Protein is known as the king of supplements. Even if you’re new to the fitness world, you’ve probably heard chatter in the gym about taking protein to boost your muscle. However, there are so many options available it can be hard to choose which one is best for you. Male or female, the most important thing to think about when choosing a protein supplement is your specific fitness goals.
Once you decide what you need out of your protein supplementation, whether it’s to help build muscle, lose weight, or just fill in some gaps in your diet, you can make a more educated decision on what kind of protein you should use. Here, we’ll go over some of the most common goals women have for using protein powders, and which options will help to best meet them.
Best Protein Powder for Women: Weight Loss
One of the most common reasons for women to hit the gym and use supplements is for weight loss. Arguably, this is the reason for a lot of men, too. So, what should you look for in a protein powder if your goal is weight loss?
Whey protein is one of the most commonly used and widely available types of protein and, when paired with a good resistance training program, can help with weight loss. It is a complete protein and is particularly rich in leucine, a branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) that is essential in kicking off muscle protein synthesis. Muscle building is important for weight loss, as it takes more energy to maintain muscle at rest than fat.
Not only does whey protein help with building more muscle, it also helps reduce the amount of the hormone ghrelin in the body, which triggers appetite. This is thought to be why whey protein is more effective for weight loss than other types of protein. In fact, one study showed that subjects who took 56g of whey protein saw higher weight loss than those taking the same amount of soy protein, making whey an excellent choice if weight loss is your primary exercise goal.
When choosing a whey protein powder for weight loss, look for powders that have a lower calorie count, as well as a low amount of carbs, fat, and sugar. To really get the most out of your whey protein, try to find one that has 0g of sugar, but you still enjoy the taste of so that you’ll stick with it.
It’s important to note that no protein powder by itself will help you to lose weight. To effectively lose weight, one must be in a calorie deficit, meaning that they burn more calories per day than they use. To really make gains in weight loss you must combine a healthy diet (which may include a protein powder) with adequate exercise. Weight training and protein powder tend to go hand in hand because it takes more energy to keep muscle at rest than fat, and protein helps to build muscle.
Best Whey Protein Powder for Women
The best whey protein powder is one that is low in calories, low in carbs and fat, and has very little (if any) sugar. You should also avoid powders with unnecessary ingredients like artificial colors and flavors. These types of ingredients don’t add any benefit, and there are many great tasting options that don’t include them.
Whey isolate is also a great choice for whey protein. In this type of whey protein, the lactose has been almost completely removed, making it easier to digest for some, and creating a powder made up of almost pure protein. Whey isolate is just as easy to find as regular whey protein and isn’t much more expensive.
Best Vegan Protein Powder for Women
If animal and dairy-based proteins are not for you, the next best option for protein supplementation is pea protein. Pea protein is made from ground up, dried yellow peas, and is one of the most popular plant-based proteins.
While not a complete protein, it does contain high amounts of BCAAs, which are critical for muscle building. One study even found that subjects using pea protein measured thicker biceps than those supplementing with whey, making pea protein an excellent choice for muscle building.
Pea protein may also be a good option for women looking for help losing weight, as one study found that pea protein hydrolysate more effectively reduced feelings of hunger than whey protein. Previously, one of the biggest advantages of whey protein was its easy digestibility, making it a favourite for post-workout consumption. Pea protein is, unfortunately, harder to digest, but pea protein hydrolysate is more easily absorbed, making it a great option for vegans.
Best Protein Powder for Women: Overall Health
A relatively new but interesting protein powder for women is collagen-based protein. What makes collagen-based protein powder so unique is it that along with being a good source of protein, it may also provide other benefits such as joint pain relief and help reduce and prevent some signs of ageing! One study showed that 69% of participants saw visibly reduced facial lines, while another had subjects report significantly reduced joint pain during exercise.
Collagen-based proteins are animal proteins and are mostly derived from animal skin and bones (cows, pigs, and fish usually). Like pea protein, you can find it in a hydrolyzed form that makes it easier to digest. However, it is obviously not vegan-friendly.
The Bottom Line
The best protein powder for women all depends on what your specific goals are. For weight loss, whey protein may be the best option as it helps to suppress hunger, is low in calories, and is one of the best for building muscle (for an extra boost, try adding a testo support supplement like HF Labs Delta Prime to your whey protein regimen). Pea protein is one of the best protein supplements for vegan women as it is rich in BCAAs and has yielded similar muscle building and appetite suppressing results as whey. For overall health, consider using collagen-based protein, as it not only provides ample protein but may help with joint pain and reducing fine lines and wrinkles.
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