Protein Shakes Safe To Drink While Pregnant – There is a lot of emphasis on getting enough protein in your diet, especially during pregnancy to support your baby’s growth.
When marketed as a food rather than a nutritional supplement, all of the main ingredients in protein shakes are safe during pregnancy. If you’re trying a new protein shake, check the label to make sure it doesn’t contain botanicals or caffeine, ingredients that are sometimes added.
Protein Shakes Safe To Drink While Pregnant
What began as a nutritional supplement used in medical and hospital settings has grown into a massive consumer industry with an almost endless mix of brands.
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Protein shakes are marketed as everything from a meal replacement weight loss drink to a way to get essential nutrients and gain weight when you need them.
Vitamins and minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fat, some fiber and flavorings that help make it tasty are the basis of almost every shake on the market.
Although some brands may contain “extra” ingredients such as botanicals or caffeine, the core ingredients of protein shakes are common staples and are all completely safe during pregnancy.
Protein shake manufacturers may label their shakes as dietary supplements or food products. Since the FDA does not regulate dietary supplements, it is best to choose a shake that is classified as a food product.
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An easy way to tell if a shake is a food or a supplement is to check the label. “Food” protein shakes have a nutrition information panel, while “supplement” shakes have a supplement information panel (Source: Consumer Reports).
A stumbling block for many people with protein shakes is the sugar content. Most protein shakes are sweetened with sugar, non-nutritive sweeteners, or a combination of the two.
Protein shakes sweetened with sugar (including corn syrup, brown rice syrup, etc.) offer you more bang for your buck.
They are designed to be a balanced drink that supplies your body with energy from carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and protein.
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Because this shake contains carbohydrates, it contains all the key nutrients, making it more of a complete meal or snack.
Note: Solid food is the best diet during pregnancy. Protein shakes shouldn’t be relied on to meet all of your daily nutritional needs, but they come in handy when you’re in a rush.
Contrary to popular belief, a recent study of the American diet found that most Americans exceed the minimum daily protein goal (source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).
So while your protein needs are higher during pregnancy, most women can meet them through food alone.
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Besides prenatal vitamins, most women do not need any other nutritional supplements, including protein shakes, to have a healthy pregnancy.
If any of these sound like you or someone you know, discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider.
Protein shakes are very safe if you choose a reputable and trusted brand. It also works comfortably and easily on the stomach if you suffer from morning sickness.
There are many things to consider when buying a protein shake. As mentioned above, some brands contain “extra” ingredients, such as caffeine, which are safest when taken in moderation.
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Most of these brands offer a wide and ever-expanding range of products, so check the product label before trying a new drink. Here’s a breakdown of the most popular brands.
Premier protein shake is low in energy but very high in protein, 30 grams per box! They offer fun flavors including salted caramel and coffee.
If you are a caffeine drinker, coffee flavor has as much caffeine as a cup of coffee and should contain no more than 200 mg of the daily amount of caffeine during pregnancy.
Nutritionally, Pure Protein drinks are very similar to Prime Protein. Like the Premier drink, Pure Protein is 30 grams of protein and low in carbs.
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If you eat enough food during the day but lack protein, a Pure Protein drink can help you meet your protein needs.
Evolve Protein Shake is one of the vegan options on the market with 20g of protein from pea protein. In addition to being dairy-free, it’s soy and gluten-free, making it perfect for women with allergies.
In addition to the traditional chocolate, vanilla and mocha flavors, Evolve also offers a protein-vegetable blend to help supplement your daily intake of vegetables and DHA.
Orgain offers both traditional whey and vegan shakes. Both styles are organic and feature a mix of fruits and vegetables.
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Like Evolve, Orgain shakes are safe for women with gluten and soy allergies. Organ shakes are nutritionally balanced, each containing ~30g of carbohydrates and 16g of protein.
Vega is another vegan protein shake option. Unlike other vegan shakes, Vega contains pea, hemp and pumpkin proteins.
The shake also contains plant powder and is sweetened with a combination of stevia and sugar. Nutritionally, Vega Protein Shake provides the same 20 grams of protein, while lower energy like Evolve.
Despite having 20g of protein and >200% of your daily vitamin B12, Arbonne also contains ginseng, which the FDA has classified as possibly unsafe during pregnancy (source: American Pregnancy Association).
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Because of ginseng, it is better to skip it during pregnancy. These shakes are also sold as non-food supplements and are not regulated by the FDA.
Atkins offers a variety of protein shakes ranging from 15 to 30 grams of protein. Shakes from the “Coffee” and “Energy” lines contain caffeine, so read the label carefully and count the caffeine from your daily amount.
Boost is one of our most popular brands and it’s what the hospital orders for patients when they don’t eat enough at mealtimes.
Boost comes in several flavors: high protein, low sugar, high calorie, kids and pudding. If you are lactose intolerant, some products are lactose free.
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Like Arbonne, Herbalife sells protein powder shakes, not ready-to-drink shakes. Herbalife Soy Protein Base Shake provides 15g of protein with minimal carbohydrates and fat.
If you miss a meal, this shake won’t keep you full for long. Although soy-based, the shake still contains milk, so it’s not suitable for vegetarians or those with dairy allergies.
Another brand I use a lot with my inpatients is Pasti. They offer one of the largest ranges of protein shakes from 8-30g per bottle.
Guarantee InLive and Guarantee Plus have the most calories and are good choices if you can’t afford regular food.
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Many protein shakes have flavor added to make them tastier. Added vitamins and minerals often leave a bitter aftertaste, so some chocolate or vanilla flavors go a long way to making eating protein enjoyable.
Non-dairy protein shakes are also gaining popularity. Traditionally, protein shakes use either whey or casein protein, both of which are dairy products.
Non-dairy protein shakes have found very innovative protein sources, using everything from soy and pea proteins to ham, quinoa and pumpkin.
Wondering which type of protein best suits your needs? Get the scoop in our dedicated protein powder article.
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Regardless of where the plant (or animal) source of protein comes from or which flavor you choose, protein shakes sold as food generally only contain food-grade ingredients that are safe to consume during pregnancy.
Persistent morning sickness or pregnancy-related nausea can be frustrating, especially if you can’t keep your food down and worry about giving your growing baby the nutrients it needs.
If you don’t eat for a long time (eg because of nausea), stomach acid can build up, leading to a vicious cycle of more nausea (source: HealthLine).
A protein shake won’t prevent or stop nausea, but it can help buffer your stomach.
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Of course, protein shakes are easier to drink and better tolerated than solid foods if you continue to experience nausea.
Ready-to-drink or bottled protein shakes can be quite expensive if you drink them regularly. Making your own at home is quick and easy, and allows for more customization.
All you need is protein powder and milk of your choice. Check out our article on protein powders to help you choose the best protein powder for you during pregnancy.
One consideration is food safety. Homemade protein shakes can be mixed in a blender, shaker bottle, glass bottle or cup with a milk frother.
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No matter how you put together your shake, be sure to wash all parts thoroughly to avoid bacteria.
If you suffer from morning sickness in general or need to gain weight to support your growing baby, protein shakes are an easy way to bridge the gap in pregnancy nutrition.
If you choose a shake that has been classified as a food by the FDA, all ingredients are safe during pregnancy.
Some shakes contain plant-based ingredients and caffeine, so check the label carefully to choose the shake that best suits your needs.
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Samantha Broghammer, RD is a registered dietitian and nutrition writer based in Wisconsin. In addition to contributing to the Pregnancy Food Checker, she provides mental health services.
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