Best protein powder for women 2024: Boost your protein intake with female-friendly supplements

Best protein powders for women - tried and tested by Live Science.
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Looking for the best protein powder for women? Testosterone-oozing packaging and carbohydrate-heavy formulas may be a hard sell to female exercisers. However, long gone are the days when sports supplements were a male-dominated market. Many brands are now offering products that are more in line with female needs and preferences.

Protein is critical to exercise performance. Whether you run marathons, lift weights or practice yoga, this essential nutrient will keep your muscles healthy and nourished. But the benefits of protein go far beyond muscle tissue repair. It maintains good skin health, supports immunity and keeps metabolism firing on all cylinders. Furthermore, some benefits of protein apply specifically to women. For example, this nutrient is involved in building and shedding the lining of the womb. Not to mention, protein is particularly important when you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

What the expert says:

“In my clinical practice, what I find is that women often have a low protein breakfast and then not enough protein at lunch time to keep them full for the afternoon. This can lead to snacking later.” — Sophie Medlin, consultant dietitian and director of CityDietitians

However, it is not easy to stay on top of the daily protein requirements. Many women cite lack of time as the main culprit behind their struggles with following a balanced diet. But that’s where protein powders can come in handy. No matter how busy life gets, they provide an easy and convenient way to top up the protein intake.     

Unlike our general guide to the best protein powder, this guide contains products specifically tailored for women. From digestive-friendly options to metabolism-supporting ingredients, read on for our tried and tested round-up.

The best protein powder for women, tried and tested

Innermost the lean protein

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1. Innermost The Lean Protein

The best protein powder overall for women

Specifications

Serving size: 40g
Servings per container: 15
Calories per serving: 148kcal
Protein per serving: 29g
Carbs per serving: 4.5g
Sugars: 1.1g
Fat per serving: 1.2g
Flavors: Creamy vanilla or smooth chocolate
Cost per serving: $2.99

Reasons to buy

+
Complete amino acid profile
+
Contains inulin, which has been linked to lower levels of visceral fat

Reasons to avoid

-
Only available in one size
-
Limited flavors
What users say:

Users love Innermost The Lean Protein. One reviewer wrote, “My favorite whey protein! The vanilla one is delicious plain, or blitzed with spinach into a smoothie. The chocolate one is a great dessert substitute with almond milk or greek yogurt. Lovely texture and smooth.”

If you’re worried that adding protein powder to your diet will make you ‘bulky’, Innermost’s The Lean Protein could be a great option to set your mind at ease. This particular product is crafted for those looking to slim down, and contains ingredients to support fat metabolism. It is also formulated to reduce cravings and maintain energy levels.

A single serving of The Lean Protein contains an impressive 29g of protein and 1g of inulin (a type of dietary fiber). It also contains 750mg Acetyl L-Carnitine, a non-essential amino acid necessary for transporting fat to the body’s power-generating mitochondria. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to use fat effectively as a source of energy. Other ingredients include 500mg Pomegranates, 500mg Yerba Mate and 250g Bilberries. All of these ingredients have been linked to weight management and improved glucose control.

Innermost The Lean Protein is suitable for vegetarians, as well as being GMO free, gluten free, soy free, halal and low sugar. Overall, it’s one of the best protein powders we’ve tasted. There’s no artificial taste, it’s creamy and it blends extremely well.


MyProtein impact whey protein powder

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2. MyProtein Impact Whey Protein

The best budget protein powder for women

Specifications

Serving size: 25g
Servings per container: 40-200 (depending on bag size)
Calories per serving: 100
Protein per serving: 19g
Carbs per serving: 3g
Sugars: 1g
Fat per serving: 1g
Flavors: 15
Cost per serving: $1.07 (1kg bag chocolate)

Reasons to buy

+
Budget friendly
+
Wide range of flavors and sizes

Reasons to avoid

-
Contains artificial sweeteners
-
Whey protein concentrate less easily digested than isolate
What the users say:

Reviews for MyProtein Impact Whey Protein are largely very positive, with users commenting that it mixes well with water, milk, oats and yogurt. Negative reviews tend to focus on the flavor of the protein, which does seem to vary, so we’d recommend purchasing a few of the 0.55 lb samples before committing to a larger size.

MyProtein’s Impact Whey Protein is certified by Labdoor, the independent supplement testing company, for quality and value. Available in 0.55 lb, 2.2 lb, 5.5 lb and 11 lb bags, and frequently discounted on the MyProtein website, it’s one of the most wallet-friendly items in our round-up.

