These days, though, you’re just as likely to see women blending the powder into their breakfast shakes or adding it to their post-barre-class smoothie.
But is the muscle-builder of meatheads good for women who just want some protein on the fly? We talked to three New York City wellness experts to get their take:
Frank Lipman, MD, founder and director of Eleven-Eleven Wellness Center
Whey protein is a perfect protein: It contains all the essential amino acids for a daily diet. It also boosts the immune system by increasing your body’s production of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant essential for helping detoxification. For women, a whey protein shake for breakfast with greens and an avocado or some other fat is a perfect way to start the day. But make sure you get whey protein from grass-fed cows, not corn-fed cows, which can cause allergies.
Adam Eskin, CEO, The Pump Energy Food
The Pump started in the ‘90s bodybuilding era, and back then we probably carried as many as 30 or 40 different types of protein. But our preference is to eat food that has gone through as little processing as possible. So I would much rather see women and men eat fish or lean meat or poultry than toss some powder into a smoothie. That said, some people like the convenience of whey protein. And blending some with coconut water after the gym is just a lot more convenient for people than preparing a whole protein-rich meal. So I think there is value in that regard.
Heather Bauer, RD, CDN, founder of Nu-Train
Whey protein, since it comes from cow’s milk, is a natural protein, and great for muscle building. Protein levels are depleted when you exercise, and eating protein after exercising helps prevent muscle deterioration. And whey protein does have a quicker absorption rate than something like soy protein, so it can help repair and rebuild those muscles after a workout. You used to see men and bodybuilders using whey protein. But in general, women don’t have the hormones that men have to get really bulky muscles, so there’s no reason for women to be afraid of it. —Nina Pearlman
Want to try whey protein? Melisse tried Whey Cool by Designs for Life. It’s made from grass-fed cows, and the natural vanilla one doesn’t taste chalky. It costs about $69 for 900 grams (several months worth) at www.amazon.com