Whether you’re just starting out your journey to better health, fitness, and nutrition or you’ve been at it a while, at some point you should strongly consider protein powder for women.
NO WAY!… you might be thinking as thoughts of the ‘juice monkey’s’ in the gym slamming back shake after shake cross your mind.
It’s time to re-frame your mindset about protein powder and learn the proper information about what it is, how it can help you, and why it’s the one key supplement you need to really take your body to the next level.
As you’re going to see, the fact of the matter is that women often need protein supplements even more than men do – including those burly guys who look like they spend every spare second they get in the free weights area.
Let’s first begin our discussion with some information about why women need protein powder, then move into the benefits of protein powder, and then talk about how to go about choosing the right protein powder and integrating it into your menu plan.
After reading this, you should be armed with all the information you need to know to make a smart decision and know exactly where protein powder fits into your plan.
Why Women Need Protein Powder
Let’s get started with some discussion on the answer to the question of why you may want to use protein powder in the first place.
So why protein?
Women in general don’t get enough protein in their daily diet. Think for a moment about the foods you typically crave. Let’s make a list, shall we?
- Cookies / Cake / Ice cream (pick your poison!)
I bet any one of those options sounds pretty good to you right about now. Am I right?
Now if you asked a man the same question, what would he typically reply with?
- Roast Beef
…. This is what most men typically gravitate to. That’s not to say you don’t love yourself a good burger now and then, but if you had to choose between a burger and a plate of lasagna, which would it be?
Most women love carbs. We don’t like protein. In fact, it’s a challenge for us to get enough which is why many women fall short. Men typically don’t have as much trouble because they naturally want those foods. So for them, protein powder can actually be a little excessive.
For you, the individual who is falling short, it can be a necessity. Protein powder very well may make the difference between you meeting your protein needs or not and meeting your protein needs is imperative to seeing maximum success in this journey. Keep in mind that every woman should have at least around one gram of protein powder per pound of body weight each day in her diet, if not a little more if you are on a reduced calorie diet for fat loss.
This is why women should seriously consider protein powder. Stop viewing it as a supplement and start viewing it as just another way to get your protein needs met. Protein powder is going to supply your body with amino acids in much the same way that chicken breast provides amino acids.
When you start seeing it more like this, you might just find it isn’t nearly as ‘scary’ to think about.
Let’s now chat a bit about the benefits that protein powder has to offer.
Benefits Of Protein Powder To Know About
When looking at the benefits of using protein powder, there may be many that you didn’t even know existed. For this reason, it’s important not to rush off and think that you’ll just have chicken, or just serve some eggs instead.
While those are certainly terrific ways to get your needs met, the fact of the matter is that protein powder does have certain benefits over and beyond those foods.
Timed Release Formula’s
The first benefit of protein powder is that it comes in many different varieties, each of which has its own specific timed released formula. For instance, if you opt for a whey protein isolate, you’ll be looking at the fastest releasing formula where the amino acids are delivered to your muscles very rapidly upon using it.
This makes it ideal for those who are just finishing a workout session and who need those nutrients to the muscles in order to start the repair and recovery process.
Alternatively, if you opt for a casein protein powder, this is a very slow digesting formula, so the amino acids will be released over time, thus helping to ‘tide you over’ so to speak when you won’t be eating for a while.
This is a great formula for having before bed.
Other protein powders such as whey concentrate, hemp protein, egg protein, and soy protein are released at an average speed, so are more comparable to any standard food source of protein.
If you choose whey protein powder, you’re also going to get the benefit of receiving a good dose of calcium with your shake. Many women currently aren’t taking in enough calcium with their everyday diet and this could be causing their bones to become more weak and brittle than they should be.
This could be setting you up for the risk of stress fractures or osteoporosis down the road, proving again why getting a quality whey protein powder in your diet is a wise move.
While some protein powders do remove most of the calcium to make them lactose free, if you are fine with a bit of lactose, you can find powders that will supply up to 20% of your total daily intake per serving.
Belly Fat Burning Benefits
Here’s something that may interest you: Many women often think of protein powders as a supplement designed to help bulk the body up, but the real truth is that whey protein powder may actually help lean you down.
