As my friend walked by my closet, where the top shelf is lined with four big tubs of whey protein powder, she stopped and said, “Wait, does that stuff actually work?” There seems to be a misconception that protein powder is some sort of magical fairy dust that you sprinkle on yourself to grow muscles out of thin air. Spoiler alert: it’s not!

protein powder

Photo By Malia Budd

I’m a girl who enjoys working out, and the comments I get about my collection of protein powders include jokes from guys such as, “Yo, are you tryna get big?” or “Do you even lift, bro?” Concerned girls often ask, “So what does that stuff really do to you?” or “Is that going to make you bulky?”

It seems that the stereotypical image of the big, buff, bodybuilding bro in his cutoff tank carrying around a water jug and drinking protein shakes after his extreme lifting session has been ingrained into everyone’s minds.

Consequently, many girls have a very real fear of becoming less feminine and getting too bulky after picking up a 5-lb. dumbbell. Imagine the horror of following up their workout with some protein powder. To address these hesitations, here are five reasons why girls shouldn’t be afraid of whey.

1. You burn more calories.

protein powder

Photo by Allison Wojtowecz

That’s right. If you eat food that is higher in protein, it forces your body to use more energy to process the calories and extract the nutrition from that food. Since whey powder contains such a large amount of protein, you will automatically burn about 30% of the calories you consumed from one scoop. Sounds too easy, am I right?

2. You won’t become bulky like a guy or “those big body builders.”

protein powder

Photo courtesy of Lin Mei

A diet higher in protein actually helps women develop and maintain lean muscle mass while simultaneously losing fat. As women, we produce a minuscule amount of testosterone compared to men. Therefore, lifting weights and consuming a diet higher in protein will not cause the same muscle gains that occur in your fellow frat bro.

3. One scoop has the same amount of protein as…

protein powder

Photo by Justin Schuble

A scoop of protein powder, on average, has about 100 calories, 5g carbs, 0g fat and 20g of protein. The protein content in one scoop is equivalent to eating four egg whites, two and a half Chobani yogurts or a 4-oz. piece of grilled chicken. A list of comparisons to many other protein-packed foods can be found here. You don’t see girls avoiding Chobani because they’re afraid it’s going to make them manly.

4. You’ll stay fuller longer.

protein powder

Photo by Alexa Santos

In comparison to carbohydrates and fat, protein actually takes longer to be broken down during digestion. Consequently, eating foods higher in protein can keep you satisfied for a longer period of time, helping you control your appetite and listen to your body’s hunger cues. This makes it easier to eliminate that extra, possibly unhealthy snacking in between meals.

5. It keeps you young and fights disease.

protein powder

Photo by Julie Lin

Whey protein concentrate contains a certain type of amino acid that can actually boost your immune system functioning and counter the effects of aging. What woman could resist the opportunity to avoid getting a cold AND to look 10 years younger? Count me in.

Ladies, don’t be afraid to follow up your usual workout, whether it’s weights or cardio, with a scoop of whey. There are so many health benefits, physical perks and ways to incorporate protein powder into some of your favorite foods. So please, stop worrying that you’re going to turn into Arnold Schwarzenegger after drinking a protein shake.

 Check out these ways to get more protein in your diet: