Many moms struggle with finding a way to get enough protein during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
While there are many ways to get protein, including meat, eggs, dairy, and fish, drinking protein shakes is an effective way to add extra protein to your diet.
Protein shakes are a convenient way to get high-quality protein without having to cook or dig through what foods provide the most protein naturally.
They also provide a quick boost of energy after a long day at work.
However, if you’re nursing, you should avoid consuming protein shakes that contain lactose, which could cause problems for your baby.
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Can You Drink Protein Shakes While Breastfeeding?
The short answer: Yes! But only in moderation.
If you do decide to consume protein shakes while nursing, make sure that the shake contains no more than 10 grams of added sugar per serving.
This amount will give you just under 100 calories from protein powder alone.
This means that you can have one or two servings of a low-calorie protein shake daily as part of a healthy eating plan.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that women who breastfeed exclusively for 6 months limit their intake of dietary supplements to 400 milligrams of calcium plus 800 IU vitamin D3 each day.
Therefore, most people would need to take 2 servings of a protein supplement every day to meet this recommendation.
If you choose to use a whey protein isolate instead of casein protein, then you may be able to cut back on the number of servings needed by using 1 WPI shake rather than 2.
However, when choosing between different types of protein powders, remember that some companies mix whey proteins with milk products such as cheese and yogurt.
These mixes often contain higher amounts of fat than other forms of protein.
In addition, these mixed powders tend to cost less but may taste slightly off compared to pure whey protein isolates and remember that lactose I was talking about?
Importance of Protein When Breastfeeding
Breastmilk provides all of the nutrients necessary for growth and development throughout infancy.
It’s important to keep up a good supply of protein during this time so that your body has what it needs to produce adequate levels of antibodies against harmful bacteria.
Protein is also important for the growth and repair of body cells not just for you but also your breastmilk-loving baby.
In fact, research suggests that babies born to mothers whose diets were deficient in essential amino acids had lower rates of infection and better immune function compared to those fed well-balanced meals.
Mothers who consumed insufficient quantities of protein during pregnancy tended to deliver smaller infants and children.
Also, studies show that infants who receive formula containing inadequate amounts of protein grow slower than those receiving adequate amounts of protein.
So it really is important to make sure you get enough protein.
How many g of protein should I have in my diet as a breastfeeding mom?
On average a breastfeeding woman needs about 54 g of protein a day.
The current recommendation by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is 65 g of protein per day when you are breastfeeding so it is better to get a little more protein than the average need.
What to look for in a protein powder while breastfeeding?
There are several things to keep in mind when deciding which type of supplement works best for you.
First off, look closely at the ingredients list – the shorter the better!
Make sure all products have only natural flavors and no artificial sweeteners.
Also, check out the label carefully; make sure that the product contains real meat, dairy, fish, or other animal sources.
Finally, choose one that has been tested by independent organizations like ConsumerLab.com.
So when you are looking at a potential protein shake for yourself, check out the ingredients list to ensure that none of the following substances appear anywhere near the top of the ingredient list:
Lactose is found naturally in cow’s milk; however, it cannot be digested by humans.
It passes through our digestive system intact and ends up being reabsorbed into the bloodstream where it causes diarrhea.
Some manufacturers remove all traces of lactose from their protein powders so that consumers don’t experience gastrointestinal discomfort.
Lactose can also cause tummy issues for your little human when it lands in the breastmilk – like I mentioned earlier.
Casein is another common type of milk protein used in making protein powders.
Although it’s considered safe for consumption by adults, babies shouldn’t ingest large quantities of casein due to its ability to form clumps inside the stomach.
As a result, casein has been linked to infantile colic and constipation.
And we don’t want anything to do with giving your baby colic or constipation if avoidable right?
Wheat gluten is derived from wheat flour and makes up approximately 15% of the total weight of bread dough.
Because wheat gluten is made from whole grain flour, it provides fiber and nutrients like B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese, and selenium.
However, because wheat gluten also acts as a thickener, many protein powders are fortified with additional thickeners to help prevent clumping.
Soy Protein Isolate
Soybean oil is extracted during the manufacturing process of soy protein isolate.
When ingested, soybeans cause bloating, gas, and loose stools.
