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Protein is the darling of the macro world (sorry, fat and carbs), and protein powder is one of the most convenient ways to get an extra dose of it — whether you’re trying to lose fat, gain muscle, or both.

But you may be wondering if women have different protein powder needs than men or if any protein powder provides certain advantages to women specifically. (Spoiler alert: Nah.)

So grab that BlenderBottle and get ready to shake it like a salt shaker, ’cause here are the best protein powders for women (and everyone else too).

Protein powder offers a super easy and convenient way to get some extra protein in your life. While not everyone needs to supplement with it, certain conditions and health goals may warrant some added amino acids:

  • Muscle growth or maintenance. Wanna know the recipe for muscle growth? Protein + resistance training, according to a 2018 review. And even if you’re not currently looking for muscle growth, getting enough protein helps you keep the muscles you’ve already got.
  • Weight loss. According to some research, protein is extra-filling and great for managing hunger, which can make it easier to stick to reduced-calorie diets. Protein can also help your body preserve muscle and burn fat effectively. High protein diets appear to be really effective for weight loss, too, according to a 2020 review.
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding. These are times in a woman’s life when she needs a little extra, and protein powder makes it really easy without adding lots of extra sugar.
  • Recovery from illness or injury. Whether you’re getting over the flu or nursing a broken bone, protein provides the amino acids your body needs to recover and make new tissues.

Is it worth paying the pink tax on protein powder? Definitely not. Good protein powder is good protein powder, no matter who you are. Kim Pierce, dietitian and founder of The Outdoors Dietitian, says, “Women don’t need a different type of protein powder than men.”

Other factors — like taste, dietary needs or preferences, and your lifestyle — play a much bigger role than gender in determining what makes a great protein powder for you.

And Angie Asche, dietitian, owner of Eleat Sports Nutrition, and author of Fuel Your Body, reassures us that any extras in a female-oriented protein powder (like added vitamins) just plain aren’t necessary.

Pierce and Asche are here to show us the whey to pick a solid protein powder. Here’s what they recommend looking for (and the criteria that influenced our top protein powder picks!).

High quality protein

“I recommend looking for a high quality protein as the first ingredient — for example, grass-fed whey protein isolate,” explains Asche. She adds that plant-based proteins should contain several types of protein to ensure an optimal amino acid profile.

Third-party certs

FDA regulation of supplements is pretty limited, so third-party certifications are a great way to fact-check a powder’s quality. Certain certifications (like Informed Sport and NSF for Sport, according to Pierce) ensure that the protein powder is safe and free of contaminants and banned substances.

Even if you’re a casual exerciser who’s not downing protein shakes on the daily, you can feel confident that a company willing to invest in third-party certifications or testing stands behind their product.

Minimal ingredients

According to Asche, your protein powder does NOT need to be loaded with extra ingredients. It’s not a multivitamin, and lots of highly processed additives may be a sign that it’s not a great quality powder.

Look for protein powders that keep it simple and real (but remember that some extra ingredients are necessary for better flavor and texture).

Top overall

Orgain Clean Whey Protein Powder

  • Price: $$
  • Protein type: whey concentrate
  • Protein per serving: 21 grams (g)
  • Calories per serving: 130
  • Other nutrition info: 3 g fat, 11 g carbs, 2 g fiber
  • Certifications: USDA organic, non-GMO
  • Pros: inexpensive, gluten-free
  • Cons: no sport certifications

This inexpensive protein powder comes highly recommended by both Asche and Pierce, so it earned our top spot. Reviewers are seriously impressed by its great taste and texture, and it’s made with all organic and non-GMO ingredients — including whey from grass-fed cows. It comes in chocolate or vanilla.

Highly rated

Garden of Life Sport Organic Plant-Based Protein

  • Price: $$$
  • Protein type: plant-based (pea, sprouted navy bean, sprouted lentil, sprouted garbanzo, cranberry seed)
  • Protein per serving: 30 g
  • Calories per serving: 180
  • Other nutrition info: 3.5 g fat, 8 g carbs, 3 g fiber
  • Certifications: USDA organic, non-GMO, NSF for Sport, Informed Sport
  • Pros: 30 g protein per serving, variety of plant-based proteins, gluten-free
  • Cons: some extra ingredients that aren’t necessary for a protein powder

This protein powder comes highly recommended by Asche and has more than 7,300 overwhelmingly positive Amazon reviews, averaging 4.5 out of 5 stars. Put simply: People love it. It’s also vegan and contains probiotics, which may be helpful for metabolism and overall gut health. You can get it in chocolate or vanilla.

