Best protein powders for women—plus, the key types of protein powder you need to know

There's something for everyone in our top picks of the best protein powders for women

three of the best protein powders for women on orange background
(Image credit: Future)

Our guide to the best protein powders for women has something for every dietary requirement and nutrition goal, whether you're looking for a high protein plant-based option or the best whey protein powder.

Meeting your protein target every day will help build strength and muscle, increase energy, kickstart metabolism and boost fat burning. There are plenty of benefits of protein powder, whether you're kicking off your running journey or are a seasoned gym-goer who enjoys strength training.

But, it's not just fitness lovers that need to prioritize their protein intake. "Everyone needs a source of protein in their diet to support a healthy bodily function," says Alex Glover, senior nutritionist at Holland & Barrett. "They are the building blocks of life as they work to break down into amino acids that then help your body grow and repair, and aid our hair, skin and muscle growth."

Increasing your protein is a must if you want to boost energy levels for at-home workouts, build bone density or support your walking for weight loss plan by kick-starting your metabolism. But, getting enough protein into our diets isn't always as easy as it sounds.

How much protein should we be eating every day?

Your recommended protein intake might be higher than you think. Adults should aim to eat around 0.75g of protein per kilogram of body weight every day. So, for example, a woman weighing 70kg should have a minimum daily protein intake of 52.5g. 

"This amount equates to around two portions of meat, fish, nuts or tofu per day. As a rough guide, one portion of protein should fit into the palm of your hand," Glover adds. Some vegetables are also higher in protein than others—did you know that peas are actually a great source of daily protein, with 80g of cooked peas containing 4g of protein? Meat and fish are some of the most high-protein foods, which is why it can be tricky for the vegans and vegetarians among us to meet daily protein targets. This is where protein powder comes in. 

How we tested the best protein powders for women

We've tried and tested popular protein powders on the market, including fitness fan favorites like Hermosa, MyProtein, and SHREDDY. To ensure there was something for everyone in our top picks, we tested all kinds of protein, including whey protein, pea protein, vegan-friendly protein, gluten-free protein and flavored and unflavored protein powders. 

We taste-tested all the protein powders in this guide at least twice and assessed them on the following criteria:  

  • Protein intake—depending on your personal protein targets, you'll want to find a protein powder that offers a serving to suit your needs. The products we tested offered a range of protein per serving, from 16.5g—34g. Remember, this is based on the brand's recommended serving size which can vary anywhere between 20g—40g.
  • Calories per serving—if you're on a weight loss plan, you'll want a protein powder that's high in protein but low in calories, fat and sugar. We assessed the calories per serving of each powder in this round-up and made note of the the low-cal options.  
  • Ingredients—some people prefer their protein to be as pure as possible, with no added ingredients. While others opt for powders containing specific antioxidants or vitamins for a nutritional boost. This will be a personal preference. 
  • Type of protein—there are many different types of protein powder which we've outlined in more detail below. We tested a range of types to bring you something for everyone, whether you prefer unflavoured options or are plant-based. 

Different types of protein powder

When it comes to shopping for protein powder and finding the right one for you, things can get a little confusing. There are so many different types, from whey protein and pea protein to name just a few. Whey protein powder is great for high-intensity workouts and kickstarting muscle growth and repair, but it's not vegan-friendly as it's made from animal product. If you're vegan, you'll want to look out for a plant-based alternative like pea protein instead. These are the most commonly used proteins, and who they are best for: 

  • Whey protein: Whey protein is popular as it's easily soluble in water and contains all nine essential amino acids to promote muscle growth and repair. There are different types within the whey category, all containing different concentrations of protein. 
  • Casein protein: Similar to whey, casein protein is derived from milk and contains all the essential amino acids for muscle growth and repair. It's a slow-release protein, leaving you fuller for longer. Research shows it's best consumed at night for post-workout recovery and aids muscle growth while you sleep.
  • Pea protein: A plant-based protein suitable for vegans, it's rich in iron, fiber, protein and amino acids—but, it's slightly lower in methionine so best consumed alongside a diet of brown rice or eggs and fish for non-vegans. 
  • Hemp protein: Hemp protein also contains all nine essential amino acids and more. However, research is mixed on the quality of these amino acids, so it's best consumed alongside a diet full of other foods rich in amino acids. It's high in fiber and contains a good portion of unsaturated fat, which is great for heart health.

