Is Protein Powder Safe During Pregnancy?

An increase in protein intake is needed during pregnancy along with other nutrients. A mother's diet is very important because it can affect the baby’s development.

With so much information on the internet, there can be contradictory recommendations.  Not eating enough protein or too much protein during pregnancy can affect the baby’s birthweight, body composition, head circumference and even affect the baby’s long-term risks of heart disease, obesity or diabetes.

How much protein should you consume during pregnancy?

Scientific institutions recommend between 20% to 35% of the calories in a pregnant woman's diet come from proteins.

Easy calculation:

Multiply your daily calories by 0.20 and .025

Divide this number by 4 (protein contains 4 calories per gram)

For example, if you are eating 2200 calories per day:

2200 calories x 0.20 = 440 calories from protein

440 ÷ 4 = 110 grams of protein per day

2200 calories x 0.25 = 550 calories from protein

550 ÷ 4 = 137.5 grams of protein per day

In this example, the woman should be eating between 110 and 137.5 grams of protein per day.

What is considered normal weight gain during pregnancy?

Your weight gain during pregnancy depends of the weight that you started at before becoming pregnant.

If you started at a healthy weight before pregnancy, gaining 25 to 35 pounds is considered normal during pregnancy.

For the first trimester eat the same number of calories as you did before becoming pregnant. The 2nd and 3rd trimester add another 300 calories to your daily amount to support your growing baby.

What kind of protein should I eat?

Some think that the origin of the protein is also important. Animal proteins provide high quality proteins, but some studies have suggested that very high meat diets are not ideal during pregnancy.

Protein is made up of amino acids, protein forms the building blocks of your body’s cells and that of your baby. The need for protein increases during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, when your baby is growing at a rapid rate.

At the beginning of the 1950s, in an experiment to prevent preeclampsia, women were recommended a diet high in red meat and low in carbohydrates. The recommendation was to eat half a kilo (a little over a pound) of red meat a day during pregnancy and avoid foods rich in carbohydrates such as bread and potatoes. Later studies showed that when the children of these women were adults, they had higher levels of cortisol and hypertension.

What is currently recommended is to obtain proteins from various sources including plant-based and animal proteins. In this way, you get a wider range of nutrients. Red meat is rich in iron and vitamin B12, which can help prevent anemia during pregnancy. On the other hand, fish is rich in DHA, which helps support the baby's neurological development. Plant proteins such as legumes are rich in folic acid, which also helps neural development.

Healthy protein powder shakes during pregnancy

Is there a best protein shakes for pregnant women? Many pregnant women prefer plant-based protein powders because they are vegetarians, vegans or want to improve their diet. The most common plant proteins are rice and pea protein which has many benefits for health and fitness.

Both plant-based proteins are hypoallergenic and vegan-friendly. It provides a convenient source of protein nutrients for mothers-to-be and others who follow restricted diets. Rice plant-protein powder is a much more concentrated form.

Rice protein or pea protein powder are known to be quality proteins.

The benefits:

  • Helps control satiety and appetite
  • High source in fiber and branched chain amino acids (BCAAs – they digest more quickly)
  • Contributes to muscle development
  • Improves sensitivity to insulin and glucose
  • Easily digested and absorbed
  • Help for post-natal recovery

The ideal for a pregnant woman who seeks to be well is to have a balanced, varied and complete diet that meets energy and nutrient requirements according to the nutritional status of each.

Protein shakes for pregnant women can also help you control cravings, both very characteristic in pregnancy and responsible for an uncontrolled weight gain.

Getting enough protein is just part of the formula, you also need other nutrients that are important during pregnancy.  

Today there are healthy shakes for pregnancy! Eat Like a Woman’s Life Stage Shake ( for pregnant and/or lactating women not only provides plant-based rice and pea protein, it also contains essential vitamins and minerals, is gluten-free and egg free.

One Life Stage Shake per day gives you daily nutrition in one shake, 20 grams of plant-based protein (that absorbs better over time than animal-based whey protein and provides complete amino acid profile) and 22 vitamins and minerals.

Also, included are antioxidants, omega 3s from chia seeds, and a patented probiotic that supports digestive and immune health.

You can use it as a meal replacement or healthy snack.  Add fruit and/or veggies for additional nutritional value.

Regulate your protein intake by monitoring of your diet.

Some pregnant women are not used to eating too much meat and dairy products and are often afraid of getting overly fat during this 9-month transition.

Pregnancy is a time when you gain weight, but you do not have to give up and eat everything without paying attention to the nutrients that are ingested. Eating well and healthily is one of the best ways to ensure the health of the baby and also that you feel better. And of course, the increase in weight will not come from a more than the considerable increase in body fat, but from the baby, you harbor inside and from the natural changes that your body must make to support childbirth. Nutrition will always be an important pillar in live.

Nutrition during pregnancy and lactation

Pregnancy and lactation are two periods in a woman’s life when their nutritional needs increase. If they are well taken care of, both mommy and baby can have a healthy experience.

