Your muscles need a jolt of recovery juice.
When it comes to choosing a protein powder, the options seem endless: According to data from Statista, the U.S. market for sports protein powder totaled $4.7 billion in 2015, with an expectation to hit $7.5 billion by the year 2020. That means there are a lot of different protein powders on store shelves, making it all the more difficult to know what's best for women.
The massive growth in this product category makes sense though: Not only is it a convenient source of protein when you're on the go, but there are solid health benefits you can gain from downing a shake. "It helps the body build and repair tissue and cells, including muscle cells," says Erin Palinski-Wade, R.D., author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies. "When [it's] consumed directly after working out, it can also enhance muscle gains in strength and endurance.”
Plus, protein powder - which is derived from a high-protein source like the whey in milk or the protein in peas - could help with weight loss and maintenance, says Amy Gorin, M.S., a registered dietitian in New York City. The supplement helps keep you full longer, and it's super versatile - many toss it into smoothies, oatmeal, iced coffee, and baked goods to give their meals a boost.
But you don't want to go overboard on the amount of protein you take in. "For the most part, the body will optimally process up to about 30 grams of protein every few hours," Gorin says. Nothing drastic happens if you go over that, but it won't be processed efficiently, which could slow your digestive system.
Still not sure which protein powder is the best choice? Six nutritionists share which ones they have stocked in their pantry.