Best Protein Powder for Pregnancy
Best Protein Powders for Pregnancy + Breastfeeding

Did you know that most recommendations for prenatal protein consumption are outdated and have been strongly contested over the last decade?

While previous recommendations stated that pregnant women should consume, on average, around 60-80 grams of protein per day, we now know that this requirement is actually closer to 80-100 grams, or more!

Many women choose to supplement their diet with a daily protein shake in order to obtain the extra energy they need to optimize neonatal outcomes and support healthy weight gain.

In this article, we’ll review the 5 best protein powders for pregnancy discuss how each product stands out against its competitors in terms of protein quality, sourcing, and purity.

TL;DR: What is the Best Protein Powder for Pregnancy?

  • Daily Shake Pregnancy & Postpartum by Ritual is the best protein powder for pregnancy. This organic pea protein powder is complemented with l-methionine to make it a complete protein and contains choline to support the increased nutrient demands from pregnancy and lactation.
  • Nourishing Lactation Protein Powder by Majka is the best protein powder for breastfeeding moms. This organic, vegan-friendly protein blend comes packed with postnatal vitamins, lactation herbs, and antioxidants to provide new moms with the nutrient support they need to prevent postnatal depletion and support breastmilk nutritional quality and quantity.
  • Persona Nutrition offers the best custom multivitamin for women and allows them to add grass-fed, pasture-raised collagen into their daily vitamin pack.
  • On Amazon – Whey Protein Isolate 90% by Bulk Supplements is the best unflavored protein powder. Each serving provides 27 grams of protein and contains less than 1 gram of fat and carbohydrates, making it ideal to use after exercising to accelerate and enhance recovery.
  • Gainful offers the best custom protein powder. It offers the protein options of whey concentrate, whey isolate, pea protein, or brown rice protein and there are 7 different flavors to choose from.

Comparison of the 5 Best Protein Powders for Pregnancy

Best Protein Powder for Pregnancy – Daily Shake Pregnancy & Postpartum by Ritual

Best Protein Powder for Pregnancy

Ritual is loved by women worldwide for its prenatal and postnatal multivitamins, but did you know the company just launched a protein powder series?

Essential Protein is the latest product line released by Ritual and one of its newest items happens to be Daily Shake Pregnancy & Postpartum.

This prenatal protein powder is carefully crafted with sustainably sourced ingredients including organic yellow peas grown in the US and direct-from-farmer vanilla bean extract harvested in Madagascar.

Additionally, this product is complemented with choline and l-methionine to provide women with a complete protein source that is able to support the specific nutrient requirements associated with pregnancy and lactation.

New moms can trust in the overall safety of Ritual’s Essential Protein as it’s Informed Sport Certified and has been tested for over 250 banned substances, including stimulants, narcotics, and diuretics.

It is recommended for women to use 1 scoop daily of Daily Shake Pregnancy & Postpartum. This product may be used from the time you actively start trying to conceive through the entire duration of lactation.

Daily Shake Pregnancy & Postpartum Ingredients

Each serving contains the following ingredients and their concentrations:

Best Protein Powder for Pregnancy

Pros vs. Cons of Daily Shake Pregnancy & Postpartum by Ritual

Pros

  • 20 grams of protein per serving sourced from organic, US-grown yellow peas
  • Complemented with 250 mg of choline 493 mg of l-methionine
  • Naturally flavored and sweetened with organic, sustainably sourced ingredients

Cons

  • Only contains 15 servings per bag
  • Some women may have sensitivities to xanthan gum and sunflower lecithin (emulsifiers)
  • This product may clump without the use of a shaker bottle or blender

Best Protein Powder for Breastfeeding Moms – Nourishing Lactation Protein Powder by Majka

Best Protein Powder for Pregnancy

Majka is one of the leading suppliers of lactation supplements and postnatal recovery foods.

Its Chocolate Nourishing Lactation Protein Powder provides women with the nutrient support they need to prevent postnatal depletion, promote breast milk flow and quality, and support energy levels.

This postnatal protein powder is a 7-in-1 supplement that contains the following major components:

  • 22 Vitamins and Minerals
  • Organic Protein Blend
  • Lactation Blend with Galactagogue Herbs
  • Organic Greens Blends
  • Organic Polyphenol Blend
  • Digestive Enzyme Blend
  • Probiotic Blend

Nourishing Lactation Protein Powder is sourced from 3 organic vegan protein sources which include pea protein, brown rice protein, and chia seed protein.

