We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

Protein powders are a popular dietary supplement available to buy online and over the counter. People often associate them with men, but women also use them.

A quick look at the best protein powders for women

Scientists have found that adding protein powder to the diet helps with weight loss, recovery after exercise, and building new muscle.

This article explores the benefits and risks of using protein powders and how women can make an informed choice about using one.

Males and females often benefit from differing vitamin and mineral types, quantities, and combinations. With this in mind, some pharmaceutical companies develop specific formulas of supplements, vitamins, shakes, and health bars to benefit either male or female biology. A person should discuss their options with a doctor or healthcare professional who can help them decide, and choose the product they feel works best for them and their needs.

Protein powder is a convenient way to add protein to the diet. It is widely available in supermarkets, health food stores, and online.

People often mix protein powder with water or milk or add it to smoothies and soups. People can also add it to many home-cooked meals and baked foods.

Some people who eat a vegetarian or vegan diet might find it difficult to meet their bodies’ protein needs through diet alone. Protein powder can be a cost-effective, easy way to consume more protein.

There are a couple of key factors to consider when choosing a protein powder.

Few ingredients

Some people may want to avoid products with artificial colorings, preservatives, and other additives.

Low sugar

Some protein powders are available in sweet flavors, such as chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. These may significantly add to a person’s daily sugar intake. Therefore, it may be worth checking the nutrition label before choosing a product or avoiding flavored powders altogether.

It is advisable to look for protein powders with less than 4 grams (g) of sugar per serving and those with natural sweeteners, such as stevia or monk fruit.

Protein type and ingredients

It is best to check the product’s label before committing to a purchase. The label should include a list of all the ingredients and suggestions of how a person should use the product.

For example, some protein powders are free of gluten, soy, and dairy, making them suitable for people with allergies or intolerances. Also, a person who follows a keto diet may look for a product that is low in carbohydrates.

Furthermore, buyers may also wish to check whether the item is animal-based or plant-based. Animal-based protein powders often contain casein, whey, collagen, and eggs. Plant-based products often contain pea, rice, and hemp proteins.

Price

Price is another factor a person should check when looking for protein powders.

All products have a one-time price. However, many companies also offer a subscription service that costs less than the one-time price and may suit those who want regular orders.

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Price: Products suit a wide range of budgets.
  • Ingredients: Products list all ingredients clearly, with manufacturing processes outlined.
  • Safety: Products contain ingredients deemed safe for ingestion.
  • Reputation: Products are from businesses that adhere to industry best practices.

The following are some of the best protein powders for women available to purchase online.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for allergies: ALOHA Organic Protein Powder

This plant-based protein powder is ideal for women with allergies because it is free of gluten, lactose, and soy. It may also suit people who prefer more sweet powders.

It uses natural coconut sugar as a sweetener and contains 4 g of added sugar per serving. This powder contains no genetically modified organisms and is low in carbohydrates. The main ingredients used in this powder are pea, brown rice, hemp seed, and pumpkin seed proteins.

Add two scoops to water or plant-based milk to make a healthy shake.

The chocolate-flavored version of this product contains the following nutrients per serving:

  • 130 calories
  • 3 g of fat
  • 0 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol
  • 320 mg of sodium
  • 9 g of carbohydrates
  • 18 g of protein

ALOHA Organic also offers a vanilla-flavored protein powder.

This product costs $32.99, but a person can also enroll in a monthly subscription for $29.69.

Best with natural sweetener: Tone It Up Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder

Tone It Up suggests this powder is ideal for active women who need a quick and convenient way to refuel.

This powder may suit people who prefer natural sweeteners, as it contains monk fruit sweetener rather than refined sugar or sweeteners.

Moreover, this protein powder has a creamy natural vanilla flavor and is suitable for people looking for a dairy- and gluten-free option.

Each serving also contains:

  • 100 calories
  • 3 g of fat
  • 210 mg of sodium
  • 3 g of carbohydrates
  • 15 g of protein

Tone It Up offers protein powders in other flavors on their website.

