image001Protein is essential for a mother and the growing baby inside her. In fact, a pregnant woman should get 70 grams of protein each day during the second and third trimesters. This is crucial to help the baby keep growing like it should, and it also lowers the possibility of complications during pregnancy. This can lead to a healthier delivery, too.

Protein shakes might seem like a natural way to meet the protein requirements. But keep in mind that some shakes contain herbs and other additives that might be harmful during pregnancy. Here’s what you need to know about protein shakes during pregnancy.

What You Should Know About Protein Shakes

So protein shakes are good for you, right? Protein shakes during pregnancy might seem like a sure thing, but before you reach for the blender, take a look at these tips on choosing the right protein shakes.

1. Choose a Protein Shake--Read the Label

Shakes vary in protein content. For example, a person who is body building would want more protein than a person who is running a marathon. Read the label to see just how many grams of protein the shake has, as well as other ingredients that you might not need to put into your body when you are pregnant.

2. Know Different Types of Protein in Protein Shakes

Protein can come from a wide variety of sources, including eggs, whey, casein, milk, soy, and rice. If you have an allergy to any of these, make sure to avoid protein shakes that have even traces of it in the mixture. You should also look into how the protein is purified, as that helps determine how well your body breaks it down. If you have allergies to certain types of protein, keep in mind that you might be able to tolerate soy.

3. More Notes on Whey Protein and Soy Protein

Whey and soy protein are very different types of protein – here’s what you need to know about each.

  • Whey Protein. Whey protein is made from cow’s milk, so if you are allergic to milk, this might not set well with your stomach. It is high in amino acids, which helps the body build tissues, and there are no problems associated with whey protein as long as you are not allergic to it.
  • Soy Protein. Soy protein is derived from plant sources, and is a great option for those who can’t tolerate other types of protein, or for those who are vegan. However, some studies have indicated concerns about fetal development when a mother drinks a great deal of soy protein. There could also be high levels of aluminum in the soy, given the manufacturing process.

What Are the Precautions to Take?

Now that you know more about the options for protein shakes during pregnancy, here’s more information on the precautions you might want to take.

1. Count the Calories

Keep in mind that during pregnancy, you only need an additional 300 calories per day. That means that a single protein shake could add a great deal more in calories than you need. Plan your meals accordingly so that you don’t get too many calories each day.

2. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are everywhere, but are they healthy for you? The FDA has approved several chemical sweeteners for use by pregnant women, but there are studies out there that call the safety into question, regardless of FDA approval. For instance, sucralose has been found to cause DNA damage in mice, and there is a link between aspartame and brain tumors. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so focus on protein shakes that contain natural sweeteners, such as fructose, lactose, or stevia. To be even more natural, look to options like powdered honey.

3. Consider Other Sources of Protein

Many women will decide to avoid protein shakes during pregnancy because of the questionable ingredients. In that case, work to get the protein you need through the food you consume. Stock up meats, fish, legumes, eggs, and dairy. To be even safer, look for organic forms of these items, such as grass-fed beef, farm-raised fish, and free-range, organic eggs. Quinoa is a new food on the market that has been found to have plenty of iron and protein, and you can stock up on that, too. Be sure to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, too. If you are vegetarian or vegan, speak to your doctor about protein you can get through foods, or about a supplement that might help.

One Mom’s Story

“I wanted to have protein shakes during pregnancy, but all of them seemed to contain artificial sweeteners. I just couldn’t stand the thought of giving chemicals to my baby! I finally found a protein shake called Jay Rob. The cows aren’t treated with any hormones, which is always good – and there are no artificial flavors or colors. No artificial sweeteners either!

I tried all the flavors and found that I liked the chocolate and vanilla best. I use the amount recommended on the label for the chocolate, then experimented until I figured out how much ice and water to add. Then I got crazy and added a scoop of whey powder, natural peanut butter and a banana. That thickened it up and made it taste like a milkshake!

With the vanilla, I wanted a lighter flavor, so I chose to mix the powder with water, ice, Greek yogurt, strawberries, and blueberries. I then added a little bit of OJ to give it even more of a sweet kick. It was delicious, and I like knowing that I am getting a huge serving of fruit along with the protein I need for the day. I’m quite happy with these shakes, especially since they are all natural. After all, who wants to feed anything that’s not natural to their precious baby?”

Want to learn even more about protein shakes during pregnancy? This video has more info: