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Top 5 Protein Powders For Women

The most effective protein powders to add to your weight loss routine.

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Most people hear the words, "protein powder" and picture bodybuilders, hulking frames, or a massive forearm reaching into a tub of beige powder.

But in addition to building muscle, protein is also vital to maintaining energy, sleep, and nutrient transport. Surprisingly, it’s an incredibly effective tool to add to your weight-loss regimen. So, how can something people actually take to bulk up also help you trim down?

For starters, protein helps kickstart the metabolism. It also helps keep fat-burning muscles in tip-top shape and curbs food cravings between meals.

For these reasons, men and women everywhere are looking at protein powders in a new light. Needless to say, not all protein powders are created equal, so if your goal is to maintain a healthy weight, you'll want to avoid things like added sugar, empty calories, and subpar ingredients.

At Smarter Reviews, we compiled extensive research to find the best protein powders on the market today. We'll break down which ingredients to look for and what to avoid to meet your goals — plus, find out which 5 protein powders we deemed BEST in class of 2023!

What To Expect From A Quality Protein Powder:

  • Promotes healthy metabolism
  • Curbs hunger cravings
  • Supports muscle recovery 
  • Complete amino acid profile
  • Low calorie / low sugar

What Are The Different Types Of Protein? 

There are many foodstuffs in the world that contain protein, from meat and fish to eggs, nuts, and dairy. But when it comes to supplemental protein, there are two that dominate the market: whey and plant-based

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Whey Or Nay?

Whey and its close cousin, casein, are the most common types of dairy-derived protein powders on the market and the protein of choice for "getting swole." 

But it's not all it's cracked up to be, especially for those who are sensitive to dairy and managing weight. Whey powders often contain added sugar — up to 20g/serving! — as well as milk sugars that can cause cramps, bloating, and stomach irritation

Lean, Green, (Complete?) Protein

The best plant proteins combine all nine essential amino acids to create a complete protein. These amino acids are critical for balancing weight, sustaining muscle tone, smooth digestion, and promoting satiety between meals.

While mostly found in meat and dairy, finding the right plant-based complete protein is so important for women's health and a healthy weight management routine. They're rich in fiber, and supply key vitamins and minerals, like iron and calcium.

Best For Weight Management: Plant Protein

Based on our research, plant-based protein powders have a clear edge over whey and casein when it comes to supporting weight management. But before you pony up to the first plant-based protein you see, you'll want to make sure it meets certain criteria

For best results, look for a plant-based protein blend that combines a diverse source of plant proteins and superfoods. This will help ensure you are getting a complete and nutritious protein supplement. We've listed some of the best plant proteins and superfoods in the box below. 

Best Sources Of Plant Protein

Pea Protein

Peas are one of a handful of plant sources that contain all 9 essential amino acids. In a 12-week study comparing the effects of pea protein and whey on muscle recovery, scientists discovered pea protein slightly outperformed whey. 

Brown Rice

Brown rice protein is highly absorbable, making it ideal for a speedy post-workout recovery. It's also hypoallergenic and contributes to healthy weight management

Pumpkin Seed

These protein-rich superfoods are packed with antioxidants and plant fiber, and a good source of magnesium to boot. 

Sacha Inchi

This Peruvian superfood is no joke. In addition to protein, sacha inchi is packed with omega fatty acids and vitamin E and has been linked to healthy weight management. 

What's missing from your protein is just as important as what goes into it. Here are a few tips on what to avoid in your plant protein

What To Avoid

Only One Plant Source

The best way to ensure you get a complete amino acid profile is to opt for a plant protein blend

Hydrogenated Oils

High intakes of hydrogenated oils have been linked to insulin resistance and poor blood sugar control. 

Sugar

Sugar may help with the taste, but it offers almost no nutritional value. Plus, any sugar you don't immediately use is stored as fat.

Soy Lecithin

Soy lecithin is often found in cheap, low-grade protein powders to enhance texture and "creaminess." Most of the controversy surrounding this ingredient stems from the overwhelming majority of U.S. soy crops being genetically modified, containing harsh residual pesticides and disrupting nutrient absorption

Top 5 Plant-Based Protein Powders Of 2023

The results are in! After analyzing dozens of plant-based protein powders across multiple metrics, we've narrowed our list down to include only the best of the best. Check out which proteins made it into our top 5 and who we crowned best of 2023. 

1. Organic Protein

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Total Ranking

336 votes

9.7/10

A+

Overall Grade

Vote and Review

5/10

PROS

  • 15g of protein
  • 70 - 80 calories
  • Organic, non-GMO

  • Prebiotic acacia
  • Sugar free
  • Vegan
  • Keto and paleo friendly 
  • 365-day money-back guarantee

CONS

  • Sold exclusively online
The Bottom Line

Live Conscious’ Organic Protein is made from a blend of pea, brown rice, pumpkin seed, and sacha inchi

Each serving contains 15 grams of protein plus essential vitamins and minerals. It also has Himalayan salt to aid in nutrient absorption and acacia fibergumwhich has prebiotics to help support healthy weight management. 

