How to Choose The Best Protein Powder for Women Weight Loss |Product Reviews
They say women are complicated, but when it comes to their nutritional needs, things really do get interesting! From hormone fluctuations to vitamin deficiencies, there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the best protein powder for women weight loss.
And we’re not talking just about the usual situations such as the menstrual cycle; the big challenges come after giving birth or during menopause, when ladies’ hormonal balance is disrupted completely. Luckily, though, you do have control over your body. And we’re about to show you how to stay healthy and integrate protein, as well as micronutrients, into your daily lifestyle.
Different gender, different nutritional needs
Ever since the beginning of the human race, our bodies have been designed to fit reproductive and survival needs (1). While men are more prone to gaining muscle (to hunt and protect their family), women are likely to store fat in their breasts and hips (to signal fertility and care for their babies). Although it’s been a long time since then, we’re still just as different.
Men naturally have a longer and larger bone structure (2); therefore, they have a wider frame that supports muscle and articulations. Meanwhile, women’s ligaments are more fragile, which is why males are generally better at sports involving kicking and hitting.
The same high ratio of muscle mass to body weight gives men a chance at high speed and acceleration. It’s been proven a long time ago that women are 10% slower in running and swimming than men.
Even more importantly, the female body is much better at converting calories into energy. This offers plenty of extra endurance during longer periods of physical effort. In fact, the difference is so big that men and women compete together for ultra-running (races longer than marathons) and female athletes often win!
This information could also be linked to the fact that women need fewer calories than men. As the Dietary Guidelines for Americans publication found (3), a regular adult male consumes about 400 calories more than females.
As for muscle gain, studies showed that everyone starts out with similar needs and chances. Curiously enough, both men and women have similar strength gains when using the same training schedule (4). Logically, this means everyone should increase their protein consumption according to their training level.
All of these differences are natural and perfectly normal; it’s in our genes. But what kind of nutrients are there anyway?
Understanding nutrients: the key to women’s weight loss
Calorie-counting is clearly one of the most common activities of the 21st century. Believe it or not, though, there’s something even more important than how many calories we ingest daily – and that is called nutrients.
Basically, you could eat all the calories you want, but unless you give your body what it really needs, you won’t be able to reach your weight loss goals.
Our body requires two types of nutrients to function: macronutrients and micronutrients. They’re the reason we eat and crave certain foods.
You can look at this category of nutrients as the fuel you need to keep moving every day. Macronutrients are divided in three types and each of them offers energy in a different way:
Carbohydrates. Whenever you eat carbs, they turn into glucose which gives every cell in your body energy . As the Dietary Guidelines for Americans states (5), about 45% of your daily calories should come in the form of carbs. However, this amount strongly depends on your age, training level and weight loss goals.
Healthy sources of carbs: bananas, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, oats (6)
Protein. This macronutrient is essential for tissue repair, muscle growth and insulin control. Like carbs, protein is also a great source of energy; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10-35% of your daily calories should come from protein. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, it’s best to stick to the lower end, while active people can increase their dose accordingly.
Healthy sources of protein: meat, eggs, yogurt, beans (7)
Fat. Although it sounds like the bad guy, fat consumption is crucial for a healthy body. Aside from being a backup energy source, fat keeps your body temperature stable, protects your organs and absorbs certain vitamins. The Dietary Guildelines for Americans recommends that 20-35% of your daily calories should be offered as fat.
Healthy sources of fat: avocado, fish, nuts, milk
Note that every macronutrient type can be both good and bad; the secret to a healthy diet is, like all things in life, moderation. And although we need macronutrients in considerably higher doses, micronutrients are just as important.
Divided into vitamins and minerals, micronutrients work together with macronutrients to nurture the body and help it function properly (8).
Vitamins can be water-soluble (which get lost through body fluids quickly) or fat-soluble (more resistant, but still required constantly). Some of the most well-known water-soluble vitamins are vitamins C, B6 and B12 – all essential for healthy bone and muscle structures. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored through fat and include vitamins A, D, E and K.
Minerals, on the other hand, are divided in two categories: microminerals and macrominerals. The first category includes Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium and Potassium while the latter has Iron, Copper, Zinc and Fluoride.
Nutritional differences between men and women
Needless to say, we need each and every one of these nutrients to be healthy and function properly – and that’s an important criteria for choosing the best protein powder for women weight loss. However, gender does play an important part in establishing the right dosage for each nutrient.