The best protein powder for women, as chosen by our experts 

Hermosa protein powder and cup

(Image credit: Hermosa)

1. HERMOSA Protein Powder

Best protein powder overall

Specifications

Protein per serving : 20g
Servings : 14 in 420g tub
Sizes available : 300g, 420g, 1kg
Protein type: Whey and Pea/Hemp mix
Flavors: Vanilla and Chocolate
RRP: $36/£30
Regions available : US & UK

Reasons to buy

+
Super smooth 
+
Plant-based option available 
+
Two delicious flavors

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive 

It's been the official protein powder at the London location of the world-famous Barry's Bootcamp since 2014 and it's not hard to see why. The HERMOSA protein powder is easily one of the best protein powders for women because of its delicious taste and texture alone. 

We were incredibly impressed by how smooth and easy-to-shake this powder was, mixed with 350ml of milk, 50ml of water and lots of ice—it was a refreshing post-workout drink. With no caffeine in the ingredient list, you can enjoy this protein powder at any time of the day without worrying it will keep you up after a late-night workout. Or, you can jump on one of the latest coffee trends and use your protein powder to make a delicious Proffee aka a protein powder-coffee combo. 

The only downside to this protein powder is it's on the expensive side, with one jar of 14 servings costing $36 (£30). But, you can sign up for a subscription service to get a new jar every 4 weeks and save 15%.  

Whether you choose the Whey Protein Powder or the Vegan Protein Powder made from a pea and hemp protein mix, each 30g serving of HERMOSA has 20g of protein and is available in vanilla or chocolate. 

MyProtein Clear Whey Protein Isolate Orange Mango

(Image credit: MyProtein)

2. MyProtein Clear Whey Protein Isolate

Most affordable protein powder

Specifications

Protein per serving: 20g
Servings : 20
Sizes available : 522g
Protein type: Whey Isolate and Pea Isolate
Flavors: 17 flavors
RRP: $29.99/£21.99
Regions available : US & UK

Reasons to buy

+
Easy-to-mix
+
Refreshing taste
+
Alternative to milky protein
+
Affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Might be too sweet for some 

MyProtein's Clear Whey Protein Isolate is an award winner, and we think it's a great alternative for those who don't enjoy the taste and texture of milky protein shakes. Made of Whey Protein Hydrolysate, which is more rapidly absorbed in the gut than other whey proteins, this powder is available in 17 fruit flavors, including Pink Grapefruit and Lemonade. 

It's high in protein with 20g per serving, but low in sugar and comes with a scoop to make mixing up your shake even easier. Our tester enjoyed this pre-run as it was light and refreshing. It's also super affordable as one tub of protein powder contains 20 servings and costs just $29.99 (£21.99). Our tester tried the Orange Mango flavor and loved the fruity taste, however, not all flavors of this protein powder are available worldwide, and some people may find them too sweet. 

Lily Loaf Chocolate & Hazelnut protein powder

(Image credit: Lily Loaf)

3. Lily Loaf Pea Protein Powder

Best pea protein

Specifications

Protein per serving: 16.5g
Servings : 18
Sizes available : 540g
Protein type: Pea
Flavors: Chocolate & Hazelnut, Red Berry
RRP: £26.20
Regions available : UK only

Reasons to buy

+
Full of amino acids, vitamins and minerals
+
Delicious flavors
+
Plant-based 

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as much protein per serving as other brands
-
No measuring cup

Pea protein is a great option for those who are plant-based or dairy-free, and for us, the Lily Loaf Chocolate & Hazelnut powder ticks all the boxes when it comes to the best pea protein. The low-carb powder contains 16.5g of protein per serving, with each tub containing enough servings for 18 shakes. As well as helping you increase your protein intake to boost energy and strengthen muscles, the powder is packed with all nine essential amino acids and vitamins B1, B2, and B6—all of which are essential in promoting healthy heart function and strengthening the immune system. 