This product comes in two different flavors: Cosmic Cacao (70 cal/serving) and Vanilla Dream (80 cal/serving).  

Organic Protein is also — (deep breath!) — soy, sugar, and gluten free, certified organic, non-GMO, keto and paleo friendly, and 100% vegan. 

Consumers who tried this product left positive reviews regarding taste and texture. To top it off, Live Conscious offers an exceptional, 365-day money-back guarantee, which shows us they truly stand by their product. 

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

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2. Plant-Based Protein

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Total Ranking

214 votes

9.5/10

A

Overall Grade

Vote and Review

5/10

PROS

  • 15g protein
  • 80 cal/serving 
  • Organic, non-GMO
  • Prebiotic
  • Sugar free
  • Vegan 
  • Keto & paleo friendly 
  • 365-day return policy

CONS

  • Sold exclusively online
The Bottom Line

Plant-Based Protein from Essential Elements offers a complete EAA profile derived from a diverse blend of peas, brown rice, and other plant proteins. 

In addition to being certified organic and non-GMO this formula is also gluten, sugar, and soy free, 100% vegan, and keto and paleo friendly. It also includes a prebiotic to support digestive health. 

If you're in the market for a low-calorie, low-cost protein, this may be the one for you. Plant-Based Protein delivers 15g of protein at 80 calories or less per serving, and comes in chocolate and vanilla flavors. 

Essential Elements backs all of their products with a solid, 365-day money-back guarantee

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

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3. Organic Protein & Superfoods

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packaged goods

Total Ranking

263 votes

8.9/10

B+

Overall Grade

Vote and Review

5/10

PROS

  • Diverse protein blend 
  • 21g protein / 160 cal
  • 50 superfoods
  • Vegan 
  • Zero added sugar
  • Gluten & soy free

CONS

  • No pre- or probiotic
  • 30-day return policy
  • Non-keto, non-paleo 
The Bottom Line

Organic Protein & Superfoods uses a proprietary blend of pea protein, brown rice, and chia seeds. And if you get excited over superfoods, this may be the product for you (it contains a staggering 50 of them!)

Like others on this list, it's also certified organic, non-GMO, gluten and soy free, vegan, and has zero added sugar. This product comes in chocolate and vanilla (unfortunately, neither one is keto or paleo friendly). 

To be sure, few proteins on this list can compete with the sheer number of superfoods in this product, however, it failed to meet our criteria in some important areas

For starters, it lacks a prebiotic, which is important for digestive health. It's also a bit on the heavier side compared to others on this list at 160 cal/serving, which isn't too extreme considering you're also getting 21g of protein. Orgain only offers a 30-day return policy

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

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4. Shake Meal Replacement

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packaged goods

Total Ranking

494 votes

8.7/10

B+

Overall Grade

Vote and Review

5/10

PROS

  • Diverse protein blend
  • 15g protein / 90 cal
  • Superfoods
  • Probiotics   
  • Sugar free 
  • Gluten & soy free

CONS

  • 30-day return policy
  • Not certified organic 
  • Non-vegan
  • Expensive 

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The Bottom Line

Although it's marketed as a "meal replacement," we felt it was only fitting to add Shake from 310 Nutrition to our list since it's still a plant-based protein at its core. 

This formula includes hemp, brown rice, and pea protein, plus super greens and probiotics, and each serving contains 15g of protein at just 90 calories

It's also keto and paleo friendly, soy and gluten free, sugar free, and non-GMO and comes in chocolate and vanilla flavors. 

Unfortunately this product is neither certified organic nor vegan. 310 Nutrition offers just a 30-day return policy, which is especially low considering its $70 price tag

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

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5. Plant Based Protein 

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Total Ranking

571 votes

7.9/10

C+

Overall Grade

Vote and Review

5/10

PROS

  • Diverse protein blend
  • 20g protein / 130 cal
  • Superfoods
  • Vegan
  • Keto friendly   
  • Gluten and soy free 

CONS

  • No pre- or probiotics
  • 30-day return policy
  • Non-paleo 
The Bottom Line

Rounding off our list is Truvani's Plant Based Protein. It's made with a nutritious blend of pea, pumpkin seed, and chia seed proteins.

Like others on our list, it's also certified organic, non-GMO, gluten and soy free, keto (but not paleo) friendly, 100% vegan and available in 4 different flavors. Each serving contains 20g of protein at 130 calories (protein and calorie content varies with flavor). 

We appreciate the simplicity of this product and it's an all-around solid choice, especially if you're new to plant-based protein powders. However, it also lacks pre- or probiotics, and may be a turn-off for people looking for an under-100-calorie protein. Unfortunately, Truvani only offers a 30-day return policy

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

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