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Did you know getting enough protein during your pregnancy is not only important for your health as a mama, from boosting low energy levels to keeping your hair and skin on point, but your baby’s growth and development as well? Whether you’re still hitting the gym or mostly hanging out by the toilet these days, adding a safe, OB-GYN-approved protein powder for pregnancy to your smoothie (and newborn checklist!) is a great way to meet increased protein needs.
This rings especially true during the first trimester when you can barely stomach anything and in the third when heartburn is at an all-time high. While the majority of your protein intake should be coming from food sources, for those with serious food aversions or nausea and pregnant women on a vegan or vegetarian-based diet, supplementing with a protein powder is a great option.
We talked to two OB-GYNs and a nutritionist to discover what to look for in the best protein powder for pregnancy and if they’re safe. Spoiler alert: they are!
The good news is most protein powders are safe to consume during pregnancy. “Overall, protein powders are very useful in the face of nausea, vomiting, morning sickness and food aversion in the early weeks of pregnancy,” points out Dr. Ben Schuff, ND, LDN, the director of naturopathy and nutrition at BIÂN Chicago.
“These can serve a more palatable source of protein intake when food is difficult to keep down while protein and caloric needs increase with the growing baby, placenta and other body structures.”
Dr. Peter Rizk, OBGYN and a medical consultant for Fairhaven Health, agrees. “First and foremost, you want to try to get your nutrition from whole foods, lean organic meats and organic vegetables,” he says.
“But it’s understandable if it’s hard to get the whole 80-100g of protein down in a day.” In this case, adding a protein powder to your daily food intake is okay, but he recommends being very selective about which one you use, focusing on those with simple, clean ingredients.
If there’s one thing every expert we spoke to unanimously agreed on it’s that pregnant women should invest in protein powders with a short ingredient list. “Look for protein being the primary ingredient—whey, pea, collagen, hemp seed, etc.,” says Schuff of these popular dietary supplement choices.
“You might see a small amount of sea salt, monk fruit or stevia for taste and this is usually okay,” he notes. “Less than ideal would-be artificial sweeteners, lots of pure added sugar or chemical names you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce.”
Additionally, Rizk recommends looking for words like grass-fed when selecting a bovine protein powder safe for pregnancy. “For a vegan option, it’s important to avoid soy proteins, ensure the plant ingredients are organic and the blend is low sugar,” he tells us.
Because protein powders aren’t regulated by the FDA, OB-GYN Monte Swarup, MD, FACOG, highly advises looking for protein powders that are third-party tested for purity and have been Clean Label Project certified. This way you know exactly what you’re getting and can be sure the protein powder is free of heavy metals and other chemicals not safe for pregnancy.
Expertly formulated for before, during, and after pregnancy, this top-rated protein powder is packed with 14 grams of protein per serving and features a single pure ingredient: hydrolyzed (meaning it's easier to digest and absorb) collagen ethically sourced from the hides of grass-fed, hormone-free, and pasture-raised bovine.
It's also third-party tested so you know it's free of any harmful chemicals, heavy metals, and pesticides. The best part is you can't taste it mixed into your morning coffee, tea, or smoothie so it's nice and smooth going down. Collagen, the only ingredient, is beneficial in managing blood sugar, which is super important during pregnancy, as well as can help support the pelvic floor and vaginal tissues for a better birth and recovery.
Bonus: Collagen lovers swear it keeps hair healthy and skin glowing—and may even help to reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
If you're looking for a popular protein powder for pregnancy that won't break the bank, you can't go wrong with Orgain. It has nearly 60,000 positive reviews on Amazon and a 4.5-average star rating. We love the creamy taste and texture, and knowing also available in a wide variety of sizes and flavors. Because hey, cravings change.
From velvety chocolate to dessert-worthy cookies 'n cream, there's something to suit most taste buds. Perfect for vegans or those with dairy or gluten allergies, this protein powder has 21 grams of organic plant-based protein per serving, no added sugar or artificial ingredients and is non-GMO and carrageenan-free so it's gentle on the tummy.
