Which Protein Powder Is Best For Women?
Women looking to stay fit or to lose weight may be wondering which protein powder is best-suited to their individual needs. Depending on the powder’s base ingredients and how they were formulated, protein powders can play a variety of roles in a woman’s fitness regime. Women on restricted diets, or those with food allergies and sensitivities will need to take these factors into consideration when selecting a protein powder.
Are you vegetarian? Don’t forget that whey and casein protein powders are derived from dairy products. Often rennet (an animal by-product) is used in the cheese-making process. Some strict vegetarians may not be comfortable with whey or casein protein powders. However soy, hemp, brown rice and yellow pea powders are vegan.
With the exception of soy protein powders, all the other plant-based powders are incomplete. They lack one or more of the nine essential amino acids our bodies need to stay fit. Of course, complete protein powders can be created by combining different products. Whey and casein are complete proteins that need not be mixed to provide the optimal fat-burning, muscle-building powers that you want.
How to Choose the Best Protein Powder for You
You’ll need to ask yourself a few questions before you select the protein powder that is best for you. You may decide to optimize the effects that protein powders have by buying more than one kind. Taking different kinds of protein powders at different times of the day, and at different stages of your workout can give you better results. You’ll have to take into consideration your current exercise regime and workout schedule. What are your goals? How can a protein powder (or powders) help you achieve them?
Let’s face it. Very few women are 100% satisfied with their bodies. There’s always room for a little improvement. For some of us, a lot of improvement is what we would like to see! Some of us may have just given birth, and be yearning to squeeze back into last year’s jeans. An extended vacation may have have been just what we needed. But also added a few inches to our waistline. We can lose it by improving the effectiveness of our workouts with a whey protein powder. Whey gives our muscles a protein jump start, and more calories are consumed.
Women who have suffered an injury or recently had surgery can use a little extra protein to speed their recovery. Certain protein powders can help support immune system function and possibly reduce our risk of cancer. We can improve our cardiovascular health with the right combination of diet, exercise and the appropriate protein powder. Protein powders are available that are cholesterol-free.
Are you vegan or a vegetarian? Protein powders can make sure that you are getting enough protein and the right combination of amino acids. Soy protein powders are the only complete plant-based protein powder. However brown rice, yellow pea and hemp powders can be combined to give your body all the essential amino acids it needs. Whey and casein protein powders are made from dairy products and may contain animal by-products. The best protein powder for you will depend not just on your physical requirements, but also your personal beliefs.
Don’t be afraid to seek personalized advice. Many health food stores have well-trained staff that can help you find the perfect protein powder for you. Consult with a personal trainer if you have particular fitness goals, or upcoming competitions or marathons. A dietician or even your own doctor can give you some guidance if you cannot tolerate gluten or lactose in your diet.
Finally, protein powders come in unflavored and flavored varieties. Chocolate is a perennial best-seller, but strawberry and vanilla products are popular too. It may seem obvious, but if the taste doesn’t appeal to you, you are unlikely to continue using the protein powder. Find one that you really like, or incorporate other ingredients with the powder to make smoothies and shakes. There are even recipe books devoted exclusively to cooking low-sugar, high-protein sweet treats! Check out the Whey Too Sweet e-cookbook that has more than 30 recipes built around protein powders.
The Best Types of Protein Powder for Women
Protein in our diets does more than just help us lose weight, convert fat to muscle and repair tissues that are damaged. Protein plays a part in regulating countless metabolic processes. This includes our blood sugar levels which can affect our appetite. Food cravings and even binge eating are issues for many women. There are slow to release casein protein powders that can help us curb the cravings, stick to our diet plan and build better bodies.
Depending on the kind of powder, protein can be released into our system quickly, slowly, or at a moderate steady rate. Before a workout we’ll be looking for an added energy boost. Our muscles will want lots of protein ready as soon as we start to move. This helps us effectively draw out energy that is stored as fat, and then gets burned as calories. We are transforming fat into lean muscle mass.
