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If you’re on this page, I’m assuming you’re someone who identifies as a woman and is looking for protein powder, or you’re looking to buy protein powder for someone who identifies as a woman. 

Before getting into the thick of things, here’s a quick dose of reality: Protein powders, unless they are specifically formulated for a particular women’s concern or life status (such as pregnancy), don’t affect men and women differently. The best protein powder for women and the best protein powder for men are largely the same: Men and women can drink the same protein powders and enjoy the same benefits, like enhanced muscle recovery after workouts, as one example. 

RELATED: Build Muscle And More: The Top Benefits Of Protein Powder 

That said, thanks to our roster of woman-identifying product testers and knowledge of women’s needs, we can recommend the best protein powder for women. 

Our roster of certified personal trainers and nutrition coaches has personally—as in, scooped and swigged—more than 50 varieties of protein powder. What’s more, five members of our editorial and product testing team are women who graded each product on the following factors:

  • Formulation: Does it have research-backed doses of protein and macronutrient ratios?
  • Ingredients: Do all the ingredients serve a purpose? Are there any harmful ingredients or anything that might cause digestive stress?
  • Third-party testing: Has it been tested for banned substances or toxins? Do they bear the NSF Certified for Sport or Informed Choice logo?
  • Solubility and Taste: Does it mix well and have no clumps? And could we stomach it?

Editor’s note: For the purposes of this article, from here on out, we will use the words “women” and “woman” to refer to woman-identifying individuals, and will use the word “female” for any statements specifically regarding female biology and physiology.

Medical disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. For health advice, contact a licensed healthcare provider. GGR also recommends choosing a product that has been third-party tested for quality.

Best Protein Powder for Women

Best Overall Protein Powder for Women: Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate

Good for: Women who prioritize manufacturing and sourcing transparency 

Best Overall

Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • High-quality whey protein isolate
  • 28 grams of protein per serving
  • 8 flavors to choose from
  • $1.99 per serving

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • High-quality protein
  • No artificial sweeteners, food dyes, or preservatives
  • Lots of flavors to choose from
  • Good customer reviews
  • Whey isolate may be easier to digest for some people

Cons

  • Price per serving on the high end

Bottom Line

Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate is a clean, high-quality protein powder that contains 28 grams of protein per serving.

Transparent Labs makes an appearance on many of our nutritional guides, and it tops our overall best protein powder list. With 28 grams of protein from pure whey protein isolate—and just 1 to 2 grams of carbs and 0 grams of fat—a tub of Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein contains not much of anything else. 

It’s free preservatives, dyes, fillers, artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers, and gums. In fact, the ingredients list for the Milk Chocolate flavor contains just five items: grass-fed whey protein isolate, cocoa powder, natural flavor, sodium chloride, and stevia. 

transparent labs protein scoop in bottle

At $1.99 per serving, this protein powder is on the pricey side. But as our product testers can vouch, it’s worth it when you take the first sip. This protein tastes clean and pure, and it mixes well with any method. I personally love the Strawberry flavor mixed with almond milk. It tastes like, well, strawberry milk. 

In addition to the flavor and texture of this protein powder, our product testers love the product transparency you get from Transparent Labs (hence the name). We love feeling confident that what we see is what we get, and we don’t have to worry about poor manufacturing practices, sketchy product sourcing, or questionable ingredients. 

In fact, Transparent Labs posts its certificates of analysis and certificates of composition for all of its products. You can literally see right here that the Milk Chocolate whey protein isolate is 94.3% whey protein isolate and 5.7% flavor (such as cocoa and stevia).

Price per serving$1.99
Protein per serving28 g
Carbs per serving1-2 g
Fat per serving0 g

Read our full Transparent Labs Protein Powder review.

Best-Tasting Protein Powder for Women: XWERKS Grow

Good for: Women who want a protein powder they can trust in multiple flavors

Best-Tasting

Xwerks Grow

GGR Score: 4.6 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Natural, healthy, convenient, and tasty way to get protein
  • Uses a microfiltration process to preserve critical biological nutrients in raw whey
  • Removes unwanted fats and carbohydrates
  • All flavors are naturally sweetened
  • Nicely flavored, easily digested, and low-carb protein powder
  • Promotes muscle growth and repair

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Keto-friendly
  • Naturally sweetened
  • Sourced from naturally raised grass-fed cows
  • Tastes great
  • Soy- and gluten-free
  • Convenient

Cons

  • Expensive

Bottom Line

Xwerks Grow whey protein isolate provides a solid blend of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals in a whey protein isolate. It comes in a widely-loved range of flavors which are naturally sweetened, so they’re easily digested.