Research1 has illustrated that when subjects consume whey protein powder in their diet plan, they may lose more fat from the abdominal region than if they didn’t. It would seem that there is a connection between the protein in the protein powder (or any dairy product for that matter) and the calcium, which interacts and helps the body more selectively target burning in that core region.
So if flat abs are a goal of yours, the protein powder you consume may just help get you there.
This applies to any low fat dairy product, so whether it’s whey protein powder, yogurt, or cottage cheese for instance, you will reap these benefits.
Immune Strengthening Properties
Whey protein powder is also a great option for keeping your immune system strong and healthy. This is important because when your immune system starts to feel weak and run-down, you’ll notice that you start feeling burnt out and may fall ill a lot more frequently.
You might think that because you are young and eat fairly well, you have nothing to worry about, but the truth is that every stressor you face in life is going to take a toll on your immune system, whether it’s work stress, relationship stress, money stress, or otherwise.
Many women would describe themselves as chronic worriers and this isn’t doing anything to help keep your immune system strong and healthy.
Whey protein powder contains immunoglobins2, which help to give your immune system a boost and can help keep you feeling great. The stronger your immune system is, the faster you’ll also recover from the exercise you are doing, allowing you to train again sooner and thus see quicker results.
Does hunger often get the best of you? One of the hardest things to manage if you are trying to actively lose weight is dealing with the hunger that creeps up during the day. Don’t let this get the best of you any longer.
While I would typically not recommend a liquid to help keep hunger down as generally speaking liquid calories do not fill you up like whole food calories do, whey protein powder is the exception.
Research has illustrated that when subjects consume a pre-load of whey protein powder before a meal3, they tend to eat fewer calories at the following meal than when they didn’t. So as it turns out, protein powder may just help you keep your target calorie intake where it needs to be, allowing you to see the rate of fat loss you desire.
Ease Of Use
Finally, a last benefit of protein powder that I’m sure just about every woman reading this can appreciate is the fact that it’s easy to use. Just mix and go. You’re done. No meal prep. No piles of dishes to clean. No planning.
If you lead a busy lifestyle and don’t always have time to think about where and how you’ll get your protein in, protein powder makes life so easy. All you need to do is bring a shaker cup with the protein powder in the cup and then add water when you’re ready. It really doesn’t get any easier than this.
Hopefully all of these benefits have started to convince you of the fact that perhaps yes, whey protein powder is a good idea for your diet plan.
Let’s now move on and talk about the different types so you can better understand what to buy.
Types Of Protein Powder
The first type of protein powder and the one most people commonly think about when they hear the term ‘protein powder’ is whey protein powder. By far, this is the most commonly seen and purchased and for good reason: it’s a high quality protein source that comes with many great benefits. In fact, virtually all the benefits noted above.
Whey protein powder can further be divided into whey concentrate and whey isolate. The main difference here is how processed the protein powder is. Whey isolate is more processed and breaks down more rapidly so is ideal for right after your workout session.
Whey concentrate however has more of the ‘good stuff’, so to speak – the calcium and immunoglobins because they haven’t been filtered out.
Casein protein powder is often lumped in under whey protein powder, and while it still comes from a dairy source, it’s actually not whey, but still can be used in much the same manner as whey and provides similar benefits (only it’s very slow digesting, not fast).
Have a look at our Her Natural Whey Protein Powder for one of the highest quality whey protein powders on the market that is 100% pure and will deliver you the amino acids your body needs for recovery.
Next you have plant protein powder. Plant proteins are typically the ones that vegetarians opt for since they aren’t consuming dairy products as part of their overall diet plan.
Here you have things like hemp protein, brown rice protein, pea protein, quinoa protein, and so on.
The drawback to these types of protein is that they often do contain more carbs and/or fats than whey does, so you aren’t just getting protein. If you are on a mission to get as lean as possible and want to keep your protein to strictly protein, these won’t exactly do you any favors.
That said, for a vegetarian struggling to get their protein needs met, they can still be a terrific option.
