We all know that our body needs protein to function correctly and sustain itself. If you are into fitness, the word “protein” is quite the buzzword these days, and for good reason!
Protein supports muscle growth, aids in workout recovery, and can even promote weight loss. Not to mention, it helps with #bootygains.
While we can get protein from our everyday diet, we can also get protein from protein powders. There is a range of different types to choose from — whether it's a vegan protein powder, brown rice protein, casein, grass-fed whey, or another source.
The thing is, navigating protein powder can be overwhelming because there are so many options. So, what are the best protein powders for women? Are there even protein powders made specifically for women?
Like any other supplement, not all protein powders are created equal. So grab a seat and maybe a latte as we go over the basics of protein powders for women.
Why Use Protein Powder?
Protein powder is an easy and convenient way to add protein to your diet. While we can get protein from typical foods, depending on our lifestyle, we don’t always get enough.
To use most protein powder, you simply mix the powder with a beverage of your choice — milk, smoothies, shakes, or water. If you want to turn your recipes into protein-packed ones, you can also add the powder to cooking or baking recipes.
Suppose you are vegan or vegetarian, and you find it difficult to get protein from your diet alone. In that case, protein powders can supplement your protein needs — and there are vegan and vegetarian protein powders to suit your lifestyle.
When it comes to types of protein powders, there are countless options to choose from, but first, let’s chat about how much protein women need.
The Amount of Protein Women Need, According to Nutritionists
According to the recommended dietary allowance (RDA), women need .36 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily. But according to many dieticians, this amount is low, especially if you exercise regularly.
"There’s a misunderstanding not only among the public but also somewhat in our profession about the RDA," Nancy Rodriguez, a registered dietitian and professor of nutritional science at the University of Connecticut says. "People, in general, think we all eat too much protein."
Rodriguez argues that actually doubling the recommended amount of protein, "is a safe and good range to aim for."
As for the other macronutrients, when it comes to fat, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion state that women should get 20-35% of their calories from fat. When it comes to carbohydrates, The Institute of Medicine, recommends consumers get 45-65% of daily calories from carbohydrates. #teamcarbs
Benefits of Protein Powder
Protein powder is a great addition to any post-workout routine. Whether you're into protein shakes, fun flavored energy balls, or even protein cookies, this powdered supplement is a great source of protein with a variety of health benefits.
The 3 main benefits of taking protein powder are:
- Promoting muscle growth
- Supporting weight loss
- Speeding up muscle recovery
1) It's suitable for muscle growth
We all know that protein is essential for building our muscles, along with some other body tissues. While you can eat protein-rich foods, if you want to really increase or boost your muscle growth, taking protein powder can be helpful. They’re easy to consume, you know how much protein you're getting, and they can help bridge the nutritional gaps in your diet.
2) It can help you lose weight
Studies show that upping your protein intake can increase satiety. When we feel fuller, we're likely to eat less, leading to weight loss.
If you want to reap the weight loss benefits of protein, add more of it to your diet, and reduce fat and carb intake. To further boost your weight loss, add regular workouts to your daily lifestyle.
Some people choose to use protein shakes as a meal replacement, which can also lead to weight loss. Contrary to popular opinion, it's not necessary to skip meals to lose weight! And if your goal is to grow your booty or lean out your body, then eating more protein is key.
3) It can speed up your recovery
Aside from muscle growth, protein can also support your recovery. And no one likes a painful recovery after a great workout.
By replenishing your body with protein after a difficult workout, you'll boost your muscle recovery because your body will use the essential amino acids to repair your muscles. This allows you to go for another set at the gym or to return to the gym as soon as possible, which ultimately helps with muscle building.
Whey vs. Plant Protein Powder: What’s the Difference?
If you look around for protein powders, you'll find out that protein powders come in many different forms. The most common is whey protein, with plant protein powder a close second. So, what’s the difference?
Before we begin, it should be noted that both whey and plant protein carry several benefits: muscle gain, weight loss, speedy recovery, etc. The point of this comparison is to show you the key differences between whey and plant protein. It will be up to you to decide which is a better fit for your fitness and dietary needs.
Whey Protein Isolate
Whey protein is made from whey, a milky liquid that's a byproduct of cheese making. Once the liquid is collected and isolated, all components – water, carbs, fat, and other components – are removed, leaving the protein alone. Then, the protein is turned into powder.
Since whey is made of milk, it contains lactose, a type of milk sugar. Whey isolate contains less lactose than whey concentrate. But, if you're lactose-intolerant, whey protein powder can be problematic. If you're fine with lactose, however, whey protein is hard to beat.
Protein Content and Quality
Whey protein’s quantity largely depends on the manufacturer — on average, a whey protein powder would provide 20-30 grams of protein per serving. Our protein, Bright Whey, includes 25 grams.
