It’s normal during pregnancy to become concerned with what’s safe to put into your body and what to avoid, which is why you might want to know what the best protein powders are for pregnancy.

When it comes to protein, it’s always best to meet your needs through whole food sources.

That said, there are times when supplementing with protein powder is a great and necessary option.

Here are the best protein powders for pregnancy:

1. Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein Powder

hemp yeah protein powder

– Why we like it: Hemp provides an excellent source of vegan protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and iron. Their hemp protein powders have varying protein and fiber amounts allowing you to decide what’s right for you. Bonus: all three are unsweetened protein powders.

– Grams of protein per serving: 20
– Non-Gmo + Certified Organic? Yes

You can buy this protein on Amazon here. 

2. Totally Egg Protein Powder

-Why we like it: Totally Egg Protein Powder is made with protein derived from both the egg white and the egg yolk. Most women are deficient in the nutrient choline during pregnancy. Eggs are one of the best foods for pregnancy, as egg yolks are one of the richest sources of choline. For this reason, this protein powder is a perfect option for pregnant moms to help them meet their needs. No added sugar.

– Grams of protein per serving: 24
– Non-Gmo + Certified Organic? Unsure

You can buy this protein on Amazon here. 

3. True Nutrition Whey Protein Isolate

-Why we like it: True Nutrition protein powders are third-party tested and customizable. Creating a personalized protein mix allows mom to include ONLY the ingredients that she feels safe putting into her body. You’ll find detailed information for each option and add-in. Plus, True Nutrition sweetens their flavored options with the pregnancy-safe stevia!

– Grams of protein per serving: Varies per product
– Non-Gmo + Certified Organic? Not all products are non-gmo certified.

You can buy this protein on Amazon here. 

4. Sun Warrior Protein Warrior Blend

-Why we like it: Free of soy, dairy, GMOs, sugar, and gluten, plus it’s raw, certified organic, and vegan. No taste with the natural flavor which is great because it will mix well with anything.

– Grams of protein per serving: 28g
– Non-Gmo + Certified Organic? Yes.

You can buy this protein on Amazon here. 

Why do we need protein?

You need protein to maintain the structure, function, and regulation of your body’s tissues and organs. So it’s no wonder why pregnant women want to make sure that they are getting in enough of this nutrient when they are eating for two. Growing a tiny human and supporting the growth of mom’s maternal tissues (like the placenta) puts more protein demands on her body.

At the same time, we’ve also heard about how certain protein powders can contain toxic contaminants, which is concerning to women and new mothers, alike.

Let’s review the science behind whether you can continue to drink protein shakes during pregnancy and what factors are behind some of the best protein powders for pregnancy.

How much protein does a mom-to-be need?

While every person has her own individual protein requirements, in general, experts recommend that women eat around 60-70 grams of protein a day if she is not carrying multiples.

Why do some women use protein shakes during pregnancy?

Put aside any notion that protein powder is just for building muscle after a hard workout. Many women will opt for a protein shake during pregnancy for multiple reasons:

  • You’re experiencing morning sickness or a food aversion. Often times, protein powder may be the only protein source you can stomach.
  • You’re tired. If you’re too tired to cook up chicken breasts, protein powder is a quick and easy source of protein.
  • You’re vegan or vegetarian. You may be accustomed to leaning on vegan protein powders to help you meet your protein needs.

Whatever the reason, using protein powder and drinking protein shakes is common during pregnancy, and the question of whether it is safe for mom and baby during this precious time is a common concern.

What are the risks of drinking a protein shake during pregnancy?

When you are pregnant, you need to be more cautious about exposure to contaminants like BPA, lead, and mercury.

Exposing your baby to too many toxins during development may result in some serious outcomes such as:

  • Increased risk of preterm birth
  • Developmental defects
  • Miscarriage
  • Hearing challenges

The FDA considers protein powders a dietary supplement. Thus, the governing body does not regulate them to make sure they are safe or effective.

Luckily, non-profit groups like the Clean Label Project have brought transparency to the consumer. This group independently tests products like protein powders for environmental contaminants and brings the results to the public.

Surprisingly, the group found that many organic protein powders contain more contaminants when compared with their conventional counterpart!

Additionally, many protein powder manufacturers are verifying the purity of their product by using third-party companies. You can find this information on the label.

Whey vs. plant-based protein: does it matter?

Animal proteins provide all essential amino acids and are considered “complete“. On the other hand, vegetable-based protein sources generally lack one or more essential amino acids. Some brands of vegetable-based protein powders will add some of the “missing” amino acids to the protein powder’s composition, so each brand needs to be evaluated individually.

Eating too much whey protein can cause digestive issues such as nausea, flatulence, diarrhea, pain and cramping. Some people are also allergic to whey. Generally speaking, whey protein has an excellent safety profile and most people can consume it without problems.

If choosing a whey protein powder, opting for a grass-fed option will provide mom with some anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.

This Article was adapted from Eat This article written by Juna Registered Dietician & Nutritionist and Member of the Juna Expert Advisory Board, Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, CPT