Men naturally need a higher amount of calories than women (9); therefore, they also need extra macronutrients to support their wider bone and muscle structure. However, keep in mind that both genders burn calories the exact same way, so the daily recommended percentage of nutrient consumption is pretty much the same for everyone.
Another notable fact is that women may require more micronutrients than men due to frequent hormone changes, as well as gender-specific situations such as menopause or pregnancy. However, we’ll get to that later.
For now, there’s still one question to be answered: do women have any specific macronutrients or micronutrients?
What are women’s specific nutritional needs?
By now, we already figured out the major importance of nutrients on both genders. That’s exactly why claiming that there are nutrients specific to women is far-fetched. What’s true, though, is that female consumers can benefit from certain micronutrients more than men due to their physical differences.
For example, it’s known that women and men receive (and use) iron at the same rate (10). However, women need 18 mg of iron daily while men need only 8 mg because the female body retains this micronutrient harder. One of the main causes here is the blood loss occurring during menstruation, which women have to make up for; and if you want to keep your skin, nails and hair healthy, you want iron to be part of your daily diet.
And while iron takes care of the outside, calcium is essential for the inside (11). Unfortunately, studies proved that women are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Gladly, it can be easily prevented by watching out for what you eat. To keep your bone structure strong and healthy, the USDA recommends 1,000 mg/day or 1,200 mg/day for females over 50 years old. This fact goes hand in hand with magnesium consumption, which helps calcium get into your system much more effectively.
Vitamin B9 (or folic acid) is yet another micronutrient women can benefit from. Research proved that folate can reduce the risk of heart attack by up to 20% and provides an extra boost of focus throughout the day (12). Of course, this is not to mention the tremendous impact it has on preventing neural tube defects during early pregnancy!
As for macronutrients, protein is a powerful ally that regulates your metabolism and hormone production – which is essential considering women’s hormonal variations.
It’s been proven that women are much more careful about what they eat and they’re considerably more concerned about their weight than men. In fact, 23% of women with a normal weight see themselves as overweight. Protein is a crucial factor to lose weight or improve your physical shape, but many women see it as their enemy.
With that in mind, it’s time to address the next big question on the list…
Busting the myths of protein powder consumption for women
Does protein powder make me bulky?
This is the number one concern women have when they hear the word ‘protein.’
However, protein shakes do not make people turn into body builders overnight (13). First of all, consider that women have much lower testosterone levels than men; without this hormone, one could never become as muscular as women think they would.
As the main nutrients that helps your muscles recover and grow, protein does give you a leaner muscular structure. Even so, women could never become ‘bulky’ the same way men do because it’s simply not in our genes.
Can protein really damage my kidneys?
The National Institute of Digestive Kidney Diseases found that at least 14% of US residents struggle with chronic kidney disease (14). If you’re one of those people then yes, you should ask your doctor before starting a high-protein diet.
Think of your kidneys as filters that need to clean your body from everything you eat. If they’re not at their full potential, any nutrient consumed in high quantities can do extra damage. However, healthy people that dose their powder accordingly shouldn’t worry about this aspect.
Will protein shakes make me gain weight?
Because protein is a macronutrient found in milk or meat, many women assume it can make them gain weight (15).
Truth be told, anything you eat in larger quantities than your body needs will be stored as fat. And that includes the best protein powder for women weight loss.
If you find the right daily dosage and stick to it, though, integrating amino acids into your diet can actually help you lose unwanted pounds!
What does the right dosage mean? Let’s find out.
How to choose the right protein powder
When it comes to choosing the best protein protein powder for women weight loss, there are as many options as there are preferences. To begin with, you should consider each amino acid source and the differences between the main options. Let’s have a look:
Whey. This isn’t the most popular protein supplement on the market for no reason. Extracted from milk, whey is offers all the essential amino acids women need for protein muscle synthesis and faster metabolism. It’s digested quickly and gives you the post-workout boost you need for recovery. If you want to keep things clean and avoid lactose or fat, hydrolyzed whey or isolate are your go-to options.
Casein. Another milk-originated option, casein is slower-digested, which makes it better for meal replacement shakes. It supports your immune system and aids weight loss when used properly. However, it contains fat and lactose, thus not being the first choice on the list.
Egg. When egg whites are processed, they result into a slowly-digesting powder that packs up every essential amino acid. It contains extra vitamins and minerals and, as we found earlier, they’re both crucial to women’s health.
