Protein powder often carries with it the intimidating stigma of being associated with CrossFit addicts, pricey gym membership, and muscle heads. But the fact is that, according to Women’s Health, "protein plays a big role in weight loss because it keeps dieters full and satisfied."
Of course, protein powders can also help grow and maintain muscle mass, and these nutritional supplements have even begun to gain in popularity among dieters and low-carb proponents. Moreover, women are especially vulnerable to not getting enough protein in their diets, and protein powders are a great way of sneaking hunger-crushing power into your favorite low carb-snacks and meals.
Plus, most low-carb diets claim that even if you are getting enough protein already, a little extra never hurts things. As it turns out, protein can be processed into powder quite quickly, and powders are simple to use, convenient, often tasteless and can be added to all sorts of sweet and savory dishes.
One note to low-carb dieters: Many sweetened or flavored protein powder varieties can allow in unwanted carbs, so stick most to the plain options.
Why Use Protein Powder?
Let’s press the pause button a second before we dive into our favorite protein powder. There are so many nutritious and tasty proteins out there to consume - lean meats, fish, dairy, eggs, nuts, and even some fruits and veggies - so why use protein powder?
Well, protein powder is extremely versatile and can be added to any dish to boost the protein content without adding flavor. Think powered fiber here, and you’ll have the concept of protein powder nailed down. Plus, dried, powdered products tend to last a long time without fillers or preservatives.
And powders are super convenient, meaning, you can quickly whip up a delicious shake, but you can also pack a protein-heavy snack for a hike, a pre-workout boost for the gym, or nourishment for the long carpool ride to work.
Traditional Protein Powder Sources
As convenient as any powder is, whey protein has long been one of the most popular types of protein powder on the market, and for a good reason. Whey is a highly digestible milk-derived protein that is chock-full of essential amino acids not otherwise occurring naturally in the human body.
For this reason and others, whey protein offers fantastic nourishment for hungry muscle, has been shown to help with weight loss, and even boosts vitamin D levels, helping to elevate your mood. However, if you are lactose-intolerant or allergic to milk, you may want to stay away from this product and move to our next pick for favorite protein powders.
Now you may think to yourself that peas are full of carbs, but do not worry as this vegan-friendly protein alternative is hypoallergenic and super-concentrated, and boasts a full plate of essential amino acids, like leucine, valine, and isoleucine.
Plus, the yellow peas chosen for this product are naturally low in sugar and contain muscle-building enzymes that have even been found to build muscle bulk more quickly than whey.
The combination of building lean muscle fast and hefty hunger suppression is good news for women and any low-carb dieter, and it puts pea powder on our list as one of the top protein powders out there. Plus, we have some pea powder product recommendations for you below, so keep reading.
New Protein Powder Sources
While whey and pea proteins have long been known for their muscle-building and weight-loss benefits, collagen is relatively new to the protein powder marketplace.
This new multipurpose supplement delivers a powerful punch of craving-crushing protein, and it can also reduce wrinkles, relieve joint pain, and help to build muscle. Collagen itself is an amino acid that occurs naturally in the bodies of all animals including humans, but it is also a substance that is known to deteriorate quickly as we age.
So, it seems natural that we would want to replace it with a collagen supplement, especially one that is easily absorbed and offer 18–20 grams of protein per serving. As a powder, it will fill you up, help build muscle, and add that glow back into your skin at the same time.
Plus, in another study, 147 athletes found that collagen supplements “significantly reduced joint pain when walking, resting, and exercising.”
2. Egg White
Other sources of proteins may seem obvious once you hear about them as if they have been living under your nose the whole time. For instance, remember the “incredible, edible egg?” Well, as it turns out, eggs are still one of the most natural, richest sources of protein on the planet.
While consuming the whole egg will provide you with the most nutrients overall, consuming just the egg whites will give you a protein-packed punch like nobody’s business.
Plus, powdered egg whites are just as full of essential amino acids as other items on our list. Egg white powder is also highly absorbable and contains less than half the carbs of whey or pea powder.
Other Protein Powder Sources
Moving on, our next contender has also been around for a while, but it has carried a stigma bestowed on it since the 1920s, thanks to our federal government. Although the very first U.S. president, George Washington, cultivated hemp at Mount Vernon, America banned marijuana and hemp for much of the 20th century and into the 2000s.
That is until the U.S. Senate passed the Farm Bill in January of this year in an overwhelming vote of 86 to 11. The upshot of all this was that the hemp plant (a member of the cannabis family known for its low levels of THC) could now finally legally be used for many different industrial and food applications, including rope, clothing, foods, and medicine.
Various studies even revealed that hemp seeds are a great source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, prevent cognitive decline, protect against heart disease, and also help to treat depression in women.
Moreover, hemp protein powder delivers 14 grams of protein per serving size, as well as provide a healthy dose of fiber, iron, healthy fats, magnesium, and potassium.
2. Brown Rice, Pumpkin Seed, Chia, Etc.
Other healthy protein powders include brown rice protein and mixed plant-based protein blends, which may consist of pumpkin seed, chia, quinoa, and flax.
While mixing plant-based proteins may not be a new idea for vegetarian and vegan communities, manufacturers have gotten good at packaging similar and mutually beneficial protein sources together to boost the overall nutritional value of mixed plant protein products.
