Whether you’re a fitness fanatic, busy career-woman or a powerful super mama, incorporating a nutritious protein powder into your daily diet can do wonders for your health and well-being. No longer reserved only for the male gym junkies and bodybuilders of the world, protein powder has become a popular health food supplement for women also, and for good reason.
Whilst people do use protein powder for muscle gain, there are many other nutritional and physical benefits to ensuring you get sufficient amounts of protein daily. Not only does protein play a crucial role in the day to day function of your body, but having a good intake of protein can help promote a healthy immune system, boost brain function and even assist with weight loss. Yet, despite all these benefits, there are still some common misconceptions and questions surrounding the use of protein powder as a health food supplement—questions that often deter women in particular from giving it a go.
Some of these include:–
- ‘What does protein powder do?’.
- ‘What’s the best protein powder for women?’.
- ‘Does protein powder work?’.
- ‘Does protein powder build muscle?’.
- ‘What are the benefits of protein shakes?’.
- ‘When should I have a protein shake?’.
WHAT IS PROTEIN POWDER?
Protein powder is a health food supplement that’s derived from either dairy or plant-based sources and is often used to increase an individual's intake of protein, as well as a nutritious meal replacement throughout the day. Both dairy and dairy-free protein can vary in their features, benefits and ingredients, and it’s important when looking for the best protein powder for women, that you consider your health and fitness goals, and your dietary requirements to ensure you’re choosing the right one for you.
Whey protein is one of the most common and popular protein sources used in protein powder and is a result of the cheese-making process—which essentially takes the most nutritious part of milk and removes the carbohydrates and fats. Whey protein powder is considered the fastest to digest, meaning that because of its rapid absorption rate it makes it one of the best dietary sources of protein available, as well as being great for muscle growth and weight loss. It’s also considered a complete protein as it contains all nine essential amino acids which are needed for optimal health and bodily function. Because of this, it makes it a great choice of protein powder for women if they have no intolerances to dairy.
For further info on the features and benefits of whey protein powder, check out our blog, ‘The 10 Best Whey Protein Powders’.
For those who are looking for a vegan-friendly option or are lactose intolerant, a plant-based protein powder is a great alternative and can still offer many nutritional benefits as well as be a great protein for women. Sourced from plant matter such as soy, pea, hemp or rice, vegan protein powder is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Although on its own a plant-based protein may not contain all nine essential amino acids, when two proteins are blended together in a protein powder (rice and pea for example), the combination provides all nine essential amino acids that are necessary for our diet and to help build and support muscle growth and repair.
For a closer look at the different variations of protein powders and their benefits, check out our blog, ‘Best Protein Powder Types & Flavours’.
DO YOU NEED PROTEIN POWDER TO BUILD MUSCLE?
Does protein build muscle you ask? Well, both whey and plant protein blends contain stacks of amino acids that definitely assist in the process of muscle building. During athletic activity and exercise, muscle fibres break down, and a high-quality protein powder can help to repair that damage and work to decrease your recovery time. This, therefore, helps to increase your endurance and the intensity of your training, allowing for regular workout sessions and fewer aches and pains post-workout—sounds like a win-win to us!
If you’re looking to maintain lean muscle mass, there’s more good news—multiple studies have found that when supplementing with protein powder and exercising, those trying to lose weight have also seen improved results, with more lean muscle and less body fat. Furthermore, their metabolism is improved too—meaning more calories burned per day when compared to those who didn’t exercise or supplement.
It’s important to note that consuming protein shakes alone will not reap results such as weight loss or a more toned appearance—this will only happen in conjunction with regular exercise and a well-balanced diet.
WHAT’S THE BEST PROTEIN POWDER FOR WOMEN?
There’s a huge variety of protein powders available and many are marketed specifically for women.
At Happy Way, we’re proud to offer both whey and vegan-friendly protein powders that are 100% natural and filled with high-quality raw superfoods, natural vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They’re also without any hidden nasties such as artificial flavours, preservatives or sweeteners and contain a combination of certified organic and organically grown ingredients.
If you’re looking for the best protein powder for female muscle gain, then look no further than our whey and vegan protein powders. Both contain high levels of BCAAs or branched-chain amino acids which are essential in promoting muscle growth as they increase the blood flow to muscle tissues. Because of its rapid absorption rate, not only can using a protein powder daily boost your energy levels, but as mentioned earlier, it can also help with your rest and recovery post-workout.
For further info on BCAAs and their benefits, read our blog, ‘What Are The Benefits Of BCAA Powders’ and check out our range of whey and vegan protein powders available at Happy Way.
WHAT ARE THE OTHER BENEFITS?
