This post probably contains affiliate links, to items I am in love with, and I am confident you will too! For any health advice I give on nutrition and wieghtloss, make sure you check with your doctor, as I am not a health professional. I am just a mama with lots of health and fitness knowledge and experience.
I talk a lot about protein powder for breastfeeding mothers, and recommend protein shakes for weight loss, but are protein powders safe during pregnancy? The short answer is yes and now. The more extensive answer is yes, protein powder is safe during pregnancy if you choose the right protein powder. Not all protein powders are created equal, and many of them are hiding chemicals, fillers and artificial sweeteners that completely outweigh the benefits of the added protein. On the other hand, there are some amazing protein powders that offer additional nutrients, clean ingredients and lots of protein that I consider safe and effective for pregnancy. I’m going to walk through what makes a safe protein powder, and why a protein powder is very beneficial for pregnancy nutrition.
What Makes A Protein Powder Safe For Pregnancy?
- Clean, organic ingredients
- No artificial sweeteners
- No chemicals or fillers
- No allergens like corn, soy and gluten
When looking at a protein powder, you can determine whether it is safe or not by thoroughly going through the ingredients. Can you recognize the ingredients as whole foods? Are there any chemicals? Are most of the ingredients organic? What does the label say? By asking all of these questions, you can determine how clean and safe the protein powder is. Do not go for any protein powders that have sucralose or aspartame in them because these are tricky, artificial sweeteners. Many have trouble digesting sucralose, including me, and can find themselves unexpectedly running to the bathroom. Protein powders sweetened with Stevia, Monk Fruit, Organic Cane Juice, Pure Sugar and/or honey are great options.
I also look for plant-based protein powders sourced from pea protein, oat protein, organic brown rice protein, seed proteins and more. These do create a grittier texture overall, but whey protein can be sourced from cows eating grain, which is not good. If you want a clean whey protein powder, go for one that is sourced from grass-fed cows and cold pressed.
What Is A Safe Protein Powder For Pregnant Mamas?
I specifically created Milk Dust, a protein powder with lactation-boosting herbs and labor-helping herbs. This is a protein powder that can transition you from prenatal to postnatal. The reason my protein powder is different than those on the market is because of the additional nutrients added for pre and postnatal women. This includes L-Methylfoate, B12, Potassium, Chromium, Magnesium and Iron to name just a few. It offers a great boost of protein, as well as omega-3s from chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds. As a firm believe in nutrition as your medicine, fuel and key to thriving as a mother, I am so passionate about providing a product that offers a solution to nourishment and hormonal function. I included Red Raspberry Leaf Tea, which has been shown to increase uterine health and strength (hello fast labor!). Also Fenugreek, fennel, milk thistle and brewers yeast have all been used for centuries to increase lactation. As a nutrition coach and pre/post natal fitness specialist, I coach and preach nourishment.
Another reason Milk Dust stands out is the blood sugar/craving control blend of herbs and minerals. THIS IS SO HELPFUL FOR WEIGHT LOSS!! Many mamas struggle to maintain their milk supply, while also losing weight. Sugar cravings are the hardest road blocks to overcome, and Milk Dust helps a mother do this by supplying the nutrients that often are the root of the sugar cravings themselves.
Why Are Protein Shakes Beneficial For Pregnancy Health and Weight Management?
One of the reasons I suggest protein shakes to manage weight gain during pregnancy, as well as lose weight after baby is their ability to help you feel full on lots of nutrients – not calories. Protein shakes are also very fast and efficient. If you start with an awesome, safe protein powder, and add in fruits and veggies, you are getting a complete meal or snack full of fiber and protein. Fiber and protein make you feel super FULL!! This will help you keep your blood sugar stable the rest of the day, as well as full longer. You can keep cravings at bay because of all the nutrients you are consuming too.
Protein shakes are easy to make one-handed if you have toddlers or other children running around, and you can also pre-freeze smoothie packs for even faster mornings for snacks. Not to mention the speed at which you can clean up! No prepping, cutting, chopping or cooking necessary.
Protein Shakes Can Help With Sugar Cravings!
If you get a sweet, and nutrient dense protein powder, you can make some awesome protein smoothies that will satisfy that sweet cravings. For some reason, during all the my pregnancies, I craved ice cream at night. I just loved something cool and sweet. Rather than indulge on ice cream every night, I would replace that craving with yummy protein smoothies! I added ingredients like fresh strawberries, bananas, avocado and even frozen cauliflower to get a creamy, delicious treat that I was also healthy. I believe using protein shakes for dessert replacements really helped me keep from gaining too much weight with each pregnancy.
How Much Protein Do I Need While Pregnant?
The american pregnancy association suggests at least 75 grams of protein per day for pregnant mamas. This is a relative, general guideline, and there are a lot of factors that go into really understanding how much protein you need. For example if you aren’t active at all, or don’t do any weight lifting, you are probably on the lower end. If you are following a healthy pregnancy program, you may need more protein to help build and repair your muscles. Staying active during pregnancy is super important to managing your weight and preparing for labor. The more muscle you can maintain now, the easier it will be to get back in shape after baby. You can also do preventative work for diastasis recti while pregnant, and I go over all of this, plus workouts, plus a nutritional guide and recipes in my Belly-Only Pregnancy program.
What does 75 grams of protein look like? Well, let’s go over what one day of eating 75 grams of protein entails:
Breakfast: Milk Dust or Protein Smoothie: 20 – 22 grams (fruit and veggies have protein too!)
Snack: Fat free cottage cheese and strawberries: 15-18 grams
Lunch: Salad with two hard boiled eggs: 14 grams
Dinner: Turkey burger (4oz) wrapped in lettuce – 20-22 grams
If this was your meal plan for a goal of 75 grams of protein, you would be at just about 70-75 grams of protein for your day. If you added cheese to your turkey burger, and some cheese on top of your salad, then you would definitely be there. Imagine if you didn’t include a protein shake in your day? You would have to start your day with three eggs instead. I find a protein shake a really good way to get something sweeter in, and not feel like you are eating tons of eggs, or all protein all day. You actually get something sweet! This is really helpful for those of us who love our sweet treats (especially if you are breastfeeding!).
If you need help losing the baby weight and keeping up your milk supply, I have a very popular program, The Postpartum Cure, which comes in an app you can download.