We’ve come an awful long way since the beginning of protein supplements when their only aim was to help you build muscle and were only used by hardcore body builders and power lifters. There was once a time when protein supplements where, shall we say ‘unisex’. It was still a developing market so there was no need for anything except a universal, ‘one supplement fits all’, approach.
These days the supplement business is a multi billion dollar industry so is stands to reason that a considerable amount of money is spent on research and development. Gone are the days of one product with one purpose for everybody. Now there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of supplements on the market and we now have a different problem. Instead of having no choice at all we now have so much choice it can often be daunting knowing which one is the best product to go for.
This is were we come in! Having been asked by many women which is the best protein for them we thought it was about time there was a handy guide out there for women looking to find the right protein supplement for them. We’ve got many decades of experience in the fitness and supplement industry, so thought we’d put that experience to use and create that guide.
Why have a different protein for women?
Men and women are biologically different so many protein supplements for women are specially formulated to reflect that and to work in harmony with women’s bodies. For example one of the main benefits of the tryptophan amino acid is an alternative medicine in the treatment on PMS. It does have other effects that men can benefit from to but is often found in ‘well being’ supplements formulated especially for women for this reason.
Another example is keratin, which we all know helps support the growth of strong hair and nails. Although it’s used by men too, a protein supplement high in keratin is going to appeal to women far more than it is men. So you see it’s not just the packaging that is aimed at women but the contents have also been tailor to be most beneficial to women. That’s not to say that women won’t see any benefit from a protein aimed at men and vice verse, in the same way that they will both see results from using a universal protein. But if you are looking for a supplement tailored to you then this guide is here to help you.
As a general rule women require slightly less protein than men do so supplements for women will tend to have less protein in them but don’t be put off by a lower protein content, it’s actually a good thing. They will also have extra vitamins such as folic acid, vitamin B and iron.
What do you want from you protein?
Okay now that sounds like a dumb question we know but bear with us. When we’re asked ‘what protein do I need‘ our first question is always what are you hoping to gain from any supplement you take. More often than not this is met with a ‘oh I don’t know‘ or ‘I hadn’t thought about that‘. These days with the money spent on development there is a supplement out there for you regardless of how obscure you think your needs might be. For example there are supplements designed to help with you hair and nail growth as well as proteins that help you tone up or loose weight.
Weight loss or diet
Weight loss blends are the most popular types of protein supplements bought by women and as such there are a large number of diet protein blends on the market that have been tailored made for women. Generally made from whey and milk proteins these are sometimes called meal replacement proteins (or MRP) and will also contain a variety of dietary fibres such as inulin and glucomannan which are know for their abilities to help with kidney function and lower cholesterol. The ideal diet protein supplement would be high in protein but low in carbohydrates and fat and may also contain something like green tea extracted tea which is well known for increasing the bodies metabolism.
There’s a wide variety of diet and weight loss supplements on the market and which one is the best does to some extent come down to personal preference, for example you may opt for one brand based on the flavours its available in. We’ve sampled many products in our time and when it comes to diet products for women these are two of our favourites:
- MyProtein’s Meal Replacement Blend. We love this because, as well as having only 18g of carbohydrates and 6.5g of fat plus 205kcal per serving it contains everything you need to help maintain a healthy weight loss plan, on top of that it’s available in chocolate truffle, strawberry shortcake and velvet vanilla.
- FitMiss’s Delight Protein Powder. One of the things that we, and many other people love about this is how delicious it is. A whey protein it also has Solathin® which is a vegetable-based protein that has been proven to control your appetite. Like MyProtein’s Meal Replacement Blend it’s available in a variety of flavours such as cappuccino, chocolate delight and vanilla chai.
Such is the development of modern day protein supplements that it is now even possible to find proteins that have been especially developed to help support and improve your overall health and wellbeing. New developments have results in collagen proteins. The most abundant protein in the human body, collagen is found in the muscles, skin, tendons, bones and even blood vessels. We all know that it’s in part what helps to give our skin strength and elasticity but I bet you didn’t know it does that in part by replacing dead skin cells. It can also help to control your appetite, strengthen you joints and tendons, bones, nails and hair, it does all of this while at the same time helping to keep you gut healthy.
