Consuming protein powder during pregnancy – Is it safe?

PROTEIN POWDER DURING PREGNANCY

Protein  

Protein is a vital macronutrient every living organism requires. It is found throughout the body in bones, muscles, hair and tissue. Proteins are enzymes that fuel various chemical reactions in the body and play a significant role in carrying oxygen in the blood.  

Protein is made up of amino acids. Fondly called bodybuilding food, proteins are acquired through diet or dietary supplements. The body requires protein for proper growth and smooth functioning.  

Lean sources of dietary protein include

  • Eggs
  • Lean meat  
  • Soya almonds  
  • Chicken breast  
  • Cheese  
  • Greek yoghurt  
  • Lentils  
  • Fish  
  • Milk and  
  • Quinoa

Protein powders

Proteins are also consumed as supplements. The first protein supplement appeared in the commercial market during the 1950s.  

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Bodybuilders use egg protein to increase muscle mass. Initially, when whey protein came into the market, it caught the attention of people who wanted to build muscle, lose weight and want a quick meal replacement.   

Whey protein is globally popular as it contains a complete profile of amino acids and offers more protein per serving.  

The protein powders found in today’s market are primarily from dairy. The quality and form of whey protein largely depend on its source and processing.  

There are other sources of proteins like soya protein, pea protein and vegan protein.  

Consumers must read the labels carefully to know what they are consuming.  

Soy protein was quickly gaining popularity as it was the first plant-based protein option in the supplement industry. However, genetically modified soil crops created a negative trend and caused panic among people, which led to a decline in soy protein popularity.

Pea protein is similar to soy protein and was enjoyed more than similar plant-based protein; however, due to the lectins, it caused gas and stomach upset to people.  

The latest additions to the market include hemp protein, pumpkin protein, and quinoa protein. Plant-based proteins are gaining popularity as they also offer minerals like calcium, magnesium and zinc.

However, proteins and supplements are to be combined based on the need of an individual to suit their needs.  

Pregnancy and protein

When a woman is conceived with a child, her protein requirements significantly increase.  

The protein requirement of a pregnant woman can be fulfilled despite the significant increase in protein from various food sources that route from plant-based or animal-based sources.

Supplements can also play a significant role in providing the daily protein requirement of a pregnant woman. However, another factor to consider is that artificial sugars and preservatives in protein supplements bring safety to question.  

How much protein does a woman need during pregnancy?

Consuming protein powder during pregnancy

The daily protein requirement of a pregnant woman increases as the pregnancy progresses, and the body requires more protein during the second and third trimesters. This is the period where the baby grows rapidly.  

The protein requirement of a woman is based on body weight. For example, if a woman is 80 kg, but her ideal body weight as per World Health Organisation standards is 60 kg, then the protein requirement of the woman would be 60 kg. The standard protein requirement of a woman increases based on the trimester.  

  • During the first trimester, a woman might require 1 to 1.2 g of protein per kilogram of body weight.
  • During the second trimester, women might require 1.5 to 1.8 g of protein per body weight.
  • During the third trimester, women might require more protein, which amounts to 1.8 to 2 g per kilogram.

Protein is essential for ideal body growth and development. But is it acceptable to consume protein powder, or is it good to acquire protein through natural sources?

Is protein powder safe to consume during pregnancy?

protein powder safe to consume during pregnancy

Branding protein powders as entirely safe for pregnant women is not wholly accurate. Protein powder supplements contain artificial sweeteners. Although this artificial sweetener is approved and considered safe by the FDA, it cannot be thoroughly tested and is not recommended for pregnant women and their growing fetuses.  

The safety of the fetus is questionable as this protein is manufactured and is not a natural dietary source. It is always recommended to consult a medical professional before consuming any supplements during pregnancy.  

Some of the things to keep in mind before buying a protein powder are as follows

Packed with excessive caffeine and vitamins

Most protein powder brands that sell their product and are labelled dairy free have added vitamins and caffeine.

Excessive caffeine and vitamin intake are not recommended during pregnancy as they can alter the natural balance of vitamins in the body.  

During pregnancy, a doctor might suggest a multivitamin supplement to get all the macronutrients from a balanced diet, and the excessive vitamins from protein powders can result in overdose and cause harmful side effects.

Artificial sweeteners

Protein powders contain artificial sweeteners that can cause a threat. However, there is a lot of uncertainty around that statement.  

Some manufacturers use natural sweeteners to avoid harmful ingredients and stay safer.  

It is essential to understand that any form of sweeteners is not recommended during pregnancy, and a nutritionist can recommend other sources of sweets to include in the diet.

Flavouring agents

Most protein powder supplements are available on the market are added with fillers. The fillers are substances that provide the bulk when the powder is mixed into a shake.

To give the mixture consistency and to make that taste better, flavouring agents that have little or no nutritional value are added to the supplements.  

These flavouring agents are often not as natural as they claim to be and pack empty calories. At times they are also processed before nestling themselves into protein powders.

Source of the protein

Diet plays a crucial role during pregnancy. It is essential to pay attention to the source of the protein powder that is consumed.  

A quick glimpse through the label and checking the product’s information and production method can help.  

Dairy products can contain traces of various hormones that may not be good for the fetus. Plant-based protein, when it is organic, can be good for the health but consulting a nutritionist can provide clear insights on what is a safe protein supplement.  

What are the benefits of protein powder during pregnancy?

  • Maintaining protein intake can help a person keep their muscle mass during pregnancy.  
  • During pregnancy, a woman can lose muscle or gain fat and decrease significantly, thus causing a significant reduction in metabolism. Protein supplements can keep muscle mass and metabolism at optimal levels.
  • Help a person feel full.
  • Pregnancy cravings and hunger can be difficult to manage and can cause extreme hunger pangs or cravings that can make a person eat more food than necessary.
  • A woman can feel like snacking all the time during pregnancy, but the benefit of consuming protein powder during pregnancy is that it can help them stay full for longer and contain the hunger pangs.
  • It reduces the scope of craving foods that are very high in sugar or fat.
  • Supplementing healthy practices
  • Regularly consuming protein shakes can help regularise the metabolism and maintain the body weight at an optimal level. It can help manage weight and prevent muscle degradation.  
  • Natural sources of protein or protein from supplements can provide the necessary strength to tackle various body illnesses.
  • Before or after pregnancy, the tissues require adequate healing and repair. Protein powder during pregnancy can make sure that the tissues do not stay damaged for a longer time and recover immediately.  
  • Collagen protein can help with improving joint health. It is also helpful to enhance the strength of the ligaments and tendons.
  • Good for baby development. Protein is the body’s building block and can help the fetus grow fully up to its potential.  

The body cannot create protein, which can only be acquired through various plant and animal sources.  

To sum up

Each woman will have a different set of requirements, and that can become difficult to narrow down the process to segregate and find out which protein powder is suitable.  

One size fits all approach is not suitable here, and it requires a lot of effort to find the appropriate source of protein.

The best way to consume protein is by acquiring it through natural dietary sources and food that contain a high amount of protein.  

Supplements can be consumed under proper medical supervision.

FAQs

Can I drink whey protein while pregnant?

Protein powder can be from a natural source. Unless someone is allergic or sensitive to specific ingredients, protein powder can be consumed under medical supervision.

What protein is best for pregnancy?

Protein from natural diet resources that include lean meats, fish, grains, legumes, eggs and dairy can provide high-quality protein during pregnancy.

Can protein powder hurt a baby?

A child might experience several possible side-effects like digestive issues if whey protein is consumed. However, more research is required to know if these are clean and true.


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The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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