What’s the best protein powder for women? The world of protein powders can, on first glance at least, seem like a daunting one. Historically associated with competitive bodybuilding, brash packaging, and the grunting men you would find in the weights area of the gym (sometimes dubbed the “testosterzone”), protein powders have certainly had something of an image problem. Until now: gone are the Arnie associations and endless ingredients lists, in are the clean, often plant-derived blends.
Is protein powder necessary?
“Given that men and women are physiologically different in obvious ways it is not beyond rationality to view them differently when it comes to exercise nutrition,” says Damian Soong, CEO of Form Nutrition. And, with women statistically more likely to consume less protein in their general diet than men, topping up with a protein powder – especially after a workout – can help you recover more swiftly.
Read more: Best Treadmills For At Home Workouts
Which protein powder is best for females?
A new crop of products designed specifically to support women’s hormones look to change the protein-fuelled landscape forever. Superfood ingredients like camu camu to boost the immune system and maca – which many believe to be an aphrodisiac – protein powders have come a long way from their slightly suspicious beginnings.
When should you drink a protein shake?
What time of day you should take a protein shake all depends on your health and fitness goals. If you’re looking to loose weight then a protein shake between meals is ideal for fat loss. Or if maintaining your fitness levels after a workout is key, then adding in a protein shake before and after a workout is a great way to improve performance.
Here, British Vogue selects five of the best protein powders for women.
“Women, just like men, should look for a complete protein, which if plant-based should be a multi-source blend to assure no deficiency in any amino acid. Form’s blends contain organic pea, rice, hemp and algae protein to provide a complete essential amino acid profile,” explains co-founder Natalia Bojanic. The brand's Superblend protein powder is just about as delicious as it gets and contains additional nutrients to make your protein powder work even harder. “An important point to note is the inclusion of bioperine, proven to improve nutrient absorption – because you aren’t what you eat, you are what you absorb,” adds co-founder Damian Soong. We recommend the chocolate salted caramel shaken with unsweetened almond milk or water.
£26 for 520g; available at Formnutrition.com
Far more than just a protein powder, Supernova Protein comes in two formulations: one for men, and one for women. The Woman 01 blend contains adaptogens specifically chosen to support female wellbeing (to find out more, check out Vogue’s guide to adaptogens). “Adaptogens are plants that maintain homeostasis in the body, keeping us in balance in the busy demanding world we live in and we believe we’re the only protein powder to contain such a high level of premium organic adaptogens in the world,” says Laura Beckford, founder of Supernova. These include red maca, which, as well as being a powerful aphrodisiac, works with women’s hormones to regulate the menstrual cycle and boost fertility. It also contains ashwaghandha, believed to soothe stress. Flavoured with raw cacao – an adaptogen in itself – Supernova Protein is chocolatey but doesn’t taste fake: because it isn’t.
£35 for 480g; available at Trouva.com.
There are protein powders, and then there are protein powders. NGX BodyFuel is specifically formulated to fit your body’s unique needs. Here’s the deal: first, you’ll send off a super simple cheek swab. Over the course of the next two weeks, your saliva will make its way through the NGX laboratory (and send you friendly email updates on its progress). Finally, you’ll be given a full report of your genetic pre-dispositions to certain nutrients and, all-importantly, a bespoke protein powder to fill in the natural gaps. Truly a game-changer.
Subscriptions start from £34.99, available at Nutri-genetix.com.
Founded by two former GB swimmers, Neat Nutrition is a super simple protein powder that does exactly what it says it will. If you’re vegan or lactose intolerant, Neat’s vegan protein powder blends pea and hemp with a natural chocolate flavour that’s super easy to digest. For a nocturnal boost of recovery and muscle repair, take a scoop of Neat Nutrition’s Slow Release Protein Powder just before bed, and feed your body overnight.
£29.95 for 1kg; available at Neat-nutrition.com
When it comes to women and protein powders, there are a few things to look out for, explains Lee Mullins, founder of The Workshop Gymnasium, who has recently launched a range of protein powders. “Look for protein powders with no additives, it should be as natural as possible and the source of protein should preferably be pea, hemp or whey. The flavour should be as natural as possible too so look for Stevia or raw cacao as the sweetener rather than aspartame. Women generally eat less protein than men, especially if they’re working out, so look for a protein powder with lower carbohydrates – you need the protein to help muscle recovery after training and it won’t bulk you up." Also, try and rotate your source of protein to avoid intolerances. "For example, use pea protein for a month and then switch to hemp or whey and continue the rotation month-on-month. I wanted to create the Workshop Protein with the cleanest form of pea protein available and make it suitable for vegans and vegetarians, so it’s suitable for everyone and easy to digest.”
£55; available at Workshopgymnasium.com
If a protein powder that’s as natural as it gets is your biggest priority, Pulsin should be in your shopping basket. Its unflavoured plain pea and sunflower proteins are perfect for adding undetected to a morning smoothie when you don’t want another flavour wrestling with your berries and bananas, but still want to boost your protein intake. With many protein powders on the market coming in at over £30 for a caddy, Pulsin is a more purse-friendly price point, too.
From £8.99; available at Hollandandbarret.com.
Innermost protein is as smart as it is delicious. The chocolate flavour is smooth, not too sweet, and can be mixed with porridge to amp up your breakfast protein intake. For a real level-up, match your Innermost protein with the brand’s Recover Capsules after a workout to really accelerate your muscle repair. Vogue’s in-house runner Alyson Lowe swears by two capsules after an evening workout for a restorative sleep.
£29.95; available at Johnlewis.com.
If sickly sweet artificial flavoured protein powders are a no-no, the Glow Bar Ritual Moon Shake is for you. Mix with an unsweetened plant milk or water, and you can taste the high quality cacao and ginger. Even better, it’s powered-up with adaptogenic additions. There’s a prebiotic, ashwagandha and lion’s mane to boost mood and reduce stress, and cordyceps to help the immune system. We recommend this shake as a mid-afternoon calming boost when working from home.
£32.50; available at Glowbarldn.com.
Gluten free, dairy free, hormone free – but definitely not fun free. Musclemary is the seriously good plant-based protein that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Our preference is chocolate flavour, but it comes in vanilla and berry, too.
£35; available at Musclemary.co.uk