Is It Safe To Consume Protein Powder During Pregnancy

6 min read

 Is it Safe To Consume Protein Powder During Pregnancy

Protein is an essential nutrient, especially during pregnancy. It helps with fetal development, and for this reason, pregnant women need to increase their protein intake. Now, this should be easy, right? You will eat more during pregnancy – more fruits, vegetables, and everything healthy. So, it shouldn’t be difficult to reach the minimum requirement. On the contrary, it is not so easy; especially if you are a vegan. While protein powder is an instant sensible option for those who cannot have naturally occurring protein for several reasons, is protein powder during pregnancy safe?

Lean meat, eggs, and even fish are great sources of protein. However, this is not a feasible option for vegetarians, especially vegans. Soy products, plant-based protein like peas, beans, and lentils are good protein sources, provided you can eat, and you do eat your veggies. If you don’t, then you may consume less than the ideal amount of protein per day, which can affect the fetus.

In This Article

Significance of Having Protein During Pregnancy

Protein is vital for the growth of the fetus. It aids in the growth of tissues, hair, nails, and even the brain of the baby. For the mother, protein is vital for breast and uterine tissue growth, and to support the baby. Since protein also plays a vital role in increasing the blood supply in the pregnant woman’s body, pregnant women must ensure sufficient protein intake. When the mother’s protein intake is below the minimum requirement, she can experience a protein deficiency, and the growing baby will be deriving its needs from the mother’s body reserves. A pregnant woman needs to ensure her diet is well balanced and she consumes all-important nutrients. Else, both she and the baby will suffer health-wise.

Ideal Protein Requirement During Pregnancy

pregnant women with glass of milk

A normal person will require about 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight. This requirement will increase considerably when a woman is pregnant. A pregnant woman must consume a minimum of 60 grams of protein per day, which can go all the way up to 71 grams per day in the third trimester. As the baby grows in the third trimester, the demand on the mother’s body increases, and so, she needs to increase her protein and overall nutrition intake.

Here is a break-up of how much protein a woman might need on an average basis during different trimesters.

1st Trimester – 1-1.2g per Kg of body weight
2nd Trimester – 1.5 – 1.8g per Kg of body weight
3rd Trimester – 1.8 – 2g per Kg of body weight

The above values are approximate figures. However, different women have varying needs during their pregnancy. You need to consult your doctor and a nutritionist to understand your exact requirements.

Is it Safe to Consume Protein Powder During Pregnancy?

Though protein powders can be an excellent source of pure protein, they are not completely safe for a pregnant woman. These powders can contain artificial ingredients, sweeteners, and other ingredients which can be harmful during pregnancy. For pregnant women who may have a protein deficiency, the only way to ramp up their protein content could be through powders and supplements. In such cases, your doctor will advise you about which protein powder to consume and how much to consume. You should never self-prescribe such supplements.

Why is Protein Powder During Pregnancy Not Recommended?

Some protein powders claim to be safe for pregnant women. However, pregnancy is a tricky phase and one can develop various food allergies all of a sudden. A doctor cannot easily treat such allergies as medicines might affect the growing baby. Apart from allergic reactions, if you were to experience any side effects from these supplements, it would first affect the baby, which is difficult to assess. Such side effects may not be visible until the baby is born or grows a little. This is a significant risk, and many doctors will be ready to take such a risk. This is why most doctors do not recommend any supplements during pregnancy unless absolutely necessary.

[Read : Drinking Milk During Pregnancy]

Alternate Ways to Get Protein During Pregnancy

Alternate Ways to Get Protein During Pregnancy

There are many alternate ways to get protein during pregnancy. You can get a good amount of protein by adjusting your diet. You may have to consult a nutritionist if your protein intake is on the lower side, and the doctor has advised you to increase the intake. A dietician or a nutritionist will be able to help you identify safe food sources that can increase your daily protein intake.

Some of the food sources you can opt for are

  • Meat – People who eat meat can opt for lean meat and poultry like chicken, duck, eggs, and bush birds which are rich sources of protein and low in fat.
  • Seafood – Crabs, prawns, fish, lobster, mussels, oysters, and clams.
  • Dairy – Milk, Yoghurt, Cheese.
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Beans and Legumes

Vegans can opt for the last two options on the list to get their daily protein intake.

You can come up with a holistic diet plan that includes not only proteins but also other vital nutrients. Ensure that you do not overload on proteins and miss out on other essential micro and macronutrients. All types of nutrients are vital during pregnancy for a healthy pregnancy and for proper fetal development.

How to Increase Protein Intake For Pregnant Women?

Getting the right protein intake can be quite difficult for pregnant women, especially for those suffering from morning sickness. It may not always be possible to get full protein if you are having one breakfast and two meals. So how can you increase your protein intake?

Here are some ideas to increase your protein intake

  • Have a midday salad when that hunger pang strikes. Pregnant women feel hungry constantly and the best way to satiate this without ending up with digestive issues is to have small frequent meals.
  • Keep some nuts handy for snacking. This will prevent you from reaching out for that sugary store-bought snack that is not only rich in sugar and additives but also in fat.
  • Have a glass of milk twice a day. This can be both filling and increase your protein intake without you having to waste time making something to eat.

Protein is essential for both mother and fetus during pregnancy. However, you must opt for natural and healthy protein sources rather than a quick fix in the form of protein powders and shakes. Always consult your doctor and nutritionist for professional guidance. Never follow random advice or self-prescribe supplements.

[Read : Almonds During Pregnancy]

FAQ’s

1. How Much Protein Can You Get From a Single Scoop of Protein Powder?

You can get up to 30 gms. Protein powders are usually fortified with other nutrients too. So, you may not be having just protein from that single scoop.

2. Do Protein Powders Contain Chemicals in Them?

Some might have added chemicals, and some may not. It varies from brand to brand. Despite being labelled as “clean protein”, one should always check the ingredients list to know what is in the powder.

3. Can Too Much Protein Harm the Fetus?

Yes, it can. A study in Scotland showed that babies of women who consumed too much protein and a lesser than required amount of carbs grew slower than average. Another study showed an increased risk of gestational diabetes. All essential nutrients must be consumed in moderation. Too much of anything can have side effects on the baby.

4. Can I Have a Protein Shake if I am Unable to Eat Due to Morning Sickness?

Protein shakes will contain a lot of added sugars and caffeine. Both are harmful to the baby. Ask your doctor for suggestions if you are unable to eat during pregnancy. There are other options to increase your protein and other nutrient intakes even if you cannot eat due to morning sickness.

Read Also: Crab During Pregnancy Is It Safe To Eat?

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