Demystifying Protein Powder for Women

Featured Reader Question:
Protein Powder

Which protein is best for women and is it even worth it to buy protein powder?” – Jessica, FL

Protein doesn’t discriminate between men and women, so there’s no need for you to either. I know there are several companies that target women by marketing protein powders in pretty packaging and with catchy marketing phrases like “lean” and “slim” or “low carb” and “metabolism boosting.”

I am not saying these products are bad. I’m just saying don’t be fooled by marketing claims and bright colors. These are essentially the same products as ‘regular’ protein powders but with different packaging. The main difference is that these are typically more expensive. And buying the ‘regular’ version won’t make you automatically put on weight and bulk up like a man like they’ll have you believe. But that’s a different topic for a different day.

What you should pay more attention to is the type of protein. And this goes for everyone – man or woman. Which protein is best completely depends on what you’re looking for.

First things first – concentrate or isolate?

  • Concentrate: a product containing 65% to 89% protein. Most protein powders fall into this category. The other % is typically made up of fats, carbohydrates, and other added ingredients (vitamins, minerals, flavorings, etc.) depending on the product. These work well in your basic typical protein shake.
  • Isolate: a product with 90% or more protein. These products are typically more expensive but you’re getting more protein per serving so it may be worth it. Isolates also don’t taste as good as concentrates because they’re nearly all amino acids, which don’t taste yummy. These work better in a shake made with other ingredients to mask its bitterness.

Second – animal or plant based protein powder? 

  • Animal proteins are derived from animal sources (typically dairy and eggs) while plant based protein powders are derived from plant sources. But is one better than the other? Not really. Of course if you’re vegan you’ll want to choose plant proteins. But, other than that they’re both on the same playing field.
Research has shown that plant based proteins are equally as effective as animal based proteins.
  • That said, some plant proteins are lacking specific amino acids, making them “incomplete” so that your body can’t use them as efficiently. It used to be thought that you had to combine these proteins with another food that contained the missing components during the same meal in order to properly absorb the protein. This has since been proven wrong and you really only need to consume the complementary amino acids within that day. But there is no need to worry about this so long as you are eating a well balanced diet. You will likely get the protein you need. Not to mention, many plant based protein powders are fortified with the limited amino acid making it a “complete” protein. In this case, the protein powder may be better than the food itself.

As for the second part of your question, is it worth it to buy protein powder?
While you can get all of the protein that you need from traditional food sources, I like the versatility and convenience of protein powder. I personally use it in everything from shakes to baked goods to my morning oatmeal.

Now let’s consider the most common protein powders, pros/cons and applications that I’ve personally found they work best in.

And there you have it, all you need to know about what to look for in a protein powder… at least for now.

What’s your protein powder of choice and how do you like to consume it? Leave a comment below!

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