I think most moms and moms-to-be would agree that during pregnancy it is especially important to be aware of what we are putting in our bodies. This is not only to minimize toxins, but also to maximize nutrients. Protein is an especially hot topic for pregnancy as a woman’s need for protein increases during this time. I am sharing all about protein during pregnancy as well as the very best pregnancy safe protein powder that I supplemented with during my pregnancies.
*Affiliate Disclosure: I do have affiliate links in this blog post. If you purchase something from my link, I will receive a small commission from the sale. This comes at no cost to you, but is paid by the company. I do not take becoming an affiliate with any company lightly. If I am, it’s because I believe in the company and their product.
*Just a reminder I am not a doctor. These are simply recommendations and things that have worked for me during pregnancy. Use at your own risk and please always seek the help of a medical professional.
First things first, unfortunately, there are no regulations on protein powders. They fall under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act; no dietary supplements, including protein powders, are regulated by the FDA to make sure they are safe or effective.
Is it safe for pregnant women to take protein powder?
I wouldn’t recommend women take just any protein powder when pregnant, but I do think if you find one that’s safe for pregnancy it’s a good idea to help reach your protein requirements.
Since we know protein powders fall under the category of supplements according to the FDA, and they don’t regulate them to make sure they’re safe, then it’s the job of the consumer to ensure the product is indeed ok.
Although many would say it’s the brand’s responsibility to make sure a product is safe or not, and while that is true, you have to also realize that many brands’ standards are different from yours. This makes it vital that you do some research on the brand of protein powder you are consuming.
It’s important to ask the brand if their protein powder is safe for consumption during pregnancy and to seek out a clean protein source.
You really have to do your research when vetting protein powders to make sure you’re consuming a clean one. A lot of times when I’ve asked brands if their protein powder is safe for pregnancy they say yes, but then still caution it with, “We always recommend you consult with your physician.” This is a subtle way of covering their back and not being held responsible.
When should you consider adding protein powder to your diet?
I would start as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. According to research, your protein needs go up significantly just in the first trimester and then even more by your third trimester. So it’s a good idea to add a protein powder as early as you can to help increase your protein intake. I like adding a protein shake in the mid-morning as a snack between breakfast and lunch or between lunch and dinner.
Check out how I use protein powder in smoothie bowls and homemade ice cream with my Ninja Creami here!
How much protein should pregnant women have per day?
There is a lot of controversy on how much protein women should have per day when pregnant, however, recent studies have shown that the recommendations have increased since previously thought.
I asked my Naturopathic Physician how much he would recommend, since he has 6 kids himself, and he said 70-110 grams of protein per day, depending on your size and weight.
So it’s obviously not one size fits all. But, you can easily figure out your number based on your height and weight and following this conversion:
Early Pregnancy Protein Needs:
- Convert your weight to kilograms
- Then multiply this number by 1.2
Third Trimester Protein Needs:
- Convert your weight to kilograms
- Then multiply this number by 1.52
This number will be the estimated average requirement for early pregnancy and then for later pregnancy that is specific to your needs.
So for example, if you weigh 150 pounds, that converts to 68 kilograms, then multiply that by 1.2 and you get 81.6. So roughly 82 grams of protein is the amount you should be consuming each day in early pregnancy.
Then for the 3rd trimester, going off our previous example, if you weighed 150 and multiplied that in kilograms by 1.52, you would end up with 103 grams of protein in your third trimester.
That is a definite difference (20 grams of protein more at the end of pregnancy versus the beginning) that needs to be accounted for in a pregnant mama’s daily diet, and adding in a protein powder makes it so much easier!
***Here’s a conversion chart from pounds to kilograms that may be helpful when figuring out your protein needs.
Ingredients to avoid in protein powder
Just like any packaged foods, supplements, etc out there, you want to keep your eye on the ingredient list when choosing a protein powder. You should avoid any brands that use the following ingredients:
- Sucralose-synthetic sweetener
- Aspartame-synthetic sweetener
- Polysorbate 80
- Polyethylene Glycol (basically myralax which is a laxative)
- Any Isolate-(Whey Protein Isolate, Soy Protein Isolate, etc…) causes gas, bloating, diarrhea, increases allergies. Wreaks havoc on gut flora. Very easy to store because it’s been processed so much.