These three options are amazing, but their downside is that they may cause unpleasant digestive problems such as bloating or gas. Furthermore, if you’re a vegan, you clearly want to avoid such products. Luckily, plant-based varieties are just as effective:
Pea. Although it doesn’t have every essential amino acid required, pea is moderately-absorbed and hypoallergenic – therefore safe to drink for everyone.
Soy. This is among the few complete sources for vegans. However, be wary that excessive soy consumption can alter the women-specific hormone balance of estrogen.
Rice. It may not be a complete protein source, but brown rice contains vitamin D and fiber which, as we know, are crucial to women’s bone structure development. It’s hypoallergenic and moderately digested.
Hemp. The benefit of this option is that it contains Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids which are helpful in your fat-burning process. It’s not a complete protein, though.
Protein blends. All the vegan options listed above are often combined to offer the maximum amount of essential amino acids and micronutrients.
How do we find the right quantity/day?
Simply knowing what every protein source offers doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get the full benefits from the best protein powder for weight loss female. As we mentioned earlier, too much protein can be stored as fats and have your weight loss goals ruined; too little and you may start experiencing muscle pain, accentuated PMS symptoms or frequent illnesses.
According to the FDA, the Dietary Reference Intake is of 0.36 grams of protein per pound; in translation, this would be about 46 grams daily for the average sedentary woman (16).
0.36 grams of protein per pound,
or 46 grams daily for the average sedentary woman.
But if you’re under a weight loss program that probably involves physical activity, you definitely need more than that.
During a study, two groups performing the same training exercise had different diets (17). The first group consumed 1.1 grams of protein per pound of body weight, while the second one consumed 0.55 grams. By the end of the study, those on a high-protein diet gained more lean muscle and lost more body fat than the low-protein group.
In other words, the more you work out, the more amino acids your body requires.
What are the most frequent goals when dieting?
As you probably guessed, the most common reason why ladies hit the gym and start a diet is to lose weight.
For the past three decades, the obesity rate has more than doubled in the US (18). With so many temptations around us, gaining extra pounds almost comes in too handy! However, the current situation of our society is a source of motivation for many ladies.
Regardless of age, everyone wants to be healthy – which is impossible without a balanced diet and physical activity. What’s more, the American Psychological Association reports that women’s stress levels are higher than men’s by up to 10 percent. Improving nutritional habits, though, has shown to decrease the risk of stress and depression particularly in women, as it also regulates the hormonal balance (19).
Obviously, body image plays an important part in why women go on a diet. Studies proved that women’s self-confidence improves proportionally with their experience in various fields – and reaching their weight loss goals makes no exception (20). Considering the major impact self-esteem has in career and family, it’s no wonder women are so motivated to make a positive physical change.
Then there are special situations that add an extra drive for weight loss in ladies. The hormonal changes that come with menopause also cause weight fluctuations (21). This sudden change automatically requires diet adjustments – and so does post-pregnancy. After delivering a baby, ladies are left with the extra pounds they put on during pregnancy and even some more (thank you, hormones!). Not only does a diet aid in weight loss, but it also helps women in these situations regain their health faster to get back to their active lifestyle.
What are women’s criteria for choosing protein powder?
So we know women have different needs, goals and motivations than men – and it’s all normal. The main thing to keep in mind is that there’s no universal formula for the best protein for women’s weight loss. However, many female consumers are still wondering whether these factors make a difference in choosing the right protein powder.
To be frank, there’s only one thing to keep in mind:
Protein is still protein.
In other words, if amino acids are all you need to have the perfect diet for your weight loss goals, then you can use the exact same powder as your male pals. If you’re already taking certain vitamin supplements, then this option is most likely the right one for you.
Sometimes, simplicity is best. However, some powder brands also include micronutrients in their formula to meet women’s daily needs. Aside from protein itself, most products in this category add calcium, magnesium, iron – all of which offer major health benefits.
Overall, regardless if you choose a simple product or one that has extra vitamins, it’s all up to you. There’s no right or wrong as long as you go for a high-quality, healthy option.
Of course, if you’re suffering from hormonal imbalance or you’re under treatment, make sure to contact a specialist. No one can tell what your body needs better than a qualified person in the domain.’
Maintaining a healthy hormone balance
The issue of hormonal balance has been long debated – and women of all ages are struggling with it. The thing is, these parts of the human body are closely linked together: if one goes crazy, they all do. The consequences can range anywhere from fertility issues to mood swings, digestive issues, fatigue and a pretty bad premenstrual syndrome.
According to author and nutritionist Suzanne Olivier, the main cause of hormonal imbalance is poor nutrition.
