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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).

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).

Men’s vs. women’s: Does it really matter?

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.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $1.00 per serving
  • $$ = $1.00–$2.50 per serving
  • $$$ = over $2.50 per serving

Best overall protein powder for women

Orgain Clean Whey Protein Powder

  • Price per serving: $$
  • 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
  • Added sugar: 0 grams
  • Certifications: USDA organic, non-GMO

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 concentrate from grass-fed cows. It comes in chocolate or vanilla.

(P.S. Whey typically comes in one of two forms in protein powder: whey concentrate or whey isolate. Whey isolate is more processed, resulting in a higher protein content with minimal extra carbs or fats hanging on from the milk it comes from. Whey concentrate contains small amounts of these and less protein by weight, but tends to be more affordable.)

Despite its lack of sport certifications, Orgain has strict quality standards that make it a trusted choice among health pros.

Pros

  • inexpensive
  • gluten-free

Cons

  • no sport certifications

Top-rated protein powder for women

Garden of Life Sport Organic Plant-Based Protein

  • Price per serving: $$$
  • 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
  • Added sugar: 0 grams
  • Certifications: USDA organic, non-GMO, NSF for Sport, Informed Sport

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. In addition, it contains some added vitamins and a Recovery Blend, which contains antioxidants from various whole food sources to aid in post-workout recovery. Totally helpful, but not a necessity in protein powder.

You can get it in chocolate or vanilla.

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

Best whey protein powder for women

ONNIT Grass-Fed Whey Isolate Protein

  • Price per serving: $$
  • 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
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Certifications: NSF for Sport, Informed Sport

Whey isolate is often 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, and its formula focuses on the protein with minimal flashy extras. However, it does contain a bit of medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, which may help you burn more fat while you get your pump on, according to a small 2012 study.

You can get this powder in Mexican chocolate (with a hint of cinnamon — YUM) or vanilla.

Pros

  • low in carbs
  • high quality whey
  • gluten-free

Cons

  • expensive

Best plant-based protein powder for women

Orgain Organic Protein Plant-Based Protein Powder

  • Price per serving: $$
  • 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
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Certifications: USDA organic, non-GMO, vegan-friendly

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.

And other than the creamer base that Orgain adds to their protein powders to make them tasty AF (we can personally attest), this blend is all about the (plant) protein, baby.

Again, despite Orgain’s lack of sports certifications, the company really cares about product quality — making them a dietitian fave.

Pros

  • variety of plant-based proteins
  • vegan
  • gluten-free

Cons

  • no sport certifications

Best protein powder for muscle gain for women

Momentous AbsoluteZero Essential Grassfed Whey

  • Price per serving: $$$
  • 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
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Certifications: non-GMO, NSF for Sport, Informed Sport

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.

Since it’s got minimal other stuff and is made with whey isolate (pure muscle food), it’s also ideal for your post-workout shake if gains are your goal.

Flavors include chocolate and vanilla.

Pros

  • high quality whey
  • lower in calories and carbs than many other powders
  • gluten-free

Cons

  • expensive

Best protein powder for athletes

Klean Athlete Whey Protein Isolate

  • Price per serving: $$$
  • 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
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Certifications: NSF for Sport

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.

As the name ALSO suggests, it keeps the focus on the protein with no hyped-up extras (which is totally Asche-approved).

You can get it in chocolate, vanilla, or unflavored.

Pros

  • lower in calories and carbs than other protein powders
  • few ingredients
  • high quality whey
  • gluten-free

Cons

  • expensive

Best protein powder for weight loss for women

NOW Sports Whey Protein Isolate

  • Price per serving: $
  • Protein type: whey isolate
  • Protein per serving: 25 g
  • Calories per serving: 110
  • Other nutrition info: 0.5 g fat, <1 g carbs
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Certifications: Informed Sport

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.

It also packs a hefty 25 grams of protein for just 110 calories, which is an ideal protein payoff if you’re trying to lose weight. High protein diets appear to be really helpful for weight loss, and this powder is an easy way to hack your protein intake for minimal calories.

However, reviewers detail quality issues in certain batches, like poor mixing and excessive foaming.

Pros

  • inexpensive
  • only two ingredients
  • high quality whey
  • gluten-free

Cons

  • some reviews report poor mixing and quality issues

Most personalized protein powder for women

Gainful Personalized Protein Powder

  • Price per serving: $$$+
  • 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
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Certifications: N/A

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

Depending on your needs, your custom protein blend may contain coconut oil (a good source of fuel for people on low carb, high fat keto diets), green tea extract to provide a little metabolism boost, or branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which helps reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) from exercise, according to a research review.

Your purchase also gives you 1-on-1 access to a dietitian who can help you with your goals. You can add flavor boosts in some fun options, like cinnamon toast and caffé mocha.

Pros

  • totally customized
  • high quality ingredients

Cons

  • expensive
  • no sport certifications

Best flavored protein powder for women

KOS Organic Plant Protein

  • Price per serving: $$
  • 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
  • Added sugar: 2 g (for chocolate flavor)
  • Certifications: USDA organic, non-GMO

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.