When I wrote our guide to the best-tasting protein powder, XWERKS Grow topped the list because its flavor lineup is trusty, and we’ve had multiple product testers (including myself and senior writer and certified personal trainer Anthony O’Reilly) test and enjoy them. 

xwerks grow

Aside from the fact that XWERKS Grow morphs into a fantastic Strawberry, Chocolate, Vanilla, or Peanut Butter quasi-milkshake, we love it for its standout nutritional profile. 

XWERKS Grow contains 25 grams of protein from 100% grass-fed cows living in New Zealand, which XWERKS says is “one of the strictest countries in the world when it comes to dairy quality.” Yet, it still costs less than $2 per serving. 

It’s also free from artificial sweeteners and flavors, dyes, colorings, soy, and gluten.

Read more in our XWERKS Grow whey protein review.

Price per serving$1.96
Protein per serving25 g 
Carbs per serving1-2 g (depends on the flavor)
Fat per serving0-2 g (depends on the flavor)

Best Vegan Protein Powder for Women: Ritual Essential Protein 18+

Good for: Women looking for vegan protein powder with high protein content

Best Vegan

Ritual Essential Protein Daily Shake 18+

GGR Score: 4.4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Organic pea protein powder
  • 20 g of protein per serving
  • Formulated to support adults 18-49
  • Third-party tested
  • 150 mg of choline per serving 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Soy-free, gluten-free, and vegan-friendly
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • Complete amino acid profile
  • Non-GMO
  • USA-grown peas

Cons

  • Only comes in one flavor
  • Price per serving is on the high end

Bottom Line

Ritual’s Essential Protein Daily Shake 18+ is specifically designed for 18-to-49 year-olds with 20 grams of protein per serving and 150 milligrams of chlorine (to support brain and nervous system function). This protein powder from Ritual is third-party tested and Informed Sport Certified, which means this formula has been screened for over 250 banned substances.

Ritual Essential Protein 18+ is one of the best vegan protein powders because it’s a high-quality and good-tasting protein that contains all the essential amino acids needed for muscle growth. Ritual uses pea protein, which is traditionally not considered a complete protein source because of its low methionine content. The company fixes this issue by adding methionine to the blend.

When it comes to taste, GGR Head of Content and competitive weightlifter Kate Meier scores it a 4 out of 5 and says it lacks the earthy and hempy taste found in some plant-based protein powders. “There is a very slight chalky aftertaste with water, but I could drink this with water alone and be fine with it,” Kate says. “That’s how decent I think this taste is.”

Her preferred method is to add it to a blender with water, strawberries, and blueberries to create a morning protein smoothie.

ritual essential shake 18+ in blender next to bag

Ritual is also lower calorie than other vegan protein supplements that often use a protein blend to get all essential amino acids. One downside is that it’s a subscription-based company, though you have 30 days to get your money back if you decide it’s not right for you.

Read our full Ritual protein powder review for more info. Also, those looking for a plant-based protein powder for women might also want to check out our No Cow protein bar review for our thoughts on a more portable protein supplement.

Price per serving$2.66
Protein per serving20 g
Carbs per serving3 g
Fat per serving2 g

Best Protein Powder for Women for Building Muscle: Kaged Re-Kaged

Good for: Women who are serious about putting on muscle mass

Best for Building Muscle

Kaged Re-Kaged

GGR Score: 4.7 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Recovery blend includes L-glutamine, digestive enzymes, and creatine HCI
  • Formulated to build lean muscle and improve recovery time 
  • Scientifically-researched ingredients at appropriate ratios
  • Unique flavors: strawberry lemonade, iced lemon cake, and orange kream
  • Banned-substance free

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Mixes well
  • Unique flavors
  • Reportedly highly effective
  • Only 1 gram of sugar
  • Contains L-glutamine and creatine

Cons

  • Too sweet for some people
  • Contains sucralose
  • May cause digestive issues

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a post-workout product that not only improves recovery but also is designed to build muscle mass, Kaged Re-Kaged may be the right option for you.

Twenty-eight grams of protein. 3 grams of L-glutamine. 1.5 grams of creatine HCL. 12 grams of essential amino acids. 6 grams of BCAAs. 280 milligrams of digestive enzymes. 

That’s what you’ll get when you sink a shaker bottle of Kaged Re-Kaged, our protein recommendation for women who are serious about packing on new muscle. It’s sports nutrition at its finest.

It’s high in all the good stuff and low in all stuff you don’t need in a post-workout shake: Kaged Re-Kaged contains just 1 gram of sugar, 3 or fewer grams of carbohydrates, and 1 or fewer grams of fat. 

re-kaged on counter

Our one gripe is that the flavors are limited—and unusual. You can’t get this protein in your basic chocolate peanut butter, but it does come in Orange Kream, Iced Lemon Cake, and Strawberry Lemonade. 