Important nutrients during pregnancy:

  • Vitamin B6 can help prevent morning sickness.
  • Folate is needed to support the placenta and prevent neural tube defects. Food sources of  folate are found in dark leafy veggies, beans, cauliflower, asparagus, citrus fruits, and beets.
  • Iron for healthy blood. It can prevent low birth weight and premature delivery. Iron is found in beef, beans, lentils, spinach, cashews, pumpkin seeds, prunes, and tuna.
  • Vitamin C helps absorb iron and to build a strong immune system. It acts as an antioxidant in the body fighting free radicals. Vitamin C is found in green leafy veggies, broccoli, mango, bell peppers, citrus fruits, lemons, limes, potatoes, peas.
  • Calcium for your growing baby. Get calcium from leafy greens, beans, broccoli, turnips, and dairy foods.

Eat Like a Woman’s Life Stage Shake for pregnant and lactating women has these important nutrients included in a plant-based formulation.

It should be kept in mind that the nutritional status of a woman at the time of pregnancy and throughout the nine months usually behaves as a determining factor on the health status of the fetus and later of the infant, and of course on the mothers. In fact, when a woman suffers some moderate or severe nutritional deficiency before or during pregnancy, the chances of infertility increase considerably higher.

Foods to avoid

There are foods to avoid during pregnancy too.  The American Pregnancy Association cautions women who are pregnant or nursing to not take saccharin, which crosses the placenta and might remain in fetal tissue, but aside from this, most other sweeteners have been deemed safe.

Keep this checklist provided by handy to help ensure that you and your unborn baby stay healthy and safe. And invest in a food thermometer to check the temperatures of cooked food.

Don’t Eat These Foods


What to Do

Soft CHEESES made from unpasteurized milk, including Brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort, queso blanco, and queso fresco

May contain E. colior Listeria.

Eat hard cheeses, such as cheddar or Swiss. Or, check the label and make sure that the cheese is made from pasteurized milk.


May contain Salmonella.

Bake the cookies and cake. Don’t lick the spoon!

King mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish (Gulf of Mexico), and tuna (big eye)

Contain high levels of mercury, but there are many other choices of fish that have lower levels of mercury.

See this fish advice chart that has 36 "best choices" and 19 "good choices" of fish to eat while pregnant.

Raw or undercooked FISH (sushi)

May contain parasites or bacteria.

Cook fish to 145° F.

Unpasteurized JUICE or cider (including fresh squeezed)

May contain E. coli.

Drink pasteurized juice. Bring unpasteurized juice or cider to a rolling boil and boil for at least 1 minute before drinking.

Unpasteurized MILK

May contain bacteria such as Campylobacter, E. coli, Listeria, or Salmonella.

Drink pasteurized milk.

SALADS made in a store, such as ham salad, chicken salad, and seafood salad.

May contain Listeria.

Make salads at home, following the food safety basics: clean, separate, cook, and chill.

Raw SHELLFISH, such as oysters and clams

May contain Vibriobacteria.

Cook shellfish to 145° F.

Raw or undercooked SPROUTS, such as alfalfa, clover, mung bean, and radish

May contain E. colior Salmonella.

Cook sprouts thoroughly.


Be Careful with These Foods


What to Do

Hot dogs, luncheon meats, cold cuts, fermented or dry sausage, and other deli-style meat and poultry

May contain Listeria.

Even if the label says that the meat is precooked, reheat these meats to steaming hot or 165° F before eating.

Eggs and pasteurized egg products

Undercooked eggs may contain Salmonella.

Cook eggs until yolks are firm. Cook casseroles and other dishes containing eggs or egg products to 160° F.


Homemade eggnog may contain uncooked eggs, which may contain Salmonella.

Make eggnog with a pasteurized egg product or buy pasteurized eggnog. When you make eggnog or other egg-fortified beverages, cook to 160°F


May contain parasites or bacteria.

Cook fish to 145° F.

Ice cream

Homemade ice cream may contain uncooked eggs, which may contain Salmonella.

Make ice cream with a pasteurized egg product safer by adding the eggs to the amount of liquid called for in the recipe, then heating the mixture thoroughly..

Meat: Beef, veal, lamb, and pork (including ground meat)

Undercooked meat may contain E. coli.

Cook beef, veal, and lamb steaks and roasts to 145° F. Cook pork to 160° F. Cook all ground meats to 160° F.

Meat spread or pate

Unpasteurized refrigerated pates or meat spreads may contain Listeria.

Eat canned versions, which are safe.

Poultry and stuffing (including ground poultry)

Undercooked meat may contain bacteria such as Campylobacter or Salmonella.

Cook poultry to 165° F. If the poultry is stuffed, cook the stuffing to 165° F. Better yet, cook the stuffing separately.

Smoked seafood

Refrigerated versions are not safe, unless they have been cooked to 165° F.

Eat canned versions, which are safe, or cook to 165° F.

Always read labels, discard any product where its composition is not clear, and be conservative against unknown brands.

Protein shakes are an excellent source of good protein and nutrients, and it is always best to combine with a healthy real, whole food diet.

Fortunately, there is a lot of nutritional information about pregnancy and lactation, as well as data on the best protein powder for pregnany.

What we need to remember is to pick food choices wisely.  Also, consult your health care provider to discuss your diet.

To support your pregnancy and lactation journey, enjoy our Life Stage Shakes supported by the latest research in women’s health!  Eat like a woman”  and boost your energy levels.

By Staness Jonekos

Founder/CEO Eat Like a Woman, Inc.

Copyright 2019