If you're on the hunt for the best protein powders for women, trust me when I say: as a health editor, I've tried the lot and know the ones worth investing your money in (and the ones that aren't).
Find yourself Googling, what is protein, or wondering what protein powders actually are? In the simplest sense, the latter is a powdered shake designed to help you up your protein intake if you're struggling to get enough through your diet. As dietician Nichola Whitehead explains, protein is vital for everything from muscle growth, to preserving lean muscle mass, to repairing muscle, too (and how to get enough vegan protein from vegan protein sources if you're plant-based, too).
Implementing nutritional supplements into your diet can be pretty scary, especially if you're a beginner. Let us - and the experts - help cut through the confusing jargon. Keep scrolling for our rundown of the best protein powders for women currently available to buy, as well as the most common myths not to fall for.
Protein powders for women: 10 health-editor approved brands
1. Form Nutrition
Form Nutrition Vegan Performance Protein
Easily one of the smoothest, tastiest (chocolate peanut flavour, we're looking at you) and least artificial protein powders on the market. Plus, Form as a company is a B Corp on a mission to shake up the wellness industry.
Hermosa Whey Protein Powder
Fun fact: Hermosa protein is made from the premium whey protein of grass-fed, Lake District-based cows and contains only natural sweeteners. And you can tell - it's deliciously smooth and goes well in just about anything. Easily one of the best protein powders for women so do *add to basket* ASAP.
Innermost The Lean Protein Powder
Formulated to encourage muscle growth, healthy fat loss, and reduce cravings - and coming in deliciously smooth vanilla or chocolate flavour options too - there's a reason Innermost protein products are top-rated.
One part of Grace Beverley's fitness empire, alongside Tala, is Shreddy - once just gym guides but now some pretty tasty vegan protein powders and supplements, too. These handy sachets are great for travel. You heard it here first.
MyProtein Impact Whey Isolate
MyProtein has been winning the supplement game for a while now, with this particular product voted the UK’s most popular protein. Impressively, it comes in a massive range of over 40 flavours, including chocolate brownie and strawberries and cream. We mean...
6. SF Nutrition
SF Nutrition Whey Protein
Another no-nasties powder, this blend from SF Nutrition promises to be a 'clean' protein - that is, no additives, artificial sweeteners or flavours, and no added sugar. It's great in a morning smoothie, but also in pancakes, muffins, cakes, and more.
Foodspring Whey Protein
Founded in Berlin in 2013, Foodspring knows how to do protein products well. Loved by the likes of Carly Rowena, they've got everything on-site from bulk bags of protein-packed brownies, bars, and bakes, to mixes for protein pancake, pizza, pasta, and more. The protein powder is super tasty and available in a wide range of flavours, too.
Misfits Protein Powder
Aside from the fact they have some seriously funky packaging, Misfits have been championing plant-powered protein for years now. Made from pea and sunflower seeds, Misfits protein is one of the best protein powders for women as it's versatile and great for fat loss, too, at around 95 calories a serving.
FreeSoul Vegan Protein
Like the sound of an industry-leading protein to serving ratio – 20g lean protein per 30g scoop? Then you'll like FreeSoul. One user, Maria, went as far as to call them the only IBS-friendly protein powder - "it's the best protein powder for anyone suffering from IBS or with a sensitive stomach - don't look elsewhere, it will save you lots of time."
Pulsin Pea and Chocolate Protein Powder
Last but by no means least, this vegan, non-GM protein powder - which also has no added fillers or sugar - is all-natural and therefore easily digestible, to boot. Also rich in iron and zinc - win, win, win.
Your protein powder FAQ's - answered
How much protein do you need per day?
As per the NHS website, most adults need around 0.75g of protein per kilo of body weight per day. This averages around 45g for women, but if you are a more active individual - that is, you exercise three to four times a week or more - then your recommended daily intake will be higher. Aim for 1.2 to 2g per kg of body weight per day, or, if you're an endurance athlete, 1.2 to 1.8g per kg of bodyweight.
Whitehead stresses the importance of those who exercise regularly eating more protein: “It’s important to increase your protein intake by around a gram per kilo of body weight a day if you exercise regularly.”
Think of it this way - if you don't have enough protein in your body, vigorous exercise can leave your muscles with a shortage of what they need to recover. Got it?
What are the different types of protein powder?
There are loads of different types to choose from, as outlined above, but the three most common types are whey, soy, and casein. Rather eat yours instead of drink? Scroll our edit of the best protein bars here.
Protein powder benefits: 3 to know about
1. Aids muscle recovery
People most commonly supplement protein alongside regular workouts - that is, regularly moving three or more times a week - as protein can ease DOMs and aid muscle repair post-workout. That's because protein is the 'building block' macronutrient and is made up of amino acids, which act as building blocks for recovery.
As Whitehead puts it, "protein, which breaks down into amino acids in the body, aids muscle growth and repair as well as helping to preserve lean muscle tissue when losing fat."
2. Boosts satiety
Eating enough protein also promises to boost satiety - that is, keep you fuller for longer - which is why protein is often also hailed as a good supplement for fat loss.
3. Enables you to hit your macros easily
Similarly, it's a good way to ensure you're getting enough of the macro if you're vegan or just struggling to get enough protein in your daily diet generally.
Protein powder myths: 3 most common, debunked
1. Protein powder makes you gain weight
False. According to Whitehead, many people confuse protein powders with "weight gain" powders which people use for bulking or - yep, you guessed it - gaining weight.
Her advice? Always check the ingredients label before you buy. Think about it - you wouldn't eat a snack bar or buy a sandwich without at least having a vague idea of what was in it, right? "Weight gainer powders tend to have high fat and carbohydrate content, whilst pure protein powders will only contain a small number of sweeteners and flavourings, if any," shares the dietician.
2. Protein powders should only be consumed post-workout
False. A lot of people assume that protein powders must be used immediately after a workout but Whitehead explains that you can enjoy a protein shake at any time of day.
“Although your body does need more protein when working out regularly, drinking a protein shake immediately after a workout isn't the only way to supplement," she explains. "I say go and have a shower and some lunch, then have one after… or just add it to a breakfast shake," she recommends.
3. Protein powder shouldn't be used during pregnancy
False. Whitehead maintains that you can use protein powders pretty much any time, even during pregnancy.
"This can be especially helpful if you’re not consuming enough protein due to morning sickness," she explains.
Do be careful, however: to opt for the powders with the fewest amount of ingredients. Look to avoid the ones with added caffeine, sweeteners, vitamins, and fillers, and do consult your doctor if you have health conditions including diabetes and renal failure.
Also, do note that you *can* get enough protein from your daily diet, and that should be Goal