If you’re wondering why these flavors are fruity rather than dessert-y, here’s my hunch: This powder uses MicroPure whey protein, which is so micronized that it’s tough to create a thick texture with it—even if you were to mix it with half-and-half (which, gross, and good luck to your large intestine). 

Our product tester’s notes say the Orange Kream flavor tastes like an orange Creamsicle, so we’re good with it.

RELATED: Kaged Coupon Code!

Price per serving$2.25
Protein per serving25 g
Carbs per serving2-33 g
Fat per serving0.5-1 g

Best Gut-Friendly Protein Powder for Women: 1st Phorm Vegan Power Pro

Good for: Women who want to take care of their gut health

Best Gut-Friendly

1st Phorm Vegan Power Pro

Product Highlights

  • Plant-based and soy-free
  • Digestive enzyme blend for easier digestion
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • $1.83 per serving

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Allergen-friendly
  • Digestive enzymes to help with digestion
  • 6 flavor options
  • No artificial sweeteners

Cons

  • Expensive

Bottom Line

1st Phorm Vegan Power Pro is free from most allergens and comes with a digestive enzyme blend to aid the digestion, decreasing the likelihood of upset stomachs.

More and more studies are coming out about how our gut health impacts our overall health, which is why we recommend 1st Phorm Vegan Power Pro for anyone who’s looking to care for their second brain. In addition to being free from most common allergens — such as dairy, soy, gluten, and artificial sweeteners and dyes — it comes with a digestive enzyme blend that aids with digestion.

Additionally, it contains multiple whole food sources that could help with overall nutrient intake—though a multivitamin is a safer bet for micronutrient intake. We’ll give it a 4 out of 5 based on the nutrition label—we would’ve liked to see at least 20 grams of protein, but 19 grams is good enough and at 110 calories it’s a lean protein powder that can be used for muscle growth or weight loss.

While we haven’t had our hands on it yet, we’ve read multiple customer reviews that state there were little to no stomach issues after taking this protein powder, which comes in five dessert-themed flavors.

We’re also big fans of any vegan protein powder that contains all essential amino acids, which are amino acids that we need to obtain through our diet. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein molecules, and certain vegan-based protein sources are deficient in certain amino acids. 1st Phorm uses pea and rice protein to ensure the aminos needed for muscle maintenance and growth are present in the supplement.

Price per serving$1.83
Protein per serving19 g
Carbs per serving3 g
Fat per serving2 g

Best Protein Powder for Women to Gain Weight: Organifi Complete Protein

Good for: Women who are looking to put quality mass on their physique

Best Gut-Friendly

Organifi Complete Protein

Product Highlights

  • 20 g of plant-based protein per serving
  • Contains whole food vitamins and minerals
  • Certified organic ingredients
  • Soy-free, gluten-free, and whey-free
  • Available in chocolate and vanilla flavors

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Certified organic
  • Minimal ingredients
  • Whole food vitamins and minerals
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Soy-free, gluten-free, and whey-free

Cons

  • Only available in two flavors
  • Pricier protein

Bottom Line

Made with certified organic ingredients, Organifi Complete Protein is a plant-based protein blend with 20 grams of protein per serving. Available in chocolate and vanilla flavors, this protein is soy-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free, making it great for people avoiding certain allergens—although it does contain tree nuts (coconuts).

Although we generally recommend protein powders with moderate to low carb and fat content, a protein supplement like Organifi Complete Protein is a good choice for those who are looking for a few extra calories to put on a little more size. It has 170 calories, 20 grams of protein, eight grams of carbohydrates, and six grams of fat.

This is a plant-based protein source that combines four vegan protein sources, though before meat eaters scroll away we should point out it uses complementary proteins to obtain all necessary amino acids to make it a complete protein. It also comes with a digestive enzyme blend to help those increasing their caloric intake, which is good because people often experience stomach issues when upping the amount of food they’re eating.

Here’s the bad news: At $2.66, it’s on the expensive side but it might be worth it since it contains all-natural and organic ingredients, using Monk Fruit as the sweetener.

Price per serving$2.66
Protein per serving20 g
Carbs per serving8 g
Fat per serving6 g

Best Protein Powder for Women Athletes: Onnit Grass-Fed Whey

Good for: Women who need support for active lifestyles

Best For Athletes

Onnit Whey Protein

GGR Score: 4.2 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Sourced from New Zealand grass-fed cows
  • Made with whey protein isolate to filter out fats and carbs
  • Offers a complete amino acid profile
  • Website offers a subscription option to save money and auto-ship

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Low in carbs
  • High in leucine
  • Whey isolate gets to muscles faster
  • Non-GMO

Cons

  • High cost per serving
  • Can cause digestive issues for some people
  • The Mexican Chocolate flavor has mixed reviews

Bottom Line

Onnit Whey Protein is a great protein option for those looking for a grass-fed protein, however there are cleaner grass-fed protein powders on the market that are lower in cost.