Our tester loved the chocolate flavor, but for those who aren't a fan, the Lily Loaf powder is also available in a fruity Red Berry flavor. The only downside to this pea protein powder is there is less protein per serving when compared to other options, which might be a deal-breaker for some. 

Innermost lean protein powder pack

(Image credit: Innermost)

4. Innermost The Lean Protein

Best protein powder for weight loss

Specifications

Protein per serving : 29g
Servings : 15
Sizes available : 600g
Protein type : Whey
Flavors : Chocolate, Vanilla
RRP: $42/£29.95
Regions available : US & UK

Reasons to buy

+
Rich in antioxidants 
+
Low sugar 
+
Smooth texture 
+
High in protein 

Reasons to avoid

-
Fewer servings per pouch compared to other products 

Packed with protein and rich in antioxidants, the Innermost The Lean Protein is a must-try for those with weight loss goals. As part of the brand's weight loss range, the whey protein powder promises to encourage healthy fat loss, reduce cravings and boost energy levels, when used in combination with a nutritious diet and regular workout regime. 

So, how does it fair? Our tester found the product pleasant to drink and enjoyed the sweet vanilla flavour and creamy texture. They can't speak to the weight loss results just yet, but it's worth noting the powder contains inulin and pomegranate (which both promote good bacteria in the gut and are linked to lower levels of fat) and Acetyl L-Carnitine to help you effectively use fat as a source of energy. It's also gluten-free, soy-free, vegetarian friendly, halal and GMO-free. The only downside to this product is despite being high in protein (40g serving = 29g protein), the pouch is just 600g and so will need replacing fairly often. However, Innermost offers a subscription service that could help you save 20% on your order and ensure there's a fresh pouch landing on your doorstep right when you need it. 

SHREDDY Protein Powder Cookie Dough

(Image credit: SHREDDY)
Best tasting protein powder

Specifications

Protein per serving : 22g
Servings : 17
Sizes available : 510g
Protein type : Pea
Flavors: Cookie Dough, French Vanilla, Salted Caramel Ice Cream
RRP: $26/£20
Regions available : US & UK

Reasons to buy

+
Lots of sweet flavors
+
Vegan-friendly
+
Low sugar, high protein per serving
+
Eco-friendly packaging 

Reasons to avoid

-
Only contains 17 servings
-
No measuring cup 

If you have a sweet tooth like our tester, The SHREDDY protein range could be the one for you. Whether you mix the Salted Caramel Ice Cream powder with milk or combine the Cookie Dough powder with your morning oats, it will give you the sweet-fix you're craving and boost your protein intake. As it's pea protein it's vegan-friendly, dairy-free, and gluten-free, with only all-natural sugars and flavorings.

It's got a respectable 22g of protein per 30g serving. The only downside is one pouch contains just 17 servings. However, the eco-conscious brand has ensured each bag is fully compostable and made of sustainably grown materials, so you can buy it time and time again while still being kind to the planet. 

MyProtein Pancake Mix

(Image credit: MyProtein)

6. MyProtein Pancake Mix

Best protein powder for pancakes

Specifications

Protein per serving: 34g
Servings : From 6 per 200g tub
Sizes available : 200g, 500g, 1kg
Protein type : Milk, Whey and Egg protein mix
Flavors: 9
RRP: From $19.99/£5.99
Regions available : US & UK

Reasons to buy

+
High in protein
+
Great alternative for those who don't like shakes
+
Easy-to-make 

Reasons to avoid

-
Not all flavors are available worldwide

Adding more protein to your diet doesn't have to involve drinking a protein shake every day. If you want to mix up how you consume your protein powder, why not try protein pancakes? While most protein powders can be used to make pancakes, we particularly love the MyProtein Pancake Mix in Chocolate, which is available in eight sweet flavors and an unflavored option. 