Another nice thing about plant protein sources is that they are naturally lactose free, so if you are someone who suffers from severe lactose intolerance, you’ll likely find that these are a great option for helping you manage that.
Collagen is another protein source that you will want to consider. Collagen protein powder is one that you may not have heard of as often however it consists of the protein that is utilized by the body to keep tendons, ligaments, and bones strong.
It’s often overlooked by many people but an integral part of keeping your tissues healthy and your joints pain free. Our Her Natural Collagen protein powder is an excellent choice to use in conjunction with your normal protein powder.
Finally, soy protein powder is the last type of protein powder that you may look into if you are a vegetarian. There is mixed research on the effects soy has in the body, especially in larger quantities, so you will want to tread carefully when choosing soy as your primary option.
Soy protein powder may be okay to have once in a while, but it would be a good idea to avoid using it daily. Women don’t seem as negatively impacted by soy protein powder as men do, but they still will want proceed with a bit of care and caution with it.
Between all the different brands out there and then different protein powder varieties, it can be hard to figure out what’s best to purchase. Let’s look at a few points of consideration when making your purchase.
How To Choose A Protein Powder Wisely
The following are all things to look at when selecting a good protein powder. Do keep in mind that your protein powder doesn’t necessarily need to satisfy all of these, but the more of them it does, the better.
Added Sugar Content
The first thing to look at when selecting a protein powder is how much added sugar that protein powder has. In effort to stay lean (and keep your body healthy!), try and choose one that has as little sugar as possible.
Three grams per serving should be about the limit that you’ll accept. Most whey isolates contain no sugar or just one gram where as whey concentrates may contain a couple grams.
Also look at the ingredient listing on the label for the protein powder. How many total ingredients does it have? The fewer ingredients, the better.
Some companies will add a lot of ‘filler’ ingredients, which are basically ingredients that help to add bulk to the product to add weight without adding many benefits.
They may also be ingredients that you don’t necessarily want to be putting into your body, so you really are better off without them.
While looking at the panel of ingredients and nutrition stats, also take a look at the fat and carb content along with how many calories it contains. If you are aiming to stay as lean as possible or lose weight, you won’t want these numbers creeping upwards.
Generally you should look for a protein powder that contains no more than about 120-130 calories per scoop and 2 grams of fat. If you are going to be going with hemp protein or another plant based protein, this may not be feasible as these protein powders do naturally come with more carbs/fats added, but the closer you can get to these numbers, the better.
That’s another reason why whey stands above the rest.
You’ll also want to consider whether any artificial sweeteners have been added to the protein powder. Most people will prefer as little as possible or if they have, that they are naturally occurring sweeteners such as stevia.
Aspartame does impact many people negatively, so you should try and stay away from that as much as you can, especially consider this is a product that you are going to be using on a near daily basis.
Finally, if you can get your hands on a whey protein powder that is grass fed, this will be your best option. The nutritional profile for grass fed beef is much better than grain fed, so the same will go for the whey protein powder that comes from grass fed cows.
When you choose grass fed whey, you’ll also get a small dose of omega-3 fatty acids as well, which bring a wealth of benefits to the supplement including helping you lower your levels of inflammation and improving brain health.
So there you have the main things that you’ll want to consider and look for when shopping for protein powders. When using a protein powder, you can either use it as a shake or if you want to get more creative, you can add it to foods you are preparing such as oatmeal, baked muffins, smoothies, or stirring it into your favorite yogurt. There are many ways to serve protein powder so don’t think you necessarily have to drink it.
When you start using a protein powder and see the benefits it brings, chances are, you will wonder how you did without it in your life.
- Zemel, Michael B., et al. “Calcium and dairy acceleration of weight and fat loss during energy restriction in obese adults.” Obesity research 12.4 (2004): 582-590.
- Keri Marshall, N. D. “Therapeutic applications of whey protein.” Alternative medicine review 9.2 (2004): 136-156.
- Hall, W. L., et al. “Casein and whey exert different effects on plasma amino acid profiles, gastrointestinal hormone secretion and appetite.” British Journal of Nutrition 89.2 (2003): 239-248.