There are two main things a supplement must offer for an athlete: It must adequately support their nutritional needs, and it must be legal for use in sport. 

That’s why we chose Onnit Grass-Fed Whey as the best protein powder for women athletes. This product is, first and foremost, tested for banned substances and Informed Sport Certified. This means athletes of all disciplines can safely consume it for nutritional support with no repercussions. 

An image of Onnit grass-fed whey

In two delicious flavors, Mexican Chocolate and Vanilla, each serving of Onnit Grass-Fed Whey offers 20 grams of protein in a 110-calorie package. Its protein source is whey protein isolate, which is typically more easily digestible than whey protein concentrate. The whey protein is also derived from New Zealand cows, a country that prevents cows from being exposed to antibiotics, pesticides, or hormones.

RELATED: Best Greens Powder

We know how important adequate protein intake is for growing and maintaining muscle mass—more on that below—and Onnit Grass-Fed whey is an effective supplement to support those goals. It tastes good, too—I thought the Mexican Chocolate actually had a different flavor than most chocolate protein powders, which pleasantly surprised me.   

Check out our Onnit grass-fed whey isolate review for all of our thoughts on this product.

Price per serving$1.99
Protein per serving20 g
Carbs per serving3-5 g
Fat per serving2 g

Best Organic Protein Powder for Women: Legion Whey+

Good for: Women looking for a organic protein powder with minimal ingredients and a rich taste

Best Organic

Legion Whey+

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Sourced from small dairy farms in Ireland
  • Over 5 g of BCAAs per serving
  • Non-GMO and animal welfare approved
  • Third-party tested for banned substances

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Low in carbs and fat
  • Natural ingredients
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Made with ethically-sourced milk
  • Lots of flavor options

Cons

  • Comparably high cost per serving
  • May be clumpy when mixed
  • Some flavors have mixed reviews

Bottom Line

Legion Whey+ is a clean, sustainable protein powder that also is macro-friendly and a great option for anyone looking for a clean protein supplement.

If going organic is important to you, consider Legion Whey+. It goes without saying that KOS plant protein is hormone- and antibiotic-free, non-GMO verified, and contains no artificial sweeteners.

Made of Truly Grass Fed whey protein, meaning it’s been verified that the cows that produced the milk ate what nature intended them to, Legion Whey+ is one of our favorite protein powders when it comes to taste. “It’s like the bottom of a Cinnamon Toast Crunch bowl where the cereal’s been sitting for a little bit,” says certified personal trainer Anthony O’Reilly in our Legion whey protein review.

legion whey protein pour

The taste of stevia, a natural ingredient, is pretty strong in some flavors, though we didn’t mind it.

Price per serving$1.99
Protein per servingVaries by flavor
Carbs per servingVaries by flavor
Fat per servingVaries by flavor

Best Whey Protein Powder for Women Overall: Cira Bright Whey Protein

Good for: Women who want to buy a high-quality, nutritionally sound, and tasty protein powder from a women-focused nutrition brand

Best Whey

Cira Bright Whey Protein

GGR Score: 4.8 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • 25 grams of whey protein isolate and concentrate 
  • Contains Himalayan rock salt 
  • Available in vanilla, cookies & cream, and cinnamon swirl
  • No added sugar
  • Subscribe and Save option

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Tastes good
  • Mixes well
  • Contains Himalayan rock salt
  • Several flavors available

Cons

  • No information on amino acid profile
  • Contains sucralose and stevia

Bottom Line

Cira Bright Whey Protein provides 25 grams of whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate per serving, as well as Himalayan salt providing added electrolytes.

A guide to the best protein powder for women would not be complete without a shoutout to Cira Nutrition. This brand caters specifically to women and keeps female biology in mind when developing its products. Cira has a lot of female-specific products, such as its complexion support and hormone symmetry supplements. 

Cira also makes a dang good whey protein powder for women. I tried Cira Bright Whey Protein as part of our testing, and I was very pleased with the taste and solubility. I got the Cookies n Cream flavor, and it tastes fantastic mixed with oat milk. 

cira pour

The texture leaves a bit to be desired when mixed with water (it’s thin), but I think all protein powders should be mixed with milk or a milk alternative, personally. 

At about $40 for 30 servings per tub, you’re looking at a low cost-per-serving of about $1.30. Each serving is packed with 25 grams of protein from whey protein isolate and concentrate, and it’s sweetened with sucralose and stevia. 