Many experts believe that consuming too much soy protein could lead to health problems including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and infertility.
Most commercial brands of protein powders include small amounts of milk fats to improve texture and flavor.
While dairy foods provide important nutrition benefits, they should never replace solid food sources.
The majority of commercially available protein powders have added fatty acids to increase shelf life and reduce oxidation rates.
Unfortunately, most people do not absorb enough dietary fat to reap the full nutritional benefit of eating healthy oils.
Finally, make sure to read labels carefully to determine if your chosen brand contains anything else besides protein, carbohydrates, and water.
For example, some popular brands add sweeteners or artificial flavors to mask unpleasant tastes.
If possible, stick to natural supplements that only contain protein, carbs, and water.
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What ingredients are good in protein powder?
Besides that top ingredients, you should make sure to avoid there are a few really good ones that you should look out for when deciding on a specific protein powder.
- Vitamin B12
- Healthy Fats
- Natural Ingredients
- Organic Ingredients
- Minimal Ingredients (super short list of ingredients)
- Digestive enzyme blend
What are the different types of protein powder?
There are several different kinds of protein powder on the market today.
Each type has its own unique properties and uses. Here we’ll take a closer look at three common forms of protein powder: Whey Isolate, Casein Hydrolysate, and Soy Protein Concentrate.
The primary ingredient in many protein powders, whey isolates come from cow’s milk.
These proteins are broken down into individual components called peptides, which help promote growth and repair muscles.
Because of their low cost and versatility, whey products are often preferred by athletes and bodybuilders.
However, they may cause gastrointestinal distress in certain individuals due to lactose intolerance.
To avoid potential side effects, check the label before purchasing.
Made primarily from dairy sources such as casein, hydrolyzed caseins have been shown to improve bone health and prevent osteoporosis.
They also support immune function and increase satiety.
Although less expensive than other protein powders, casein hydrolysate tends to taste bland and lacks flavor enhancers like vanilla extract.
As a result, it may leave consumers feeling unsatisfied.
Soy Protein Concentrate
This form of soybean protein is derived from nonfermented soybeans.
Like most plant-based proteins, soy concentrates contain both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fibers absorb excess cholesterol and bile salts, helping reduce LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Insoluble fibers provide bulk to stools and aid digestion.
The benefits of using soy protein include improved mood and mental clarity, reduced risk of heart disease, and lowered blood pressure.
While soy protein does not require additional fat to make up for lost nutrients during processing, some people experience digestive discomfort if too much is ingested at once.
Best Protein Powders for Lactating Moms
If you do decide to use protein shakes while breastfeeding these are the top brands according to other breastfeeding moms:
1. Perfect Protein Powder – Best Organic Formula Available
2. MyProtein – High Quality Whey Isolate And Pea Concentrate Blend
3. Muscle Milk – Premium Formulas With All Natural Flavors
4. Gold Standard Nutritionals – Gluten Free Vegan Option
5. Purely Inspired – Great Taste But No Artificial Sweetener Added
6. Orgain – Only the best organic ingredients
7. BSN – Only Uses Certified USDA Organic Dairy Products
8. Majka – Gluten free and Vegan
9. Vega One – Complete Plant Based Diet Supplement
10. Natures Way – Low Glycemic Index Carb
11. Boobie Body – No dairy, no gluten and vegan
What are high protein foods?
An additional way to get enough protein in your diet while breastfeeding is using food that is high in protein anyway.
Here are some great natural resources of protein:
- Meat – Pretty much any product that comes from animals will have protein
- Nuts – Besides protein they also contain healthy fats
- Diary – Milk products in general since they are coming from animals are a good source of protein
- Fish – Also great for your intake of omega3 fatty acids
So whether or not you chose to drink extra protein shakes – these foods can help your protein intake as well.
– Protein powder should be used in moderation while breastfeeding, because it will pass into your breast milk.
– It is important to choose a protein powder without harmful ingredients for babies
In general, it is better to not use protein powder while still breastfeeding and make sure you get your protein from natural sources in food.
But if you do just make sure you don’t overdo it.
And like with everything when it comes to taking supplements it is always a good idea to ask your doctor before starting to use protein shakes in your diet.
Are you Pro or Con for drinking protein shakes while breastfeeding?
Let us know why in the comments below.
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