Bear in mind that the powder is made from whey concentrate, rather than isolate, which tends to have a slightly lower protein content (up to 80% protein by weight, compared with 90% from isolate) and slightly higher amounts of carbohydrates and fats. It can also be slightly harder to digest than whey isolate. Having said this, at just 3g of carbohydrate per 25g serving, MyProtein Impact Whey is pretty on par with most of the whey isolates in this guide. It also includes 3.6g of glutamine and all the essential amino acids, including 4.5g of BCAAs.

Impact Whey Isolate does contain natural and artificial flavoring, as well as sweeteners. However, we found it holds its own with water or milk, and there are a huge array of flavors to choose from. Our favorites include strawberry, chocolate brownie and sticky toffee pudding, but it's worth buying a few smaller packets to find  one you like.


vital collagens peptides

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3. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides

The best protein powder for women, for healthy hair, skin and nails

Specifications

Serving size: 30g
Servings per container: 22 (680g pack)
Calories per serving: 110
Protein per serving: 20g
Carbs per serving: 5g
Sugars: <1g
Fat per serving: 2g
Flavors: Unflavored and chocolate
Cost per serving: $2.27

Reasons to buy

+
Collagen supports skin, hair and nails
+
Unflavored 

Reasons to avoid

-
Not suitable for vegetarians
-
Not designed for muscle gain
What the users say:

Users seem to love Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. One reviewer wrote, “I’ve only been using it for a month and my skin is much more hydrated and softer. My fingernails are stronger and growing longer for the first time in my life.”

If you’re looking to support skin, hair and nail health, you might want to opt for a collagen supplement over a whey or plant-based protein powder. In this case, Vital Proteins’ Collagen Peptides provides 20g collagen per serving, as well as 80mg hyaluronic acid and 100% of your daily value of vitamin C. 

So what is collagen good for? According to a meta-analysis published in the International Journal of Dermatology, hydrolyzed collagen supplementation could support skin hydration, elasticity and wrinkles. These findings were consistent across 19 different studies. 

Vital Proteins claims the powder can dissolve in hot or cold liquids, including coffee and smoothies. We found it worked really well in hot beverages, but there was definitely an odd taste if we just mixed it with cold water, despite it being ‘unflavored’. You also need to give it a good stir if you're using it in hot drinks to make sure it doesn't come clumpy. But rest assured, it does dissolve completely. 

Being made from bovine hide collagen peptides, this powder is unsuitable for vegetarians, although Vital Proteins do offer a marine collagen alternative if you’re pescatarian. However, a draw is that it’s available in 5 oz, 9.33 oz, 20 oz containers, as well as portable stick pack versions that are easy to take on holiday or to work.


vega protein made simple in dark chocolate flavor

(Image credit: Alice Ball)

4. Vega Protein Made Simple

The best protein powder for women, to use in smoothies

Specifications

Serving size: 26g
Servings per container: 10
Protein per serving: 15g
Fat per serving: 2g
Carbs per serving: 6g
Sugars: 6g
Flavors: 4
Cost per serving: $2.06

Reasons to buy

+
Minimal ingredients
+
Suitable for vegans

Reasons to avoid

-
Only 10 servings per container
-
Lower protein content than other brands
What users say:

Users seem to love Vega Protein Made Simple. One user wrote, “The texture when blended into smoothies isn’t noticeable or chalky like some other protein powders.” Another wrote, “The texture of the powder was good, easy to dissolve, etc. I literally have no complaints besides the fact that it doesn’t come in a larger size! I would also like my scoop size to be worth 20g of protein instead of 15g.” 

If you’re after a clean, plant-based protein powder that’s free from ingredients you can’t pronounce, then Vega Protein Made Simple is a great option. The powder contains just five ingredients: pea protein, organic cane sugar, coconut cream powder, natural flavors and sea salt. 

Despite containing real sugar, the flavor isn’t too sweet or sickly. We tried out the dark chocolate flavor, and although it wasn’t quite as rich as we would have liked, it was really natural tasting and the mixability was fantastic, both with liquid and stirred into oatmeal. But we think this protein really excels when added to smoothies. Try blending it up with a cup of almond milk, half a banana and a few ice cubes.

Admittedly, the protein content per serving isn’t as high as other brands, at just 15g per serving. However, you could add an extra half scoop if you wanted a bigger protein hit. There’s so much to like about this simplistic powder, but it’s frustrating that most retailers only sell it in 9.2 ounce containers (10 servings). However, the vanilla and chocolate flavor are available in XL tubs, which will last you 38-39 servings. If you prefer the strawberry banana or caramel toffee flavors, however, you’ll have to settle for the smaller container.


