The 5 Best Protein Powders for Expecting Moms

Proteins are considered the building blocks of the human body and they are extremely important for both you and your growing baby.

 

During pregnancy, most physicians advise adding at least 25 additional grams of protein to your daily diet. Protein powders are an efficient and healthy way to effectively up your protein intake.

How you eat during pregnancy will directly impact your body, your baby, and your breastfeeding ability after delivery. A diet high in protein is essential for your well-being and your baby’s development. Even after delivering your newborn, your body will still require a 20 percent more protein than average to successfully breastfeed. Choosing the right protein powder that is ideal for you and your baby should be a thoughtful decision, which is why we have found the top rated protein powders for expecting moms.

Best Protein Powders for Pregnancy

Protein Powder Features

How Much Protein?

One or two servings of protein powder per day are ideal but you should make sure that you also consume other forms of protein for a balanced diet. Prior to adding any supplement to your diet during pregnancy, you should always consult with your physician.

Watch the Calories

Typically, your doctor will advise you against counting calories when you are pregnant.
It is not the time to slim down, but that doesn’t mean you go calorie crazy. Protein shakes are notorious for having high calories. Some brands boast as much as 300 calories per serving.

Types of Protein Used to Create Protein Powder

The protein used to create protein powder can be divided into two distinct categories: animal-based and plant-based. Animal sources include whey, casein, and eggs. Plant-based consist of soy, rice, hemp, and pea proteins. Check out our breakdown of each type of protein after the featured products.

1. Baby Booster Prenatal Protein Powder

Best Protein Powders for Pregnancy baby Booster

This protein powder by Baby Booster comes in a range of sizes from individual packets that are great for a snack-on-the-go to large one pounds tubs. You can choose from Kona mocha, vanilla, berry, or pina colada flavors. Health Ambition lists it as one of their top choices.

Things to Keep in Mind

Each serving is rich in 20 grams of whey protein. It also contains Vitamin B6 which has been shown to reduce the symptoms of morning sickness in many individuals.

This powder is completely caffeine free. It is also gluten free which is ideal for suffers from gluten intolerance. It contains no soy or soy products and is made from entirely non-GMO protein.

You can mix this powder with water or milk. It tastes great warm or cold. If you are a coffee drinker in the morning and suffering serious coffee withdrawals every morning then you will love the Kona mocha powder. Serve it hot in the morning and you will swear that you are enjoying a cup of coffee.

Unlike typical protein powders, Baby Booster Prenatal Protein Powder contains DHA. The DHA is entirely vegetable sourced and does not come from any fish products. Fish sourced DHA can be dangerous because it often contains harmful heavy metals such as mercury.

This product does contain valuable prenatal vitamins but it is not intended for use as your sole source of prenatal vitamins. It is just considered an added bonus.

During pregnancy, some women have a heightened sense of taste. Many users of this product adore the taste but others report a distinct aftertaste which some find distasteful.

Who’s it Best for?

This powder is an affordable and safe way to amp up your daily protein. With so many flavors, the odds are good that you will find one that you find palatable.

This product is designed for use before, during and after pregnancy.

2. Optimal Prenatal Protein Powder

Best Protein Powders for Pregnancy Optimal

Optimal Prenatal Protein Powder is made entirely from plants. It comes in three yummy flavors, vanilla, and chocolate.

Things to Keep in Mind

This protein powder contains all the required prenatal vitamins that you will require during your pregnancy. As long as you consume the protein powder as directed, you will not need to further supplement with a prenatal vitamin. MTHFR.net lists this as one of their top protein powder choices because it contains all the necessary prenatal vitamins needed for a healthy pregnancy.

It also contains key amino acids, chelated minerals, and vitamins that are geared towards supporting a healthy pregnancy. Unlike many other powders, it  contains both L-5-MTHF and folinic acid, which are forms of folate and ideal for pregnancy. Vitamin B6 and ginger have been added to alleviate morning sickness and support healthy digestion. It also provides L-carnitine.

The product is completely free of dairy, eggs, fish, fish by-products, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts and any form of wheat.

You can add a scoop to water or mix it with another beverage. Adding berries, bananas, and other natural ingredients also help to improve the flavor and create a smoothie type beverage.

Who’s it Best for?

Optimal Prenatal Protein Powder is ideal for anyone who is allergic to whey or suffers from a lactose intolerance

The main drawback to this product is the high price tag. It comes in a jug that contains enough powder for 15 servings.

3. Nutiva’s Hemp Protein

Best Protein Powders for Pregnancy Nativa

Nutiva’s Hemp Protein is an ideal alternative for anyone allergic to whey or who suffers lactose intolerance. The product’s protein is derived from plant-based hemp. Hemp is perfectly safe for ingestion during pregnancy and contains no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It soothes the stomach and is especially beneficial if you are suffering from morning sickness.