Reviews rave about how yummy it tastes and how easily it mixes into liquids. You can also bake with Orgain, adding it to your favorite desserts, like brownies or cookies, when that sweet craving hits. And guess what? We love adding it to homemade granola for a protein-packed punch that rivals some of the best lactation cookies.
Ritual makes some of the best science-backed prenatals on the market so, of course, their super clean, plant-based pea protein powder is a favorite amongst pregnant and postpartum women. It's specially formulated to support women through all three trimesters and beyond, including breastfeeding, featuring key nutrients to boost mom's bone health and build muscle with 20 grams of protein per serving.
Unlike other protein powders on our list, it includes 250mg of choline to help support your baby's neurodevelopment too. There's no sugar, artificial flavors, or sweeteners, and it's also free of all major allergens. Ritual Prenatal Protein Powder is third-party tested and all the ingredients are traceable so you know exactly what you're putting into your body.
The vanilla flavor isn't overly sweet either, which some people love.
If there was ever a time to be picky about ingredients it's when you're growing (and feeding!) an actual human inside your body. Like its name, Klean is an ultra-clean whey protein isolate powder for pregnancy, which is NSF Certified for Sport. That means it's free of over 270 harmful substances banned by major athletic organizations.
What's inside the package actually matches up to what's printed on the label—AKA no sneaky ingredients or misleading claims. Essentially, this is the gold standard for food and supplement safety.
Another thing to love about this protein powder is that it's packed with essential and branched amino acids to build muscle and contains naturally occurring electrolytes like potassium and sodium, to help you stay hydrated. There are no added flavors, colors, or sweeteners. We also love that it's also GMO-free.
Because it has a lot less lactose than regular whey protein, it may be a suitable option for lactose-intolerant pregnant women. Many reviewers report it's the only protein powder that doesn't give them stomach issues. You should still chat with your doc, though.
Taste buds can be super weird when you're pregnant and stomach issues seem to crop up out of nowhere, even after the rough first trimester when you can barely look at food. Drink Wholesome Chocolate Protein Powder has a lot going for it. Not only is it delicious simply mixed with plain water, but it's super gentle on the stomach without all the nasty side effects.
Kiss constipation, diarrhea, and bloating goodbye— and the horrid aftertaste of other protein powders. In fact, many reviewers praise it for being the only protein powder they can stomach, literally.
Drink Wholesome contains real food protein from pasteurized egg whites, as opposed to heavily processed protein isolates or concentrates. And there are tons of flavor options to choose from, from "treat" flavors like chocolate, vanilla and peanut butter to satisfy your sweet tooth, to matcha and mocha to get your tea and coffee fix.
There's also the option to snag an unflavored bag if you prefer. We love adding this one to smoothies, nut milks and coffee alternatives. It's easy to stomach this powder if you can't manage protein-rich foods like meat or fish.
If you plan on adding a protein powder to your diet throughout your pregnancy and postpartum period, a high-quality and third-party tested monthly subscription service like Beli may be the way to go so you're always stocked (because pregnancy brain is real).
This grass-fed and pasture-raised collagen protein powder is made for you and your growing baby, with the suggested amounts of pure protein plus essential amino acids to support your little one's growth while nurturing your changing body's needs as well, including those achy bones and joints.
Taking it before you're pregnant can help with conception, which is good to know if you're currently TTC or hoping to add to your family down the road. Collagen is essential for maintaining balanced blood sugar levels during pregnancy, may help reduce the appearance of stretch marks and minimize swelling postpartum, and encourage healthy hair growth and recovery when it all starts to fall out.
If you're like me and can never remember to take your prenatal or just aren't a fan of pills, Baby Booster is a great all-in-one alternative with vegan DHA (no fishy taste!), methylfolate, vitamin B6 and 20 grams of hormone-free whey protein per serving. Developed with a board-certified OB-GYN to support healthy pregnancy, it's 100% safe to take as both a pre and postnatal and can help fill nutritional gaps when you have food aversions or nothing seems appetizing.
In fact, many pregnant reviewers reported it helped them with their nausea and also boosted their energy levels. There's no artificial anything in Baby Booster, and the ingredients are all-natural, plus it tastes great with two yummy flavors to choose from, vanilla and mocha.
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