Should Women Take The Same Protein Powder As Men?
As a woman, finding exercise supplements can be difficult. With hundreds of products featuring muscular men, with names like “ripped,” “shredded,” and “jacked,” how are we women supposed to choose a supplement that supports our individual goals?
The most popular supplement is protein. Everyone seems to have an opinion on it, and you can buy tubs of powder nearly anywhere.
With so many options, it’s only natural to wonder if women should take the same protein powder as men.
I’m here to set the record straight and help every woman learn what the options are so she can decide what is best for her.
Why Does Anyone Need a Protein Powder?
The words “protein supplement,” make most people think of enormous bodybuilders trying to get Mr. Olympia-sized muscles. Protein isn’t generally associated with your average gym-goer.
The bodybuilder stereotype may have been true in the past, but more and more women are realizing protein supplements can be helpful and even necessary for anyone who exercises.
Any type of exercise, from running to weight training to Zumba, builds muscle, which is a good thing! Even trying to be lean requires muscle growth and maintenance. Regardless of our individual fitness goals, we all need muscle.
The body builds muscle out of protein. Without enough protein, exercise recovery takes longer, and there is more fatigue and muscle soreness. Taking a protein powder simply gives the body the materials it needs to rebuild muscles after use.1
Differences Between Men and Women
The most common concern I hear from other women is a fear of “getting bulky” with protein powder. Of course, we don’t want to look like the Hulk, but thankfully, this fear is unfounded.
Men are able to put on bulk primarily because of 2 reasons: They are generally larger, and they produce the hormone testosterone. Testosterone is what gives men deep voices, facial hair, broad shoulders, and big muscles.2
Women produce much less testosterone than men. As a result, we’re physically incapable of “bulking up” without significant hormone replacement or steroid use.
Because of their larger size, men have more muscle mass. This means that the average man requires more protein per day than the average woman.3
This is actually good news for us! Since we don’t require as much protein as men, we don’t need to take large doses of protein powder to rebuild muscles.
These differences between men and women means you don’t have to worry about getting large unwanted muscle from taking a protein powder, even if you’re weight training.
We don’t need a completely different type of protein than men; - all muscles are made from the same stuff after all – we simply need less.
Choosing a Women’s Protein Powder
As we’ve already discussed, men and women both need protein; women simply need less. Because of this, most protein powders are unisex. Women simply take smaller doses to reach their macronutrient needs.
However, there is a growing market of women-specific protein products that may provide benefits for the female athlete.
Most contain includes extra vitamin D, folic acid, and calcium, vitamins and minerals that many women are naturally deficient in.
These additions may seem inconsequential, but they are actually excellent perks if you’re looking to get the most out of your supplement choices.
If you don’t want to use any old protein powder but instead are looking for an optimal women’s choice, I suggest the following guidelines:
- Low-calorie protein sources like whey isolate, soy, or pea
- No additional carbohydrate sources like potato or corn
- Added vitamins/minerals like calcium or iron
Regardless of what you choose, traditional or new, make sure you know how much protein is in each dose. Generally, a scoop of protein powder contains 20-30 grams of protein. Knowing how much protein you need is crucial to reach your goals!
While rare, some proteins do have male-specific ingredients, like testosterone boosters. These products should not be taken by women.
So Can A Woman Take The Same Protein As A Man?
In a word, Yes. And now that we’ve explored what protein is and the different options available, you can see that it’s not just for bodybuilders or gym addicts.
Every woman who exercises can enjoy the benefits of a high-quality protein powder. There are numerous brands, with hundreds of products in flavors to fit anyone’s preference. Gone are the days of plain whey!
When I purchase protein, I first narrow down a list of good formulas using the guidelines mentioned above. After that, it's all about finding the best value and a flavor you like. FitMiss Delight, is my favorite. It has a great formula, great value, and I really like the taste, the vanilla chai flavor is great especially if you like to mix other things with your shake.
What’s your favorite protein? Have you tried any of the new products designed for women? Let others know what you thought in the comments!
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU
- Kwon YA, Kravitz L. "How do muscles grow?" University of New Mexico.
- Urban RJ. "Growth hormone and testosterone: anabolic effects on muscle." Hormone Research is Paediatrics. 2011;76 Suppl 1:81-3.
- WebMD. "Protein: Are You Getting Enough?"