It’s no secret that exercising during your pregnancy is not only good for you but usually recommended, and could help you cope with labor. And as you progress with your pregnancy, your calorie needs usually goes up. This is where protein shakes can come in handy. The best protein shakes while pregnant are proteins that aren’t highly processed, don’t contain a bunch of added ingredients like sugar, sweeteners, hormones, and are independently tested.
Protein powders and shakes are very popular these days. They’re convenient, nutritious, and can be very filling. It’s not surprising that people are using them as either a snack, meal replacements, or just so they can get a bit of protein.
If you’re exercising (which I hope you are), maintaining a solid intake of protein will help you to maintain what lean muscle you have and could benefit you after your pregnancy.
In this post, I’ll discuss what protein powder is, how safe they are, and recommend some of the best protein shakes to use during your pregnancy.
Also, before selecting a protein powder, you should consult with your doctor to see if and which protein powder they recommend.
What is protein powder?
When you think of protein shakes and powders you probably think of bodybuilders. While they use them too, but they’re not the only ones to use them, and for good reason. Protein powders are powdered forms of protein that come from a variety of sources. They typically come from soybeans, peas, rice, eggs, or milk.
To appease consumers a lot of protein shakes have other ingredients such as added sugars, artificial flavoring, thickeners, vitamins, and minerals. Depending on the type of protein powder you get, a scoop usually has around 10-30 grams of protein.
The shakes and powders used by bodybuilders are closer to the 30-gram side, while the shakes for everyone else tend to be in the middle or closer to 10 grams.
So now you know how much protein you can expect from the shakes and powders you need to know how much protein you need.
How much protein while pregnant?
Research shows that pregnant women should consume 79-108 grams of protein per day. This number could vary from person to person, but it gives you a ballpark of how much protein you should be consuming.
Like most vitamins and nutrients, protein is best consumed via foods, rather than shakes and powders, but it’s not hard to realize that sometimes we just don’t get that much. Here is a list of foods that are high in protein:
- Dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt)
- Legumes (beans and lentils)
- and lean meat
As you can see, there are plenty of foods high in protein. That being said, if you’re experiencing morning sickness, or just not getting the recommended amount of protein, a shake can help fill the gap.
What are the risks of protein powders?
Protein powders and shakes are quick to make, contain the protein your body needs, and usually taste great, it’s a bit soon to put them on a pedestal. They have their downsides. Here a list of things to keep in mind before selecting one.
- Protein powders are considered a supplement and are not regulated by the FDA. This means we have to rely on the manufacturer or independent studies.
- They can be highly processed. Some companies add sugars, preservatives, caffeine, and fillers. These aren’t typically recommended during pregnancy.
- In 2018 Pure Market did an independent study and found some powders contained heavy metals. Heavy metals are linked to cancer and other health conditions.
- Many consumers of protein shakes complain of digestive issues.
The above can be scary, but as consumers, we’ve become informed. When consumers become informed, we demand proper and healthy foods. And the manufacturers are listening, at least the ones that want to stay in business.
While some pregnancy protein powders don’t fit the bill, others have stepped up to the plate and produce protein shakes and powders worthy of our hard-earned money.
Below is a list of those powders.
And only the best powders from the Clean Label Project are listed. Also, keep in mind these protein shakes are selected for their purity and nutrition. They aren’t meant to include other vitamins and nutrients. Prenatal vitamins are a great source for that and can be taken in conjunction with these protein shakes.
Best protein shakes while pregnant
1) Bodylogix Natural Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder – Bodylogix Natural Whey contains cold-processed, cross-flow micro and ultra-filtered non-denatured whey proteins sourced from grass-fed cows. With 24 g of fast-absorbing premium protein per serving, Natural Whey helps increase lean muscle and stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
Features and benefits
- It’s available in multiple sizes and flavors
- It’s third-party tested for purity and certified
- No artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners
2) Puori Whey Protein Powder – Puori is made with whey from organically raised cows, sweetened a touch with a little bit of coconut palm sugar. It comes in two delicious flavors and tastes great with water or almond milk.
Features and benefits
- Contains 21 grams of protein per scoop
- One of Clean Label Projects top recommended protein powders
- Free from GMO, hormones, and pesticides.
3) Essential Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate – Momentous has 2 varieties: grass-fed whey protein and plant protein. Every ingredient in their products has a purpose, every source was chosen for a reason and every ratio was specified by the greatest sports dietitians and coaches in athletic performance.
Features and benefits
- Made with the highest quality of protein so easily digestible
- The package is 100% BPA free
- 20 grams of protein per scoop
4) TGS 100% Whey Protein Powder – TGS whey protein powder is made in the USA, packaged in the USA, and sourced from farms only in the USA. Their advanced filtration system gently processes whey to prevent the protein structure from becoming denatured. This process ensures its natural amino acid profile is maintained, resulting in grade A undenatured whey protein concentrate. No acid or bleach is used in the process. No sweeteners are added at all!
Features and benefits
- NO added sugars, fillers, artificial colors, flavors, additives, sweeteners, or preservatives.
- Has 25 grams of protein per scoop
- No flavor so can be added to any of your favorite drinks.
5) Isopure Whey Protein – Isopure Unflavored WPI powder contains 25 grams per serving of 100% Whey Protein Isolate, stripped of fat, carbs, fillers, sugars, and lactose. Easy to add to any food and beverage (hot or cold), and so pure you won’t even taste it. Isopure Whey Protein Isolate has 5.67 g of naturally occurring BCAA’s in every serving and is Lactose and Gluten-Free. It also has 2.57 grams of naturally occurring L-Glutamine in every serving. There are no additives just pure, naked protein. The microfiltration process used to create Isopure is so complete that it is the only completely clear milk protein when it is dissolved in water.
Features and benefits
- Helps meet daily protein needs as a key component of a healthy diet and exercise program.
- It helps keep you feeling full between meals to support your weight management efforts.
- Only 2 ingredients, so no added extras.
What is the best type of protein powder for pregnancy?
Since protein powders come in so many forms it comes down to a personal choice. If you’re vegan a protein from a plant might suit you best. If you’re lactose intolerant then you’ll want to stay away from any dairy-based proteins. Additionally, the above protein powders contain different amounts of protein per scoop. Consuming too much protein is frowned upon and could be dangerous.
What is the best time to take protein shakes in pregnancy?
One of the best things about protein shakes and powders is their versatility. Commonly, in the morning when people are in a hurry to get out the door, a protein shake is quick and easy. Additionally, they make for a great snack between meals.
Protein takes a bit to digest and can help you feel full, which is great for when you might be having a late lunch or dinner. The biggest thing is, that you’re consuming the recommended amount of protein, spread throughout the day.
Wrapping up best protein shakes while pregnant
Some protein shakes and powders are safe during pregnancy, but since it’s not regulated by the FDA, as consumers we’re left to trust manufacturers and third-party research. I put much more faith in independent research like the Clean Label Project mentioned before. Protein powders can be baked with and they can be mixed with water or your favorite drink (minus wine, sorry ladies).
The first thing you should do is consult with your doctor before trying any of the protein powders. If they give you the green light, any of the aforementioned protein shakes will help you hit your protein intake goals.