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When talking about prenatal protein powders for pregnant women, safety and contents are the most important things to look for. You shouldn’t take the words “eating for two” literally, but you still need at least 300 to 400 more calories per day than usual, and at least 20% of them should come from protein. This is where healthy protein powders come in handy.
Also read about the best protein powders for breastfeeding women.
The safest and healthiest protein powders for pregnant women
NAKED WHEY 100% Grass-fed Protein Powder
Review: When talking about pure protein, derived from the highest quality ingredients, Naked Whey is the first product that comes to mind for experienced protein powder consumers. Naked Whey is completely free of GMO, soy, growth hormones, artificial sweeteners, dyes, and preservatives.
It is entirely derived from the milk of grass-fed cows in California and cold-processed to remove any possible contamination. It contains a healthy dose of 25 grams of protein and is loaded with essential amino acids, glutathione and the purest form of whey protein, all of which are important for growing a healthy baby inside your belly.
- Contains a whopping 25 grams of protein powder per serving
- Cold processed, and free of GMO, soy, hormones, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives
- Only 2 grams of natural sugar (No added sugars)
- High glutathione and BCAA contents: A full amino acid profile
- Free of acid and bleach processes that many protein powders go throug
- Contains only one ingredient which is certified for its purity: Grass-fed whey protein
- Comes in only one purchasing option – unflavored
Ora Organic Vegan Protein Powder
Review: This special product contains 22 grams of plant-based protein powder. Its high protein content comes from a variety of superfoods like pea, organic rice, sacha inchi, hemp, amaranth and quinoa.
The reason Ora’s protein powder rates so highly in health and safety when it comes to protein powders for pregnant women is that it does not contain a single trace of soy, dairy, fillers, GMO, eggs, fish, gluten, peanuts, or really anything synthetic.
There are no parabens, no heavy metals, no wheat and it is free of allergens. As a pregnant woman, you need to avoid any chemicals that might harm you and your baby. This protein powder is specifically designed for purity.
- Contains 22 grams of plant-based protein per scoop
- Derived from more than 20 plant-based superfoods
- No fillers. No preservatives. No artificial sweeteners
- No heavy metals or chemicals
- Truly an organic product, as advertised
- Contains a full spectrum of enzymes that help your digestion, as pregnant women often experience difficulties with proper digestion, especially in later months
- A full amino acid profile
- Comes in chocolate, vanilla and vanilla chai tastes
- A bit expensive
- Contains only 20 servings per container
Shakeology Whey Protein Shake
Review: Although this shake is not considered a standard protein powder, it contains plenty of protein, but also a great variety of vitamins and minerals. Including:
- Vitamin A for the heart and brain development of your child
- Vitamin C, D, B6, and B12 prevent most birth defects
- Folate, which prevents brain defects in fetuses and aids lactation later on
- Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Iodine and Calcium, which provide many benefits for you and baby
Shakeology’s Whey Protein Shake is free of artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and preservatives. The protein is not only whey, but a mixture derived from peas, sacha inchi, chia and flax.
- Contains the full spectrum of vitamins you need to supplement your diet with during pregnancy
- Contains 17 grams of protein and 140 calories derived from many sources
- Full amino acid profile
- Comes in many flavors, ranging from chocolate whey to pumpkin spice plant-based vegan protein
- Very expensive compared to other choices on our list
Milkdust Lactation + Weight loss protein powder
Review: This plant-based protein powder was initially designed to help breastfeeding mothers deliver the healthiest possible lactation to their babies. And not only is it possibly the best product at that, but it also makes the list here because it is an extremely clean form of protein powder that can also be used during pregnancy without any worries of harmful substances.
It consists of specifically hand-picked ingredients that aid recovery from birth and support breastfeeding, which means there is nothing out of the ordinary there. Any potentially harmful substances to your child were carefully removed and omitted in production.
This product is free of GMOs, preservatives and artificial flavors. Not only does it supplement you with protein, but it also greatly aids post-pregnancy weight-loss.
- Contains 16 grams of protein, derived from chia seeds, flax, peas, brown rice and pumpkin
- A vegan choice
- 100% gluten, soy, GMO, dairy, corn, heavy metals and chemicals free
- Contains a lot of B12, which is essential for preventing birth defects
- Full of folate, which helps neural defects in a fetus
- Packed with antioxidants
- Only 25 servings per package
- Does not contain many vitamins or minerals
Genuine Health Fermented Organic Vegan Protein powder +
Review: Consuming protein in pregnancy is all about clean protein sources from whole foods. This is what this protein product is specifically designed for – clean whole protein sources. Minerals and vitamins are other important aspects to pregnancy and Genuine Health’s product is derived from vegetables, herb and greens.
