Are you wanting to use protein powder while breastfeeding? Many women wonder how safe it is, and if there are any brands that are safe while breastfeeding – or that might even increase milk supply. This article has everything you need to know about protein powder and breastfeeding, along with our favorite protein powders for breastfeeding mothers.
If you are breastfeeding you will want to make sure that what you are consuming is safe for your baby. Protein shakes and protein powder are items that many women use for shakes and recipes and to help with getting in extra nutrients. But it is something you should continue to use while breastfeeding?
My name is Katie Clark, and I am a Certified Lactation Educator, Certified Breastfeeding Specialist, and IBCLC student. This article is meant for educational purposes and should not take the place of advice from your healthcare professional.
Are Protein Shakes safe While Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding mothers have unique nutritional needs, and they typically require additional protein. Sometimes, it can be hard to get enough protein in your diet, which is why protein drinks can be a convenient and popular option for a new breastfeeding mama, especially if she’s interested in weight loss of her baby weight (no rush, though – seriously).
One of the most commons questions I get from new moms is about whether or not protein powder is safe to consume while breastfeeding. No mother wants to knowingly consume something that would harm her child, and since protein powders often contain a bunch of different ingredients (and no, not all protein supplements are created equally), it’s wise to make sure protein powders are actually a safe option for helping you meet your nutritional needs. Protein powder can be a great way to add some additional protein in your diet while breastfeeding.
Here are some additional common questions I often see in regards to protein, along with our recommendation for the best protein powder for lactating moms. The most important thing is to have a healthy mom and healthy baby – so making sure your protein powder is safe is important.
- Are Protein Shakes safe While Breastfeeding?
- Can nursing mothers have protein powder?
- How much protein should you have as a breastfeeding mom?
- When choosing a protein powder to consume while breastfeeding, there are a few things to consider:
- What to look for in a protein powder while breastfeeding?
- What are additional ways to get protein in your diet while breastfeeding?
- What ingredients to avoid?
- Should I use a whey protein powder while breastfeeding?
- Can protein shakes increase the production of breast milk?
- Can protein shakes affect milk production negatively?
- Dangers of too much protein
- Best Protein Powders for Breastfeeding
- Milk Dust
- Ora Organics
- Clean Simple Eats
- Boobie Body
- Majka Nourishing Lactation Protein Powder
- Mommy Knows Best Brewer’s Yeast
- Vital Proteins
- More Posts You Might Enjoy:
Can nursing mothers have protein powder?
Yes. The good news is that you can have protein powder while breastfeeding. It is a helpful way to meet elevated protein body needs during lactation. It is important to get in all essential nutrients while breastfeeding- including protein. You might attain that by eating whole food protein sources like meat, dairy, beans, nuts, fish, etc. In some cases that might not be enough to support your milk supply and you may need a little help. That’s where protein powder can come in.
Protein powder is great to use in shakes and other recipes. It is a quick and easy way to help you reach your protein needs.
With that said, it is important to not just rely on a protein shake to meet your nutritional needs. Proper nutrition is important while breastfeeding, and if your diet primarily consists of protein shakes, chances are, you aren’t meeting your nutritional needs. A balanced diet is a healthy diet. Many protein powders are reported to have heavy metals found in them and unnecessary amounts of sugar, so it’s essential to be careful about what kind of protein powder you are using and choose the best choice for you and your baby. A safe protein powder should be at the top of your list.
How much protein should you have as a breastfeeding mom?
Protein is an essential nutrient that is one of the building blocks for muscle repair and body rehabilitation, which is often needed after pregnancy.The importance of protein for a healthy pregnancy and for breastfeeding mothers cannot be understated. Getting an adequate amount of protein in your daily diet is essential. Protein can also help to enhance your immunity as it helps create the cells that work with the immune system, which is often lessened in pregnant women and breastfeeding moms.
A mother who is breastfeeding does need more protein than the average woman – these vital nutrients are importantThis amount can vary depending on age and weight, however, the amount a pregnant woman needs in her second trimester on and throughout breastfeeding is about 71 grams of protein, though as some people try to shed the pregnancy weight, that amount may increase. However, focusing on getting at least 70 grams can be helpful (some believe that amount can also alleviate morning sickness during pregnancy!)
