Protein Powder During Pregnancy: Is It Safe
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During my first pregnancy, I went from eating eggs every single morning to not being able to stand the smell of them.
I needed protein, especially with my workout routines.
But struggled to meet the recommended amount because of strong food aversions and nausea.
So I started adding nutrient-rich protein shakes to my diet to help bridge the gap.
I was skeptical at first because I was unsure if they were safe to consume during pregnancy, but protein shakes really helped me meet protein needs without having to choke down eggs every morning!
If food aversions and nausea are making it difficult for you to get enough protein during pregnancy, then protein shakes might be a great option for you.
However, before taking my advice, you might want to run that by your obstetrician, just to be sure that she agrees with my assessment, in view of your individual situation.
Before we talk about safe protein powder during pregnancy, lets first talk about protein requirements.
Disclosure: Although I am a certified prenatal/postnatal exercise specialist and personal trainer, I am not YOUR trainer. The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute of the information and advice you receive from a healthcare professional.
What Are The Risks Of Drinking A Protein Shake During Pregnancy
Exposing your baby to too many toxins during development may result in some serious outcomes such as:
- Increased risk of preterm birth
- Developmental defects
- Hearing challenges
The FDA considers protein powders a dietary supplement. Thus, the governing body does not regulate them to make sure they are safe or effective.
Luckily, non-profit groups like the Clean Label Project have brought transparency to the consumer. This group independently tests products like protein powders for environmental contaminants and brings the results to the public.
Surprisingly, the group found that many organic protein powders contain more contaminants when compared with their conventional counterpart!
Additionally, many protein powder manufacturers are verifying the purity of their product by using third-party companies. You can find this information on the label.
What Are The Risks Of Using Protein Powder During Pregnancy
Generally speaking, protein powders are safe for pregnancy. However, there are two main risks associated with drinking protein shakes during this period:
- Getting too much protein. Between regular meals and protein shakes, you may be ingesting too much protein. In two different studies, pregnant women following a high protein low carbohydrate diet had slower growing babies, and had a higher risk of gestational diabetes respectively.
- Consuming toxic ingredients. Since protein powders fall into the “dietary supplement” category, they are not regulated by the FDA. The manufacturers are the ones responsible for checking the safety of their product, and also labeling every ingredient it contains. Unfortunately, not all manufacturers can be trustworthy.
The first risk is pretty easy to avoid.
Keep track of how much protein you are ingesting throughout the day, and make sure you don’t go over the recommended amount. That may mean you don’t even need protein powder. We talked more about this in our article on how many protein shakes you need per day.
As for the second risk, it used to be an issue.
But nowadays, there are companies like The Clean Label Project, a non-profit organization with the mission to bring transparency to consumer product labeling. This group tests products and brings the results to the public.
So if you want to get a protein supplement and make sure it doesn’t have any toxic ingredients
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Tips For Safely Using Protein Powder During Pregnancy
If youre considering supplementing with protein powder during pregnancy, its important that you do your research and always defer to the opinion of your doctor.
Here are some tips to help you find a protein powder safe for pregnancy:
- Read the labels carefully
Read the ingredient list and look for a protein powder that does not contain any artificial sweeteners, artificial ingredients, or stimulants. These ingredients are not recommended for consumption during pregnancy.
- Choose quality protein
If you choose a whey protein supplement, look for one that is natural and comes from grass fed cows like Vital Whey Protein Powder from Well Wisdom. This protein powder from Well Wisdom is non-GMO, antibiotic free, never from isolate, and contains a full amino acid profile that includes delicate protein fragments like Immunoglobulins, Lactoferrin, and Serum Albumin.
- Choose a third-party tested product
Third party testing is done by an unbiased party and can provide peace of mind when it comes to quality, safety, and purity. Third-party testing seals can verify that the product contains what it says it does, in the amount it claims, and is free from dangerous levels of potentially harmful substances.
- Show your doctor or dietitian the specific products
Do I Really Need Protein Powder In My Diet
We know protein is a major nutritional requirement for pregnant women.
However, protein sources can be limited during pregnancy because of food aversions, nausea and morning sickness.
For these reasons, protein powder is often used by pregnant women who are unable to get enough protein from food sources.
Incorporating protein shakes into your daily diet can be a quick and efficient way to get protein and other nutrients when you struggle to meet nutritional requirements.
However, protein shakes should not replace a healthy meal or snack during pregnancy.
Its important to combine protein powder with whole foods and a prenatal vitamin for a healthy pregnancy.
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Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
It has made a significant difference in my joint health, hair growth, and skin elasticity.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and is found in connective tissue, bones, skin and organs.
For this reason, it can help to prevent stretch marksby improving skin elasticity and reducing inflammation.
