Is Whey Protein Good For Women?


Whey protein as a supplement comes in powdered form. Whey protein is beneficial for everyone. It is a popular source of protein powder used by fitness enthusiasts and athletes.

Whey protein helps women improve their body composition, reduce weight, and get stronger. Whey protein also has many additional health benefits. However, as with all things, too much of it could be harmful. 

Whey protein

Milk is made of 2 proteins casein and whey. Whey is the liquid that separates from milk during the cheese-making process. Whey protein powder is made by filtering and drying whey.1

Whey was regarded as waste and discarded in the past. But now, it is appreciated for its health benefits. It is a great protein source and has all 20 amino acids, and all 9 essential amino acids. Your body cannot produce essential amino acids, so you need to obtain them from your diet.2

Whey protein powder is a popular protein supplement among athletes and fitness enthusiasts.3 There are three types of whey protein supplements:

  • Whey protein concentrate contains a low but substantial amount of fat and cholesterol and high amounts of bioactive substances
  • Whey protein isolate has reduced fat and lactose content but has a low number of bioactive substances
  • Whey protein hydrolysate is pre-digested and hydrolysed so it digests fast and will not cause allergies1

Each type of whey protein has specific benefits over the other. You can consult with your doctor or other medical professional to find the type of whey protein best suited for you.  

Is whey protein good for women and people AFAB?

Whey protein can be taken by all adults. It has many health benefits because of its components. It is also easily digested and provides the body with energy quickly. 

However, whey protein is a supplement and its production is not strictly regulated. It can be contaminated with non-desired nutrients or toxins during the manufacturing process.1

There is also a risk of getting more than your daily protein requirements when you supplement with whey. Going over this requirement supplies the body with a surplus of calories. This could make you gain weight if you are not physically active.

Lastly, there is a chance that whey protein can be abused. Whey protein is effective when taken between 20-25g a day. Adverse effects are associated with taking more than 40g of whey protein a day for a prolonged period of time, as discussed below.3

Why women and people AFAB should take whey protein powder

Whey protein powder is taken by mixing it with water or any other liquid. Here are some specific reasons why women may opt to take whey protein powder:

To improve body composition: whey protein increases lean mass but does not increase fat mass or body mass. So, whey protein helps improve the body composition of women.4

To reduce weight: whey protein is usually taken with exercise or dieting to lose or maintain weight.4

To prevent and combat sarcopenia associated with ageing: sarcopenia results from the progressive loss of strength, muscle mass and muscle function in older adults. It contributes to falls, fractures, disability, increased hospital visits, dependence, and a poor quality of life. Resistance exercise accompanied with whey protein supplementation reduces the risk of sarcopenia because it increases muscle strength and lean muscle mass.5

As a rich protein source for expecting mothers: whey protein supplies pregnant people assigned female at birth (AFAB) with adequate amounts of protein for the development and growth of their babies.2


Whey protein has many health benefits because of its several components:1,2

Physical exercise: whey protein helps during exercise. It is often referred to as fast protein because it is digested rapidly. When digested, it provides amino acids that repair and grow lean muscle following a workout. Whey protein also strengthens muscles.

Weight management: whey protein is an excellent addition to a weight loss plan because it reduces body fat and controls blood glucose levels. Whey protein also reduces appetite. This is particularly useful for people with obesity or type 2 diabetes.

Cancer: cancer patients find it difficult to meet their nutritional requirements because of nausea and loss of appetite associated with radiation and/or chemotherapy. Whey protein helps because it is a good nutrient source and is easily digested.

Cardiovascular health: whey protein helps reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. This improves heart health and prevents cardiovascular disease.

Bone health: whey protein is a milk protein. It aids bone growth and reduces the breakdown of bones. It also helps maintain strong teeth.

Antimicrobial and antiviral properties: whey protein fights against harmful viruses and microbes. Several studies have observed that whey protein prevents diarrhoea in children, combats infections in HIV patients, and improves oral health.

Antioxidant source: whey protein contains the antioxidant glutathione, and helps reduce oxidative stress.

Wound healing: whey protein aids wound healing because of its high protein content. It is particularly useful for healing diabetic wounds.


There have been some harmful effects associated with taking whey protein. Normal quantities (20-25g per day) of whey protein have benefits while high quantities (above 40g per day) have been shown to have potentially harmful effects, especially when taken for prolonged periods.

Kidney function

The concern with taking whey protein is that the kidneys would be overloaded trying to pass out large amounts of urea, the by-product of the breakdown and metabolism of protein. But it has been found that the kidneys adapt to pass urea in high amounts. There is no damage to the kidneys or impairment of kidney function from taking whey protein.3

Liver function

Whey protein supplementation without exercise has been found to cause liver injury in rats. This is due to the extra stress the liver goes through to process the excess amino acids from whey protein. But with exercise, the body uses the extra amino acids to build muscle. The liver does not have to work harder to convert amino acids to urea.3

Gut microbiota.

The gut microbiota comprises different microbes (mostly bacteria) living in the gut. Most of these microbes are beneficial to health, but some are harmful. Normally, there is a balance between beneficial and harmful microbes. Your diet and exercise can alter the composition of gut microbes. It is not certain how whey protein affects gut microbiota as some studies have found that it supports the growth of beneficial bacteria while others found that it increases harmful bacteria. The dispute might come from the amount of whey protein taken and the time it was taken.3    

Other risks

Long-term consumption of whey protein can lead to the development of acne. Whey causes discomfort (stomach cramps, bloating, gas, diarrhoea) in lactose-intolerant individuals. 75% of people have some degree of lactose intolerance. Whey protein can also cause hives, swelling, rashes, and stuffy noses in people with cow's milk allergy.1


Whey protein is a great source of protein because it contains all the essential amino acids. It also has many components that are beneficial to health. However, whey protein should be taken with caution as consuming too much of it can lead to adverse effects. It is important to consult with your doctor or healthcare professional before adding it to your diet to help you determine the right dose for your body’s individualised needs.


  1. Sangwan S, Seth R. Whey protein supplement: an exclusive food or need of the hour: a review. Annual Research & Review in Biology [Internet]. 2021 May 1 [cited 2022 Sep 2];110–9. Available from: 
  2. Birsen Bulut Solak, Nihat Akin. Health benefits of whey protein: a review. JFSE [Internet]. 2012 Mar 28 [cited 2022 Sep 2];2(3). Available from: 
  3. Vasconcelos QDJS, Bachur TPR, Aragão GF. Whey protein supplementation and its potentially adverse effects on health: a systematic review. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab [Internet]. 2021 Jan [cited 2022 Sep 2];46(1):27–33. Available from: 
  4. Bergia RE, Hudson JL, Campbell WW. Effect of whey protein supplementation on body composition changes in women: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition Reviews [Internet]. 2018 Jul 1 [cited 2022 Sep 2];76(7):539–51. Available from: 
  5. Liao Y, Peng Z, Chen L, Zhang Y, Cheng Q, Nüssler AK, et al. Prospective views for whey protein and/or resistance training against age-related sarcopenia. Aging Dis [Internet]. 2019 Feb 1 [cited 2022 Sep 2];10(1):157–73. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Roseline Akpa

Bachelor of Science degree in Human Physiology, Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria

She is a freelance health writer interested in mental health, holistic health, and health tech.

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