That ice cream bowl may soothe your bad mood during PMS, but it’s actually an enemy in disguise. Excessive sugar leads to increased insulin, estrogen and testosterone levels (22).
Another common misconception regards dairy products. It’s not the dairy itself that triggers hormonal imbalance – it’s all the antibiotics and hormones animals were fed with before delivering the milk. Unfortunately, even organic products can contain hormones, but at least they come in a lower dose, so choose your market carefully. The same goes for meat.
Needless to say, junk food is one of your biggest enemies; in fact, they should be the first things to cut off your diet. Also, make sure to reduce processed meals too and opt for preparing your own lunch ahead the day.
Okay, so we know what’s bad for our hormone balance. But is there anything we can do to improve it?
The following foods are both healthy and have a notable influence on regulating the hormonal balance:
Bananas help you boost dopamine production; this hormone is essential for increased energy levels and motivation and can also be released whenever you feel good (23).
Walnuts are a great source of melatonin; also known as the growth hormone, it’s naturally released during deep sleep and it is essential for muscle repair. Melatonin also prevents abdominal weight gain, which many women struggle with.
Fish may be the best source of Omega-3 acids; this range of fatty acids help your hormones reach their destination in the body, as well as repairing damages hormone receptors.
Menopause and post-pregnancy: a different situation
As women approach menopause, their hormone balance is affected irrevocably. Simply said, your estrogen and progesterone levels will change for good. Although it’s part of the normal life progress, the transition to menopause is quite difficult and may last for years due to hormonal fluctuations.
Studies proved that women experiencing perimenopause and menopause are prone to gaining overall body fat – but abdominal fat in particular (24). Both animal and human research showed that this weight gain is strongly linked to decreased estrogen levels – which is the main sign that comes with this stage of life. Of course, as we age, our ability to lose fat decreases and the diets that used to do wonders for you may not work that well now.
So what can you do? Regulate hormones.
Controlling the production of estrogen – the hormone specific to women – can reduce overall fat mass while improving your insulin sensitivity. Clary sage oil is a great natural way of creating a beneficial estrogen balance (25). Furthermore, this solution can reduce depression and anxiety – another common unpleasant symptoms for women at menopause.
Regulating hormone production back after pregnancy
During menopause, a decrease in estrogen levels comes with many unpleasant symptoms. However, having too much estrogen isn’t that great either – and that’s exactly what happens after giving birth.
While pregnant, the placenta produces extra progesterone; once it’s eliminated during childbirth, these hormone levels suddenly drop and estrogen starts to increase again (26). The unusual rise in estrogen leads to mood swings, weight gain and unwanted weight gain.
Once again, women’s best shot to decrease these unpleasant postpartum symptoms is to maintain a balanced, healthy diet. A great example is that the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition studied the effect of fiber on hormone production (27). After two months on a high dietary fiber diet, the group of participants showed a significant reduction in estrogen. Therefore, consuming wheat, corn bran and oat is a great way to bring your hormone levels back on track and prevent weight loss after birth.
Which are the buying criteria for women’s weight loss?
Of course, protein sources matter; however, choosing the best protein powder for weight loss female is just the first step towards getting the best product for your needs and goals. Although the market is full of options, many are filled with chemicals that cause unpleasant symptoms over time.
What to avoid when choosing protein powder
Just because it’s advertised as healthy, it doesn’t mean it is. If you see at least one of the next ingredients listed on the label, it may be time to reconsider your choice:
Gluten. You’ve probably noticed that many products brag about being gluten-free – and yes, it really matters. Consumed in excess, this substance can increase inflammation and fatigue (28); both of these substances affect your active lifestyle. Gluten can also cause hormonal imbalances – which is the exact opposite of what women need.
Artificial sweeteners. They may sound good, but artificial sweeteners can ruin your diet completely. You’ll often see them listed as sucralose, splenda, NutraSweet or saccharin. Their negative effects range from migraines to depression and gastric distress.
Lactose. The issue of lactose in protein powder has been long debated. This ingredient is found in whey and casein protein, but it can be eliminated as it’s processed. Hydrolysed whey, as well as isolate, contain very little to no lactose at all. Women often experience unpleasant digestive problems due to their natural hormonal fluctuations; simply said, you don’t need any more of these symptoms. (29)
Heavy metals. A study conducted by the Consumer Reports found that many of the most popular brands on the market contain dangerous amounts of arsenic, cadmium and mercury (30). As Boston toxicologist Kathy Burns explains, “when these toxic heavy metals are combined in a product that is marketed for daily use, that raises serious public health concerns, especially for pregnant women, children, and young adults.”
