The Best Plant-Based Protein Powders for Women

By Tami Smith

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Being healthy and strong is every woman's desire. However, the onslaught of bad information, fad diets, and unsafe health advice that can be found on the Internet today makes it tough to know what a healthy lifestyle actually looks like.

As a nutritionist, I've seen the way that the pie-in-the-sky promises of some supplements have left many women undernourished, exhausted, and unable to stick with a plan. That's why I'm always excited when products come along that actually focus on nourishing muscle, tissue, and organs while powering up the metabolism.

The surge in plant-based protein powders has helped to restore my faith in the supplement industry. I can't even tell you how many of my female clients have asked me about how to choose a good plant-based protein powder in the past six months.

I've actually been able to single out five exceptional plant protein powders after doing some research into the health benefits of supplementing with this option. Next, I'll dive into some background on what makes plant-based protein so beneficial before reviewing the products that really shine in this category.

Quick Table of the Women's Best Plant-Based Protein Powders

top rated plant based protein powder for women

Product Name

Protein

Key Ingredients

Avg. Ratings

No Artificial Sweeteners

20g

Choline, Calcium, Iron

4.7/5 (Over 100 reviews)

19g

Vitamins A, C, D, E K, B6, Folate, Biotic, Riboflavin

4.9/5 (Over 3,500 reviews)

20g

Vitamins E, K, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Prebiotic Fiber Complex

4.9/5 (19 reviews)

20g

Calcium, Iron, Plant Protein Isolate

4.5/5 (58 reviews)

20g

Pea protein, Chia seeds, Pumpkin seeds, Alkalized cocoa, Monk fruit, Vanilla powder

4.8/5 (Over 5,500 reviews)

Benefits of Plant-Based Protein Powders

benefits plant based protein powders

Why is plant protein so good for you? There's actually a good chance that you've never even considered "greens" to be good sources of protein. After all, most of us picture a big, sizzling steak when we think of a protein-rich meal. While lean meats certainly can provide some great protein, it's important for people seeking well-rounded health to know that plant-based protein can also be excellent. If you're living a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, having these supplements as part of your diet can actually be critical for properly nourishing your muscles, organs, and cells.

Provides the Building Blocks for Healthy Muscles and Tissues

I know what you're thinking. Does plant protein build muscle as effectively as animal protein? The answer hasn't actually been clear until very recently. According to a 2020 study involving nearly 3,000 men and women between the ages of 19 and 72, plant-based and animal-based proteins benefit muscles equally.

The study focused specifically on lean muscle muscles, bone mineral density, and quadriceps strength because these are all important indicators of health, fitness, and physical function. The big takeaway from researchers was that the protein source made no difference for musculoskeletal health. Researchers also found that people who consumed the least amount of protein overall also had the lowest measures of muscle mass and strength.

Protein Can Help You Lose Weight

Protein is so important for reaching and maintaining a healthy weight! A 2020 study found that high protein consumption was associated with increased fat oxidation and negative fat balance. Why does protein help you burn fat? While we know that protein helps to boost the metabolism, the exact mechanism is unclear. The likely reason is that protein requires more energy to digest. As a result, eating protein can simply help you to lose weight compared to eating fats and carbohydrates.

Plant-Based Proteins Tend to Be Lower in Calories and Fat

Another benefit of plant-based proteins is that they tend to be naturally lower in calories and fat. As a nutritionist that specializes in personalized macro coaching, I often repeat the advice to my clients that they want to avoid "drinking their calories." I think that plant-based protein powders can be great for making true health drinks while saving your "calorie" and "fat" points for your actual meals. When you are drinking calories, it's important to make sure that the protein level makes it worth your while. That's why my reviews below only focus on powders that hit that protein sweet spot of around 20 g per serving.

Great Source for Fibers and Essential Nutrients

When you're a nutritionist, plants equal fiber. Fiber isn't just important for weight loss. It's essential for having a healthy, balanced body. Let me explain.

"Dietary fiber intake, independently of macronutrient and caloric intake, promotes weight loss and dietary adherence in adults with overweight or obesity consuming a calorie-restricted diet," according to a 2020 study. These results are important even if you're not on a special diet for managing obesity because they point to the correlation between fiber and weight loss. A study from 2015 found that aiming to eat 30 g of fiber each day can help you lose weight, lower your blood pressure, and improve your body's response to insulin just as effectively as a more complicated diet. There's also a 2009 study that found that increasing total fiber intake reduces risk of weight and fat gains in women. I could probably list a dozen studies that all say the same thing.

Plant-based protein also provides the body with access to prebiotics that are important for beefing up the health of your gut microbiome. Prebiotics actually feed the healthy bacteria in your gut that fight off the bad bacteria responsible for illness and disease. This can be important for everything from a stronger immune system to better mood. Yes, it's really true that 80% to 90% of your immune system is actually located in your gut. What's more, almost all of the serotonin your body makes is produced in the gut.