When choosing a protein powder to consume while breastfeeding, there are a few things to consider:
- The amount of extra protein you need in your diet
- If you need to avoid dairy products
- How many extra calories you need to eat while breastfeeding
- What are yours and your baby’s nutritional needs
- What vitamins you might need more of in your diet
- The Ingredient List
- Food Allergies
- Total Calorie Intake
What to look for in a protein powder while breastfeeding?
We do recommend looking for a clean protein powder when you are breastfeeding since what you eat can be passed on to your baby. There are a lot of protein powders that have a ton of added ingredients that aren’t good for you or baby.
When looking for a good protein powder, first look at the ingredient list. If it’s full of ingredients that seem artificial or processed, it might be a good idea to pas on it. It’s best to find a protein powder that says it has natural ingredients or, better yet, organic ingredients.
Here are a few things to look for
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Vitamin B12
- The amount of protein – I usually recommend something that has at least 20-25 grams
- Healthy Fats
- No heavy metals
- Digestive enzymes
- Essential amino acids
- Natural ingredients
- Digestive enzyme blend
- Organic Ingredients
- Minimal Ingredients – the fewer the ingredients (and the easier they are to read) the better!
What are additional ways to get protein in your diet while breastfeeding?
Although protein shakes can be an easy way to get more protein in your diet while breastfeeding, there are plenty of other ways (that are often more nutritious foods) to get protein into your daily mean plan.
Focusing on getting whole foods can be really helpful as well for a well-rounded diet. Our postpartum/breastfeeding meal plan is a great resource for finding delicious and easy recipes.
- Lean Meats – most animal products are going to be a good source of protein. Of course, you should be careful about how much meat you consume and the types you eat – but lean meats (such as chicken breasts) can be a great source of protein.
- Oats – this is a double whammy, since they are considered a breastfeeding galactagogue.
- Nuts – peanut butter
- Cottage Cheese
- Greek Yogurt
If you are looking for tons of great recipes that are designed specifically for breastfeeding moms, make sure you check out our Breastfeeding Meal Plan. It has tons of recipes, shopping lists, and the meals laid out for you.
What ingredients to avoid?
While most protein powder is fine for breastfeeding mothers try and stay away from powders that include extra caffeine, guarana, ginseng, green tea extract, and stay away from fat burning mixes. It also is a good idea to avoid any artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and sucralose. As always, it is a good idea to touch base with your care provider for any questions you may have about what you can and cannot have while breastfeeding along with more customized health advice for your situation.
Should I use a whey protein powder while breastfeeding?
The most popular type of protein powder is typically whey based, which contains dairy proteins. However, in recent years, plant based protein powders have become quite popular – such as those that have pea protein as their base.
I don’t have strong opinions either way. I primarily use whey protein powders myself. However, if you are on a vegan or plant based diet, or your baby has a clear allergic reaction or sensitivity to dairy (see The Ultimate Guide to Dairy-Free Breastfeeding (From a Dairy-Free Mom), a plant based protein powder might be a better option. Thankfully, there are good protein powders in both these categories!
Can protein shakes increase the production of breast milk?
Every mother has the goal of having a healthy milk supply for her baby – and the desire to increase milk supply is something many hope to do.
Some wonder if protein shakes have the potential to increase milk production. While there have been some protein powders developed specifically for breastfeeding mothers (which you can read about below), most aren’t going to do much for your milk supply beyond providing you with calories.
Can protein shakes affect milk production negatively?
On the flip side, there is a potential for protein shakes to hurt your milk supply. If a mother is having too many protein shakes and not getting enough calories from other sources, there’s potential for her to drop below the amount of calories she needs to sustain her milk supply.
Dangers of too much protein
While protein is one of vital nutrients you need to have in your diet, there certainly are some dangers that can come from too much protein.
- One study showed a link between too much protein and an increase in blood pressure.
- Digestive system problems such as abdominal discomfort, indigestion, and constipation (increasing water intake can help with constipation)
- According to a study in 2016, diets where proteins replaced carbs showed an increase in weight gain (though not in diets where protein replaced fat)
- If you have a pre-existing kidney condition, too much protein can cause damage
- Calcium loss can occur from a diet high in acid-ash protein
Of course, protein in appropriate amounts should be just fine. Definitely consult with a dietitian if you are concerned about how much you should be eating.
