Protein Powders and Pregnancy

Pregnancy brings with it a lot of joy but new mommies-to-be can also be stressed out thinking about what they should and shouldn’t do now that they are carrying (and growing) a little one inside their bodies. 

One of these concerns is whether you can keep taking your favorite protein smoothies and drinks during your pregnancy. Are all protein powders safe for pregnancy? Should you be taking double the amount of protein now that you’re eating for two? Or is there such a thing as too much protein during pregnancy? 

Read on as we explore the answers to these questions and many more. 

How Much Protein is Needed During Pregnancy?

While you may have heard that pregnancy requires you to now double your nutritional intake (eating for two), that may not exactly be true. According to studies, you only need to gain an additional 25-30 pounds throughout your pregnancy (and that too if you started at a normal weight)

So how much protein do you really need during pregnancy? A normal sedentary woman needs about 46 grams of protein per day, during pregnancy the protein requirement goes up to 70 to 100 grams of protein per day (depending on your diet and physical activity levels). 

Normally, you would be able to meet your daily protein requirements from food alone. A hard boiled egg has about 6 grams of protein while half a chicken breast (skinless) provides about 26 grams, a cup of cottage cheese has 28 grams of protein and half a cup of lentils provides 9 grams.

But what if you’re not a fan of meat? Or morning sickness is putting you off of certain foods? Is it possible to get your daily requirement of protein by mixing in your favorite protein powder in a bit of milk or water? 

The short answer is yes, protein powders can be used to supplement your protein intake, especially if protein from food alone is not enough to meet your daily requirement. 

But let’s explore this fact in detail.

Is it Safe to Use Protein Powders During Pregnancy?

Protein powders are concentrated forms of food proteins that can help you meet your daily requirement of protein even when you’re pregnant. For example, a single serving (2 scoops) of Zen Principle Marine Collagen Peptides Powder can give you up to 20 grams of protein. 

Protein powders come in handy when you’re either off certain kinds of foods due to morning sickness or aversions, you don’t follow a meat-based diet, or simply need a quick protein fix. Also, the sheer variety of protein powders out there means you can find one that fits your specific dietary and taste needs.

But before you start making your favorite protein pregnancy shakes, talk to your physician. Ask your obstetrician if it is safe for you to take protein from a supplement rather than from food alone. If they give you the go-ahead also ask them for their recommendations for the best protein powders for pregnancy. 

When it comes to your pregnancy, it is always better to get medical advice first.

What Does a Pregnancy Safe Protein Powder Look Like?

Not all protein powders are the same. Some might contain added ingredients like sugars, artificial flavorings and colors, thickeners, and certain chemicals that are not good for the baby. Since protein powders aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), you need to do your own research and choose a protein powder that is safe for your pregnancy.

Here are some things to look out for in a protein powder:

  • The Source: Protein powders source proteins from meat, vegetable, grain, or dairy sources. It is important to check the quality of their source to make sure you aren’t getting protein that contains harmful additives. For example, Zen Principle Beef Collagen Peptides powder is sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows from the grasslands of South America. The cows are humanely raised and haven’t fed on feed that contains harmful antibiotics, GMOs, or artificial additives. 
  • The Additives: A lot of protein powders add extra ingredients in their powders to make them more appealing. Artificial flavors, thickening agents, coloring agents, and stabilizing agents are some of the more common additives. While not all additives are bad, most are made of chemicals that may influence the growing baby. It is always better to err on the side of caution and choose a protein powder that is free from any additives.
  • The Sugar: Many protein powders pack hidden sugars that can cause unhealthy weight gain during pregnancy. Make sure you are choosing a protein powder that doesn’t have a lot of sugar. Another thing to look out for are artificial sweeteners. It is generally a good idea not to consume them while you’re pregnant. All Zen Principle single-ingredient protein powders are free of any added sugars so you can easily manage your sugar intake. 
  • The Processing: It is also important to look at how protein powders are processed and packaged. You don’t want a protein powder that is hard to digest since your body will already be working overtime to digest the food you are consuming during pregnancy. Also, any contamination during the packaging process can harm the integrity of the powder. For example, our USDA-certified Organic Pea Protein powder is made from peas that are carefully dried at the ideal low temperature to preserve their nutritional profile. The powder is then custom-milled to a much finer consistency so it is easier to digest. Finally, rigorous testing is done to ensure purity and quality of the powder during packaging.

The Final Word

Too much protein might not be good for you or your growing baby. Therefore, it is important to keep track of your nutritional needs and consume only as much as you need. A good way to do this is to keep a food diary to figure out how much protein you are consuming each day. If you find your protein intake lacking then a scoop or two of a suitable protein powder for pregnancy is a good way to meet those additional needs. 

As a reminder, always run any kind of supplementary food products by your obstetrician first. 

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