What to Look for in a Women's Plant-Based Protein Powder

choosing plant based protein powders

Here's where we dive into the really important part. What should you be looking for in a plant-based protein powder? I want to cover the big factors to care about when you're shopping for a protein product because you'll end up wasting your money if you don't know what's important.

Make Sure It's Plant-Based!

Don't just trust an earthy-looking logo. Verify that a powder is made from genuine plant-based sources.

Calories

I mentioned my "rule" earlier about not "drinking your calories" when you're trying to stay healthy. I stand by that. While it's great to get some of your calories from a healthy protein source, you also want to keep caloric intake in check when you're adding a protein drink or smoothie as a snack.

Reputable Brand

Make sure you're buying from a brand with a reputation for creating quality products. I always communicate this to my clients whenever there's a big "health trend" because far too many brands will pop up out of nowhere to cash in. Don't just go for a brand that is highly visible because it has poured money into hiring influencers to promote it!

Transparent Ingredients

I want you to know what you're putting in your body. Some brands will get around publishing their ingredients by claiming that they have "proprietary" blends. While companies don't need to provide every detail about how they make a product, they do owe their customers transparency regarding what's inside a product.

The Best Plant-Based Protein Powders for Women

This is the part I'm excited about. Brands have really stepped up their game when it comes to plant-based protein powders that are nutritious, tasty, and really easy to work into your everyday life. Let's cover the powders that offer what you're looking for if you want to get healthier and leaner using the power of protein.

#1. Ritual Essential Plant-Based Protein

ritual womens plant based protein powder

Ritual can be a great brand to focus on if you crave clean, sugar-free formulas designed for people with all types of lifestyle. There's a formula for people between 18 and 49, people over 50, and pregnant women. Ritual is one of the most transparent companies out there when it comes to sharing its ingredients with customers.

Most of the protein in Ritual formulas comes from organic, non-GMO peas that are grown in the United States. The other ingredients powering Ritual protein products are Madagascar vanilla bean, the amino acid L-methionine, and choline that supports the nervous system and brain.

Pros:

  • Very transparent about ingredients. Ritual reveals details on suppliers and ingredient sourcing.
  • Affordable for the quality level.
  • Packaged using recycled materials.
  • Free of dyes, additives, and major allergens.
  • 20 g protein per serving.
  • Just 120 calories per serving.
  • Easy subscription!

Cons:

  • Company rarely offers discounts.

#2. 1st Phorm Vegan Power Pro

1st phorm womens plant based protein powder

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1st Phorm Vegan Power Pro is a strong pick if you're dealing with some sluggish or irritable digestion. In addition to featuring pea protein isolate, this blend contains a digestive enzyme blend. It's also packed with a green superfood complex and phytonutrient blend. The list of superfoods packed into this blend includes oat grass, spinach, broccoli, sweet potato, orange, apple, strawberry, alfalfa, barely, wheatgrass, shitake mushroom, wild blueberry, tart cherry, and more. 1st Phorm's protein supplements are top notch and you can feel good going with this brand.

Pros:

  • Comes in tasty flavors like iced oatmeal cookie, chocolate mint cookie, chocolate frost, vanilla crème.
  • Subscription available.
  • Offers a complete amino acid profile.
  • Just 98 calories per serving.
  • 17 g protein is on the lower side.

Cons:

  • While you're getting vitamins A, C, D, E, K, B6, biotin and folate, the amounts are pretty low.

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#3. Cymbiotika Plant Protein

cymbiotika plant protein for women

Total health is at the heart of this formula. This powder is packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. A true win for healthy digestion, this formula features raw greens, fiber, probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes. The thing that really got my attention about Cymbiotika's protein blend is that it contains adaptogenic mushrooms (cordyceps, reishi, ganoderma lucidum, king trumpet, shitake, lion's mane, and turkey tail) that have been shown in studies to reduce the effects of stress on the body.

The alkaline raw green complex in this formula features organic alfalfa grass, barley grass, lemon juice, kale, astragalus root, spirulina, wheatgrass, oat grass, and chlorella. You're also getting baobab fruit powder, inulin, banana powder, and other natural prebiotics that come in addition to the two different strains of probiotics. Sea salt and organic vanilla extract add some natural flavor!

Another interesting touch is that this brand uses three plant protein sources instead of one. It's a true triple threat with help from organic hemp protein, organic spirulina, and organic pea protein. The big takeaway is that you're getting benefits for enhanced recovery and boosted energy when you put it all together.

Pros:

  • Incredible mix of probiotics and prebiotics for gut support.
  • Uses three high-quality plant protein sources.
  • Adaptogenic mushrooms are superstars for recovery if you're an active person.
  • 20 g protein per serving.
  • Easy subscription.