This product costs $49.99. Alternatively, the company offers a subscription price of $42.49.

Best plant-based: Vega Protein & Greens Protein Powder

In addition to pea, brown rice, and sacha inchi proteins, this powder contains organic kale, alfalfa, broccoli, and spinach. Sacha inchi protein comes from the roasted seeds of a plant native to South America.

This powder contains natural stevia sweetener, has no added sugar, and delivers 120 calories per serving.

This product may suit people who prefer a range of flavors, as it is available in vanilla, chocolate, berry, salted caramel, and coconut almond. There are also different container sizes a person can choose from, starting from 16–18 servings.

Below are some of the nutritional values of each serving:

  • 3 g of fat
  • 0 mg of cholesterol
  • 300 mg of sodium
  • 6 g of carbohydrates
  • 20 g of protein

The company suggests using the powder in the usual way to make a drink or baking with it, replacing between one-eighth and one-fourth of the flour in recipes.

Vega stocks the Protein & Greens powder starting from $29.99.

Best with superfoods: Orgain Organic Protein & Superfoods Plant-Based Protein Powder

The protein powder combines plant-based proteins with 50 “superfoods,” including vegetables, berries, herbs, sprouts, and grains. However, the long list of ingredients might make it one to avoid for people with allergies. Additionally, this powder is higher in carbohydrates than some other options.

People can choose their preferred flavors from creamy chocolate fudge or vanilla bean.

Further to that, people can also consider the nutritional value per serving 2-scoop serving:

  • 170 calories
  • 310 mg of sodium
  • 20 g of carbohydrates
  • 21 g of protein
  • 5 g of dietary fiber
  • 1 g of sugar
  • 5 g of erythritol

The price is $37.99. The company also offers a subscription price of $28.49.

Best for highest protein per serving: Cellucor Whey Sport Protein Powder

This protein powder is gluten- and soy-free and helps support recovery and muscle building.

Each 2-scoop serving contains:

  • 170 calories
  • 30 g of protein
  • 3 g of fat
  • 70 mg of cholesterol
  • 5 g of carbohydrates

The formulation also contains vitamin C, iron, and calcium, which may help support bone health.

Chocolate and vanilla flavors are available, and the product includes 18 servings.

The one-time price is $22.99. People may also benefit from a subscription for $16.09.

Best for flavor options: Levels Grass-fed Whey Protein

This protein powder is suitable for individuals looking to build lean muscle or lose fat. It is also a good option for people who do not eat soy or gluten. However, it is not suitable for vegans.

Eight flavors are available, including pure chocolate, vanilla cinnamon, chocolate peanut butter, and strawberry. A person can also opt for an unflavored whey protein.

Furthermore, the product page lists the nutritional values that come with each 1-scoop serving:

  • 130 calories
  • 2.5 g of fat
  • 95 mg of cholesterol
  • 3 g of carbohydrates
  • 24 g of protein

It also contains stevia leaf extract.

The company recommends that buyers use a blender or shaker bottle when mixing the protein powder. A person can add the product to their water or milk, then shake or blend it for up to 30 seconds.

Some individuals may prefer to add protein powder to their oats, ice cream, or other recipes.

This grass-fed protein powder comes in different sizes, and one-off pricing starts at $34.95. There is also a subscription for $33.20.

Best keto-friendly: Owyn 100% Plant Protein Powder

This vegan and plant-based product comes without dairy, soy, gluten, egg, peanuts, or tree nuts. It is also keto-friendly.

Each 2-scoop serving contains:

  • 140 calories
  • 3 g of fat
  • 400 mg of sodium
  • 8 g of carbohydrates
  • 20 g of protein

There are two flavors available: smooth vanilla and chocolate.

The one-time purchase price is $28.99. It is also available for a $23.19 subscription.

Best low cost: Sunwarrior Organic Hemp Protein

Sunwarriors Organic Hemp Protein is free from soy, GMO, gluten, and dairy. It is also suitable for vegans and has no added sugars.