Rich in protein with 34g of protein in every serving, this mix makes a great breakfast or afternoon snack. It's low in sugar, fat and calories, but packed with milk, whey and egg proteins to fill you up, boost your energy and kickstart your metabolism.  Plus, pancake-making couldn't be simpler with this mix. Just add two scoops to 150ml-200ml of your choice of milk, add to a frying pan with a small amount of oil, cook for a few minutes on each side, and when crispy, top with greek yogurt and berries, or your favorite spread. 

grey Bulk whey protein powder bag on white background

(Image credit: Bulk)

7. Bulk Pure Whey Isolate

Best unflavored protein powder

Specifications

Protein per serving: 24g
Servings : 16 per 500g pouch
Sizes available : 500g, 1kg, 2.5kg, 5kg
Protein type: Whey
Flavors: 16
RRP: From £19.99
Regions available : UK only

Reasons to buy

+
Range of sizes available 
+
Low sugar and low fat 
+
Very few other ingredients added 

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive 

Struggling to find a good unflavored protein powder? Let us introduce you to Bulk Pure Whey Isolate. While this protein powder is also available in a number of flavors (from banana to pistachio ice cream), our tester sampled the unflavored option and was impressed by how nicely it worked in protein shakes, smoothies and porridge. 

Containing 24g of protein per 30g serving, this product is made from whey protein isolate which means it's been processed to maximize the protein content and reduce the fat content. This particular powder has less than 1g of sugar and 1g of fat per serving. However, due to the high concentration of protein (and the lack of other ingredients), it's more expensive than your standard why protein powder and a 1kg pouch will set you back £34.99. 

PE Nutrition Simply Whey Vanilla protein powder bag against white background

(Image credit: Holland & Barrett )

8. PE Nutrition Simply Whey Vanilla

Best vanilla protein powder

Specifications

Protein per serving : 18g
Servings: 24
Sizes available : 600g
Protein type : Whey
Flavors: 5
RRP: £10
Regions available : UK only

Reasons to buy

+
Super affordable 
+
Range of flavors available 
+
Low in calories 

Reasons to avoid

-
Less protein per serving compared to other options 

PE Nutrition Simply Whey Protein Powder is available in a range of flavors, including banana, chocolate, strawberry, vanilla and unflavored. Our tester trialed the vanilla powder and rated it for its versatility—mixed in smoothies, shakes, oats, porridge or in yogurt it had a distinct vanilla flavor, was creamy and delicious. 

The PE Nutrition Simply Whey Vanilla promises to support the growth and maintenance of muscle mass by providing 19g of protein per 25g serving. This is a lower protein content when compared to the other protein powders we tested but could be a great option for those with a protein-rich diet who just need to supplement a small amount. It's also low in calories with just 91 calories per serving.

While the PE Nutrition powders are affordable, they're only available in a 600g pouch containing 24 servings. In the UK, Holland & Barrett offers a subscription service that could help you save money in the long-term if you convert to this protein powder. 


w&h thanks Alex Glover (opens in new tab), senior nutritionist at Holland & Barrett (opens in new tab) for their time and expertise. 

Ciara McGinley
Ciara McGinley

Ciara was the former digital health editor at womanandhome.com, covering all things health & wellbeing from fitness to sleep to relationships. She's always on the lookout for new health trends, innovative fitness gadgets and must-read wellness books. 


Originally from Ireland, Ciara moved to London to study journalism. After graduation, Ciara started her career at Goodhousekeeping.com. Ciara qualified as a meditation teacher with the British School of Meditation in 2020, and outside of her day-to-day now runs her own meditation school called Finding Quiet. She is all about bettering that mind-body connection but believes wellness looks different to everyone.