This is one of the few vegan protein powders that are actually fermented. Other vegan proteins are not as recommended during pregnancy since they are harder to digest than whey and casein. But this product is fermented, which makes it much easier to digest.
Not only that, it is also loaded with iron, calcium and other essential minerals and vitamins.
- Contains 20 grams of clean protein derived from plants
- Free of preservatives and artificial sweeteners
- Packed with vitamins and minerals
- Non-GMO certified
- Keeps blood sugar and hormonal levels balanced
- A good option for both pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- A bit on the expensive range for protein powders.
- Only 1 flavor – vanilla organic.
Mommi Prenatal Protein Powder and Vitamin Shake
Review: This protein powder is a great choice for pregnant women not only because it contains a moderate amount of protein, but also because it comes hand in hand with B6 and B12 which are essential for proper delivery of a baby.
Mommi’s protein powder allows you to skip taking a traditional prenatal vitamin because their vitamin shake contains the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals that most prenatal vitamins offer, plus the protein you get from a protein powder.
This is a non-GMO certified and gluten-free option. On the other hand, not all of its contents are organic, which most mothers understandably prefer.
- Delicious taste
- Contains the same vitamins and minerals most prenatal supplements consist of
- Many reviewers share that it energizes them more than other products they have tested
- Free of gluten and preservatives.
- Only 15 grams of protein per serving
- Contains non-organic substances and is not vegan
Everything breastfeeding mothers need to know about selecting a protein powder
We have heard more often than not that pregnant women need to eat for two. Although this is rather exaggerated, you should definitely up your protein intake and consume 20-30% more calories than usual. Sometimes it is difficult to follow a strict diet of protein-rich meals and you need a little extra boost. This is where high-quality protein powder comes in.
Be advised to not rush things when selecting a dietary supplement. Some protein powders contain high sugar contents, others have chemical traces, heavy metals, or have undergone a process that might contaminate the powder. But worry not, there are many products that both contain what you need and are certified to be clean and safe to use.
What are the risks of consuming protein shakes while pregnant?
Too much protein powder can pose risks to you regardless of if you are pregnant or not. Studies have shown that women who consumed more protein than carbohydrates had their babies develop more slowly than women who followed a usual diet of 10 – 30 % of their calories coming from protein.
Moreover, an excessively high protein diet is not only unhealthy for you, but it is also unhealthy for your baby. Any diet excessively high in carbs, protein or fat, can be dangerous. You need to balance things out between the three macronutrients.
There is a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes when you consume more than 40% of your calories from protein during pregnancy.
Aside from that, some protein powders have added sugars which you should avoid at all costs. Consuming too much sugar can be very unhealthy for both you and your unborn child.
How much protein do pregnant women need per day?
Studies have found that women need to increase their usual protein intake by up to 30 % when pregnant. For non-physically active women, 50 grams of protein is the bare minimum per day when not pregnant. Which means pregnant women should consume at least 70 to 100 grams of protein per day in order to develop a healthy baby.
If you are wondering what a diet of 70 grams of protein per day looks like, it could be a cup of cottage cheese, a medium egg, a handful of nuts, one glass of milk and a chicken breast or piece of salmon.
While this may not sound like a lot, for some people it would be rather difficult to maintain a healthy diet full of protein. This is where convenient protein powders come to the rescue.
Do you really need supplements in order to have a healthy baby?
You do not need any supplements in order to get a healthy baby if you follow a strict and balanced diet. If you cannot be sure you’re getting all nutrients required, it is a good idea to supplement your diet with prenatal vitamins and minerals, as well as protein.
Doctors advise all pregnant woman take a prenatal vitamin, because some very important nutrients to a developing fetus, like folic acid, are difficult to consume enough of from natural food sources.
You should begin taking folic acid supplements if you are trying to conceive because it is very important in the early weeks of pregnancy when you might not be aware that you’re pregnant. If you don’t take them before conceiving, begin as soon as you realize you’re pregnant. It’s not too late.
Most pregnant women don’t have a problem consuming enough protein in their diet, so they probably don’t need a protein powder or supplement. However, if you know you don’t consume that much protein, you’re a serious athlete, or you’re having a hard time keeping food down due to all-day morning sickness, a protein shake might be a good idea.
Before taking in any supplements, make sure to talk with a licensed medical professional or a licensed nutritionist. Some supplements might cause bloating, gas or other side effects. Stop the consumption of the given supplement right away if you experience serious side effects and consult a specialist.
How can I get more protein as a pregnant woman without protein shakes?
There are a wide variety of protein-rich foods that can be added to your healthy diet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not only that, there are also healthy protein snacks you can eat between meals or whenever you feel like it.
