Protein and its amino acid components are one of the most precious energy sources for a growing baby – they are needed for tissue development as well as for carrying out key metabolic processes.
Their insufficient intake can lead to many undesired, dangerous outcomes like low birth weight or even intrauterine growth restriction.
Accordingly, yes, not only can you take protein while being pregnant, but it is also imperative that you do so.
At the same time, there exist specific guidelines that tell you how much protein you should consume and designate particular sources as the most nutritious and beneficial for babies.
What Are The Natural Protein Sources That Help In Pregnancy?
Eggs are considered “the perfect protein” when it comes to their amino acid composition. After all, they were designed to provide the best nutritional support for the growing embryo.
Simultaneously they are a rich source of choline – an important phospholipid precursor – needed for proper nervous system development in babies.
Moreover, other research shows that it greatly supports the placental perfusion and overall nutrient transfer between the mother and the baby.
Besides, it teems with essential fatty acids, antioxidants, elements, and vitamins including vitamins A, B1, B2, B5, B6, B12, C, D, E.
Cooked poultry is one of the richest safe sources of protein for pregnant women.
It is much healthier than red meat which, in fact, is contraindicated during this special period.
For instance, it has been shown that it increases the risk of acquiring gestational diabetes – a state which can lead to some perilous conditions like preeclampsia.
In addition, apart from protein, poultry contains lots of choline, zinc, iron, and vitamins.
Cooked seafood, with a special emphasis put on cooked fish, can greatly improve the health of your baby.
Besides protein, it is abundant in omega fatty acids, vitamin D, selenium as well as substances crucial for proper nervous system development like choline and iodine.
In fact, a seafood-rich diet in pregnancy (especially in the first trimester when the most part of the nervous system develops) has been linked to a higher IQ and a higher attention span in children later on.
Even though plant protein sources are not as rich in protein as their animal counterparts, they greatly outweigh them in their antioxidant content.
The anti-inflammatory properties of lentils, one of the plant protein sources, have been directly associated with a cardioprotective effect.
Moreover, these legumes are incredibly rich in vitamins and essential elements including iron.
Research shows that the consumption of lentils prevents the development of iron deficiency anemia. A condition with many deleterious outcomes for pregnant women and their babies.
Almonds And Other Nuts
Almonds have been shown to be one of the nuts with the highest protein content out there.
At the same time, they contain unsaturated vitamins, antioxidant sterols as well as choline and omega fatty acids – substances necessary for healthy nervous system development in a baby.
Not without a reason, it is recommended to eat a handful when studying for improved memory and focus.
The same applies for babies whose mothers followed a nut-rich diet, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy; their memory, cognitive function, and attention span were much better when they became kids.
Which Are The Foods, That Are Protein Rich, Yet Should Be Avoided In Pregnancy?
Under no circumstances should a mother eat raw meat when pregnant – it is the main risk factor for acquiring toxoplasmosis, an infection that can even be fatal for the baby.
Furthermore, it has been associated with severe neural defects, low birth mass, anemia, low platelet count, hepatomegaly, and eye disease.
Soft, Mould-Ripened Cheeses
Forget about brie and camembert when pregnant. Their consumption during pregnancy has been linked to acquiring listeriosis.
Listeriosis is an infection that can result in miscarriage, premature birth, and other threatening conditions for the baby.
Eating liver may lead to the hypervitaminosis of vitamin A – a potentially dangerous state for pregnant women, especially in the first trimester.
It has been associated with malformations of the central nervous system in a baby.
Can You Take Protein Powder Instead Of Natural Protein During Pregnancy?
It is unwise to solely rely on protein powder as the main protein source for the baby. Nonetheless, protein powder can be a great addition to a healthy diet when pregnant.
Until the mother’s and the baby’s nutritional needs are met, it is totally alright to mix it in somewhere in between other protein sources.
You can easily add your preferred powder to your smoothies, shakes, or baked foods like pancakes.