Best whey

ONNIT Grass-Fed Whey Isolate Protein

  • Price: $$
  • Protein type: whey isolate
  • Protein per serving: 20 g
  • Calories per serving: 120
  • Other nutrition info: 2 g fat, 5 g carbs, 2 g fiber
  • Certifications: NSF for Sport, Informed Sport
  • Pros: low in carbs, high quality whey, gluten-free
  • Cons: expensive

Whey isolate is preferred over whey concentrate because it contains more protein and fewer milk sugars and fats. ONNIT’s whey comes from grass-fed New Zealand cows. You can get this powder in Mexican chocolate (with a hint of cinnamon — YUM) or vanilla.

Best plant-based

Orgain Organic Protein Plant Based Protein Powder

  • Price: $$
  • Protein type: plant-based (pea, brown rice, chia seed)
  • Protein per serving: 21 g
  • Calories per serving: 150
  • Other nutrition info: 4 g fat, 15 g carbs, 2 g fiber
  • Certifications: USDA organic, non-GMO
  • Pros: variety of plant-based proteins, vegan, gluten-free
  • Cons: no sport certifications

Orgain is a recommended brand from our RD protein team (proteam?), and this one’s got rave reviews — more than 37,000 to be precise. Reviewers say it mixes well, and it’s one of the most affordable organic plant-based options. It comes in several flavors, including chocolate caramel sea salt *drool* — which is available on the Orgain website.

Best high end

Momentous AbsoluteZero Essential Grassfed Whey

  • Price: $$$
  • Protein type: whey isolate
  • Protein per serving: 20 g
  • Calories per serving: 100
  • Other nutrition info: 1.5 g fat, 3 g carbs, 2 g fiber
  • Certifications: non-GMO, NSF for Sport, Informed Sport
  • Pros: high quality whey, lower in calories and carbs than many other powders, gluten-free
  • Cons: expensive

This is the VIP (Very Important Protein) of the protein powder world. Made with cold-processed grass-fed whey isolate and a blend of natural enzymes to help boost absorption, it’s the one you want if quality is a priority and price is not a concern. It also comes recommended by Asche. Flavors include chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and unflavored.

Best for athletes

Klean Athlete Whey Protein Isolate

  • Price: $$$
  • Protein type: whey isolate
  • Protein per serving: 20 g
  • Calories per serving: 100
  • Other nutrition info: 1 g fat, 6 g carbs, 1 g fiber
  • Certifications: NSF for Sport
  • Pros: lower in calories and carbs than other protein powders, few ingredients, high quality whey, gluten-free
  • Cons: expensive

Klean Athlete — as the name suggests — is a trusted line of high quality sports supplements designed specifically for athletes. This one is on the expensive side but offers a similar nutritional profile to the Momentous powder above for a slightly lower price. You can get it in chocolate, vanilla, or unflavored.

Best budget option

NOW Sports Whey Protein Isolate

  • Price: $
  • Protein type: whey isolate
  • Protein per serving: 25 g
  • Calories per serving: 110
  • Other nutrition info: 0.5 g fat, <1 g carbs
  • Certifications: Informed Sport
  • Pros: inexpensive, only two ingredients, high quality whey, gluten-free
  • Cons: Some reviews report poor mixing and quality issues.

This protein powder provides some incredible value, especially considering it’s made with the more pure isolate form of whey protein, contains only two ingredients, and is Informed Sport certified. However, reviewers detail quality issues in certain batches, like poor mixing and excessive foaming.

Most personalized

Gainful Personalized Protein Powder

  • Price: $$$
  • Protein type: whey concentrate, whey isolate, casein, or plant-based (pea, brown rice, oat)
  • Protein per serving: 19 to 27 g
  • Calories per serving: varies
  • Other nutrition info: varies
  • Certifications: N/A
  • Pros: totally customized, high quality ingredients
  • Cons: expensive, no sport certifications

Want an Easy button for your protein powder? Hop on over to Gainful’s website, take their quiz, and let them create a custom protein powder that suits your needs, goals, and preferences. Their powders are made with super high quality ingredients and can be made vegan or keto-friendly.

Your purchase also gives you one-on-one access to a dietitian who can help you with your goals. You can add flavor boosts in some amazing-sounding flavors, like cinnamon toast and caffe mocha.

Most sustainable

hi! Protein Powder

  • Price: $$$
  • Protein type: cricket, plant-based (pumpkin, brown rice, pea)
  • Protein per serving: 21 g
  • Calories per serving: 150
  • Other nutrition info: 4 g fat, 8 g carbs, 4 g fiber
  • Certifications: non-GMO, NSF certified, organic, gluten-free
  • Pros: sustainable, low in carbs, high quality ingredients
  • Cons: no sport certifications, expensive

*crickets, crickets*

Nope, that’s not from our corny jokes — that’s from your protein powder. This powder is made from a combo of plant sources and mondo-sustainable cricket protein, and reviewers who aren’t bugged out by it say it tastes pretty darn good!

