Women who are committed athletes and used to drinking protein shakes probably want to continue doing so while they are contemplating how to get pregnant, and once they are expecting a baby. There is no doubt that protein is extremely important in pregnancy as well, and that consuming protein helps keeps muscles, bones and skin healthy. But can you safely use protein shakes during pregnancy – of course, as an addition to a healthy and balanced diet?
It is good to remember that the majority of people acquire all the protein they need to stay healthy from their diet without even thinking about it. Vegetarians and people who are very physically active will need a little more, and protein shakes (which do, of course, vary greatly in protein content) are a convenient way of meeting that increased demand, a demand that persists during pregnancy. At the same time, it is certainly possible to meet the daily protein requirements of 0.75 grams per kilo of your weight without shakes, no matter how much you work out.
Many Americans get more protein than they actually need, pregnant or not. It is likely that pregnant women will have a discussion about their diet, including protein intake, at prenatal appointments. Magazines for moms to be tend to carry articles that contain lists of natural sources of protein from time to time, because it is crucial for a healthy pregnancy. Athletes used to consuming protein shakes regularly “probably once or twice a day” don’t have to worry about deficiencies at all, but they will want to know whether those shakes are safe during those nine months.
The answer, generally, is that protein shakes and supplementing with whey and casein are safe for pregnant women. You will need to look out for shakes that contain herbs that are unsafe for expectant mothers, and that are marketed as weight loss products. You should also look at the amount of calories that a protein shake contains, and ensure not to exceed your daily recommended amount of calories – something that may vary for women who are working out regularly during pregnancy.
If you are concerned, talk to your healthcare provider about the use of protein shakes, and also read the label to ensure that your product does not contain ingredients that could be harmful to unborn babies. Sweeteners such as sucralose and aspartame will often be an ingredient of protein shakes, for example, and some professionals have concerns about the safety of using those during pregnancy.
About the Author
Tania is a nutritionist and fitness coach online. She writes about fertility, pregnancy and babies at trying-to-conceive.com