Is Protein Powder Bad When Pregnant
When you are pregnant, protein powder is not bad for you. It does not cause any major side effects on the fetus. However, it is important to consider the following factors to make sure that it works right:
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Protein Requirements During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding
As a mamma, you need extra protein to support both a growing baby, a changing body through pregnancy and postpartum, and also for breastfeeding to make that fabulous quality liquid gold.
It is recommended that a mamma needs between extra 70 to 100+ grams of protein and between extra 350 to 450 calories per day to support healthy development and aid quality milk supply.
Reference Protein Values for Australia and New Zealand recommends increasing protein intake to 1.1g per kg of your body weight during lactation. Normal protein needs are 0.8g per kg in your non pregnant, non breastfeeding self. Protein needs can increase depending on how much milk a mamma produces during lactation and how active a mamma can be during pregnancy.
Here’s a table to illustrate your minimum protein needs during pregnancy and breastfeeding according to Reference Protein Values for Australia and New Zealand:
Protein needs can usually be met by having a wide and varied diet in whole food protein sources such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, tofu, beans, nuts and seeds.
So there you have it, protein is required to support development of your body building blocks during a growing pregnancy, recovery in postpartum healing, and to produce nourishing liquid gold for your baby.
Needed Prenatal Collagen Is Our Top Choice For Pregnant Parents
She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with masters degree in nutrition education from Teachers College Columbia University. Alexandra is the Founder of Thrive and Bloom Nutrition, a private practice specializing in maternal nutrition. She is the creator of , a social media account bringing attention to the importance of nutrition for new moms. She says, Nutrition is more than nutrients. If we dont address the relationship with food and body image, we are missing out on a critical component of nutrition especially in the prenatal and postpartum population as parents create lifestyles that influence not only their own wellbeing, but that of the next generation.
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Extra attention is placed on nutrition during pregnancy because it can impact not only the pregnant parent’s health, but babys as well. Protein is especially important because it plays important roles like building, supporting, and maintaining cells and organs in yours and your babys growing bodies.
While most people do not struggle to get enough protein , your individual protein needs increase during pregnancyand pregnant people can struggle to meet these higher needs.
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Are There Other Risks
The other risk not yet mentioned is possible contamination with heavy metals like lead, arsenic, cadmium, or mercury. This is because the supplement industry is not well-regulated.
The FDA leaves this up to the individual manufacturer and theres no way to tell if they are being truthful in its safety, quality, or quantity of ingredients.
This is why choosing supplements that are third party tested is essential, especially for prenatal vitamins. This is voluntary testing some companies choose to partake in to verify their products is, in fact, safe and quality.
Keep in mind that detectable heavy metals in products like protein powders do not necessarily correlate to harmful levels.
What ingredients should you avoid in protein powders?
A diet high in sugar can lead to excessive weight gain, blood sugar imbalances, a large baby, and increases your chances of developing gestational diabetes .
While we dont need to completely eliminate sugar from our diet, we do need to be aware of where it is coming from. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to 25 grams or less per day for women . Id much instead save my sugar intake for a sweet treat, not for my protein powder.
Soy is a hotly debated topic in the nutrition world, and rightly so, its confusing with new research coming out every day. Not all soy is created equally, and unfortunately, you probably havent been told the whole story.
Is Protein Powder Safe For Pregnancy
In general, protein powders are safe during pregnancy.
Adding a scoop of a clean, simple protein shouldnt be harmful to you or the baby.
However, it is always a good idea to discuss any supplementation during pregnancy with your healthcare provider.
You will want to choose a brand with a very simple ingredient list without a lot of additives that you cannot even pronounce.
As a general rule of thumb, if you look at the nutrition label and cannot pronounce several of the ingredients, I would suggest opting for a different brand.
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Are There Any Risks When Consuming Protein Powders During Pregnancy
It’s worth keeping in mind that relying on protein powders as your primary source of protein could mean you are accidentally ingesting too much protein, especially if it is a pure protein powder, which may counteract any health benefits and in fact be harmful.
In addition, a low carbohydrate intake is not recommended for most people but especially for pregnant people.
With this in mind, you want to ensure you aren’t accidentally forgetting to add carbohydrates and fats to your diet as well.
Adding protein smoothies to your diet is great, as long as you’re mindful of continuing to eat balanced and nutritious meals outside of that, too.
Do All Protein Powders Contain The Same Ingredients
Not all protein powders are the same. Protein supplements come in many different varieties, consistencies and flavours.
Some contain added vitamins, minerals or carbohydrates, whereas others are simply pure protein.
Most available protein powders fall into one of the following types, all of which are safe to consume during pregnancy:
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Why Trust Verywell Family
Alexandra Paetow is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, mom of two, and founder of Thrive and Bloom Nutrition, a virtual nutrition practice based in New Jersey.