Best Protein Powders for Breastfeeding
There are tons of different protein powders available, but, as we’ve already mentioned, not all of them are great for pregnant moms or breastfeeding moms. Below are some options that would be a great choice for a protein powder while breastfeeding. Some of these have a special lactation blend, but honestly, I would focus more on natural protein powders than anything.
Remember – be careful about using a protein shake or powder for meal replacements. You need to make sure you are getting enough calories and nutrition in your regular diet! Protein requirements are increased with breastfeeding, though, so a protein shake during the day can be a good option for meeting those goals.
Below are a variety of different options that you might want to consider. I tried to find ones that were dairy based and had plant proteins, so there should be an option for everyone. I personally don’t like vegan based protein powders, but I know that many people need that kind, either because of a dairy allergy for them or their child OR for personal preference.
However, I believe all these options are high quality. All of them have adequate protein levels, though some have more than others.
I recommend mixing these with fresh fruit, chia seeds, nut butters, or whatever sounds good. I’m personally a fan of using Silk Protein Almond Milk, which gives an added boost of protein.
This brand of protein powder is marketed specifically toward breastfeeding moms. It is a vegan protein powder with pea protein, brown rice protein, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds.
This is a dairy, soy and gluten free protein powder, so if your child has any sort of dairy issues, this might be a good option.
It is a bit pricey at $49.99 for 20 servings. They claim it helps to calm sugar cravings and promotes a healthy milk supply. It does contain milk thistle, red raspberry leaf, brewer’s yeast, fenugreek, and fennel, which are all breast milk enhancing herbs – otherwise known as galactagogues.
It has some other interesting ingredients, and they all seem to be high-quality. It contains folate instead of folic acid, which stood out to me (I try to get folate rather than folic acid in my diet, personally).
It contains 100 calories, 4 grams of sugar and 16 grams of protein, which is a little on the low side. I would not recommend just making this shake for a full meal without adding some additional calories to it. I couldn’t really tell what flavor it was – they just say it’s a “unique flavor unlike any other protein powder”, which apparently tastes like Dunkaroos. And apparently no chalky after taste!
It has pretty good reviews, though there are some that feel it’s way too sweet (someone framed it as “the most expensive, offensive flavor”. Others commented on the priciness of it. However, most of the comments seemed to think it helped to increase their milk supply – or at least, helped them get enough calories to maintain their supply.
I did read one comment that said their supply decreased with it. I’m not sure if this is because they relied solely on just these drinks for their calories, or perhaps they had a reaction to the fenugreek (while I haven’t seen any studies on this, a lot of moms claim fenugreek hurts their supply rather than helps).
Overall, it is expensive, but it is an interesting blend. If you are especially sensitive to sweetness, it may not be the best option for you. We personally have a Blendtec Blender, which has served our family well – but you can really just use whatever you want!
This is another clean, vegan protein option. It is not made specifically of breastfeeding mothers, but it is a great option. It comes in chocolate, vanilla, and vanilla chai.
Ora Organics has 21g of protein, and it’s gluten free, paleo, dairy-free, and soy free. It costs $37.99 for 20 servings, though you can do subscribe and save with Amazon to get it for a little bit less.
It’s blend of ingredients doesn’t seem to have any stand out galactaoguges, but it doesn’t appear to have anything that is known to decrease supply. It did have coconut milk and quinoa, which sometimes are thought to be galactagogues. It has a bunch of superfoods in it, which seems appealing.
It overall has great reviews. A lot of people liked the flavor and the consistency of it, though it was noted that this can really depend on what the base is that you put it in (full fat coconut milk and avocados seemed like popular choices!).
Someone even claimed that it’s the best plant based protein on the planet. I saw one comment from a mom who used it through her pregnancy and post-pregnancy. I’m not going to lie – as I read the comments, I almost ordered some. It does seem like a very high quality protein powder that doesn’t have any weird chemicals or ingredients.
Clean Simple Eats
This is my personal favorite protein powder that I had throughout my Gestational Diabetes pregnancy, as well as while breastfeeding. They have had a lot of different flavors, and they often discontinue them, which is kind of a bummer. But I’ve never been disappointed.