These protein blends are also packed with vitamins and minerals, a digestive enzyme blend that may help you absorb and utilize the protein more efficiently, and a fruit-and-veggie extract blend to provide a little antioxidant cherry on top. And again, while these extras totes aren’t necessary, they are a nice addition.

Pros

  • unique flavors
  • gluten- and dairy-free
  • vegan

Cons

  • expensive

Best low cost protein powder for women

Carnation Breakfast Essentials High Protein Drink Mix

  • Price per serving: $
  • 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
  • Added sugar: 9 g
  • Certifications: none

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.

Pros

  • inexpensive
  • convenient

Cons

  • several added ingredients
  • no sport certifications
  • contains added sugar
  • lower in protein than other powders

Best keto protein powder for women

Ancient Nutrition KetoPROTEIN

  • Price per serving: $$$
  • 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
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Certifications: non-GMO

If you’re on keto, you may want a protein powder with some slightly more favorable macros for your low carb lifestyle (like some extra fat) — and this is just the thing. It’s got more fat than most other protein powders to give you some extra keto-friendly energy and just 1 g of net carbs per serving, so it’s a great keto workout companion.

The protein blend also contains some metabolism boosters like MCT oil and coffee fruit extract (providing 50 mg of caffeine per serving, about 1/2 cup of coffee’s worth), along with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory extracts of ginger, turmeric, black pepper, and ashwagandha that may assist with recovery.

You can get it in chocolate or vanilla.

Pros

  • great 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

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 research 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 another research 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.

So, you’re ready to choose your fighter. Here’s what you should keep in mind:

  • Goal. Looking for a post-exercise recovery bev to help with those gains? You may want something pure and simple, like a minimalist whey protein isolate powder. OTOH, if you need to get more calories in to gain weight, you may want to opt for whatever tastes the best. And if you’re trying to lose weight, choose a lower calorie powder that provides lots of protein with minimal sugar and fat.
  • Type. Generally, a good whey powder is the least expensive while also being really effective for muscle growth. However, if you follow a vegan diet or need to avoid cow’s milk products, you may want to seek out an alternative. There are several different vegan protein options, but pea protein and blends containing pea protein tend to be the most widely available.
  • Flavors. We prefer a good vanilla powder that can serve as a blank canvas for other flavors in your protein shake, but if you want some shake-and-sip variety then you’ll want to find a protein powder brand that offers a variety of flavors (like KOS).
  • Other nutrients or inclusions. If you work out regularly, you may want something that contains recovery aids like antioxidants. And if you’re on keto, additions like extra fat can provide some extra fuel. Then again, if you’re not on keto, you can go for something with more added carbs — especially if you’re using it to provide some energy before your workout.
  • Certifications. Informed Sport and NSF Sport are great indicators of a quality product, but there are some solid choices that don’t have these certifications too — like Orgain products. Do your research on a brand before you purchase, and make sure that — at minimum — their products are manufactured in a certified Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) facility. This helps ensure that the manufacturer is meeting FDA standards.

How much protein do women need per day?

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 a research review suggested 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.

What is the healthiest protein powder?

The healthiest protein powder is the one that you’ll actually take.

For example, Carnation Breakfast Essentials doesn’t contain the most high quality ingredients by a long-shot and has added sugar in its ingredient list. However, it’s still recommended by Pierce to some clients because it tastes good and it’s more affordable than most others.

If price isn’t an issue, and you’re looking solely for the product that’s gonna provide the most benefit, then you should reach for a whey protein isolate powder that contains minimal other ingredients — like the offerings from Klean Athlete or Momentous.

When is the best time to take protein powder?

For your average person who may be trying to lose weight or maintain their muscle stores, taking protein powder any time of day is fine. In fact, it’s a good idea to spread your protein intake consistently throughout the day to maximize its filling effects.

However, if your goal is muscle growth or exercise recovery, you may find that it’s best to consume protein within the 2 hours following exercise. This floods your body with the amino acids needed to promote muscle repair, which is how they grow.

Is protein good for female weight loss?

Absolutely. Protein is filling and may help keep you from getting hungry between meals (making high protein snacks like protein shakes a great choice).

A research review showed that eating a high protein diet while losing weight helps you to preserve your fat-free mass, like muscle and bone — meaning that all you’re losing is fat. They also may help you dodge rebound weight gain after initial weight loss success.

Additionally, protein takes more energy to digest than carbs, so you’ll burn a few extra calories by eating more of it, and it promotes the production of satiety hormones (which help you feel full) while helping to suppress hormones that may ramp up your appetite.

Does whey protein make women gain weight?

On a reduced-calorie diet, no — whey protein will not make you gain weight.

However, it can help with muscle growth, which often trips up folks who are trying to lose weight. If your muscles are growing while you’re losing fat, you may not see the scale moving as much as you expect it to. But with consistency you will notice your shape and measurements changing to reflect these changes to your body composition (and that’s better than pure weight loss, TBH.

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.