Aside from Cookies n Cream, Cira Bright Whey is also available in Cinnamon Swirl and Vanilla. 

RELATED: Best Pre-Workout for Women

Price per serving$1.30
Protein per serving25 g
Carbs per serving2 g
Fat per serving1.5 g

Best Unflavored Protein Powder for Women: NOW Sports Unflavored Whey Protein

Good for: Women who prefer to mix their protein powder into oatmeal, mug cakes, or smoothies rather than drink it plain

Best Unflavored

NOW Sports Whey Protein Isolate

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 5 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • 25 g of whey protein isolate per serving 
  • NPA A-rated GMP certified 
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or additives
  • Packaged in the USA

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No additives
  • Pure protein isolate
  • Budget friendly
  • Mixes well

Cons

  • Some reports of a sour aftertaste
  • Some users complained of missing scoopers

Bottom Line

NOW Sports Whey Protein Isolate is an unflavored protein which delivers 25 grams of protein per serving along with a good profile of BCAAs.

If you’re the type who needs something more than a protein shake post-workout, consider getting an unflavored protein powder that you can make an actual meal out of. Unflavored protein powder such as the NOW Sports Unflavored Whey Protein is a great addition to flavored oatmeal, fruity smoothies, and even for making healthy single-serve cakes. 

Now Sports whey protein isolate

Our product tester and GGR writer Lauren Strong (CPT) says this protein definitely has a “whey” flavor and aftertaste when taken alone with water, but she only did that for testing purposes to get the full effect—and wouldn’t recommend it. 

RELATED: How Much Protein Do You Really Need?

Instead, Lauren suggests adding this protein powder into something more substantial, like a homemade acai bowl, to add a boost of protein to an already nutritious meal. Even in plain water, the NOW Sports unflavored protein powder mixed well, creating a smooth and creamy liquid. 

Read our full thoughts in this NOW Sports whey protein isolate review.

Price per serving$0.66-$1.38 (varies by size)
Protein per serving25 g
Carbs per serving< 1 g 
Fat per serving0.5 g

Best Personalized Protein for Women: Gainful

Good for: Those who don’t mind paying a premium for a customized protein formula

Best Personalized

Gainful Customized Protein

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Specifically formulated for you 
  • Choose from a variety of flavor boosts
  • Contains all 9 essential amino acids 
  • Tailored to meet your dietary needs 
  • Subscription-based service renews each month
  • Unlimited access to registered dieticians

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • High-quality ingredients
  • Ability to work with registered dietitians
  • Personalized to your needs and goals
  • Solid profile of amino acids
  • No gluten, soy, artificial sweeteners, or dyes

Cons

  • Subscription-based
  • Expensive

Bottom Line

Gainful protein powder is a subscription-based supplement that is personalized by dietitians to meet your specific needs and health goals.

Gainful is a cool concept, and it allows for the ultimate in supplement customization. You’ll head to the Gainful site and take a quiz about yourself, answering questions about your lifestyle—dietary restrictions, workout habits, etc.—as well as your goals—maintain muscle, gain muscle, recover better, etc.—and Gainful will design a custom-made protein powder formula just for you. The powder is unflavored, and you’ll add on eight Flavor Boosts per order to give your powder the perfect taste.

gainful-personalized-protein-poeder

GGR senior editor, certified personal trainer, and expert product tester Nicole Davis tested out Gainful, and they prescribed her a whey/casein blend to support her goals of muscle maintenance, workout recovery, and satiety. She then added on the variety pack of Flavor Boosts so she could try different flavors, including Strawberry Cream, Sea Salt Caramel, and Cookies & Cream. “I didn’t want to like this because it’s so darn expensive, but I do,” says Nicole. “The protein, although a bit clumpy, tastes great and makes me feel good.”

Nicole’s protein blend offers 24 grams of protein per serving as well as 110 calories, but it will vary based on your body and goals.

Read our full Gainful Protein Powder review.

Price per servingApprox. $3
Protein per servingVaries based on your results
Carbs per servingVaries based on your results
Fat per servingVaries based on your results

Best Budget Protein Powder for Women: Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard Whey Protein

Good for: Women who need high-quality protein without breaking the bank

Best Budget

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey

GGR Score: 4.5 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Contains 3 different kinds of whey protein
  • Tested for banned substances
  • Over 5 g of BCAAs per serving
  • Instantized to help prevent clumping

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • High in protein
  • Plenty of flavor options
  • Low in carbs

Cons

  • Some users say it's overly sweet
  • Contains artificial flavors
  • Most flavors contain sucralose

Bottom Line

With plenty of flavor and size options to choose from, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey is a great basic choice in protein powder.