Garden of Life raw organic protein powder

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5. Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein

The best gut-friendly protein powder for women

Specifications

Serving size: 33g
Servings per container: 20
Protein by serving: 22g
Fat per serving: 2.5g
Carbs per serving: 2g
Sugars: 0g
Flavors: 4
Cost per serving: $1.78

Reasons to buy

+
Packed with gut-friendly probiotics and digestive enzymes
+
Certified organic, non-GMO and vegan friendly

Reasons to avoid

-
Relatively expensive
-
Limited flavors
What users say:

Users seem to love Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein. One user commented, “It doesn’t get any better than this. Super-clean and great tasting”, while another said, “It mixes thoroughly, tastes great and digests easily”. Negative reviews are hard to find, but they tend to come from users who prefer a slightly sweeter tasting powder – Garden of Life is more on the natural side, for those who don’t have as much of a sweet tooth.

Featuring 22 raw and organic sprouts, Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein Powder is a great source of complete protein, including all the essential amino acids your body needs to build lean muscle. 

Not only this, it contains gut-friendly probiotics and digestive enzymes, which break down our food into nutrients so our bodies can absorb them. This makes it a great choice for women with IBS or gut problems. It also contains vitamins A, D (400IU), E and K to support immune health, as well as calcium, zinc and selenium – so you’re definitely getting extra bells and whistles with this premium quality product.

We tested the vanilla chai flavor. The powder is quite dense, but this is unsurprising given its made from plant-based protein sources. We really enjoyed it stirred into a morning bowl of oatmeal, although it does make it incredibly thick, so it’s worth adding it in before your oatmeal has thickened too much on its own. It can be a little bit chalky if you don’t mix it well, so make sure you have the best protein shaker on hand if you like a liquid shake.


Transparent Labs 100% grass fed whey

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6. Transparent Labs 100% Grass-fed Whey Protein Isolate

The best premium protein powder for women

Specifications

Serving size: 33g
Servings per container: 20
Calories per serving: 120
Protein by serving: 28g
Fat per serving: 0g
Carbs per serving: 1g
Sugars: <1g
Flavors: 9
Cost per serving: $2.99

Reasons to buy

+
Very high protein
+
Easy to digest

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Not Suitable for vegans
What users say:

The product scores 4.5 out of five stars on the company’s website. One reviewer wrote, “I think I finally found a protein that is not only clean but also tastes great! It is so easy to mix and I love the salted caramel flavor. It doesn’t taste like chemicals like other protein powders do.” Negative reviews tend to focus on the foamy consistency once shaken, with one user writing, “I end up mixing the shake before my workout, stick it in the fridge, and come back so the foam relaxes.”

If it’s a super high-protein, low-carb powder for women you’re after, you can’t find a much better macronutrient ratio than Transparent Lab’s 100% Grass-fed protein. It packs in an impressive 28g per 32g serving, whilst containing less than 1g carbohydrate.

The whey protein isolate is also made from grass-fed dairy cattle that aren’t treated with growth or steroid hormones. The result? A clean protein powder with minimal lactose that’s easy on the stomach. It’s also free from artificial sweeteners, preservatives and coloring, plus gluten-free and non-GMO.

The texture is super fine, which means there’s no grittiness or unpleasant, bitter aftertaste. Some users note that it can get quite foamy, but we didn’t find this to be an issue with the cinnamon french toast flavor we tested. In fact, it held its own when mixed with water, and we found the flavor moreish, without being sickly sweet.

Thorne VeganPro Complex All-In-One Shake

(Image credit: Anna Gora)

7. Thorne VeganPro Complex All-In-One Shake

Packed to the brim with high quality ingredients

Specifications

Serving size: 2 scoops (53g)
Protein per serving: 20g
Carbs per serving: 20g
Calories per serving: 160
Protein source: fermented pea and rice protein, chia protein
Sweetner: cane juice sugar, stevia extract
Flavors: 2 (chocolate and vanilla)
Servings per pack: 15
Cost per serving: $3.26 ($49 per tub)

Reasons to buy

+
High quality ingredients
+
Good taste and consistency
+
No artificial colors or sweeteners

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
High in carbohydrates
-
Only 15 servings per tub
What users say:

The VeganPro Complex All-In-One Shake scores 4.2 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Positive reviews tend to praise this protein powder for its taste, consistency and digestibility. Many users also reported that the All-In-One shake has helped them improve their exercise performance. Negative reviews, on the other hand, focus predominantly on its high price. One user also pointed out that the 15-serving packaging is not fit for purpose in larger households. “Frankly, it's inconvenient to be buying another tub every 10-14 days,” they said. 

