Now that you’re pregnant, you need to take extra care of your diet to have an adequate amount of nutrition for both you and your baby. During the first trimester, you should especially take care of your diet as during this time, organogenesis takes place, and the baby grows. The amount of protein you consume directly affects your baby’s growth and birth weight and can also affect their health when adult.
Although you shouldn’t be stressing over whether you’re having enough, you can always meet your daily protein requirements with the daily meals you consume. If you’re someone who doesn’t have much of an appetite or have pregnancy-related nausea, you can go for protein powder for pregnant women to meet the requirements. In this article, we will explain everything that you need to know regarding protein powders during pregnancy and their risks, along with other sources of protein.
What are Protein Powders and Where do they come from?
You might have heard all the gym freaks fancying protein powders and buying tons of those but let us tell you, protein powders are not just for bodybuilders or gym freaks. These are actually concentrated proteins that can be used as an alternative to protein foods upon need during pregnancy. One scoop of protein powder contains 30 grams of protein. You might be thinking, where does this protein come from and we’ve given the list below:
Although these come in combination with other nutrients as well but they cannot be used as a substitute for your daily meals. All protein powders you find do not contain all the necessary nutrients that your body requires and can contain ingredients that are unsafe for you or your baby during your pregnancy. They may also contain artificial flavors, sugars, coloring or thickeners all of which is not needed by you or your growing baby.
The Benefits of Protein Powder during Pregnancy:
The most obvious benefit of using protein powder is that it is the easiest and the most accessible way to meet your bodily protein requirements. Moms who are not able to meet the requirements can have their way with this option and to increase the nutritional value, you can add chopped fruits, nuts, or vegetables.
Other benefits of protein powders are as follows:
- Maintenance of muscle mass during pregnancy
- Helps in stability of blood sugar.
- Helps you feel full for longer periods of time.
- Helps strengthen your immune system.
- Helps in meeting nutritional and caloric needs among pregnant moms and also those who suffer from morning sickness.
- It may also contain collagen proteins which is beneficial for the nails, hair and joint health.
What are the Risks of Consumption of Protein Powders During Pregnancy?
Consuming too much:
Consumption of too much protein comes with its own set of risks and if you’re having a healthy diet that consists of protein-rich foods, you don’t need to take protein powders at all. Research shows that moms who had little carbs and large number of protein had slower-growing babies. This is one of the reasons why the keto diet is not really recommended. Another study showed that such moms had a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes.
Although having protein powders might seem like an easier option as you don’t need to make an extra effort for it, you should consider having a handful of cashews to be on the safer side.
Presence of Toxic Ingredients:
Protein powders can be considered as a dietary supplement as it comes in combination with other nutrients as well, but since they’re not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, you should also know that they may also contain some ingredients that are absolutely not needed by you or your baby. These could be food colorings, artificial flavors, or other chemical components. We would suggest that you move to healthier options for adequate protein consumption like meat and dry fruits, and if you don’t know about any protein-rich foods, you can always search them online.
You should look into the ingredients of the protein powder that you’re buying as they can contain unnecessary sugars and unnecessary sugars cause you to gain unnecessary weight, which you really don’t want during pregnancy as they increase the blood sugar levels. Now if you consume that much sugar in your protein powders, you would have to cut off the sweet cravings. A better option would be natural protein sources and save all the sugars for ice creams or desserts.
Types of Protein Powders:
There is a range of protein powders available in the market. However, they are not all manufactured equally. Some of the available ones are as follows:
It is a type of protein powder that is found in many protein shakes and is derived from dairy origins. It offers a complete protein profile and is quite beneficial unless you have some sort of dairy allergy. It is known to increase metabolism, stabilize blood sugar levels, and promotes lean muscle mass.
Note that these also contain heavy metals such as lead and mercury which is harmful for you and your baby. Go for grass-fed or organic whey protein in order to avoid potential health risks.
Plant-Based or Vegan Protein Powders:
Now a plant-based or vegan protein powder is a good option for you and your baby. It’s a good choice if you’re limiting the animal product but remember that they would always lack an essential amino acid or more. Rice protein can also be considered as it is digestible but is low on lysine.
It is an animal-based protein derived mainly from cartilage and bone. It is a good choice as it encourages nail, skin, hair, joint and gut health. As the joints become soft during pregnancy due to hormonal changes, these proteins can prove to be helpful. Collagen proteins also help in the elasticity of your skin if you’re worried about stretch marks. Keep in mind that it is not a complete source of protein and you must add other protein sources to your diet.
Other Protein Sources:
As mentioned several times above, natural sources of protein are a better option than protein powders as they do not contain additional chemicals. You can add different sources of protein throughout your diet, whether in the form of meat or dry fruits or other sources. Have a steak, add some nuts to your salads or even shakes and smoothies, or have a beef patty burger. There are different ways in which you can consume your daily proteins.
Even the consumption of sea foods is a good choice but be careful to avoid larger fishes that may contain mercury, a toxin. Typically, it is advised that pregnant women should avoid the following fishes for consumption:
Also, remember that your fish should be well cooked, so that means you’ve got to say no to sushi.
The plant-based protein that you can opt for are:
- Brown rice
You should also have some dairy products like milk and yogurt but make sure the milk you consume is pasteurized and so should the other dairy products such as cheese made of pasteurized milk.
Protein powder may seem like a good option as it is easy and accessible, and you won’t have to stand in the kitchen to make yourself a nutritional meal, but you should be aware of the pros and cons. It is a good alternative or substitute to take if you feel nausea/morning sickness, but it shouldn’t be used as a complete substitute throughout your pregnancy.
These powders contain heavy metals, chemicals, artificial colors, flavors, and sugars which are all harmful to you as well as your baby, while natural sources like meat and nuts do not contain any of these. Other than that, these powders always lack in one way or another as they do not have a complete nutritional profile and you must take other foods to meet those requirements. We suggest that you take care of yourself and your body by consuming a nutritious diet that contain all the essential nutrients.