Alexandra specializes in nutrition through preconception, prenatal, and postpartum life stages. She uses intuitive eating principles to help women learn to trust and care for their changing bodies by breaking the diet cycle, building a positive relationship with food, and healing body image struggles. As a mom of two she understands the importance low-stress, practical strategies and the profound impact that moms nutrition and body image can have on the whole family.
Which Protein Powder Is The Best For Pregnant Women
Since everyones nutritional needs are different, there is no single best protein powder for pregnant women, and you should always contact your healthcare provider before adding supplements to your healthy diet.
If you need to use it for one of the reasons stated earlier in this article, then youll need to know what to look for when shopping around for a quality protein powder.
Some tips are:
- Choose a sugar-free / no added sugar version. Bear in mind that its not always listed as sugar on the label, it could be a natural sweetener or another form. Flavored protein powders almost always have a lot of sugar in them. Look at the carbohydrate content as another way of checking for sugars, even if theyre natural.
- Avoid any additives, even ones that look good like vitamins and minerals. If youre also taking a prenatal vitamin then you could easily take too much of any one nutrient, vitamin or mineral without realizing.
- Opt for protein powders without preservatives, thickeners, stabilizers or other similar added ingredients. Some of these are controversial and best avoided, such as carrageenan or soy lethicin and isolate.
- Remember 100% natural doesnt mean 100% safe.
- A good tip is to choose brands that have additional certification. A good starting place is the Clean Label Project, who check for contaminants, and the Certified for Sport label from NSF, who also check the ingredients of certain brands.
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Types Of Protein Powders
Whey and casein protein
Whey and casein are the two predominant proteins in milk. In fact, Whey accounts for about 20% and casein 80%. Interestingly, breast milk is 60% whey protein.
Whey and casein protein are not dairy-free for those that are lactose-intolerant or sensitive to dairy. They are both products of cheese production and are then turned into powders. Both contain all the essential amino acids, unlike some plant-based proteins.
Whey protein digests much faster, which is why it is preferred to build muscle mass quickly. Casein still boosts muscle growth over time, helps you recover from exercise, and may even provide other health benefits.
Whey protein has been studied extensively since it is hugely popular in the bodybuilding and athletics world, however, because of this, the majority of studies are completed in athletes and focused on how it helps build muscle mass.
In the preconception and pregnancy period, we want to focus our energy on getting in as many nutrients as possible while ensuring an appropriate weight, not building muscle. Although strength exercises are important during pregnancy, the focus is to regulate weight gain and prepare for labor!
But, are either of these protein powders safe for pregnancy? Yes, just as milk and cheese are safe, they are safe when turned into powders.
Hemp protein is a plant-based protein-based from grinding hemp seeds into a powder.
Mixed protein powders
Is It Safe To Take Protein Shakes When Pregnant
Yes, it is safe to take protein shakes when pregnant as long as you are not exceeding the recommended protein consumption for the stage of pregnancy you are in. There are many protein powders such as soy protein isolate, whey isolate, whey concentrate and pea protein which are ideal ways to hit your daily protein needs. The key thing is to choose a protein powder which has a low glycaemic index with no added sugar, a low level of carbohydrates and a low-calorie count.
Towards the latter stages of pregnancy, a protein powder with all nine essential amino acids may be beneficial. Protein powder should be used as supplement to a healthy diet and most of your dietary protein needs should come from protein rich foods. If in any doubt about whether you should take protein shakes when pregnant consult a medical professional.
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Is Mammas Milk Bar Protein Powder Is Suitable For Pregnant And Breastfeeding Moms The Technical Information:
Our protein is created from one mamma to another.
We use pure clean whey protein concentrate, pasture fed from New Zealand cows. Whey protein is a natural byproduct from pasteurised cheese and milk dairy products.Whey protein is also the main ingredient that goes into…………. Baby Milk Formula!Yes, in fact, most of New Zealand produced Whey is considered such a premium ingredient that it is produced solely for manufacturing Baby Formula that is exported all around the world since it contains the essential amino acids that are similar to the protein we, mammas produce in our own breast milk for our own babiesWhey protein is considered a complete protein as it contains all 9 essential amino acids. It is low in lactose content, and so it is easily processed by our body like any other protein.
Here at Mammas Milk Bar, pure, natural NZ whey powder is manufactured and formulated straight from the source.We also don’t add anything else and keep our protein as simple with as little added ingredients possible, just as nature intends it to be.Each serving of Mammas Milk Bar Protein Powders provides about 22 grams of additional protein support. Trust us when we say mamma has gone and sourced the highest quality ingredients available, like real ground Vanilla beans and real Cocoa in our Vanilla and Chocolate flavours, all locally sourced in New Zealand.
We think that’s pretty cool.