This product’s ingredients have been thoroughly screened for identification, purity, microbial safety, and major contaminants such as heavy metals and pesticides.

It is recommended for women to use 2 scoops daily and this protein powder may be used throughout the entire duration of nursing.

Nourishing Lactation Protein Powder Ingredients

Each serving contains the following ingredients and their concentrations:

Best Protein Powders for Pregnancy + Breastfeeding

Best Protein Powders for Pregnancy + Breastfeeding

 

 

Pros vs. Cons of Nourishing Lactation Protein Powder by Majka

Pros

  • 14 grams of protein per serving sourced from organic, plant-based protein blend
  • Can also be used as a postnatal multivitamin and lactation supplement
  • Naturally flavored and sweetened and is free of emulsifiers

Cons

  • Only contains 15 servings per bag
  • Somewhat low serving of protein
  • Some women may have sensitivities to higher fiber content or digestive enzymes

Best Custom Multivitamin for Women – Persona Nutrition 

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Persona Nutrition offers daily vitamin packs that are 100% personalized and designed to meet the specific health needs of each and every customer.

The company offers both prenatal vitamin packs as well as individual ingredients that can be used towards building the ultimate prenatal or postnatal supplement stack.

Women have the option to complete a quick assessment on Persona’s website to determine which vitamins, minerals, and supplements would be best for their health goals or they may individually pick out the ingredients they want to include in their vitamin packs.

Persona offers the following individual protein supplements that are safe for use during pregnancy and the postpartum period:

  • Vital Proteins® Collagen Peptides – This add-in protein supplement is available in either a 20 oz tub or in a 20 count stick pack box. The tub provides 18 grams of protein per serving (2 scoops) whereas the individual sticks contain 9 grams of protein per serving. This product is sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised collagen.
  • Vital Proteins® Hydration + Collagen – This product is available in the flavors Tropical Blast and Lemon Lime. Each serving provides women with 5 grams of protein along with 880 mg of electrolytes including sodium, calcium, potassium, chloride, phosphate, and magnesium.

Persona’s custom vitamin packs are ideal for women who want to dial in on both their micronutrient and macronutrient needs simultaneously!

 

Pros

  • Highly Detailed Online Assessment 
  • Live Nutritionist Support 
  • 80 Different Ingredients Available

Cons

  • Not All Ingredients are Trademarked
  • Uses Proprietary Blends 
  • Does Not Rely on Blood Test or DNA Test

Best Unflavored Protein Powder – Grass Fed Whey Protein Isolate 90% by Bulk Supplements

Best Protein Powder for Pregnancy

 

This is the perfect product for women who prefer unflavored protein powder and are looking to recover as quickly as possible after training.

Grass Fed Whey Isolate 90% contains exactly what the name implies and provides women with 27 grams of protein per serving.

Better yet, this product contains less than 1 gram of fat and carbohydrates making it extremely easy for the body to digest and use towards immediate recovery.

This protein powder contains an abundance of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), especially leucine, making it our top choice for a post-workout protein powder that helps maintain muscle during pregnancy and throughout lactation.

It is recommended for women to take 15 to 30 grams per day.

Grass Fed Whey Protein Isolate 90% Ingredients

Each serving contains the following ingredients and their concentrations:

Best Protein Powders for Pregnancy + Breastfeeding

Pros vs. Cons of Grass Fed Whey Protein Isolate 90% by Bulk Supplements

Pros

  • 27 grams of protein per serving sourced from grass-fed, free-range cows
  • Contains less than 1 gram of fat and carbohydrates
  • Only contains 2 ingredients

Cons

  • Contains sunflower lecithin (emulsifier)
  • Some women may prefer flavored protein
  • Does not come with protein scoop for measuring out servings

Best Custom Protein Powder: Gainful

Best Protein Powder for Pregnancy

Many women wish that they could have greater control over the specific ingredients that go into their protein powder or feel that most products available don’t quite meet their individual needs.

Thankfully, Gainful offers a custom protein powder that allows women to build their own product that’s based upon their lifestyle and dietary preferences or restrictions.

In order to create their own protein, customers must first complete a 5-minute online assessment that asks questions on topics such as activity level, style of training or exercise, and dietary habits.

