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 weight loss, 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.
There are some awesome benefits of drinking protein powder during pregnancy, that many mamas may not be aware of. If your protein powder source is clean, and full of nutrients, a well-rounded protein smoothie can offer a boost of nutrients and energy for both mama and baby.
Protein powders are safe during pregnancy if you choose the right powder:
Determining the right protein powder while pregnant is your first, and more important step. If there are chemicals, artificial sweeteners or allergens in your protein powder, then you can do more harm than good.
When choosing a protein powder, you want to consider if you are sensitive to dairy. If you are, then you will want to choose a plant-based protein powder. If dairy doesn’t cause you any issues (that you know of), then you can go with a whey protein powder. Make sure that your whey source is from grass-fed beef and cold-pressed. This preserves the natural state, and ensures there aren’t hidden grains, corn or other allergens in the whey. I LOVE this whey protein powder, but unfortunately can’t do much dairy myself.
For plant-based protein powders, pea protein is an awesome source because it offers a complete amino acid profile of protein. I am a big fan of plant proteins because of the additional plant-based nutrients that are usually in these protein powders as well. Super foods, greens and probiotics are all great additional benefits you can find in plan proteins.
I’ve created my own plant-based, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free protein powder specifically for mamas who are breastfeeding. It has lactation-boosting herbs that help increase milk supply, as well as sugar-craving-curbing minerals. I also highly recommend it for pregnant mamas because it has Folate in it (in the LIVE L-methylfolate form!!!), which is essential in the first trimester of pregnancy. You can also take advantage of the vitamins, minerals and herbs that will help your body also get ready for labor and breastfeeding. There are digestive enzymes and probiotics, which also keep your good bacteria levels nice and high.
Milk Dust doesn’t come out until spring, so until then, I highly recommend Ora Organics plant-based protein powder. Ora Organics is the protein powder I have my mamas drinking in both my Belly-Only Pregnancy plan, and my postpartum healing, breastfeeding diet and weight loss plan, The Postpartum Cure.
Once you choose a good protein powder source, there are some awesome benefits of drinking protein powder during pregnancy:
First, you will maintain muscle mass:
Keeping your protein intake higher, or at least at a decent amount, will help you maintain your muscle mass during pregnancy. The reason you want to do this is because as you lose muscle mass and gain fat and water, your metabolism will dramatically decrease. Muscle mass keeps your metabolism working harder. If you gain weight and lose muscle, then your metabolism will be more difficult to rev back up when baby arrives. This is very helpful to maintain your weight, and keep from gaining too much.
Second, protein is needed for baby’s development:
Protein is the building blocks for your body, and for baby’s body. Protein consumption is particularly important during the second and third trimester, which is when baby needs protein more. Your body can’t create protein on its own, and many plants have various sources of protein in them. For example, broccoli has protein in it. A small amount, but still some. So, you can eat a healthy variety of fruits and veggies, with lean protein sources like chicken, turkey, eggs, beans, and beef. Choosing clean sources isn’t always easy, or cost effective, which is why protein powders can be such an easy help!
Third, protein keeps you feeling full:
Pregnancy cravings and hunger can be very difficult to manage. I tended to experience a constant, munchy hunger. I just wanted to snack literally all the time. Eating protein really helps fill your stomach up, and take some of the noshing drive away. This will allow for less room in your stomach for other craving foods like nachos, french fries and ice cream.
Fourth, protein shakes taste amazing!
Not everything tastes good when you’re pregnant. Protein smoothies can be such a nice, sweet treat. I LOVE to blend with frozen avocado, which makes a thick, milk-shake like treat that is totally guilt-free! Most protein powders are sweet (mine is so yummy and sweet!!), which helps take away your sweet cravings almost immediately. Blending your protein powder with frozen avocado, fresh spinach and fresh or frozen berries is a beautiful treat you and your baby NEED. Nutrients are really important, not just calories, which is why protein smoothies are a wonderful option to keep up your protein shake (especially if eggs or chicken sounds disgusting), as well as help you get down essential phyto nutrients and minerals from fruits and veggies.
Fifth, protein smoothies are fast and easy (minimal clean up!):
This is one of my favorite reasons pregnant mamas should use protein powder. It involves no prep, no cutting and chopping and cooking, and very little clean up. I grab my ingredients from the freezer, blend and go. You can make it thicker and savor it with a spoon, or pour it in a to-go smoothie cup for busy mornings. As pregnancy progresses towards the end, there is very little energy for cooking and cleaning. It just doesn’t happen easily. Especially in the morning. I don’t like to start my day by cooking and cleaning. Things are already hectic and busy. When I clean the kitchen at night, and it stays that way until lunch (most of the time), I am much happier. The boys will do smoothies with me sometimes, or I will have batch cooked eggs, so I don’t have to fry them up every morning.
Sixth, it builds great habits for weight loss after baby:
A large part of my program for mamas to lose weight while breastfeeding are protein shakes in the morning. The reason I do this is because the amount of nutrients you can get in a smoothie, which helps with breastfeeding and milk supply. If you are already in the habit of making protein shakes, and enjoying them, then this program or weight loss will be much easier after birth!
I hope these benefits encourage you to monitor your protein intake and choose healthy sources (bacon, cheeseburgers or pepperoni pizza are less-than stellar choices). Protein powder is a wonderful, helpful source of protein that can help you with appetite control, cravings and satiation. Protein also helps keep us energized and maintain our muscle mass.
If you are motivated to stay healthy during this pregnancy, my program is a great way to stick to your goals with recipes, tips and tricks. It also helps prevent Diastasis Recti and works your core to improve recovery postpartum.