nutrient boost."

Best Low-Calorie: Vital Proteins at Amazon

"The low-calorie, potently nutrient punch you need."

Best for Building Muscle: Body Logix at Amazon

"Contains all of the essential amino acids."

Best for Paleo: Ancient Nutrition at Amazon

"Provides both a protein and healing boost."

Protein powders have historically been associated with male bodybuilders, however, they're now a great option for women looking to increase their protein intake. Women may want to add protein powder to their smoothie to boost satiety in the morning or shake up a scoop with almond milk to help promote muscle recovery after a workout. No matter the goal, there are many uses for the convenient source of protein.

Most protein supplementation research is focused on males. Interestingly, one systematic review published in 2018 suggests that protein supplementation, specifically whey protein, increases lean mass (or muscle) in women.

Whether you're looking to increase lean mass or are just looking for an alternative protein source, here are a few nutritionist-recommended options to add to your routine.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Sprout Living Sunflower Protein

The best protein powders keep it simple which is exactly what you get from Sprout Living's Simple Sunflower Seed Protein Powder. Organic, non-GMO sunflower seeds are cold-pressed to remove some of the seed's oil and keep all of the nutrients while concentrating protein.

One serving provides 15 grams of plant-based protein, 2 grams of fiber, 2-percent of the daily recommended intake of calcium and 6-percent of the recommendation of iron intake. Optimal calcium and iron intake are critical for women to protect bone density and replenish iron that can be lost during menstruation.

What Experts Say

"In order to absorb all of the plant-based iron, use this powder in a smoothie or shake that has a high vitamin C ingredient such as kiwi, papaya, cauliflower, strawberries, kale or of course, oranges." Sydney Greene, RD, MS

Best Budget: NOW Sports Pure-Pea

Third-party tested products are the safer choice when picking a dietary supplement which is why NOW Sports Pure Pea is the best budget pick. NOW Sports products participate in Informed Choice testing, a quality assurance program for sports nutrition products and suppliers to the sports nutrition industry. Informed-Sport-Certified products are blind-sampled at the retail level up to four times annually, and testing results can be found at Informed Sport.

Organic, non-GMO peas are used to produce a powder featuring 15 grams of protein per serving, a smart choice for anyone with food allergies or intolerances. Protein aside, this product also offers 30% of the recommended daily intake of iron, a critical mineral for women.

Best Whey: Raw Organic Whey

When looking for a protein powder produced from animal sources, quality is extremely important. Raw Organic Whey is USDA certified organic and sources their whey from cows raised without the use of bovine growth hormone (BGH/BST). Raw Organic Whey does 3rd Party Lab testing for pesticides, heavy metals, antibiotics, mycotoxins, and melamine from third party testing directly on their website for complete transparency.

One serving is less than 100 calories and contains 21 grams of protein as well as 15% of the recommended daily intake for calcium.

Best Organic: Organic Life

Garden of Life's Raw Fit Powder offers broad-spectrum organic nutrient density. Featuring high amounts of vitamins and minerals such as antioxidant-rich Vitamin E and mood-boosting Vitamin D, there are also 8 grams of fiber per serving and multiple probiotics and digestive enzymes that can help curb hunger and optimize digestion.

This powder does contain Ashwagandha, an herb used for stress management and green coffee extract. If taking any prescriptions, check in with your health care provider to prevent supplement-medication interactions.

Best Vegan: Philosophie: Cacao Magic

It is difficult to find a flavored protein powder that tastes good but is not overwhelming. Philosophie's Cacao Magic Superfood Protein Powder is just as delicious as it is nutrient-dense. Using a base of organic hemp protein, Philosophie also combines raw, organic cacao and chia seeds for a mega nutrient boost. The combination of these three ingredients provides 10 grams of plant-based protein, 20% of the daily recommended intake for iron and 2 grams of fiber for only 55 calories.

Philosophie also adds organic maca, an edible root that is known as an adaptogen for its ability to help the body resist stress. Another stress fighter and energy booster featured in this product is reishi, a medicinal mushroom known to boost immunity and energy. Mix this product with warm nut milk for a tasty, energy-boosting late afternoon snack or use it in a smoothie or with oatmeals or a satisfying and energizing breakfast.

Best Low-Calorie: Vital Proteins

With only 70 calories per serving, Vital Protein packs a potent nutrient punch. Featuring 18 grams of protein per serving, consumers also get a dose of immune-boosting Vitamin C and 20 grams of collagen which is suggested to help support hair, skin, and nail health. Though the clinical research to support this claim is shaky, many consumer reviews support claims stating improvement in thinning hair, brittle nails, and dull skin.

Vital Proteins puts extra care into the sourcing of their protein. The cows used for the collagen peptides were raised in alignment with the Global Animal Partnership 5-step animal welfare rating standards, an important quality to look for when purchasing protein powders sourced from animal ingredients.

Best for Building Muscle: Body Logix

Muscle building is done most efficiently and successfully when all nine essential amino acids are consumed in adequate amounts throughout the day. Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body. As a result, they must come from food. If a protein powder is used as a post-workout snack or even as a meal replacement and muscle building is the goal, consumers will want to look for products that contain all of the essential amino acids.

Body Logix features a complete amino acid profile meaning it contains all of the nine essential amino acids. Sourced from grass-fed cows, Body Logix Whey Protein Powder is non-GMO and NSF certified gluten-free. It is also produced in a peanut-free facility making this an excellent choice for consumers with severe peanut allergies.

Best for Paleo: Ancient Nutrition

The Paleo Diet has been and continues to be a very trendy diet focusing on aligning one's way of eating with the way our hunter-gather ancestors ate thousands of years ago. The Paleo Diet promotes the avoidance of processed foods and additives such as artificial sweeteners and flavorings.

Ancient Nutrition's Pure Bone Broth Protein is made from chicken bone broth concentrate. Bone broth has been touted throughout integrative and holistic health and wellness circles as an inflammation-fighting, gut-healing food. However, there isn't any clinical research on humans that confirms these beliefs.

What to Look for in a Protein Powder for Women

Protein type: There are several different sources of protein, the most common of which are whey and soy. Whey is often viewed as the best option for day-to-day use, as it's easy for the body to digest and contains all essential amino acids. Soy, on the other hand, can help build bone mass and reduce high cholesterol. However, there are also egg, milk, rice, pea, and hemp protein-based powders to consider.

Health goals: Different protein powders are designed for different purposes. Some are designed to help meet basic daily protein needs, while others are great for women looking to build muscle. Certain ones can serve as meal replacements. The outcome you're looking for should play a big role in which powder you pick.

Taste: There's nothing worse than buying a big container of protein powder, only to discover you hate the taste. Some products are unbearably chalky, so make sure to read reviews of the powder before buying to ensure people like the consistency and flavor.

What Experts Say

"I find that many women are looking to add plant-based proteins to their diet, however, they find it hard to cook and prepare foods such as beans and legumes on a regular basis and are wary to consume large portions of nuts and seeds because of the high-calorie levels.

Plant-based protein powders are a great, convenient way for women to supplement and meet their individual protein needs." Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN

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Article Sources
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