Optimum Nutrition has been a go-to protein source for me and for other women on our team for many, many years. Why? It’s relatively inexpensive, the macros are great, it’s tasty and dissolves well, and there are SO many flavors to choose from. 

Almost every person on our testing team has at least one Optimum Nutrition flavor they love. I love Double Rich Chocolate, Nicole enjoys Mocha Cappuccino, and staff writer Lauren Strong (CPT) swears by Extreme Milk Chocolate. 

If you’re really budget-conscious, we recommend purchasing the largest container you can find in your favorite flavor. The price per serving goes down as the container size increases. Although it’s more money you have to spend up front, it reduces your costs over time. 

gold standard whey protein

Plus, as stated in our guide to the best protein powder overall by registered dietitian nutritionist  Laila Ouldibbat, there’s a lot to love about Optimum Nutrition protein powder despite its use of artificial sweeteners: It uses two good protein sources (whey isolate and concentrate and hydrolyzed whey protein) sourced from hormone-free cows, to name just one.

One thing: The nutritional profile does vary slightly by flavor, although the protein content (24 grams) remains consistent. Read our Optimum Nutrition 100% whey gold standard review for more.

Price per servingAs low as $1.10 per serving
Protein per serving24 g
Carbs per serving3-4 g (depends on flavor)
Fat per serving0-1.5 g (depends on flavor)

Best Protein Powder for Women With Collagen: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides

Good for: Women who want a boost of protein with support for joints, hair, skin, and nails

Best With Collagen

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptide Protein

GGR Score: 4.7 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Designed to improve the health of hair, skin, nails, and joints 
  • Each serving provides 20 grams of collagen
  • Derived from grass-fed, pasture-raised bovine
  • Certified paleo and whole30 friendly
  • Available as flavorless, chocolate, lemon, and vanilla

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Over 200,000 positive reviews on Amazon
  • No added sugar or sweetener
  • Available with added vitamin C and hyaluronic acid
  • Mixes well

Cons

  • Some users report canisters arrived with no safety seal
  • Flavorless powder reportedly tastes bad

Bottom Line

Vital Protein’s Collagen Peptide Protein is formulated to improve the health of joints, bones, skin, ligaments, tendons, nails, and hair.

Not all protein is created equal. And some would argue that collagen peptide protein doesn’t belong on a list to the best protein powders, since collagen isn’t a complete protein (it lacks one essential amino acid: tryptophan).

However, we stand by our recommendation of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides for the positive impact that collagen is known to have on certain tissues in the body, including hair, skin, and nails. Collagen may also play a role in protecting joint integrity, as evidenced by a study on how collagen affects osteoarthritis symptoms.

vital proteins powder

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides come in a couple of flavors, but we recommend unflavored, because you can dissolve it into juice, coffee, add it to another protein powder, or even drink it in plain water. The powder is fine, not granular, and it’s barely noticeable in any beverage—and I’ve tried it in many.

And, despite the argument that collagen is an incomplete protein, it still packs 18 grams of protein into one serving.

Price per serving$1.67 (for 20-ounce container)
Protein per serving18 g
Carbs per serving0 g
Fat per serving0 g

Best Protein Powder for Pregnancy: Ritual Essential Protein, Pregnancy & Postpartum

Good for: Expectant moms who want a protein powder with pregnancy and postpartum in mind

Best for Pregnancy

Ritual Essential Protein Pregnancy & Postpartum

GGR Score: 4.3 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Plant-based protein to help during and after pregnancy
  • Added choline to help support nutrient needs
  • 3rd-party tested
  • Sugar-free formula

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Made without major allergens like soy and gluten
  • 20 g of protein per serving
  • Made without stevia, sugar, sugar alcohols, or artificial sweeteners
  • Made of organic pea protein

Cons

  • Not fully organic
  • No customer reviews
  • Relatively expensive

Bottom Line

Essential Protein from Ritual is a plant-based protein aimed to help pregnant and postpartum mothers receive the added nutrients they need.

Formulated for pregnancy using clean and traceable sources, such as USA-grown peas, each serving of Ritual Essential Protein Pregnancy & Postpartum provides 20 grams of plant-based protein powder, eight grams of essential amino acids, and four grams of branched-chain amino acids, making it a complete source of protein for expectant mothers.

GGR senior editor Nicole Davis (CPT), who happens to be pregnant at the time of this writing, found the 250 milligrams of essential choline included in the formula to be the deciding factor when choosing the best protein powder for pregnancy. Nicole says, “This [protein] is expensive, but it does provide a lot of choline, which has been shown to be super beneficial for baby’s development5 but most prenatal vitamins lack. You can get choline from foods, but supplementing with it is a good option if you don’t get enough—which, interestingly, most pregnant women do not. Speaking from experience, if a product is aimed at a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, I’m more likely to buy it!” 