This product has recyclable packaging and only contains organic hemp seed protein. Hemp sprouts are rich in antioxidants and the plant contains essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Each 1-scoop serving contains:

  • 120 calories
  • 3.5 g of fat
  • 0 mg of sodium
  • 8 g of carbohydrates
  • 15 g of protein

Each jar has a list price of $27.97. People can also subscribe for $22.38 per jar.

Best for older women: Sunwarrior Collagen Building Protein Peptides

This protein powder is vegan and free from soy, gluten, dairy, and added sugar.

As a person ages, their body starts to produce less collagen. This powder has plant-based amino acids and peptides that are collagen precursors, meaning a person’s body can convert them into collagen. Collagen supplements can help retain moisture, and vitamins to help strengthen the skin.

This supplement also contains several vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin K, niacin, and biotin, that may help support general well-being.

Each 1-scoop serving contains:

  • 100 calories
  • 2 g of fat
  • 6 g of carbohydrates
  • 0 g of sugar
  • 14 g of protein

The cost is $38.97. People can also subscribe and save 20%, with each jar costing $31.18.

Best whey protein powder: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein

Whey protein is a fast-absorbing protein, with studies estimating the body absorbs 10 g per hour. Whey protein aids in muscle growth and muscle recovery, potentially making it beneficial to those who do high intensity workouts and weightlifting.

This protein powder comes in over 20 flavors such as banana cream, coffee, strawberry, and rocky road. It is also available in sizes of 1.8–10 lb.

Each 1-scoop serving of the banana cream flavor contains:

  • 120 calories
  • 1 g of fat
  • 35 mg of cholesterol
  • 100 mg of sodium
  • 4 g of carbohydrates
  • 2 g of sugar
  • 24 g of protein

Prices start from $37.99.

Best bulk buy: Naked Nutrition Micellar Casein Protein Powder

This protein powder only contains one ingredient, micellar casein. This ingredient can aid with muscle recovery if a person consumes it after exercise.

The protein powder does not contain any additives or artificial sweeteners. However, it contains dairy and gluten.

Each 2-scoop serving contains:

  • 110 calories
  • 0 g of fat
  • 20 mg of cholesterol
  • 0 g of carbohydrates
  • 0 g of sugar
  • 26 g of protein

Each 5 lb jar costs $99.99. However, people can subscribe and save, paying $79.99 per jar.

Best for vegans: Garden of Life MD Protein Fit

This vegan protein powder is free from soy, GMO, and peanuts. The chocolate flavoring is Fair Trade, and the company claims it is carbon neutral.

This powder contains green coffee beans, oat beta-glucans, probiotics, olive leaf, and coconut. The protein comes from ancient, sprouted barley. However, it is higher in carbohydrates than the other options on this list.

Each 2-scoop serving contains:

  • 200 calories
  • 4 g of fat
  • 140 mg of sodium
  • 29 g of carbohydrates
  • 2 g of sugar
  • 20g of protein

Each jar costs $39.99.

The following table compares the protein powders in this article.

Serving sizeProtein
per serving
Servings
per product
PricePrice
per serving
ALOHA2 scoops18 g15$32.99$2.19
Tone It Up1 scoop15 g28$49.99$1.78
Vega1 scoop20 garound 16$29.99$1.87
Orgain2 scoops21 g18$37.99$2.11
Cellucor2 scoops30 g18$22.99$1.27
Levels1 scoop24 garound 28from $34.95$1.24
Owyn2 scoops20 g14$28.99$2.07
Sunwarrior Hemp1 scoop15 g25$27.97$1.11
Sunwarrior Collagen1 scoop14 g20$38.97$1.94
Optimum Nutrition1 scoop24 garound 27from $37.99$1.40
Naked Nutrition2 scoops26 g76$99.99$1.31
Garden of Life2 scoops20 g10$39.99$3.99

Taking protein powder may come with a few benefits.

Muscle building

Protein is essential for growing different sorts of body tissue, including muscle. People who want to build muscle might choose to add protein powder to their diet.