A vitamin boost while satisfying your taste buds is always a good idea. Enjoy the variety!
Best Period And Time For You To Take Protein Powder While In Pregnancy
According to the newest research and recommendations, a protein intake of 1.22g/kg in early pregnancy and 1.52g/kg in late pregnancy should meet the demand of a growing baby.
Confirmedly, a child’s needs grow correspondingly with the gestational age and change every trimester.
Even though the baby is still minute in the first trimester, it is when it develops the most part of its organs including the spinal cord, the brain, the heart, and the lungs – that is also why a baby is the most susceptible to fetal abnormalities during this time.
In the second trimester, a somehow bigger baby only continues to grow, with a special accent put on their bones and muscles, allowing it more movement.
In the third trimester, the baby’s needs are proportionally higher than in the previous trimesters as by this period, it has notably grown.
Because of these reasons, you can start taking protein powder as early in pregnancy as you want, nevertheless on certain conditions.
- 1) As mentioned, you should not rely on it as the only source of protein.
- 2) Protein in the supplement should provide less than 25% of the total energy content as excessive supplementation can only be harmful to the baby.
- 3) You should check whether the powder is of good quality and a trustworthy brand.
- 4) You should avoid powders enriched with herbs, caffeine, CBD, and other substances not recommended for pregnant women.
- 5) You should be careful about not over supplementing vitamins and elements if the powder also contains them.
If you are wondering about the best time of the day to consume your protein powder, there really is not such a thing.
The nutrient transfer between the mother and the baby works 24/7, hence prepare your favorite smoothie any time you feel like it, considering the above mentioned points.
Benefits Of Taking Protein Powder During Pregnancy
It Promotes Fetal Growth
Studies show that appropriately balanced protein supplementation improves fetal growth and increases the baby’s weight at birth.
At the same time, it decreases the risk of a too low birth mass or intrauterine growth restriction.
It Helps To Meet Baby’s Nutritional Needs
If you find it hard to provide the baby with the needed protein just with the natural sources, protein powder is a great way to go.
It is better than skipping meals while the baby unchangeably requires its nutrients every day.
It Offers More Variety
Every nutritionist swears by the premise: “the more varying diet, the better”.
Besides its other benefits, it also supports healthy intestinal flora. That on the other hand, positively influences the well-being of the rest of the body. A healthy mother meaning a healthy baby.
Some protein powders offer extracted proteins that is practically unextractable at home, like pea protein.
It Promotes A Better Post-Partum Regeneration
Keeping your protein intake high will allow you to build up a solid muscle mass that not only prevents strong weight fluctuations but also keeps the mother’s metabolism high after delivering the baby.
Homemade Protein Powder For You For A Healthy Pregnancy
If you are feeling unsafe about the pre-made protein powders, you can also prepare one at home.
This way you will make sure that all the ingredients are safe and beneficial for you as well as that they are used in appropriate amounts.
Additionally, you can make them taste just as you like! Here are some propositions to prepare natural and safe protein powders that you can try:
Oats & Almonds Delish
- Organic oats
- Milk powder
- Chia seeds
- Cacao powder
- Pinch of salt
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
Simply grind all of the ingredients together until you reach the consistency of a powder. You can adjust the ingredient amounts to your liking as well as compose your own protein powder with your favorite ingredients.
Can You Drink Meal Replacement Shakes While Pregnant?
Very similar rules apply to drinking meal replacement shakes during pregnancy as the rules for eating protein powder during this time.
First and foremost, meal replacement shakes should not contain any potentially dangerous ingredients for pregnant women including herbs and caffeine, let alone if they stimulate weight loss.
Healthy weight gain is natural during pregnancy and actually needed for the healthy development of the baby.
At the same time, you should not rely on them when it comes to your nutrient intake – that could end tragically. Nonetheless, if they are safe (and taste like chocolate), you can enjoy one from now and then.