Cons:

  • Not a good choice if you aren't interested in a mushroom-based supplement.
  • While 130 calories isn't that much, it's on the higher side for this list.

#4. Future Kind Organic Vegan Protein Powder

furture kind plant-based womens protein

This is a great low-calorie protein powder. It comes in a pea-powered creamy vanilla flavor that's really easy to like. The big bonus with this blend is that it contains a full spectrum of amino acids. It also gains points for being an ultra-clean, easy-to-digest formula.

Just how clean is Future Kind Organic Vegan Protein Powder? The entire formula consists of just four ingredients. In addition to the organic pea protein that powers the formula, you're getting organic guar gum, organic stevia, and organic flavors.

Pros:

  • Just 85 calories per serving.
  • The cleanest, simplest pea protein powder on the market.
  • 20 g protein per serving.
  • 52 mg calcium.
  • 6.1 mg iron.
  • Easy subscription.

Cons:

  • Doesn't offer the vitamins, minerals, prebiotic, probiotics, or other nutritionally complex ingredients of other powders in the same category.

#5. Truvani Plant Based Protein Powder

truvani plant protein female

I'm always wary of health foods that claim to "taste like dessert." However, Truvani really does an amazing job of making their protein powder tasty enough to look forward to every day. While this is a dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, and non-GMO recipe, it still delivers a satisfying smoothness that does make you feel like you're getting a treat. I also like the way this brand has found a way to do away with the chalkiness and graininess found in so many protein powders. How did they do it? Truvani actually de-pods the peas it uses for pea plant protein instead of using the whole pod. While this can reduce some of the natural nutrients and fiber of pea-based protein, you might appreciate it if you have a hard time getting acclimated to the consistency of other brands.

The impressive thing about this dessert-like protein powder is that the ingredient list is so short and clean. I think you'll really appreciate it if you've ever been reeled into buying "dessert" protein drinks that end up being full of artificial ingredients that produce a chemical taste instead of a genuinely enjoyable flavor. The full list of ingredients contains organic pea protein concentrate, organic alkalized cocoa, organic vanilla powder, organic pumpkin seed concentrate, organic monk fruit extract, and organic chia seed protein concentrate.

Pros:

  • The taste is similar to brownie batter. Really!
  • Uses monk fruit instead of stevia for people who don't appreciate the "powerful sweetness" of stevia.
  • Easy subscription option.
  • 20 g protein per serving.

Cons:

  • While 130 calories isn't that much, it's on the higher side for this list.
  • While you're getting clean protein, the formula is underwhelming for vitamins and nutrients.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let's cover the questions I have a feeling you would love to ask a nutritionist about plant protein powder.

plant based protein powder q and a

What's the Best Source of Plant Protein?

Pea protein is generally considered the best source of plant protein because its offers all nine essential amino acids, branch-chain acids, and iron while also being low in fat. Pea protein is also known for promoting heart health and proper blood flow. Hemp protein is also a great source of plant protein.

What's an Example of a Plant-Based Protein?

Some good sources of plant-based protein include tofu, lentils, almonds, spirulina, beans, spelt, quinoa, hemp, and green peas.

Is Plant-Based Protein Powder Better for You Than Normal Protein?

Studies show that plant-based protein offers the same benefits for weight loss and muscle building as animal-based protein. Plant protein can be better for you than animal-based protein if you're trying to consume fewer calories.

What's the Healthiest Plant-Based Protein?

Pea protein is considered the healthiest plant-based protein simply because it manages to be low in fat, easy to digest, and full of natural fiber while also being very palatable when mixed with other flavors.

The Bottom Line

All of the plant protein powders that made my list were selected because they offer high levels of healthy protein in a low-calorie recipe. You have so much variety to choose from when it comes to everything from diving into a powerhouse formula full of mushrooms to sticking with a clean, fuss-free formula containing a number of ingredients you can truly count on your hands.

Take some time to think about what your body really needs based on your diet, how rigorous your workouts get, and other factors as you research these five options on your own.

My Recommendations

Tips for Success From the Nutritionist

The good news is that none of the plant powders I've recommended above contain more than 130 calories per serving. That brings you way below the 300 to 700 calories needed per meal. As a result, these drinks aren't meant to replace meals. They are supercharged supplemental drinks that can be used in conjunction with a complete, healthy diet full of whole grains, vegetables, and other lean protein sources.

The most important rule for using protein powders is to be real with yourself about the how and why of the situation. Washing down a sleeve of cookies with a protein shake isn't going to get you the results you want. Consider these powders your tickets to balance instead of your "free rides" to eating however you want.

About the author 

Tami Smith

Tami Smith is a certified Nutritionist and an ACE certified fitness trainer, specializing in pre and post-natal fitness. She studied business and earned her bachelor's degree in Business Economics. Tami is a mom of two and women's health advocate. Her passion is to help people live a fit, healthy life through proper nutrition and exercise!

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