A 2017 review of 49 studies concluded that when healthy adults combined protein supplements with resistance training, they experienced increases in muscle strength and size.

Older adults may not build the same amount of muscle as younger adults due to differences in hormone levels. That said, they will see other benefits, such as less muscle and bone loss, if they increase their protein intake and commit to resistance training.

Recovery after exercise

Some people use protein powders to help their muscles recover and feel less sore after exercise.

Many studies have supported the link between consuming protein and muscle recovery.

One 2017 review notes that resistance training and protein consumption stimulate muscle growth. The reviewers also recommend consuming protein just before or after exercise to enhance further muscle growth.

Combining carbohydrates and protein powder may benefit muscle recovery after a workout. Adding carbohydrates replenishes glycogen stores, which could speed up muscle recovery.

To consume both proteins and carbohydrates, a person could make a fruit smoothie and add protein powder for a post-workout drink.

Weight loss

Eating protein can make women feel full, meaning they might eat fewer calories. This is helpful for people who want to lose weight. It may explain the popularity of low carbohydrate diets.

A 2017 study concluded that whey protein supplementation seems to improve body weight, fat mass, and cardiovascular disease risk factors in people with excess weight.

Added nutrition

The recommended daily intake of protein differs depending on a person’s body weight and activity levels, among other things.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025, protein may make up 10–35% of an adult’s daily calorie intake.

People who find it difficult to eat this amount may wish to consider using protein powder to supplement their diet.

Eating protein-rich foods as part of a balanced meal would provide more of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients a person needs than a protein powder shake alone.

In general, some supplements may interact with medications. Therefore, people taking other medications or supplements may want to seek guidance from a healthcare professional before taking protein powder.

Consuming extra protein may also lead to dehydration if a person does not drink enough fluids. As a result, people with kidney disease must take extra care with the amount of protein they consume.

People should also be aware of unregulated dietary supplements, such as energy and so-called muscle-gain products. These may contain dangerous ingredients, such as steroids, stimulants, and hormones.

Using protein powders to provide a nutritional boost does not suit everyone. Here are some alternative ways to add protein to the diet.

Eating protein-rich foods

The easiest way for the body to digest and metabolize protein is through food.

A diet rich in natural protein is also likely to contain the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients the body needs. Some foods rich in protein include:

According to a 2019 review, animal protein is more bioavailable, so the body can digest it more easily than plant-based proteins. However, a person may prefer to consume plant-based proteins for environmental reasons.

Learn more about the differences between animal and plant-based proteins here.

Exercising

Resistance training is a tried and tested route for gaining muscle and losing fat.

However, resistance training alone will not build muscle. A person still needs to consume an adequate amount of protein and nutrients from their diet before seeing any gains in muscle growth.

Resistance training has numerous other health benefits. For example, it may protect against cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Here we answer some common questions about protein powder:

How much protein should I take daily?

Adults should consume 0.75 g of protein per kilo of body weight a day, equivalent to 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

On average, this means females should have around 45 g and males 55 g per day.

However, there is a range of factors that may influence how much protein a person needs, such as exercise, health, and fitness goals. People should speak with a registered dietician or other healthcare professional for personalized advice.

Is whey protein safe for women?

Whey protein is safe to consume.

However, whey protein comes from milk, which is unsuitable for vegans and those with a diary or lactose allergy.

Is a protein supplement necessary for working out?

Protein supplements offer a convenient way to consume protein. However, supplements are not necessary if a person would prefer to eat protein from food sources.

Foods high in protein include:

  • meat
  • poultry
  • seafood
  • eggs
  • dairy products
  • beans
  • nuts

Learn more about food high in protein here.

Protein powders can be a useful addition to a woman’s diet, whether they want to improve their general health, lose weight, or build muscle.

Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is the ideal option for meeting the body’s protein needs. However, protein powders offer convenience, and people can use them in a number of ways. Many plant-based and organic options are available.

Before choosing a powder, a person may wish to make a list of their priorities regarding ingredients and flavor to help narrow down the choices.