It’s available on Amazon, but I usually buy it on their website when they are having a sale, because it is a bit pricey. This is a whey based protein powder, so that’s something to keep in mind.
It has 20 grams of protein per serving, though that could vary depending on the flavor you get. They always seem to have Brownie Batter and Simply Vanilla (I’ve heard this is the best vanilla protein powder, which is hard to find) along with seasonal flavors.
Their protein powder has artificial colors, dyes, sweeteners, or added sugar, and it contains grass fed whey.
Clean Simple Eats also has a line of great cookbooks which often incorporate their protein powders, so that’s something to consider as well. They have some of my favorite recipes for protein shakes in their cookbooks!
No special galactagogues in this, but this is a protein powder I can personally vouch for the quality and consistency of. I have three bags in my cupboard right now!
This is another plant based protein powder that is designed specifically for breastfeeding and pregnant mothers. It costs $40 for 20 servings.
It has 19 grams of protein, 1000 IUs of Vitamin D, prebiotics and a custom probiotic strand, and all essential amino acids.
It’s main source of protein is pea protein, and it also includes a variety of other ingredients such as flax seed, chia, and maca root. The main galactagogues I saw were moringa, maca root, and shatavaria. It is sweetened by monk fruit and stevia.
I saw more negative reviews on this one about the taste, though some really loved it – so it’s hard to say whether or not it’s the best tasting blend out there. They do offer a variety of flavors – chocolate bliss, coffee caramel, vanilla chai, and vanilla cookie.
I really like Orgain protein powders, and it’s widely available online and at Costco. I have tried their chocolate peanut butter, chocolate, and their limited edition hot cocoa, and I’ve really enjoyed them all.
I do recommend buying them from Orgain.com, as they often run different promotions and sales that you won’t find on Amazon.
They have plant and whey based proteins, so they really have an option for everyone. Not lactation based, just a good, clean protein option.
They also have ready made meal replacement shakes which can be really convenient for a lot of people. I know Premier Protein shakes are really popular, but I think those are full of junk, so this is a good alternative if you are looking something that you can just pop open and drink.
Majka Nourishing Lactation Protein Powder
This is the most expensive protein powder I saw that was directed specifically toward lactating mothers. It claims to help restore and replenish mothers after giving birth, provide a complete postnatal vitamin, and has probiotics and digestive enzymes.
It also claims to help to increase milk supply. It has 15 grams of protein, various B vitamins, galactagogues such as ginger root, flax seed, MCT, tumeric, sesame seed, caraway, and clove. I was happy to see it was fenugreek free. It also has various super foods.
It comes in chocolate and green vanilla (that one sounds kind of weird and unappetizing to me, to be honest). It is also gluten free, vegan, and sugar free.
This one has more bad reviews than some of the lactation blends, though it’s mostly in regards to flavor and price. There are a lot of people who say it is the best one they’ve used, and they felt it did increase their milk supply.
It does have clean ingredients, and it seems like they’ve been very thoughtful about how they’ve put it together. Definitely read through the reviews – if you are more sensitive to tastes of things, it might not be the best option for you.
Mommy Knows Best Brewer’s Yeast
This isn’t a protein powder, however, it’s something that you can easily make your own protein smoothies with or add to your favorite protein powder to make it more of a “lactation smoothie”.
Brewer’s yeast tends to be pretty nasty and bitter tasting. However, the kind from Mommy Knows Best has been debittered, which makes it taste a bit better. They have a plain and chocolate flavor, so it might be fun to try out. You can get 15% off with the code BFMAMA15.
Vital Proteins is a pretty popular company with tons of different products. Their protein powder is whey-based but lactose free, and it is jam packed with 25 grams of protein.
It is less expensive than many of these brands at $29.99. They have a few different flavors – chocolate, coffee, strawberry, and vanilla.
Although it isn’t a lactation blend, it does have sunflower lechitin, which can help with recurrent clogged ducts and mastitis, as well as MCT oil. It also contains collagen.
The reviews are great for this brand. If you are looking for a more affordable brand that tastes good and has a lot of protein, I would definitely check them out!
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