 If you are after a plant-based protein powder that combines an exceptional nutritional value with high quality ingredients, look no further than the Thorne VeganPro Complex All-In-One Shake. One serving of this protein powder contains only 160 calories, but packs nearly 20g of highly-digestible protein made out of fermented pea, rice and chia seeds. Not only does this blend come with all essential amino acids, but it is also free of gluten, dairy, soy and other major allergens.   

But the VeganPro Complex All-in-One is much more than a mere protein supplement. One serving provides a whooping 6g of fiber, 200mg of omega-3 fatty acids, a host of vitamins and minerals, as well as a proprietary blend of medicinal mushrooms. Studies have shown that medicinal mushrooms, such as Reishi and Shiitake, may help exercise performance by boosting the immune system and improving circulation. However, it needs to be stressed that these are preliminary findings and more research is needed to understand the health effects of these supplements, according to a 2021 review published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

In our tests, the Thorne VeganPro Complex All-In-One Shake did a stellar job. This protein powder mixed well with both water and milk, producing a smooth, velvety texture with no lumps or chalky aftertaste. We found both of the flavors to be tasty and rich. However, they are not overly sweet. If you are after something more indulgent, you may find the All-In-One shake a bit disappointing. 

So where’s the catch? The VeganPro Complex All-In-One Shake comes with a hefty price tag, as well as a high carbohydrate content. As such, this protein powder may not be a good option for those on low-carb diets.

Ritual Daily Shake 18+

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8. Ritual Daily Shake 18+

Made using sustainable ingredients of exceptional quality

Specifications

Serving size: 1 scoop (30g)
Protein per serving: 20g
Carbs per serving: 3g
Calories per serving: 115
Protein source: Organic pea protein
Sweetener: Reb-M (from fermented sugarcane)
Flavors: Vanilla
Servings per pack: 15
Cost per serving: $2.67 ($40 per pack)

Reasons to buy

+
Low in calories and carbohydrates
+
High quality ingredients
+
No artificial colors or sweeteners

Reasons to avoid

-
Only one flavor
-
Impractical packaging 
-
Fairly expensive
What users say:

The Ritual Daily Shake 18+ scores 4.1 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Positive reviews tend to praise this product powder for its great mixability and smooth consistency. However, the opinions were highly divided when it came to the taste. While some users enjoyed it, many pointed out that they either could not taste the vanilla, or found the flavor to be bland. As one user said, “It tasted more like toasted marshmallows”.

Ritual may be a relative newcomer to the dietary supplements market, but this brand is making some serious waves - and for a good reason. The source of their success lies in their commitment to using only sustainable ingredients of exceptional quality. When it comes to nutritional value and eco-credentials, Ritual offers products that easily blow many of their competitors out of the water. And their Daily Shake 18+ is no different. 

 With nearly 20g of organic pea protein, but only 115 calories and 3 grams of carbohydrates per serving, the Daily Shake 18+ may be a particularly good choice for those on low-carb or weight loss diets. It was formulated without soy, dairy or gluten, and contains no artificial colors of sweeteners. Moreover, it does not contain any sugar or stevia. Its sweetness comes from monk fruit and Reb-M, a natural compound made using fermented sugarcane. The Ritual flagship product is also enriched with 150 mg of choline, a nutrient essential for proper functioning of the liver, brain and muscle tissue. And according to a 2023 review published in the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology, supplementation with choline has been shown to improve cognitive function. 

However, there are several major drawbacks. To start with, the Daily Shake 18+ does not offer any options - it comes in just one packaging size and only one flavor is available. Moreover, it did not perform well in our tests. We found that the hints of vanilla lacked richness and sweetness, while the caramel hints were barely detectable. Another downside was the impractical packaging. The contents of the pack are hard to reach, and the bag does not reseal properly. Last, but not least, the Daily Shake 18+ is relatively expensive. 

Thorne Amino Complex

(Image credit: Anna Gora)

9. Thorne Amino Complex

A refreshing way to top up on your essential amino acids and supercharge your workouts

Specifications

Serving size: 1 scoop (7.7g)
Protein per serving: Variety of BCAAs
Carbs per serving: 1g
Calories per serving: 25
Protein source: Not specified, but plant-based
Sweetener: Stevia extract
Flavors: 2 (lemon and berry)
Servings per pack: 30
Cost per serving: $1.5 ($45 per tub)

Reasons to buy

+
Great amino acid profile