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Although it sounds cliché, it is true that pregnancy changes everything. This is why I recommend Great Lakes Gelatin as the best choice for pregnant women.
When a woman becomes pregnant for the first time, she suddenly may find that her perspectives on a lot of critical issues are being challenged, both by herself and others – and nutrition often ranks at the top of the list. If you are pregnant and are now experiencing the pleasures and hurdles of sharing your body with a developing child, congratulations!
Do not be disconcerted when you find yourself abruptly questioning and challenging elements of your lifestyle that never warranted a second glance before.
This re-evaluation process is natural and is happening for a good reason. Why does this occur? Well, it is essential to identify whether what you are ingesting on a daily basis is the healthiest choice mixes prior to pregnancy, it should be pointed out that they often contain ingredients that can be harmful to both you and your baby.
Fortunately, there are other protein-rich sources out there for you to boost protein consumption – sources that will not require passing harmful chemicals on to your little bundle of joy.
The following ingredients are commonly found in popular protein powders. Let’s examine these ingredients and discuss some of the associated health risks with each one. Please keep in mind that these are just a few examples, and, therefore, this list is not comprehensive.
Just because your protein mix of choice is not compounded with one of the following ingredients, does not mean that other harmful ingredients are not lurking within the mixture. The majority of protein mixes are mass produced, and the cheapest option for a particular component often wins out to the purer alternatives.
Ingredients to Watch Out For
- Heavy Metals – A laboratory study performed in 2010 found heavy metals, such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury, in a few popular protein mixes. Heavy metals have been shown to cross the placenta and end up in fetal tissue. Results are extremely concerning. Exposure to heavy metals during pregnancy can lead to low birth weight and affect fetal neurological development. Since many supplements are not regulated by the FDA on the same level as “food”, many supplements get away with higher than desired levels of metals (including lead!).
- Soy Protein or Soy Protein Isolate – Soy protein and soy protein isolate is topically produced using highly processed GMO soy. These ingredients are known to contain high levels of phytic acid, which can reduce the body’s ability to absorb minerals such as zinc and iron. Special concern should be taken by pregnant women to avoid soy protein, as it can wreak havoc on hormones and increase estrogen levels to a hazardous level during pregnancy.
- Maltodextrin – Often sourced from GMO corn, unless cited otherwise, maltodextrin snakes its way into protein shakes because it an inexpensive, low-quality sweetener. Even non-corn based maltodextrin is problematic. This highly processed, grain-based sweetener has been associated with poor gut health and has been found to contribute to the overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria in the gut. Maltodextrin increases the risk of inflammatory-related digestive disorders such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.
- Artificial Sweeteners to Avoid During Pregnancy: This isn’t specific to pregnancy, but my general advice is to be a bit more careful about everything during pregnancy. Artificial sweeteners are a notorius gamble. Becuase research is mixed or unclear, it’s hard to say definitively which sweeteners to avoid. But in general, I would stay clear from Sucralose (splenda), Saccharin (Sweet N’ Low), and Aspartame. Try to keep everything you ingest as natural as possible.
Disclaimer: As always, consult your Doctor for specific advice.
Protein Requirements for Pregnancy
A pregnant woman requires additional protein when contrasted with her non-pregnant counterpart. During pregnancy, it is recommended by the World Health Organization, that a woman’s diet include at least 75 grams of protein. Growing a life requires drawing from one’s resources and a solid foundation is paramount.
Realizing quality nutrition during pregnancy starts by loading the body with a wide variety of food, in as close to its natural state as possible. Meat, fish, nuts, beans, eggs, and cheese are all excellent sources of protein.
Take care to remember that protein derived from whole foods will invariably yield the greatest health benefits. If, however, a woman is finding it difficult to receive the recommended daily volume of protein, then a protein supplement of one kind or another may be in order.
Without further delay, here are the best protein powders for pregnancy using this criteria:
#1 Great Lakes Gelatin
When most of us hear the word gelatin, we typically picture a brightly colored, corn syrup infused treat that is frequently gulped down by children at family picnics. You will be pleased to learn that gelatin that is sourced from healthy animals and free of artificial ingredients is an extremely wholesome, worry-free source of protein.
Gelatin is a form of collagen derived from animal bones. Making homemade bone broth is a fantastic way to add gelatin to your diet, but when in a pinch, Great Lakes Gelatin will provide some of the essential components.
Great Lakes Gelatin is a minimally processed certified-kosher gelatin that and provides up to 7 grams of protein per tablespoon. The powdered gelatin can be consumed multiple times throughout the day and can effortlessly be dissolved into a hot beverage or added to a shake or smoothie. The gelatin can also be mixed in with hot soups, and a cold-water soluble product is also available.
