When it comes to nutritional needs, many women are confused about the best protein powder for building muscle and overall health.
Since women have different hormones than men, they will respond differently to protein powders. So what is the best protein powder for women? In this article, we are going to look into how different types of protein powder affect women’s health and lean muscle building.
The list of protein powders is long and confusing: whey, casein, soy, egg, rice, brown rice, hemp, pea, and even beef!
With so many options, how do you decide which one is best for your individual goals? Let’s break down the pros and cons of each protein.
Best Protein Powder for Women
1. Whey protein
Whey protein is the most mainstream of all the protein powders and seems to be most popular among men for both building muscle and meal replacement needs. The fact is that whey protein gives you all of the amino acids necessary to recover from intense workouts and build muscle.
It usually tastes very good as well. Large supplement companies spend a lot of money to make sure their whey protein powders taste delicious (which often times means being full of artificial sweeteners and chemicals).
Whey protein is the most mainstream source for building muscle and is actually an ideal pick for both men and women post-workout.
Since whey protein is rapidly digested and contains all of the essential amino acids your body needs to initiate protein synthesis and recovery quickly, it is ideal for women.
Immediately following a weight training or high-intensity workout, your muscle fibers are broken down and need the rich amino acids in protein to rebuild them. This is true for both men and women. If women are looking to tone up or add a bit of lean muscle mass, whey protein is the perfect post-workout protein choice.
Research has shown that a fast digesting protein source such as whey protein, when combined with a fast digesting carbohydrate source such as dextrose or maltodextrin, results in great protein synthesis, muscle hypertrophy, and strength.
2. Egg protein
Egg protein is a perfect protein source for women who are lactose intolerant. Since whey protein can hurt the stomach of people who are lactose sensitive, egg protein is another high-quality form of protein that can help stimulate lean muscle growth and recovery.
Egg protein has a complete amino acid profile and is perfect for both men and women. Many women are afraid to consume egg protein, but it is actually very easy to digest and can assist in muscle recovery and growth.
In fact, egg protein has a very high “biological value,” which means your body can utilize this form of protein very easily to stimulate muscle growth.
Egg protein is actually digested even slower than casein protein powder, meaning that it will drip feed your bloodstream with a non-stop supply of quality amino acids for several hours.
Egg protein is a great protein source for women who are looking to lose weight or gain lean muscle mass. Since egg protein has no fat and very little carbohydrates, it is ideal for someone who is dieting.
Also, since egg protein digests very slowly and gives your body an abundant source of amino acids over several hours, it is ideal for late at night or between meals.
Egg protein is a fantastic supplement for women. It would not be the best choice for a post-workout protein since it digests slowly, but it would be an ideal choice for meal replacement and nighttime protein.
Research has shown that egg protein is just as powerful at stimulating protein synthesis and muscle growth as whey protein.
3. Casein protein
Casein protein is a slower digesting form that is found in milk. Since casein digests much slower than whey, it is ideal for meal replacement and before bed to drip-feed muscles with a sustainable source of amino acids.
Although casein does not have the immediate amino acid spike that whey has, it will drip feed your muscles with amino acids over 3-4 hours, and it also keeps you full for longer.
Casein protein is an ideal protein source for women who are looking to lose weight and boost nighttime recovery.
Since casein protein is a lot slower digesting it will keep you full for long periods and is a high-quality form of protein with a complete amino acid profile.
A 30-gram casein protein shake contains less than 150 calories and can keep you full for up to 4-5 hours. This means that your body is being fed an abundant source of amino acids while keeping your caloric intake very low. This is the perfect combination for any woman looking to lose body fat quickly while maintaining toned muscles.
Although we talked about how egg protein is slower digesting than casein protein, casein protein will keep you full for longer periods since it is very thick. Casein protein is comprised of the curds that form as milk coagulates. This doesn’t sound too appetizing, but most supplement companies actually make delicious tasting casein protein powder.
If you aren’t sensitive to dairy, casein protein is a great choice for women as a nighttime protein source.
4. Hemp protein
Hemp protein has received a lot of hype from health experts, but if your looking for a good protein powder that assists your body with recovery, then hemp is a poor choice due to its total protein percentage by weight.
Hemp protein is only 30% to 50% protein by weight. The other protein sources on this list are over 90%. Hemp protein is healthy and is rich in omega fatty acids, but has a weak amino acid profile compared to the other sources.
You are better off buying hemp protein and considering it a whole food supplement than to use it as your main source of protein intake. You want your protein powder to have a complete amino acid profile and contain a high overall protein percentage.
5. Soy protein
Soy protein has received a lot of attention with male consumption since many research studies have shown it could elevate estrogen hormone levels, which is a female hormone.
Research has indicated that the estrogen byproducts of soy protein are less likely to negatively impact their hormone balance, but is it a top choice for overall protein consumption?
There have been no research studies that show soy protein being better at initiating protein synthesis and stimulating growth and recovery.
Another downside to consuming soy protein regularly is that in the United States a large majority of the soybeans are genetically modified.
There are some good benefits to soy protein consumption in women, such as reducing heart disease, but these are far from conclusive.
The overall verdict is that soy protein in moderation can be consumed, but it shouldn’t be used as your main source of muscle building protein, as whey and egg are far superior.
6. Rice protein
If you are looking for a high-quality form of vegan protein, rice seems to be the best choice.
Not only can you find delicious tasting rice proteins, but it has around an 80% biological value, meaning your body can readily use it for initiating protein synthesis and building lean muscle mass.
Rice protein would make a great meal replacement protein choice – and if you are a vegan you can also use it as your post-workout protein supplement.