A favored quick-release protein powder would be a whey-based product. We may also want to follow our workout with a shot of whey as well. Our muscles will be tired and need sufficient protein for them to recover and repair any damage they may have suffered during our workout. Before bed, a dose (or even a half dose) of casein powder will ensure our bodies have protein available all night.
Whey protein powders have other benefits for women as well. Protein not only helps build and maintain muscle, but other tissues as well. Healthier looking skin and hair can be a welcome side effect to including protein powders in our diet. Even our fingernails and gums can benefit!
Many women take protein powder based smoothies and shakes at any time of the day. While whey is released quickly into the body, other protein powders provide a steady supply of protein over time. Casein protein powder is an example of a slower release product. It can help us feel full longer and maintain a steady blood sugar level. This can cut our urge for cravings and make it easier for us to stick with our diet plan.
Protein Powder for Women’s Weight Loss
Protein powders can help us hit our target weight. If we’re lucky enough to already be fit, protein powders will help us maintain our condition. But it’s vital to remember that these supplements cannot create weight loss on their own! They can help us make our workouts and our bodies more efficient at burning calories, and turn fat into muscle. However, they must be combined with a sensible diet and regular exercise if we want to see significant results.
So many of us lead busy lives. We may not always have time to prepare the kind of meals we should be eating. Drive-thru dining may be an easy option, but also one that leaves us loaded up with carbs, fats and sodium. Protein powders can easily be made into shakes and smoothies that will satisfy our hunger and curb our desire for quick and (nutritionally!) dirty snacks. Try using a soy protein powder beverage. It releases itself at a moderate speed, so a lunchtime smoothie will keep you going all afternoon.
It is especially important for women who want to lose weight to check the ingredient list on any protein powder before they buy it. Many of them contain added sugar to improve the taste. If you’re a male bodybuilder gearing up for a big competition this is unlikely to be an issue. If you are a woman looking to lose weight, you’ll need the protein, but you certainly don’t want all the calories a teaspoon or two of sugar will bring to the party!
There are protein powders that are unsweetened and those that use artificial sweeteners. The Isofuel brand manufactures high quality powders with low sugar content. Isagenix also comes highly recommended, with little sugar and no artificial sweeteners. “The Organic Whey” is a premium whey-based protein powder with only 82 calories per 20g of powder and no fat, but it still manages a 75% protein punch.
Consider experimenting with protein powders in the kitchen as well. Brownies, cakes, cookies and energy bars can all be transformed into low-fat, high protein snacks using protein powders in the right recipe.
Protein Powder for Women’s General Health
There are protein powders that are suitable supplements for all women. Muscle Pharm Combat gets good reviews from women who have sampled various protein powders. It combines five different kinds of protein and the result is a balanced and steady release of protein all day. It may not be an appropriate choice for a before workout drink, but to maintain your blood sugar levels, and keep you fuelled up log term, it will do the trick.
Vegetarian women may want to avoid protein powders that contain whey and casein. As rennet (an animal product) is often used in making dairy products, these powders are not strictly vegetarian. The Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein Powder is a perfect choice for vegetarians or those who are lactose intolerant. It is available unflavoured, or in strawberry or chocolate flavours. And it’s got zero carbs!
One of the best-selling all around protein powders is the Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard Blend. It’s not the cheapest protein powder out there, but it is one of the highest quality. A five-pound tub will set you back around $60. Finding a flavor that pleases your palate will not be an issue. Try mocha cappuccino, rocky road or tropical fruit punch.
Soy protein powders contain phytoestrogens, elements that mimic the female hormone estrogen in a woman’s body. Some younger women who use soy protein powders may be concerned that their bodies will get overloaded with estrogen. Some studies have shown that this may have detrimental effects. Alternatively, older women, especially those who are in or approaching menopause, may benefit from the phytoestrogens in soy protein powders. As their own bodies produce less estrogen, soy protein powders can make up for the shortage. Symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings may be eased.
Whichever protein powder you decide to go with, don’t forget it is only “one element of three”. You must combine regular exercise and a sensible diet (with healthy, real foods) to maximize the positive effects of a protein powder. Just do it!