Things to Keep in Mind

The product also boasts organic coconut sugar, organic tapioca, organic inulin (sunchoke), organic vanilla flavor, and organic stevia. It can be mixed with milk or a non-dairy milk product.

Each serving contains 15 grams of protein. It features no sugar, artificial ingredients or chemicals. The hemp used is GMO-free. Hemp contains many key essential amino acids and essential fatty acids. It also includes Omega-3 and Omega-6. The product has iron, zinc, and magnesium. Hem is a rich source of fiber that helps aid digestion.

Hemp is known for its natural nutty flavor that many people find appetizing. You can mix in berries, bananas, and other ingredients to create your own unique smoothie. Alt Protein lists this product as one of their top choices for use during pregnancy.

Who’s it Best for?

This product is available in a large 30 serving container for an affordable price. It can be used throughout pregnancy and during breastfeeding. Many women opt to continue using it even after breastfeeding as a prime source of valuable fiber, nutrients, vitamins, and protein.

4. Source Organic Whey Protein

Best Protein Powders for Pregnancy Source

The Source Organic whey protein is made from the organic milk of grass-fed Jersey cows who live in a natural environment in Northern California. The temperate climate of Northern California allows the cows to be outdoors 300 plus days a year so these cows are not cooped up in some musty, dirty barn like so many other cows in the dairy industry. A healthy, happy cow creates a premium, nutritious product. The cows are only allowed to graze on fields of chemical-free clover, rye, and other native grasses.

Things to Keep in Mind

This is an ideal all-natural protein option that contains no sugars, preservatives, flavors or other sweeteners. The product provides 21g of protein plus 4.9 grams of branched-chain amino acid. It also has an additional 150mg glutathione per serving.

Although this is an unflavored whey powder, don’t let that deter you because you can easily mix it with berries, fruit, bananas, and many other natural choices to great a mouth-watering nutritious smoothie.

Who’s it Best for?

The exceptional purity of the whey protein that goes into this product makes it tolerable for people who suffer from lactose intolerance. It contains no casein mixed with its whey. Not too many other whey products can boast that claim.

Compared to other powders, it is a bit costly but not too many other manufactures offer such a pure product.  It comes in a two-pound bag.

5. Mommi Prenatal Protein Powder

Best Protein Powders for Pregnancy Mommi

This protein powder, from Mommi, is specifically designed for use by anyone trying to get pregnant, during pregnancy, and throughout breastfeeding. Each serving offers 15 grams of whey protein. It also contains all of your required prenatal vitamins. So as long as you enjoy a yummy shake every day, you will not only get all of your needed prenatal vitamins but also your protein in one convenient serving. What I Run Into lists it as their top protein choice for pregnancy and breastfeeding moms. It also boasts additional B6 which has been shown to help alleviate morning sickness.

Things to Keep in Mind

It comes in chocolate and vanilla flavors. Mix this protein powder with milk or use a milk substitute like rice or almond milk. You can also add bananas, veggies, berries or other fruit to create a delicious smoothie. It can be used as a meal replacement or supplement. Reviews show that this product tastes amazing and doesn’t have any chalky aftertaste.

Unlike some protein powders, this one does not cause unwanted constipation. It is easy and gentle on your digestive tract.

The main drawback to this protein powder is that it does contain 2.5 grams of sugar per serving. Some pregnant moms might not be bothered by the small amount of sugar but others might want to avoid it, especially if you have health issues.

Who’s it Best for?

Although this powder product is a bit pricey, it does contain all the vitamins and protein that you need. It comes in a bag that contains 15 servings. It can be used throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Protein Types and Benefits

 

  • Whey: Whey is a byproduct of milk and accounts for 20 percent of milk’s protein. It is readily absorbed by the body.
  • Eggs: Protein powder made from eggs uses only the egg whites. It is an expensive source of protein and not recommended for anyone with an egg allergy.
  • Casein: Casein, like whey, is a byproduct of milk. It accounts for 80 percent of the protein found in milk. Although it is similar to whey, it is not as readily digested by the body and tends to take much longer to pass through the human system. Unlike whey, it contains lactose and should be avoided by lactose-intolerant individuals.
  • Rice: Rice has long been a protein staple used around the world. In many countries, it is the primary source of protein. One of the main benefits of rice powder is that it hypoallergenic.
  • Peas: Pea protein is gathered from yellow-split peas. Similar to rice, it is also hypoallergenic.
  • Soy: Soy is a low-cost protein powder but is often genetically engineered. It also poses risks to pregnant women and should typically be avoided.
  • Hemp: Hemp is derived from the seeds of the cannabis plant. Although hemp is technically a part of the marijuana plant it contains no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), nor has any psychoactive qualities. It is hypoallergenic. The only drawback to hemp powders is that they tend to be the most expensive.

