I regularly encounter women who are still confused as to whether they should be taking protein powder or if it's a supplement best reserved for their bodybuilder boyfriends. Let me address some of your most common concerns. 1. Is it safe and are there are side affects? Protein powder is just protein - more or less the same stuff found in fish, chicken, read meat, diary and some plant sources. By far the most common protein supplement is whey protein powder. Whey is directly derived from dairy and is so popular because it's relatively cheap (well, it should be but after it's packed and marketed by companies the price gets driven up enormously). It's highly rated for it's bioavailability (meaning the body can utilise this kind of protein well), it mixes well with water, and comes in many great flavours. In terms of side affects, there are a few that could manifest themselves. In regard to diary-derived powders, the lactose intolerant among us could display the usual symptoms of bloating, gas and mucous build-up. In which case try either changing brands or swapping to another type of protein. There is egg protein, beef protein and a whole range of vegan options. Also, some worry about getting too much protein. There's a concern that one can potentially overload the liver but I don't know of any verified cases. I imagine you would have to get an incredible amount and I really wouldn't worry about it. Others instead might be negatively reacting to an additive, like an artificial sweetener, flavour, colouring or gluten. Just like many of the protein bars out there, many commercial protein powders are a dubious blend of "non-foods" -- not what you would call clean. One of the cleanest and best tasting protein powders on the market right now is About Time. They have a great range of flavours and they promise all their products to be gluten and lactose free, non GMO and sweetened with stevia. And since you asked, my favourite, cleanest protein bar is Quest. 2. Will it cause me to bulk up too much? Protein powder alone will not turn you into she-hulk. End of story. 3.Do I really need it? No and yes. As mentioned protein powder is just protein. It's not magic drug that will give you a huge competitive edge and you're workouts won't suffer dramatically if you don't take it. If you eat a well balanced diet, high in protein, you may have no need at all for supplementing further with protein powder. However, if you do workout regularly, and are actively trying to build muscle and stay lean the general recommendation is that you get .9 to 1 gram of protein per your weight (or ideal weight) in pounds. For me this means about 130 grams of protein daily. I don't find this easy to achieve without a powder to provide anywhere from 20 to 50 grams each day. I typically added it to my oatmeal breakfast and have a shake after a workout or before bed. 4. When should I take it? A protein shake is most famously taken immediately after a workout. However, what your body really needs after you burn off all your glycogen stores is carbs. In fact, the best time to have a carby cheat meal is after a monster gym sesh. Protein is also important for recovery after a workout but research shows the body best refuels with a 2 to 1 ration of carbs to protein, so make sure your protein contains ample amounts of carbs. You can buy a protein powder with carbs already added or you can added instant oatmeal to your shake or eat something with along side your all-protein shake. Otherwise, feel free to take it anytime of day when you need a little something.