Apart from a resounding ‘yes’ in response to the question, ‘Does drinking protein shakes help build muscle?’, specifically lean muscles, there are plenty of additional benefits of protein powder. In general, protein helps refuel and regenerate muscles after a workout, improve athletic performance and maintain overall health. For women specifically, getting the required amounts of protein is also essential for growing and maintaining healthy and strong nails and hair, since these are largely made up of the same compound.
The benefits don’t stop there. Although many women shy away from supplementing with protein for fear of looking ‘manly’ or ‘bulky’, incorporating a protein powder into your daily diet is actually a great way to get into shape and offers a rather holistic approach to health and wellness. Protein powder also helps to protect your immunity, as the essential amino acids found in the supplement help to develop antioxidants that fight against illness and disease. With its high levels of vitamins and nutrients, protein powder can also help to reduce fatigue, lower cholesterol and reduce chronic inflammation that may be the result of unhealthy habits or health issues.
Happy Way protein powders are also superb for weight management, as it aids in weight loss via natural hunger control (making you feel fuller for longer), and stabilises blood sugar levels, helping to reduce sweet cravings.
Read our blog ‘Protein Powder For Weight Loss: A Beginners Guide’, for further info on using protein powder for weight management.
HOW MUCH PROTEIN DO I REALLY NEED?
The bodybuilding physiques that spring to mind for many women when they’re considering whether or not to start using protein powder are shaped not by protein powder itself, but through hours of specific and intense daily training in the gym, a super restrictive diet, and often other supplements. Unlike men, most women do not have the same level of hormones—specifically testosterone levels—that are needed for this kind of bulky, hyper-muscular look, so there’s no need to worry that you’ll resemble Arnold Schwarzenegger simply by adding protein powders into your diet!
When it comes to protein powder serving sizes, it really varies depending on the individual and their activity level, so it’s best to experiment with portions until you find the amount that suits you best. As a general guide, if you’re trying to lose a few kilos, have a 20-30 g serving. If your priority is on building and maintaining lean muscle mass, use 35 g or more per serving.
If you don’t have the time or energy to get your protein from meal-prepping a week's worth of chicken breast, eggs and peas, protein powder offers a convenient means of getting the necessary protein into your diet. Women are more at risk of developing protein deficiencies, so keep in mind the recommendations surrounding daily protein intake.
It’s recommended that women 19 years and over have 46 grams of protein daily and 56 grams for men of the same age. Happy Way protein powders offer approximately 21 grams of protein per 30 gram serve and around 70 grams of protein per 100 gram serve.
Read our blog, ‘Protein Powder For Weight Loss: A Beginners Guide’, for a more detailed insight into using protein powder to help with weight loss.
WHEN SHOULD I HAVE A PROTEIN SHAKE?
Protein powder has benefits both pre and post-workout and works terrific as a filling or a convenient and healthy snack, and is ideal for women with busy lifestyles. Although it's good to have a naturally protein-rich diet, protein shakes and smoothies are a fantastic option as they increase the protein you consume, without adding the extra carbohydrates and fat that are often present in foods such as meat, fish, soy, eggs, beans and legumes. Knowing when to drink protein shakes and smoothies is essential in ensuring you not only get the most out of your protein powder but that you’re also using it correctly to help you achieve your goals.
DRINKING PROTEIN BEFORE WORKOUT
Protein shakes are great in the morning as a quick liquid meal that’s easy to digest. As a pre-workout snack, if consumed around 45 minutes prior to exercise, it can help to boost energy levels, increasing stamina and endurance therefore allowing you to go harder in the gym for longer periods.
DRINKING PROTEIN AFTER WORKOUT
Having a protein shake after a workout, roughly within 30 minutes post-exercise, will provide the body with much needed nutrients and amino acids that are necessary for muscle growth, as well as aid in repair and recovery. This is ideal for performing athletes and those who want to exercise regularly.
BEST PROTEIN SHAKES FOR WOMEN
Not only are there many benefits of protein shakes and smoothies but protein powder can also be used in baking, as well as delicious treats to snack on throughout the day.
Along with using protein powder for muscle gain, there are many other ingredients that you can add to your smoothies to help boost energy and increase muscle development.
Some of these include:-
- Leafy greens – Not only do dark leafy greens provide a tonne of nutritional and health benefits, but they also boost muscle function and strength. Popeye was onto something!
- Cacao powder – Adding some organic cacao powder into your smoothies can help with muscle repair and recovery post-workout. It also contains magnesium which is essential for maintaining healthy muscle and for optimal function of the nervous system.
- Complex carbohydrates – Including healthy carbs in your smoothies will provide the body with energy, allowing the body to train for longer periods and at a more intense level. Complex carbs include fruits, veg, nuts, seeds and oats—so get creative with your smoothies!
See some of our favourite smoothie recipes below featuring Happy Way’s protein for women, to help develop and maintain healthy muscle—enjoy!