Following the completion of the quiz, Gainful generates a protein blend that’s carefully crafted to meet your specific nutrient requirements.

All of the customizations lead to the creation of a protein powder that has a complete amino acid profile and provides 19 to 27 grams of protein per serving.

Its options for protein sources include whey concentrate, whey isolate, pea protein, and brown rice protein and customers may choose from 7 different flavors for their blend.

It is recommended for women to use 1-2 scoops daily of their custom protein powder.

Gainful Custom Protein Powder Ingredients

Here’s an example of what a custom protein blend may look like for women who live an active lifestyle and are currently pregnant:

Best Protein Powder for Pregnancy

 

Women can expect their protein blend to contain ingredient concentrations similar to the following values:

Best Protein Powder for Pregnancy

Pros vs. Cons of Gainful Custom Protein Powder

Pros

  • Protein blends provide up to 27 grams of protein per serving
  • Naturally flavored and sweetened with organic ingredients
  • Up to 7 different flavors to choose from

Cons

  • Subscription-based service
  • Not as much autonomy as other custom protein brands
  • Contains guar gum and sunflower lecithin (emulsifiers)

Protein During Pregnancy

Most experts debate on the exact amount of additional calories women need each day while pregnant.

While most recommendations fall somewhere between an extra 300-500 calories per day, more attention has been given to specific macronutrient consumption in the last few years, especially protein intake.

Although women typically understand the importance of eating enough food throughout their pregnancy, the vast majority grossly underestimate the importance of consuming enough protein to help support the rapid growth and development that’s taking place.

Eating enough protein throughout pregnancy is crucial for both mom and baby as protein carries out a wide realm of functions in the body.

Some of the major processes that are dependent on protein include the digestion, absorption, transport, and oxidation of nutrients.

Failing to eat enough protein during the pregnancy, especially during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, may lead to the formation of metabolic syndrome or impaired growth in babies.

Thankfully, there is an abundance of animal-sourced and plant-based proteins available for women to enrich their diets with to ensure that they provide their bodies with sufficient energy to ensure healthy delivery and optimize neonatal outcomes.

How Much Protein During Pregnancy?

A woman’s daily protein requirements are relatively the same at the beginning of her pregnancy as prior to pregnancy.

However, major increases in overall protein synthesis take place during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters to promote fetal development and to support necessary weight gain.

Most women should aim to consume between .54-.68 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily throughout their pregnancy, depending on factors such as their stage of gestation and level of physical activity.

This comes out to 81-102 grams of protein per day for a woman who weighs 150 lbs.

It should be mentioned that the lower portion of this dietary protein range should be viewed as a minimum amount for meeting prenatal dietary requirements.

The amount of protein consumed over the course of 9 months should steadily increase as a woman progresses from one trimester to the next. In fact, the 2nd trimester and 3rd trimester require an additional 15% and 25% protein synthesis respectively.

In order to meet these daily recommendations for protein intake, women should aim to consume between 20 and 30  grams of high-quality protein per meal.

Protein Powder for Pregnancy

Best Protein Powder for Pregnancy

A lot of women can’t stomach eating 3-5 servings of perfectly portioned lean meats each and every day during their pregnancy.

On top of that, women who are vegan or consume a primarily vegetarian diet may have to eat an absurd amount of plant-based foods at each meal in order to consume a comparable amount of protein to that of animal-sourced meals.

Thus, it is extremely helpful for the overwhelming majority of women to supplement with protein powder throughout their pregnancy in order to meet their daily protein requirements.

Thankfully, protein powder is sold in a variety of forms and there are products available for practically all diets imaginable.

We’ll now review some of the most common types of protein powder consumed during pregnancy.

Below we’ll provide a better understanding of why some women prefer whey protein vs. plant-based protein or vice versa, and then compare the overall quality, composition, and digestibility of the most popular sources of protein.

 

Whey Protein vs Plant Protein

You may have noticed earlier in this article that some of the protein powders we reviewed on our list were sourced from whey, whereas others were sourced from plant-based protein. Both types of protein can prove useful for certain groups of people, depending on their preferences or dietary restrictions.

Whey protein is regarded as the highest quality protein powder due to factors such as amino acid concentration and overall digestibility. Not only does it possess a complete amino acid composition, but it also supplies an abundance of BCAAs that directly influence muscle-building and maintenance, especially in regard to leucine.