Great Lakes Gelatin is sourced from grass-fed animals and is free of all artificial ingredients. Great Lakes Gelatin contains essential amino acids, and as a bonus, on top of being a pure, high-quality protein source, it has numerous supplementary health benefits:
- Calms irritation in the digestive tract and promotes healing of the lining of the gut
- Decreases symptoms associated with food allergies and food intolerances
- Gelatin enhances skin health, increases skin elasticity, stimulates skin cell renewal, and diminishes the appearance of wrinkles
- Because of its high collagen content, gelatin helps to prevent stretch marks and cellulite
- Gelatin naturally detoxifies the liver
- Has been determined to reduce joint pain and other manifestations of degenerative joint conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Decreases anxiety and sleeplessness
- Balances hormone levels and provides support for adrenal fatigue
Gelatin has a remarkably long shelf life and only needs to be replaced if not used within five years. The retail price falls between $20 and $25 for a 16-ounce can (see here), which will provide 62 servings. That works out to less than $0.34 per serving. If you are looking for more protein per serving, simply add more gelatin!
#2 Nutiva’s Hemp Protein
Retailing at approximately $0.73 per serving, Nutiva’s Hemp Protein provides a healthy, vegan-friendly protein supplement. Each serving offers 15 grams of protein per serving and can easily be incorporated into a morning smoothie, a glass of milk, or simply water.
Plant-based protein – otherwise know as vegan protein powder – (like hemp) is a great alternative for those with sensitive stomachs (intolerance) or allergies to whey or egg protein powder. For some women, morning sickness makes certain foods unpalatable as well.
This certified organic protein powder contains no GMO’s, gluten, sugar, artificial ingredients or chemicals. The only ingredient is hemp powder. Hemp protein is safe to ingest while pregnant and contains no detectable levels of THC.
Hemp Powder naturally contains essential amino acids and essential fatty acids, including Omega-3 and Omega-6. It also holds iron, zinc, magnesium, and iron. Hemp is also rich in fiber and increased fiber intake is advised during pregnancy. A 30 serving container is on sale here for a very good price.
Hemp has a naturally nutty flavor, and many enjoy mixing up a smoothie that will naturally complement the flavor (such as a banana, almond milk, and nut butter smoothie). Alternatively, ou can also check out this page where I do a full review of Nutiva.
#3 Tera’s Organic Whey Protein
Milk is comprised of two proteins, casein and whey. These two proteins can be separated out, and viola!, whey powder is born. The whey component is extremely low in lactose and is often tolerated well, even by those who can not normally digest dairy. Several health benefits have been linked to whey protein:
- Whey has been shown to improve gut health by reducing gut inflammation (this is surprising for a dairy product, right?)
- Improve cognitive performance
- Reduce the buildup of fat in the liver
- Reduce spikes in glucose levels which often proves to be beneficial during pregnancy
Tera’s Organic Whey Protein is a solid choice for pregnant women who are able to tolerate dairy. These protein mixes come in a variety of flavors, are certified organic, and contain minimal ingredients. Each serving of Tera’s Organic Whey Protein provides at least 20 grams of protein.
The whey contains no artificial ingredients, is certified non-GMO and is sourced from grass-fed cows. Tera’s plain shake mix is concocted with only two ingredients: organic dairy whey protein concentrate and organic sunflower lecithin. Just two ingredients! This just goes to show how completely unnecessary a lot of the added ingredients are in other protein mixes.
Other flavors of Tera’s Organic Whey Protein add ingredients such as organic blueberries, organic stevia leaf, or organic vanilla to provide a natural and rich flavor profile for those who enjoy flavored shake mixes. Tera’s Organic Whey can be purchased for a low price per serving at this listing.
At a Glance Comparison – Check the Nutrition Facts
I know I’ve dumped a lot of information, so I wanted to include a quick reference table below with the key facts.
|Calories||Saturated Fat||Sodium||Carbs||Fiber||Sugars||Protein||Price||Estimatd Cost Per Serving|
|Great Lakes Gelatin (62 servings)||25||0g||20mg||0g||0g||0g||6g (Collagen Protein)||Click here for latest||$0.34|
|Nutiva Hemp (45 servings)||90||0g||0mg||9g||8g||1g||15g||Click here for latest||$0.73|
|Tera's Whey(12 servings)||110||1g||50mg||4g||0g||4g||21g||Click here for latest||$2.33|
Health enthusiast, runner, protein nut. Owen likes to write about protein, particularly alternatve supplementation and supplement comparisons.