Of course, you can enjoy a steak or a burger once in a while, but do not go wild on red meats as they contain a lot of cholesterol. Medium portions of lean beef and chicken breasts can bring you as high as 30 grams of protein per serving which is more than a third of what you need per day.
If you are a vegetarian or not a fan of meat, don’t worry, there are other options like seafood. Just keep in mind that bigger fish like tuna contain high levels of mercury which is not healthy for your baby.
In terms of plants, legumes, whole grains, brown rice, oatmeal, lentils, nuts and barley are amazing and healthy sources of protein.
Dairy products like whole milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yoghurt and skyr are all delicious and healthy.
All salads can also be seasoned with flax seeds or sunflower seeds.
Aside from that, peanut, cashew and almond butter are all high in protein and can be paired with wholegrain bread for a healthy protein-rich snack.
Does the type of protein consumed matter to pregnant women?
Protein comes in three forms – isolate, concentrate and hydrolysate.
If you are a pregnant woman avoid concentrates as they are not as filtered and processed as the other two forms of protein and might contain some unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients or chemicals that might harm you and your baby. These ingredients could include soy products, heavy metals, chemicals, dairy, or other allergens that you might react to.
Before consuming any prenatal supplements or protein powder, consult a medical practitioner or a licensed nutritionist and make sure you are well aware of your allergies.
Does the protein powder source matter for pregnant women?
The source from which your protein powder is derived greatly matters to you and your child. Whey and casein protein powders and blends contain the full spectrum of amino acids that you will need to develop a healthy child. On the other hand, they contain lactose and might cause you some stomach issues if you are somewhat sensitive to lactose.
Most plant-based and vegan proteins do not contain the full spectrum of amino acids, although some do. On the other hand, these protein powders, derived from plants are a bit harder to digest for pregnant mothers and in general. If you are looking for a vegan choice of protein, ensure that the protein contents have been processed and fermented for easier digestion.
Can pregnant women exercise safely?
Not only can pregnant women exercise safely, but it is also recommended for them to do so. Exercise strengthens your core and hip muscles which helps you deliver a baby with less pain and more success. Recommended exercises for pregnant women are walking, swimming and water workouts, riding a stationary bike, aerobics, yoga and Pilates.
If you were active before pregnancy, keep it up now that you’re pregnant. If you were inactive before pregnancy, it’s not a good idea to start a new vigorous training regimen now, but remember to keep your body moving through walks and gentle exercise.
Be aware that as you approach your due date, some exercises will be uncomfortable and aren’t good for your baby. For example, if you do yoga or Pilates, make sure the program you follow focuses on pregnant woman, as some positions are not good for your baby.
Are there any other prenatal vitamins or supplements you should pair a protein powder with as a pregnant woman?
Depending on the contents of your protein powder and your prenatal supplements, you should pair choices that complement each other. Consuming some vitamins and minerals in excess is just as bad as not reaching your daily recommended minimum.
Essential vitamins for a healthy pregnancy contain the full spectrum of vitamins as well as other important ingredients like folate and choline.
Some of the best prenatal vitamin brands to go for and pair with a clean label protein powder as pregnant women are as follows: Actif Organic prenatal vitamins, Ritual essentials prenatal, Garden of Life Raw prenatal, New chapter perfect prenatal multivitamins.
Of course, you could go with another healthy choice, just make sure not to mix things up and consume more of one vitamin and forget another entirely. For example, if you drink the Mommi Protein Powder and Vitamin Shake, you do not need an additional prenatal vitamin on top of that.
Are there any recommended dietary specifics to follow when pregnant?
You should aim to consume at least 300 more calories than usual and between 10 % and 30 % of your total calorie intake should come from protein sources. Your calories should generally come from a variety of healthy foods such as protein-rich foods, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats like avocado.
Keep sugar and saturated trans fats to a minimum and avoid cigarettes and alcohol.
Make sure you are getting enough of all vitamins and minerals, most importantly B12 and folate. If you are a vegetarian now is the time to get vitamin B supplements.
Avoid eating large heavy-metal prone fish like swordfish or tuna.
Aside from proper nutrition and a good protein powder do you need anything else for a good pregnancy?
In addition to healthy nutrition, rest and less stress are also essential to delivering a healthy baby. Avoid rollercoasters and lifting anything heavy after your 5th or 6th month. Moderate exercise should be performed to strengthen your body’s muscles and help you deliver the baby much easier and with less pain.
Enjoy your pregnancy and feeling your baby’s movements in your belly. Before you know if you’ll be snuggling and showering your little one with kisses! You got this, mama!