What to choose instead
If you choose the right products, though, you get to maximize the benefits offered by the best protein for women’s weight loss (31). Regardless on their age and lifestyle, all women need extra amounts of micronutrients such as iron, calcium and magnesium. If your powder has this type of ingredients, then it’s worth considering.
Also, make sure to check the label for Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. Though not mandatory, these types of fish oil have proven health benefits. As the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine reports, consuming fatty acids can reduce inflammation, which is beneficial for both workouts, menstruation and post-pregnancy situations.
HMB (Hydroxy Methylbutyrate) is yet another healthy ingredient of your protein powder. This leucine metabolite is known for its ability to increase recovery while decreasing fat mass and helping you build lean muscle (which is what every active woman hopes for).
The best protein powder for women
Now you know why, as a woman, you have different needs than men do. We’ve gone through the good and bad of hormone fluctuations and how you can take action to be healthier and reach your weight loss goals. Before you go, though, we have a few more recommendations so you stop wasting your time looking for the best protein powder for women.
We’ve done our research and we’re ready to show you a list of five high-quality products, each meant to meet your needs and taste preferences. Let’s have a look.
If protein powder is what you’re looking for, then that’s exactly what TGS offers. With 25 grams of processed whey per serving, this option can boost muscle recovery in no time due to its quick absorption. It doesn’t have any additives or preservatives, but what it does have is calcium, vitamin D and iron to create a healthy balance of nutrients.
- Free from gluten, hormones and soy
- Only 130 calories per serving (perfect for any time of the day)
- Micronutrients that offer strength and energy for an active lifestyle
- Some customers may not like the fact that it’s unflavored
If you want an upgrade in terms of micronutrients, this product has a great shot at being the best whey protein for women’s weight loss. Whether it’s calcium, magnesium or potassium, every serving combines the most important nutrients for women for increased daily benefits. This way, regardless of your diet, you can be sure that you keep track of your physical needs.
- Protein sourced from grass-fed cows
- Natural flavors for enhanced tasting experience
- Plenty of vitamins to regulate hormone production
- A customer claimed that the flavor is a bit too sweet for their taste.
If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you probably want to avoid powders sourced from meat or dairy. Luckily, this product contains all the essential amino acids you need, as well as plenty of extra vitamins that boost your metabolism and regulate hormonal balance. With 20 grams of protein per serving, this gluten-free shake is perfect for any lactose-intolerant or vegan active woman.
- Created from a mix of vegan sources
- Contains folate, magnesium, calcium and other important vitamins
- Various flavors to choose from
- Slowly digested; may not be ideal as a post-workout drink
Considering the balanced combination between micronutrients and macronutrients, this choice is among the best whey protein for women’s weight loss. Whey isolate is processed thoroughly so you won’t experience unpleasant symptoms caused by lactose. And with all the flavor options, you can easily consider it a well-deserved post-workout dessert!
- Only 80 calories per serving
- Contains vitamin D, calcium and iron for rapid muscle recovery
- 20 grams of protein per serving and zero fats
- Some customers claim the product is too sweet for their taste
Perhaps the best thing about this powder lies in its simplicity. There are no fats, almost no cholesterol and zero carbs to worry about. What it does contain, though, is well-processed protein isolate along with calcium that strengthens your immune system and boosts the metabolism. Furthermore, the fact that it’s unflavored allows you to create a variety of shakes filled with vitamins, minerals and healthy macronutrients.
- 25 grams of protein per serving
- Quickly absorbed and assimilated into the system
- No artificial colors or sweeteners
- Some customers claim the texture is bland
In the endless market of protein powders, what matters most is to stay informed on what’s healthy and what’s harmful for your body. As long as you study the label carefully and know your weight loss goals, your chances of choosing the right product are very high. However, our favorite product on the list is the Her Natural Whey Protein Powder.
While all the options mentioned contain enough protein to meet your daily needs, this powder also has plenty of micronutrients. With 176 mg of calcium per serving, your chances of preventing osteoporosis and having a healthy bone structure increase on the long run. The range of minerals is complete by adding magnesium, sodium and potassium.
As for vitamins, we already know their major positive impact on bone and muscle structure. The considerable amount of vitamin A, C and D can boost your metabolism, regulate the hormone balance and improve your immune system.
As a plus, Her Natural Whey Protein Powder packs up a diverse combination of protein and micronutrients that help women maintain their active lifestyle and live a happy, healthy life.