- Sodium caseinate
- Hydrogenated anything
- Soy Lecithin
Heavy metals in plant based proteins is something you want to be especially aware of. This is because it won’t be obvious based on the ingredient list and you are going to have to do some extra investigating to be sure the brand you have is clean. Here are some tips for navigating this:
- You can’t tell the heavy metal content by looking at the label.
- Pea, Rice, Hemp are all plant based proteins.
- Get 3rd party testing from the manufacturer (call/e-mail them and ask for the papers with the lab testing done and make sure there is a signature so you can go back to them and say this person signed off).
- If they didn’t have testing done-then move on, it’s not a good protein
- Just because your protein was tested doesn’t mean it’s good though-make sure you see what the heavy metal levels are.
- The reason there are heavy metals in plant based proteins is because whatever is in the soil it soaks up. So if the soil contains a lot of heavy metals then the plant is soaking that up. If you take pea protein, for instance, you essentially are eating 100’s of peas each time you’re taking your pea protein, so you want to make sure the quality of the peas is good. Overtime that could add up to a lot of heavy metals if not careful.
Types of protein powders
There are many types of protein powders out there that you will discover when you start researching. Here are some options that are out there:
- Goat Whey Protein
- Whey Protein Concentrate (best sources are going to be from New Zealand, Australia, or Germany-although really expensive)
- Vegetarian- Pea Protein, Rice Protein, Hemp Protein (however plant based proteins don’t contain all the amino acids)
- Mixed Proteins- If you add some rice and pea protein together you will get more of a complete protein since they both are missing certain amino acids
- Collagen is really popular now and is great for hair, skin, nails and joints. But it doesn’t build muscle tissue or immunity.
Which brand of protein powder is best for pregnant women?
There are a lot of protein powders out there, the best one and the one I would recommend to others is Activ Whey, a goat whey protein powder. There are many reasons why I recommend this particular protein powder. Use code GURLGONEGREEN to save 15% off your purchase!
- Goat whey has demonstrated positive anti-inflammatory effects in the digestive system. Cow’s whey has shown increased inflammatory effects.
- Cow whey is considered allergenic whereas goat whey is considered hypoallergenic.
- Whey protein is the “gold standard” for serious athletes. Goat whey is the “gold standard” of that “gold standard.”
- Goat whey is amazing for our immune systems, supporting lean muscle growth and repair, as well as optimal body composition.
- Goat whey has the full range of essential amino acids in ratios that best support the athlete in all of us.
- It is really light and doesn’t ever make me feel bloated. In the past other protein powders would make me feel bloated, but not with Activ Whey. That’s because there is nothing added to fill up space, just the purest goat whey and flavoring.
- Activ Whey is a goat whey protein that comes from goats that are grass fed all the way through their lifecycle. There are zero antibiotics or hormones used on the goats or the vegetation they eat from.
- I personally know the creator and can vouch for the legitimacy of the protein and where it is sourced from.
- I have visited the farm where the goats live and roam. It’s the real deal!
Check out Activ Whey protein powder here! Use code GURLGONEGREEN to save 15%
Bottom Line: Should pregnant women add protein powders to their diets?
I do think most pregnant women who want to get adequate protein amounts during pregnancy may need to supplement with protein powder. Often it’s hard to have all the protein ready foods available all the time for consumption and you just want something that is quick. I’m raising my hands because that’s me! Especially the more kids you have and your schedule is more demanding it can be hard to always be on top of having healthy protein rich food sources throughout the day. I find breakfast, lunch and dinner are enough to think about when meal prepping, let alone additional protein sources!
Since we know that according to research a pregnant women’s needs are higher when it comes to protein, especially in the third trimester, then it is a good idea to supplement with a protein powder if you’re not eating additional protein sources. You can check out Activ Whey here! And use code GURLGONEGREEN to save 15%.
Here is a podcast I recorded with my naturopath doctor with so many nuggets on protein powders!
What pregnancy safe protein powder do you use?
Download my free Natural Baby Swaps Guide here!
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Thanks for the info. I’ve gotta ask how the texture and taste is? I’m pregnant with twins and my midwife wants me to be getting 80 grams of protein a day which feels impossible between the extreme food aversion and nausea and vomiting. She suggested a protein powder but all I can think of is grittiness and the off taste of non-sugar sweeteners. Can you let me know how it rates on flavor and grittiness? Thanks!
Hi Hannah, I think it’s very smooth, not gritty at all. I really love the flavor too! If you get the vanilla protein and add some cacao, coconut milk, ice and stevia drops to it, it tastes like a milkshake!