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Ladies, have you ever found yourself standing in an aisle of a health food store, completely unsure of which protein powder to get? You're not alone. Whether your goal is to lose weight, bulk up, tone certain areas, or make up for a protein-deficiency, there’s a protein powder that can work for your body and your lifestyle.
You can add protein powder to a variety of foods, but the most convenient and most popular are smoothies, shakes, and oatmeal. They’re quick, simple, and work perfectly on-the-go—just how we like it. It’s important to remember that protein powders are only supplemental to a healthy, balanced diet. To better understand what your recommended daily amount of protein is, consult your physician.
Here, the best protein powders for women to get you going.
Best Overall: ALOHA Organic Protein Powder
This tasty plant-based protein powder is ideal for those with food sensitivities as it’s free of gluten, soy, dairy, and stevia. The protein is made from hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and peas, and instead of artificial sweeteners, this formula relies on natural coconut sugar for its sweetness. While users do like the taste, they love that it’s non-irritating on their digestive system.
Best for Toning: Tone It Up Plant-Based Protein Powder
For the sporty girl on the go, this pea and pumpkin seed-based protein powder is exactly what you need to get your metabolism going. Developed by the founders of Tone It Up (FYI, their Instagram is #fitnessgoals), this powder is ideal for those who live an active lifestyle and want to firm up their bodies. With zero sugar (amen!) and 15 grams of protein, this powder is only 90 calories per serving—so if you're watching your caloric intake, this is your perfect match right here.
Best Organic: Ora Organic Vegan Protein Powder
Users love this protein powder for its raw organic superfood combo of kale, acai, blueberries, rice, pea, hemp, flax, quinoa, and spirulina. While it has an impressive 22 grams of protein, it also features just five grams of net carbs and no added sugar, so this is great for those on a low-carb diet. Plus, it’s easy on your stomach as it includes vegan digestive enzymes to aid in smooth digestion. And with no chalky taste, it’s perfect to add in even the simplest shakes.
Best Taste: Olly Plant Powered Protein Protein Powder Chocolate
Amino acids are the building blocks that make up proteins and have a role in virtually all the biological processes that occur in our bodies, including the reparation of skin.
Customers report that this protein powder is unbelievably delicious—not too sweet or chocolatey and not at all powdery-tasting. It also has eight of nine essential amino acids, which are important in encouraging healthy tissue in muscles, bones, skin, and hair. Mix a scoop in your iced coffee for a delicious kick that will keep you full for hours.
Best with Collagen: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
Collagen refers to a family of proteins that are the primary structural component of connective tissues, such as skin, ligaments, and cartilage. Topical collagen creams are said to improve fine lines and wrinkles by replacing the lost collagen, though its main benefit is moisturizing the skin.
Can you guess what the most abundant protein in our bodies is? I'll give it to you straight: collagen. Not only is it the amplest, but it's literally the thing that holds our bodies together. Our skin, bones, muscles, and tendons all have collagen, so it's safe to say that it's a pretty important protein. Unfortunately, like all good things, collagen production begins to slow down as we age, so refueling our bodies with that protein is needed. That's where this one-ingredient protein powder comes in. It basically supports your entire body—hair, nails, joints, and more. Users love it for its versatility; it can be added to almost anything, like cold and hot liquids, and baked goods (we're thinking cookies). Tamar Samuels, RD, NBC-HWC is a self-proclaimed, “big fan,” lauding the brand for being transparent about ingredients and sourcing.
Best with Whey: Care/of Whey Protein
A dairy-based protein, this grass-fed whey is an isolate, which means it has the highest concentration of protein and little carbs, fats, and sugars. Add two scoops to 8-10 ounces of your favorite cold liquid—we love unsweetened almond milk—and shake thoroughly.
Best with Fiber: Manitoba Harvest Hemp Yeah! Organic Max Protein Protein Powder
Wanting to see a lower number on the scale? This protein powder provides 10 grams of fiber and nine grams of protein to keep you fuller, longer. Fiber takes up a lot of space in the stomach without providing any calories, so it's ideal for those who want to stay satiated for an extended period of time. Hemp, another plant-based protein alternative, contains all nine essential amino acids that we get from food. It's also easily digestible, with one user reporting that it helped improve her digestion, unlike other protein powders. “I haven’t tried this one, so I can’t vouch for the taste or texture, but hemp has all nine essential amino acids, the product is organic, and the formula contains minimal ingredients,” notes Samuels.
Protein powders can be a great and easy way to get extra, well, protein into your diet, but it is important to choose carefully. The Aloha Organic Protein Powder is our fave, a plant-based pick that’s free of many common allergens such as gluten and soy. The Ora Organic Vegan Protein Powder is a great, totally organic, and vegan option that relies on a combo of superfoods, while the Care/of Whey Protein earns our pick for those who want a dairy-based powder. Collagen peptides also pull double-duty as a protein powder; the Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides is a universal fan-favorite that can also be used in any different number of ways.
What To Look for in a Protein Powder for Women
“Protein powders aren’t regulated by the FDA, which means that they do not require pre-market approval before being sold to the public,” explains Samuels. That means it falls on you to do your due diligence when it comes to not only reading the ingredient label but also looking further into the product. Samuels recommends choosing brands that are transparent about “all aspects of their product, including sourcing, manufacturing, and processing." She says, "you should be able to find all this information on the website. If it's not available, skip it.”
To that point, Samuels also suggests choosing formulas that don’t have lengthy ingredient lists, full of fillers and additives, but rather just a handful of ingredients that you actually recognize.
Type of Protein
Not all protein sources are created equal. Ideally, you want a source that contains all nine essential amino acids, explains Samuels. Animal-based sources have all of them, but not all plant-based options do (hemp seeds, chia, and quinoa being the exception). If you’re going with a different plant-based protein, look for a formula that combines it with other ones so that you make sure you get that complete amino acid profile, she suggests.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any protein powders from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.