Being a relatively new protein source on the market the number of products on offer isn’t as high as some other sources at the moment although this will certainly change in the near future. That said there are some very good supplements out there. Both available on Amazon our two favourites are:
- Perfect Keto’s Keto Collagen. We really like this because as well as being available unflavoured and in chocolate, vanilla and salted caramel it also contains medium-chain triglycerides (or MCT) which is especially good for calorie burning as well as energy and endurance.
- Sports Research’s Collagen Peptide. Also available in vanilla, chocolate and unflavoured, the thing we like about this is that it’s certified by both the Paleo Foundation and the Keto Foundation as well as being verified non-GM by the IGEN program which is the world’s first formal certification program for determining if a product is genetically engineered or not.
Toning up or building muscle
Sometimes referred to as lean muscle, women wanting to tone up will benefit the most from having a protein shake either after a to help the muscles repair more quickly or a casein protein before bed. Both methods work in different ways for example a ‘workout protein’ will is best taken within the 30 minute anabolic window. This is the ‘key’ time after a workout when your body is most receptive to protein and carbohydrates in the muscle building process. ‘Bedtime proteins’ such as caseins on the other hand are a slow releasing protein that is utilised by your body while you sleep. It’s also great at helping with lean muscle for this reason.
- One of the most popular post workout supplements designed for women is NLA for Her’s Her Whey. It gets to work straightaway, is gluten and sugar free and also has a healthy assortment of amino acids. An added benefit is that it comes in blueberry muffin, maple donut, peanut butter banana split and vanilla cupcake.
- When it comes to a good slow release protein you can’t go wrong with Effective Nutrition’s 100% Micellar Casein. We like it because it’s low in fat and sugar and is also 100% grass fed pure micellar casein and is available in strawberry cream, vanilla cream and double chocolate.
What if I don’t want to use a dedicated supplement for women?
While there’s plenty of choice for women these days some people prefer to use a universal protein. As we said earlier although men and women are different they will both benefit from supplements aimed at both so if this is your preferred choice then there’s nothing wrong with this at all. Despite being different and needing different amounts, protein is just as important to both genders.
One of the most popular universal protein supplements around the world is Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard 100% Whey. It has 24g of protein and is made from whey isolate which means that it’s protein content is over 90% and has had the lactose removed making it suitable for people who are lactose intolerant. If you have Amazon’s Alexa you can use the ‘OPTIMUM NUTRITION Workout Recipes Skill’ which gives you dozens of great recipes too such as protein donuts and casein ice cream.
How do I know how much protein I need?
There’s no one rule to how much protein people need, the amount we all need is as unique to us as our finger print is. While the general rule is one third of what you eat should be protein (the other two thirds being made up by fat and carbohydrates in equal measure) this can vary widely from person to person depending on what sort of diet you’re on. It’s also worth noting that there’s no one size fits all in terms of the number of calories we need either. We’ve created a handy BMR calculator that will tell you how many calories you need each day, this will help you to know how much protein you need.
Have a question about protein?
Have you ever wondered why protein is so important and what it actually does? Are you curious to know what the effects of not enough protein might be? Fear not we’ve got all the answers for you in our recent article – Protein – why it’s so important for us!
What about vitamin and mineral supplements?
Sometimes it’s not always possible to get everything you need for a healthy lifestyle from diet alone. We all have very busy lives and don’t always have time to prepare a nutritious meal that is equally balanced with everything we need. Most people will confess to turning to nutrient poor convenience foods now and then and there’s nothing wrong with that at all but our bodies still needs vitamins and minerals. Although they should be used as a substitute for a healthy diet there are plenty of supplements that can help boost what you’re getting from you food. Centrum’s Women Multivitamin is one of the most popular vitamin supplements in the world and is regularly recommended by doctors and pharmacists.