It’s also absorbed rapidly by the body and utilized within a quicker time frame than that of plant-based protein to promote healing and growth. However, some individuals may have allergies or sensitivities to milk-based proteins or want to consume plant-based protein due to dietary restrictions.

In this case, plant-based protein can be extremely helpful to supplement with and it can be sourced from a variety of foods including yellow peas, brown rice, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds.

Although helpful for many people, one of the major drawbacks to using plant-based protein is that most sources are not complete proteins, meaning that they either provide very low concentrations of certain amino acids or completely lack them.

In order to combat this issue, many brands either complement their protein powder with certain amino acids or combine complementary proteins to obtain a more balanced amino acid profile.

What to Look for in Protein Powder

Best Protein Powder for Pregnancy

When searching for the right protein powder to use, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does it provide 15 to 30 grams of protein per serving?
  • Is it free of major allergens?
  • It is friendly towards my dietary restrictions and preferences?
  • It is sourced using sustainable or regenerative practices?
  • Does it include organic and fair-trade ingredients?
  • Does it have a complete amino acid profile?
  • If it’s whey, is it sourced from grass-fed, free-range cows?
  • Is it free of sugar alcohols and high amounts of processed sugar?
  • Is it sweetened and flavored with 100% natural ingredients?
  • Does it contain emulsifiers? If so, are they organic?

 

When is the Best Time to Drink a Protein Shake?

Best Protein Powders for Pregnancy + Breastfeeding

Women may supplement their diet with a protein shake at any point throughout the day, however, there are recommendations on how to optimize the timing of these shakes in order to experience the full realm of health benefits and maximize their effect.

It is generally advised to use a fast-absorbing protein powder within 30 minutes to an hour after exercising, whereas a slow-absorbing protein power should be taken before going to bed or upon waking.

The best fast-absorbing protein is whey isolate, however, women who are vegan or vegetarian may use pea protein instead as it contains leucine, isoleucine, and valine to promote muscle-building and maintenance.

Slower-absorbing proteins, such as casein or other blended vegan proteins, are best taken outside of the training window to promote satiety and extend healing throughout the night while you sleep.

How Many Protein Shakes a Day?

It is generally advised for women to consume protein shakes once or twice daily as needed.

It’s important to keep in mind that protein shakes are intended to be used as supplements more than meal replacements and their use should be accompanied by a well-balanced diet.

 

Which Protein Powder is Best for Me?

The best protein powder for pregnancy is one that provides women with a generous portion of complete protein, is free of unnecessary additives and chemicals, and is made with sustainable and all-natural ingredients.

While we recommend whey protein as the #1 source of protein powder, we realize that some women may have sensitivities to animal-sourced proteins or may prefer to use a plant-based protein if they’re vegan or follow a vegetarian diet.

Ritual and Majka are our top choices for prenatal and postnatal-specific protein powder, however, Bulk Supplements offers the best whey protein isolate for post-workout recovery, and Gainful offers the best custom protein powder.

 

References

See all references
  1. Berrazaga, I., Micard, V., Gueugneau, M., & Walrand, S. (2019). The role of the anabolic properties of plant-versus animal-based protein sources in supporting muscle mass maintenance: a critical review. Nutrients, 11(8), 1825. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723444/
  2. Elango, R., & Ball, R. O. (2016). Protein and amino acid requirements during pregnancy. Advances in nutrition, 7(4), 839S-844S. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/advances/article/7/4/839S/4568693?login=true
  3. Mousa, A., Naqash, A., & Lim, S. (2019). Macronutrient and micronutrient intake during pregnancy: an overview of recent evidence. Nutrients, 11(2), 443. Retrieved from https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/2/443
  4. Pencharz, P. B., Elango, R., & Wolfe, R. R. (2016). Recent developments in understanding protein needs–How much and what kind should we eat?. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 41(5), 577-580. Retrieved from https://cdnsciencepub.com/doi/full/10.1139/apnm-2015-0549
  5. Phillips, S. M. (2017). Current concepts and unresolved questions in dietary protein requirements and supplements in adults. Frontiers in nutrition, 4, 13. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2017.00013/full
  6. Stephens, T. V., Payne, M., Ball, R. O., Pencharz, P. B., & Elango, R. (2015). Protein requirements of healthy pregnant women during early and late gestation are higher than current recommendations. The Journal of nutrition, 145(1), 73-78. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/145/1/73/4585822?login=true

 

 

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