Top Protein Powders for Women
So, if you are in doubt about where to start your protein powder journey, mixed plant proteins could be a great choice. Now that you have some of the building blocks of what to know about protein powders for women, let’s talk about our picks for the top 5 protein powder products.
Once again, we have tallied the votes, parsed the prices, read the reviews, and compared the ingredients to bring you our list of top protein powders.
This whey protein can be purchased online for around $$ per 5-pound bottle. There is only one ingredient in this product, and that is good old whey protein. Plus, the whey is GMO-free, growth hormone-free, soy-free, and gluten-free, and it is derived from cold-processed milk from grass-fed cows.
The upshot is that the powder contains 25 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbs, 120 calories, and 5.9 grams of amino acids. This protein powder is an excellent product at a great price.
The protein product contains a whopping 25 gram of whey protein per serving, which is equivalent to the amount found in 3 (8-oz) servings of yogurt, a cup of nuts, or four large eggs.
You will find no artificial ingredients here, no fillers, and no emulsifiers, and you can buy a bag online at around $$$. This is a fantastic product all the way around.
This raw, organic protein is a product made from peas and organic sprouts that offers 22 grams of protein per serving. This sugar-free product also provides a bevy of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as probiotics.
The 1-pound-6-oz bottle of powder is gluten-free, vegan-friendly, and GMO-free. You can get yours today online for around $$. We love everything about this product, including the price.
Remember how we talked about egg protein earlier? Then it should be no surprise that this product is on our list. With only four ingredients in the whole powder - egg whites, organic coconut sugar, vanilla, and sunflower lecithin - each serving provides 25 grams of protein, eight carbs, 140 calories, and plenty of amino acids.
Plus, the eggs are certified to be GMO-free, and you can pick up a 3-pound bottle online for just over $$$. With egg protein, carbs can creep up on you. We are still not sure about egg protein, but the numbers look good.
Navitas is a veggie blend protein that consists of peas, flax, hemp, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. This Navitas powder also contains greens for fiber and probiotics for gut health, and it is indicated for both weight loss and muscle-building.
Moreover, you can find a 9-oz bag online for around $$. This protein powder is useful, but it is not as concentrated as the first two options. Despite that, you have to love the overall nutrition and the price.
Top Protein Powders for Women – Honorable Mention
There are other protein powders we like a lot, and we will give them an honorable mention here.
1. Kura Grass-Fed Dairy Protein
This is a whey product sourced from New Zealand cows that reportedly offers 18 grams of protein per serving, as well as 23 vitamins and minerals that support healthy skin, hair, and bones. This protein powder also provides antioxidant support, probiotics, and prebiotic fiber. Plus, it is GMO-free and contains zero preservatives and artificial sweeteners.
2. Tera’s Whey Protein
Tera's Whey Protein blends milk protein derived from grass-fed cow’s milk that has been flavored with Madagascar bourbon vanilla. The result is a delicious powder that offers up to 21 grams of whey protein and nine essential amino acids per serving.
3. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
Next up, Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides comes from pasture-raised, grass-fed animals certified as non-GMO, Kosher, and gluten- and dairy-free. This collagen powder is soluble in cold and hot liquids, preservative and hormone-free, and a single serving can help to support your hair and skin, as well as provide 20 grams of protein.
4. Crazy Richards 100% Peanut Powder
Not technically a protein powder, Crazy Richards 100% Peanut Powder is a great way
to sneak extra protein powder into a low-carb diet. Though it is not as high in protein as some of the other options on our list, it has a fantastic concentrated peanut flavor and will stop your hunger cravings fast.
It is recommended to try Richards in smoothies, snacks, desserts, sauces, and savory foods. One serving provides 8 grams of protein.
5. Naked Nutrition’s Organic Brown Rice Powder
Finally, you’ll notice we haven’t given rice-based protein powders much love here. In that, we may have saved the best for last as Naked Nutrition's Organic Brown Rice Powder is made from just one ingredient: organic sprouted brown rice protein.
The upshot is 25 grams of protein, plenty of natural amino acids, 4 grams of carbs, and 120 calories in a product that is free of soy, gluten, sugars, and other fillers. Plus, it is easily digestible, helps control cholesterol, and is heart-friendly.
Protein Powder Buyers Guide
So, as you can see, protein powders are not just for fitness geeks, and you can choose your powder however you like it - pea-based, whey-based, rice-based, egg-based, or even hemp-based.
Powders are often tasteless, chock-full of protein, and easy to add to snack or meals for an extra boost of hunger-eradicating power. When you are looking for the best powders, a protein content over 20 grams is desirable, as well as a low-carb content.
For animal-based powders, you would like to see non-GMO products that come from organic and/or grass-fed animals. They will help to ensure that you are getting the purest product for your money. Of course, speaking of money, you will likely not want to spend more than $$$ for a multi-pound bag, as protein sources are pretty plentiful when you think about it.
That said, we will concede that certain processes make turning protein to powder expensive and time-consuming, but you should set a price limit before choosing your favorite protein powder.
Additionally, be sure plant-based protein powders are ultra-concentrated (with the exception of blends), and watch your carbs. That goes for egg-based products, too. Overall, though, stick to the above materials and you will find protein powders are not as expensive as you think. Plus, they will help with the hunger pains of a low-carb diet, and they should help you lose weight.