While it’s not fully plant-based, it is dairy-free, unlike whey powders. The brand also claims that their single-serve packets use a whopping 90 percent less plastic than a tub and scoop.

Best flavors

KOS Organic Plant Protein

  • Price: $$
  • Protein type: plant-based (pea, flaxseed, quinoa, pumpkin seed, chia seed)
  • Protein per serving: 20 g
  • Calories per serving: 170
  • Other nutrition info: 6 g fat, 9 g carbs, 2 g fiber
  • Certifications: USDA organic, non-GMO
  • Pros: unique flavors, gluten- and dairy-free, vegan
  • Cons: expensive

This plant-based protein line from KOS boasts some flavors that are a far cry from the same old, same old chocolate and vanilla (although they’ve got those too). Think salted caramel coffee, blueberry muffin, chocolate peanut butter, and chocolate chip mint — all naturally colored and flavored.

Best for everyday needs

Carnation Breakfast Essentials High Protein Drink Mix

  • Price: $
  • Protein type: whey isolate
  • Protein per serving: 10 g (18 g when mixed with 1 cup milk)
  • Calories per serving: 130
  • Other nutrition info: 1 g fat, 21 g carbs, 0 g fiber
  • Certifications: none
  • Pros: inexpensive, convenient
  • Cons: several added ingredients, no sport certifications, contains added sugar, lower in protein than other powders

If you need just a little extra protein to complement a mostly adequate intake, this is a fair choice — especially considering the price and great reviews for taste. Pierce even recommends it to some of her clients. Just keep in mind that it’s more sugary than other products on this list and has about half the protein. It comes in chocolate or vanilla.

Best keto protein powder

Ancient Nutrition KetoPROTEIN

  • Price: $$$
  • Protein type: chicken and beef bone broth protein concentrate
  • Protein per serving: 15 g
  • Calories per serving: 160
  • Other nutrition info: 10 g fat, 2 g carbs, 1 g fiber
  • Certifications: non-GMO
  • Pros: ideal for active people on keto, low in carbs, high in fat, dairy- and gluten-free
  • Cons: expensive, slightly less protein than other powders, not third-party tested

If you’re on keto, you may want a protein powder with some slightly more favorable macros for your low carb lifestyle — and this is just the thing. It’s got more fat than most other protein powders and just 1 g of net carbs per serving, so it’s an ideal keto workout companion. You can get it in chocolate or vanilla.

Best “clear” protein

Isopure Infusions

  • Price: $$
  • Protein type: whey protein isolate
  • Protein per serving: 20 g
  • Calories per serving: 90
  • Other nutrition info: 0 g fat, 2 g carbs, 0 g fiber
  • Certifications: N/A
  • Pros: fruit flavors, low in calories and carbs, inexpensive, not as heavy as other powders, high quality whey, few ingredients, gluten- and lactose-free
  • Cons: can’t be stirred, takes a few minutes to fully dissolve in water

These light, fruit-flavored powders can be mixed with water in a shaker bottle. Once the powder settles, you’ve got a clear fruity drink that’s not thick, heavy, or creamy — perfect for outdoor summer workouts. Flavors include tropical punch, pineapple orange banana, mixed berry, mango lime, and citrus lemonade. Protinis, anyone?

Here’s how much protein you should aim for each day, based on your health goals:

  • General health: at least 0.8 g per kg of body weight, or 0.36 g per pound (lb.) (although some research suggests this should be closer to 1.2 to 1.6 g per kg of body weight, or 0.54 to 0.73 g per lb.)
  • High activity: 1.4 to 2.0 g per kg of body weight, or 0.64 to 0.91 g per lb., according to Asche
  • Weight loss: 1.4 to 2.0 g per kg of body weight, or 0.64 to 0.91 g per lb., according to Asche

These guidelines can help you figure out if you need protein powder and, if so, how much.

And trust, we’ve got plenty of recipes so you can enjoy your protein shake instead of choking it down just to get it over with. Follow these links to some.

You may need some extra protein in your life if you’re an athlete or if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, recovering from an injury, or trying to lose weight — but there’s no need to seek out a “women’s” protein powder.

Just look for one that’s made with high quality protein and minimal ingredients and preferably third-party certified. We’ve got lots of recs above to help you get protein proficient.