An image of a woman drinking Ritual Essential protein powder for pregnancy

Additionally, a Ritual Essential Protein Daily Shake is soy-free, gluten-free, vegan-friendly, and Informed-Sport Certified, which means it has been screened for over 250 banned substances. 

RELATED: Is protein powder safe while pregnant?

Available in vanilla (Nicole wasn’t sold on the one flavor but found it blended well with frozen fruit in a smoothie) and it’s formulated without artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavors, this high-end protein powder costs around $40 per package, or $2.67 per serving. Pretty pricey, but Ritual does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee on your first purchase if you’re not completely satisfied with your shake. 

Price per serving$2.67
Protein per serving20 g
Carbs per serving4 g
Fat per serving2 g

Other Protein Powders We Tried

Across our team of product testers (five of those being women), we’ve tested more than 50 protein powders from brands like Garden of Life, Vital Proteins, Optimum Nutrition, Kaged Nutrition, Transparent Labs, Cira, Bulk Supplements, NOW Sports, Vega, Onnit, Muscle Milk, GNC, Quest Protein Powder, and others. 

While the above list represents our top picks for the best protein powder for women, we have plenty of other expert recommendations: 

RELATED: Best Protein Bars

How We Picked and Tested the Best Protein Powder for Women

Here’s a peek into our process for creating a guide like this one.

Research

We began by researching online and using our various personal experiences with protein powders to create a long (very long) list of products that we thought might contend for this guide. 

Testing

We ordered dozens of protein powders and tested them over the course of several weeks, mixing them with various liquids, drinking them as post-workout shakes, or on-the-go snacks. 

RELATED: Best Protein Chips

Finalizing

We took detailed notes regarding the taste (and aftertaste) of products we tested, what types of diets they suit (e.g., gluten-free, vegetarian, etc.), flavor options, nutrient profiles, and more. What you see here is the culmination of this lengthy process. For a more detailed look, check out our GGR Supplement Testing Methodology.

Benefits of Protein Powder for Women

It’s important to eat enough protein for a lot of reasons, but here are some of the most notable benefits of a high-protein diet.

Increases Daily Protein Intake 

Increasing your daily protein intake doesn’t get any easier than swigging a protein shake, or adding a scoop of protein powder to your smoothie. Keep in mind that the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein6 is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. If you’re regularly active that moves up to 1.6 grams of protein.

Aids In Muscle Building

Consuming enough protein is important for muscle health in general, but prioritizing protein after your workouts can be an anabolic strategy7 (that is, one that helps you build muscle).

Also Aids In Muscle Recovery

Scientific research points to dietary protein, which is what you get from protein shakes, as an important nutrient for muscle repair after exercise8.

Helps Control Appetite

If one of your goals is weight loss, protein powder may be able to assist: Research shows us that dietary protein is important in both appetite regulation9 and energy balance10.

RELATED: Best protein powder for weight loss

Who Shouldn’t Take Protein Powder

While generally safe, protein powder should always be treated as a supplement and never take the place of a well-balanced diet where your protein requirements are met with whole-food sources. Additionally, protein powder may not be the best choice for those with dietary issues like lactose intolerance, as the majority of protein powders contain this ingredient. If you are dairy-averse, but still interested in trying a protein powder supplement, a plant-based protein will be your best bet.

Buying Guide: What to Look for in Protein Powder

As you’re shopping for a great protein powder, keep this criteria in mind.

Taste and Texture

Take it from us: You won’t consume your protein supplement if it doesn’t taste good. We’ve tested plenty to know there are a lot of great-tasting protein powders and a lot of gross ones. A good protein dietary supplement mixes into a smooth, tasty treat.

Protein Per Serving 

Make sure the product you buy meets your protein needs. A good amount of protein is 20 grams per serving. (Also check whether the serving size is one scoop or two.)

muscle milk scoop

Other Nutrient Information

Check the ingredients list for artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, added sugar, monk fruit, stevia. Many high-quality protein powder brands pride themselves on using minimal ingredients, but sometimes, the ingredients list can key you into positives, too: Some brands add superfoods like greens blends to add more vitamins, or use probiotics to support digestion.

Protein Source

There are many types of protein powders that get their protein content from different sources. There are plant proteins, like pumpkin seed protein, brown rice protein, pea protein, and chia and hemp protein. 

Then there are milk-derived sources that contain lactose, like whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, and casein. Remember that no single vegan-friendly protein source is a complete protein (meaning they don’t contain all nine essential amino acids), but whey protein powder and casein protein powder are complete proteins.

P.S. If you’re looking for amino acid supplementation, check out our picks for the best BCAA for women.