Whey – Best Expecting Protein Powder

One of the best protein powder sources for pregnancy is undeniably whey. Whey is a high-quality protein which naturally contains alpha-lactalbumin, a key ingredient found in human breast milk. Human breast milk is composed of 60 percent whey. Infant formulas are usually made from whey protein, even specialized formulas for premature babies have whey as their key ingredient. Whey also contains numerous amino acids that are readily absorbed by the body.

What is Whey Protein?

Whey naturally occurs in the watery part of milk. It is gathered during cheese production when the fatty ingredients in the milk coagulate, the whey separates and appears as a watery substance. In its natural state, whey tastes nasty so manufacturers use additives, sugars, and other flavors to make it more palatable. When you choose a whey protein powder, you need to pay special attention to the ingredients to ensure that they are healthy and natural. Some whey based protein powders also contain small amounts of casein.

Dangers of Protein Powder

If you suffer from lactose intolerance then you should be careful taking a whey protein powder. Although whey protein usually does not affect lactose intolerant individuals some whey protein also contains casein.  It should also be noted that on very rare occasions, individuals can be allergic to the actual whey protein powder.

What to Avoid

Many protein powders are geared towards the specific needs of bodybuilders or individuals who work out extensively. They can contain unwanted additives such as caffeine and creatine to boost the athlete’s energy levels. Such protein powders should be avoided by pregnant women because they often contain additional ingredients that are not geared towards a healthy pregnancy or fetal development.

Heavy Metals in Protein

Proteins typically contain trace amounts of naturally occurring heavy metals.

Vegetable Proteins: Veggie proteins often have the highest ratio of heavy metals because the plants readily absorb the metals from the soil during growth. Although, many protein powder manufacturers now use plants that are only grown hydroponically to prevent heavy metal absorption from the soil.

Animal Proteins: Animal-based proteins have lower heavy metal counts. Whey has extremely low or no heavy metals. Any protein powder you use should be from a quality source such as whey that features only a-minute-amount, if any, levels of heavy metals.

Sweeteners and Sweetening Additives

Sweeteners and sweetening additives are frequently added to protein powder to make it taste better.

  • Saccharin: Saccharin is an artificial sweetener that should always be avoided during pregnancy according to the American Pregnancy Association. Research has indicated that it crosses the placental barrier and remains in the fetal tissue.
  • Cyclamate: Cyclamate is another artificial sweetener that may not be safe for use during pregnancy. It has currently been ban in the United States.
  • Nutritive Sweeteners: Nutritive sweeteners such as table sugar, sucrose, dextrose, honey, corn sugar, fructose, and maltose contain empty calories but are deemed safe in moderation during pregnancy.
  • Sugar Alcohols: Sugar alcohols such as Sorbitol, Xylitol, Isomalt, Mannitol, and hydrogenated starch are not sugars but they do have calories. They are commonly used in what is referred to as sugar-free products to sweeten. Research is very limited on their safety during pregnancy so products containing them should be used with caution.
  • Aspartame: Anything containing aspartame should not be used if you are pregnant unless you first consult with your physician. It has been shown to be dangerous in individuals suffering from certain health disorders.
  • Sucralose: Sucralose is considered safe for consumption in limited quantities during pregnancy.
  • Acesulfame Potassium: Acesulfame potassium is considered safe during pregnancy according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Avoid Soy Protein

Protein shakes often contain soy protein and soy protein isolate which is usually a highly processed genetically modified organism (GMO). The soy has been found to have very high levels of phytic acid. Phytic acid reduces the body’s ability to absorb minerals such as zinc and iron. During pregnancy, soy protein can also create hormonal imbalances by increasing estrogen levels.

Check the Label for Maltodextrin

Maltodextrin is a corn-based product that is sometimes used to sweeten protein powder. It is a cheap product and believed by many health professionals to be unsafe. It upsets gut bacteria and hinders digestion. Over time, it may cause inflammation in various areas of the gastrointestinal tract.

 

Kimberly Sharpe

Based in Florida, Kimberly Sharpe has been a full-time writer since 2006. Her writing has a strong focus on travel, parenting, outdoor sports, gardening, health issues, pets (both domestic and exotic), home improvement, DIY, and business promos. Her work has appeared in USA Today, MORR Gear, Hipmunk, Travelocity, Livestrong, Hotels.com, Hydro Live, Maximum Yield, eHow, Yahoo News, SF Gate, Garden Guides, Whitefence, S.F. Gate, fixr.com, and numerous other publications. She has traveled extensively throughout Europe, India, and Sri Lanka in an effort to expand her knowledge and enhance her writing skills.

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