Benefits of Protein during Pregnancy
Your body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy and protein plays a vital role in ensuring that those changes occur smoothly since proteins are the building blocks of our bodies that facilitate cell growth. The best protein powders for pregnancy will give you a lot of protein quickly and easily, ensuring that the fetus gets enough to grow and be a healthy baby.
Protein requirements for pregnant women can range from 75 to 100 grams per day, depending on how much you weigh.
Ingredients to Avoid
Casein + WPC: Also known as whey protein concentrate and caseinate. WPC’s and casein protein sources are high in lactose and poorly absorbed. They can cause bloating, flatulence, and stomach problems.
Gluten: Gluten can increase inflammation and cause hormonal imbalances, skin conditions, fatigue, mood swings, and headaches.
Dextrins/Maltodextrin: These can raise your glycemic index, which adds to fat storage. Most are processed with GMO corn and can cause stomach problems.
Artificial sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, splenda, aspartamine, equal, and NutraSweet can cause headaches, migraines, and stomach problems such as bloating, acid reflux and weight gain. Saccharin is especially dangerous during pregnancy since it crosses the placenta and might remain in fetal tissue.
Skim milk powders/milk solids: Lower quality powders use skim milk powders and milk solids as a bulking agent.
Non-organic soy protein: Non-organic soy proteins come from genetically-modified sources that contain pesticides and chemicals that can cause hormonal problems.
Vegetable oils and fats: Vegetable oils and fats are often derived from hydrogenated sources that contain trans fats, which raise bad cholesterol levels and lower good cholesterol levels.
Thickeners and gums: Thickeners and gums can cause bloating, constipation and gas.
Carrageenan and other fillers: A filler is anything that doesn’t naturally occur in the protein source such as flavorings, preservatives, and dyes. Carrageen is a filler commonly found in protein powders that can cause digestive problems, including ulcers and bleeding.
Additives: Many protein powders are designed and marketed for athletes might contain additives is not meant for pregnant or nursing women such as extra caffeine, creatine, etc.
Read the label to make sure the main focus of your shake is a high quality protein without additional stimulants, herbs, or other harmful additives.
what to look for
Quality Protein: Any protein powder suitable for pregnancy should contain high quality proteins. Low quality proteins tend to have higher levels of heavy metals. Many studies show that animal-based proteins have lower amounts of heavy metals than plant-based proteins. Small amounts of heavy metals are normal, however as the number gets higher, so does the likelihood that the protein powder is low quality.
No Additives: Additives can be harmful to the overall health of the baby, especially if passed through the placenta, potentially causing developmental problems.
Natural Sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners can cause weight gain, hormonal imbalances, headaches, and stomach problems. It’s important to look for natural sweeteners such as monk fruit, pure cane sugar, honey, agave nectar, stevia, and fruit when choosing the best protein powder during pregnancy.
The Best Protein Powders for Pregnancy
Milk Dust is the best prenatal protein powder for breastfeeding. This NON-GMO, plant-based protein powder’s ingredients were hand picked specifically for pregnancy, lactation, postpartum healing, nourishment, and weight loss. I love that the ingredients are broken down into 5 different benefit categories: protein blend, fruit blend, greens/energy blend, lactation blend, and sugar craving/blood sugar support blend. This way you know exactly how each ingredient supports your specific needs.
Milk Dust is very sweet but has very little sugar since it’s sweetened with monk fruit, organic can juice and stevia. It will satisfy your sweet tooth but also contains herbs such as folate, chromium, B12, magnesium, zinc, cinnamon, cinnamon bark and turmeric that actually support your sugar cravings and blood sugar levels. It also contains all of the best lactation boosting herbs such as milk thistle, raspberry leaf, brewers yeast, fenugreek, and fennel seed.
Grams of Protein Per Serving: 14g (blend of pea, brown rice, pumpkin seed, chia seed, and flaxseed proteins)
Grams of Protein Per Serving: 20g (whey protein)
Seeking Health Optimal Prenatal received the 2018 Women’s Choice Award as a “9 out of 10 Recommended” brand for Prenatal Supplement. If you have a sensitive stomach, this prenatal protein powder might be good for you since it includes vitamin B6 and ginger to support digestion. It has no folic acid in it but rather folate so those with the MTHFR abnormality can take it.
Seeking Health is also a great post-natal protein powder as well since it contains milk thistle and red raspberry, which support lactation production while breastfeeding.
Grams of Protein Per Serving: 15g (pea protein)
Protiva Pregnancy is another great all natural protein powder that has 15g of collagen-based protein and only 2g of sugar. It’s sweetened using a combination of cane juice and stevia so it tastes sweet without an overwhelming stevia taste. The collagen may help reduce stretch marks and clear your skin during pregnancy.
Protiva doesn’t contain any folate or folic acid so I would suggest only using this protein powder in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters since folate and folic acid are essential for supporting brain development.
Grams of Protein Per Serving: 15g (collagen protein)
Mommi Prenatal protein shakes contain 100% of the recommended prenatal vitamins in one serving along with 15g of whey protein, making it one of the best protein powders for pregnancy. It’s really an all-in-one product. Some women have difficulty taking prenatal vitamins because of the aftertaste, difficulty swallowing , or the sick feeling they can cause. Mommi Prenatal shakes are a great alternative to prenatal vitamins since they are easy to take and digest more quickly than traditional prenatal vitamins.
Grams of Protein Per Serving: 15g (whey protein)
If you enjoyed this article, you might be interested in my ultimate guide to getting fit while pregnant!