Third-Party Certification

If it’s important to you, check for things like the NSF Informed Choice certification or the Non-GMO Project verified label. 

Price Per Serving 

A good target is under $2.00 per serving, but for some of the best protein powders, you’ll pay more (especially if you buy small packages rather than buying in bulk).

Flavor Options

Whether you crave a chocolate flavor, prefer peanut butter, or always go after vanilla flavor, there’s something out there for you. Most protein powders at least come in some variation of chocolate, vanilla, and peanut butter.

FAQs

Which is the best protein drink for women?

Our top picks for the best protein powders for women are: 

Best Protein Powder for Women Overall: Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate
Best-Tasting Protein Powder for Women: XWERKS Grow
Best Vegan Protein Powder for Women: Ritual Essential Protein 18+
Best Protein Powder for Women for Building Muscle: Kaged Re-Kaged
Best Gut-Friendly Protein Powder for Women: 1st Phorm Vegan Power Pro
Best Protein Powder for Women to Gain Weight: Organifi Complete Protein
Best Protein Powder for Women Athletes: Onnit Grass-Fed Whey
Best Organic Protein Powder for Women: Legion Whey+
Best Whey Protein for Women: Cira Bright Whey Protein
Best Unflavored Protein Powder for Women: NOW Sports Unflavored Whey Protein
Best Personalized Protein Powder for Women: Gainful
Best Budget Protein Powder for Women: Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard Whey Protein
Best Protein Powder for Women With Collagen: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
Best Protein Powder for Pregnancy: Ritual Essential Protein, Pregnancy & Postpartum

Is protein powder good for females?

Protein is an important nutrient for men and women alike. It supports lean muscle growth, helps you maintain muscle mass, assists with muscle recovery, and much more. Protein powder can help women intake up to 30 extra grams of protein and reap the many benefits of this macronutrient. 

Should I drink a protein shake everyday?

It’s perfectly safe to drink a protein shake daily. While some people experience minor bloating when first kicking up their protein intake (especially when that protein comes from liquid in a shaker bottle), that side effect should go away as your body adapts to the increase of the nutrient. Choosing a protein with digestive enzymes can help those who experience bloating.

Is a protein shake a meal replacement?

No, a protein shake is not a meal replacement. For a meal replacement, you’ll want something that also includes carbohydrates, fats, and many essential nutrients such as vitamin C, calcium, vitamin A, and so forth.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.

References

  1. Paul C, Leser S, Oesser S. Significant Amounts of Functional Collagen Peptides Can Be Incorporated in the Diet While Maintaining Indispensable Amino Acid Balance. Nutrients. 2019;11(5):1079. Published 2019 May 15. doi:10.3390/nu11051079
  2. Hexsel D, Zague V, Schunck M, Siega C, Camozzato FO, Oesser S. Oral supplementation with specific bioactive collagen peptides improves nail growth and reduces symptoms of brittle nails. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2017;16(4):520-526. doi:10.1111/jocd.12393
  3. Choi FD, Sung CT, Juhasz ML, Mesinkovsk NA. Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications. J Drugs Dermatol. 2019;18(1):9-16.
  4. García-Coronado JM, Martínez-Olvera L, Elizondo-Omaña RE, et al. Effect of collagen supplementation on osteoarthritis symptoms: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. Int Orthop. 2019;43(3):531-538. doi:10.1007/s00264-018-4211-5
  5. Korsmo HW, Jiang X, Caudill MA. Choline: Exploring the Growing Science on Its Benefits for Moms and Babies. Nutrients. 2019 Aug 7;11(8):1823. doi: 10.3390/nu11081823. PMID: 31394787; PMCID: PMC6722688.
  6. Wu G. Dietary protein intake and human health. Food Funct. 2016 Mar;7(3):1251-65. doi: 10.1039/c5fo01530h. PMID: 26797090.
  7. Mielgo-Ayuso J, Fernández-Lázaro D. Nutrition and Muscle Recovery. Nutrients. 2021;13(2):294. Published 2021 Jan 20. doi:10.3390/nu13020294
  8. Poulios A, Georgakouli K, Draganidis D, et al. Protein-Based Supplementation to Enhance Recovery in Team Sports: What is the Evidence?. J Sports Sci Med. 2019;18(3):523-536. Published 2019 Aug 1.
  9. Moon J, Koh G. Clinical Evidence and Mechanisms of High-Protein Diet-Induced Weight Loss. J Obes Metab Syndr. 2020;29(3):166-173. doi:10.7570/jomes20028
  10. Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Lemmens SG, Westerterp KR. Dietary protein – its role in satiety, energetics, weight loss and health. Br J Nutr. 2012;108 Suppl 2:S105-S112. doi:10.1017/S000711451200258

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