Whey protein is a complete protein because it has all nine essential amino acids, which your body needs to build muscles. It also contains branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) — the amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine — which play a vital role in muscle growth. It’s for these reasons that whey protein is a trendy protein powder, and one that we love!
For muscle growth, whey protein is considered the gold standard. It contains all the essential amino acids and BCAAs, which are necessary for building muscles and supporting a speedy recovery. For weight loss, whey and plant protein are both effective.
Unlike whey protein, which comes from a single source, plant protein is derived from multiple plants. Typically, the plants used for plant protein powders include peas, brown rice, soy, and hemp. A plant protein powder could either be made from a single ingredient or a variety of plants, creating a protein blend.
Needless to say, if you're vegan or vegetarian, you're probably eyeing plant protein already. But even if you don’t follow these diets, you can still get some benefits from plant protein. For instance, if you're lactose-intolerant, plant protein may work better for you since it doesn't contain lactose.
Protein Content and Quality
Just like whey, plant protein powders typically offer 20-30 grams per serving.
The protein content of plant protein powders largely depends on where the protein was derived. Most plants do not offer complete protein, so some manufacturers mix various plants to provide all the essential amino acids and BCAAs. Soy, rice, and pea protein are the only plant protein powders that are considered complete, but soy may not work well for you if you have an allergy.
While whey is considered the gold standard for muscle growth and recovery, plant protein can compete so long as it contains all the essential amino acids and BCAAs that whey protein offers. If you choose to take plant protein powder, the key is to ensure that the product you’re buying contains all 9 essential amino acids and BCAAs — not all plant protein powder offers the same protein content.
Pea protein powder is a common form of plant protein. While it's hard to beat the amino acids profile of whey protein, pea protein comes close, with a legume amino acid profile.
If you deal with a sensitive gut, pea protein is a great option because it is low in fiber. It has 0 fiber, whereas a typical hemp seed powder has 8 grams of fiber per 30-gram scoop. Check out our Bright Vegan Protein Powder for a great began or vegetation option.
Other Common Protein Powder Ingredients
There are a variety of other natural ingredients that go into popular protein powders. Typically, whey protein is the main ingredient in protein powder, whereas pea protein is well-supported by other things like pumpkin seeds or brown rice protein.
Here are a few other common ingredients to look for:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Chia seeds
- Soy protein
- Brown rice protein
- Egg whites
- Hemp protein powder
- Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)
What to Look for in a Protein Powder
If you're searching for protein powder, here are a few things to consider.
1) Avoid High-Sugar Protein Powders
We have mentioned that protein powder can help you lose weight. However, if your protein powder contains a lot of sugar, it will simply reverse or hurt your weight loss and fitness progress.
Flavored protein powders are frequently the ones that contain added sugar. If you're shopping for a flavored protein powder, check the label to see how much sugar it contains — up to 4 grams of sugar per serving is considered acceptable.
2) Avoid Protein Powders With Excessive Ingredient Lists
Preservatives and additives can slowly impact your health in a negative way. As much as possible, shop for protein powders that contain fewer ingredients so you can avoid consuming unnecessary or harmful ingredients.
3) Contains All of the Essential Amino Acids and BCAAs
If effectiveness is your number one priority, be sure you are getting either a whey protein powder or a plant protein powder that contains the 9 essential amino acids and BCAAs.
2 of the Best Protein Powders for Women
If you're looking for a protein powder but you don’t know which ones to choose, you can start by looking at these two options:
1) Bright Whey
For whey protein powder, check out Bright Whey! This is your one whey (yes, we did that) ticket to nailing your protein goals and increasing your gym gains.
Our Bright Whey is a whey protein powder made for women by women. It offers 25 grams of protein, and it comes in two delicious flavors: Cookies n Cream and Cinnamon Swirl. These flavors come with all the taste, but not the sugar thanks to stevia, one of our favorite natural sweeteners!
Both flavors only contain 1 gram of sugar, so they're easy to include in any diet.
If you're looking to build muscle mass and increase lean muscle, our high protein and low carb whey powder is a great option. Not to mention, it has a complete amino acid profile.
2) Glow-Getter Collagen
Glow-Getter Collagen is one of our favorite products. It's a collagen supplement designed to support your skin, hair, and nail health. While Bright Whey is a pure protein powder that works to boost muscles, support recovery, and promote overall wellness, collagen supports skin, hair, and nail support.
Our Collagen is added sugar-free, gluten-free, and keto-friendly.
Should You Add Protein Powder to Your Daily Diet?
If you are trying to go after #gains, then adding a protein powder to your day-to-day can be extremely beneficial. Slight bias, but look no further than our protein supplements, Cira Bright Whey and Glow-Getter Collagen.
We love adding these two products into our daily regimens, and think you will too.