One of the most common questions I get as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist is how to choose the best protein powder for a breastfeeding mom. Whether or not you’re a new mom, it can be so hard knowing what to eat, what to avoid, and whether or not you need extra calories.
This blog post will share the best clean protein powders for breastfeeding, the nutritional needs of new moms, and many other common questions about breastfeeding and nutrition for moms in general.
Disclaimer: While all recommendations in this blog post are considered to be safe protein powders (according to national dietary guidelines), pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should consult with their doctor and/or a lactation consultant before including protein supplements in their daily routine.
This post may contain affiliate links.
As you may know, breastfeeding has many nutritional benefits that will promote your child’s health and growth. However, it also takes a toll on the mother’s nutritional stores and energy.
Just like when you are pregnant and you need to focus on eating a nutrient-dense diet. You also need to eat a healthy diet to promote milk production. This means eating enough protein and other essential vitamins and minerals to ensure you are providing yourself and the baby enough nutrients for you to sustain your breast milk supply.
Not to mention, when you are breastfeeding, cravings and hunger are at an all-time high. And this is where protein powder comes in.
However, not all protein powders are created equal. So in this blog post, I will be sharing my top picks based on the nutrition label and clean ingredients.
- 10 Best Protein Powders for Breastfeeding Moms in 2023 (Dietitian-Approved)
- The benefits of protein for breastfeeding moms
- How much protein should I have when breastfeeding?
- Is protein powder safe for breastfeeding moms?
- Does protein powder increase milk supply?
- What to look for in a protein powder while breastfeeding
- Whey protein powder VS plant-based protein powders
- Additional ways to boost protein naturally
- Do I need extra calories while breastfeeding?
- A Dietitian’s take on weight loss while breastfeeding
- How to lose baby weight while breastfeeding
- 10 Best Protein Powders for Breastfeeding Moms
- Ritual Essential Protein
- Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
- Garden of life grass-fed collagen protein
- Naked Whey
- Boobie Body Lactation Protein powder
- Orgain Organic Protein
- Ora Organics So lean and so clean
- Milk Dust Breastfeeding Protein Powder
- Pink Stork Pregnancy and Nursing Protein
- Majka Organic Lactation Protein Powder
- A Dietitian's Favorite Protein Powder
10 Best Protein Powders for Breastfeeding Moms in 2023 (Dietitian-Approved)
The benefits of protein for breastfeeding moms
Not only will protein help build muscle, it also has beneficial properties for breastfeeding mothers.
Protein boosts your metabolism, aids in recovery after the birth process, strengthens connective tissues, reduces hunger levels, provides extra calories in your daily diet, curbs sugar cravings, boosts energy levels, lowers blood pressure, and improves the quality of breast milk.
How much protein should I have when breastfeeding?
During lactation or breastfeeding, you must eat an adequate amount of protein in order to maintain your own muscle mass, while also providing enough nutrition to the infant through breast milk.
The current Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for protein suggest that healthy lactating women should consume an Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) of 1.52 grams of protein per kilogram. This comes out to be approximately 17 grams of extra protein per day during the first six months of breastfeeding.
Is protein powder safe for breastfeeding moms?
For the most part, protein powder is very safe for breastfeeding moms. Making sure you are reading the nutrition label and choosing the right one is where it can get a little tricky. This is because what you eat can get transferred through the milk to your baby. Therefore, making sure you are choosing a protein powder without artificial sweeteners and other additives, like heavy metals, is important.
Even though protein powder can be a good option to increase protein intake, it is not recommended that protein shakes become a meal replacement in a regular diet.
Does protein powder increase milk supply?
Some protein powder is specifically made for breastfeeding moms. These are called lactation protein powder or breastfeeding protein powder.
These specific breastfeeding protein powders are said to increase milk supply because of the added ingredients that have been shown to help increase supply, like fenugreek.
However, to answer the question as to whether or not protein powder increases milk supply, the short answer is no, not directly.
A mom’s milk supply increases with overall adequate caloric intake, proper nutrition coming from a healthy diet and drinking lots of water. A protein powder can help increase protein and caloric intake in an easy, convenient way, but protein powder in itself does not increase milk supply.
At the end of the day, drinking extra water and making sure you are eating enough nutrients is one of the best ways to increase and sustain your milk supply.
What to look for in a protein powder while breastfeeding
Protein powders are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), just like all other supplements. This means there is no strict set of rules or guidelines about what’s in them.
While the FDA does get involved when there is a complaint, it is mostly the manufacturer’s job to properly evaluate their products and be transparent with their labeling, which doesn’t always happen.
So the first thing I suggest doing when choosing a protein powder is to choose one that is third-party tested.
Getting a third-party certification means that an independent organization, that is not involved in the product, has reviewed the manufacturing process and determined that the final product complies with specific standards for safety, quality or performance.
More things to look for in a protein powder
Any lactation supplement that is being added into your diet should contain the following ingredients: whole, natural ingredients, vitamins, and minerals.
Natural ingredients and whole foods help reduce artificial ingredients. Vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin B12, a vitamin B complex including folate, are very helpful for new moms. And they are found in many protein powders specifically for new moms. Important minerals for breastfeeding moms include iron, calcium, and potassium. Most protein powders likely have some combination of these three minerals.
Whey protein powder VS plant-based protein powders
Whey protein is made from cow’s milk meaning it is a complete protein and has all 9 essential amino acids. This type of protein is great for building muscle as it has BCAAs (branch chain amino acids).
Plant-based proteins are another good choice if you are lactose intolerant and prefer dairy-free. However, it is not a complete protein on its own. Some manufacturers will add different plant proteins (like pea protein powders for breastfeeding moms) together to create a complete protein.
Additional ways to boost protein naturally
Protein powder is a great addition for extra protein, but should not be used in replacement of a meal. And if you are like me and prefer to use it occasionally, here are some protein sources from whole foods:
- Meats like turkey, fish, chicken, and beef
- Dairy sources like Greek yogurt, cheese and milk
- Legumes like beans, chickpeas, and lentils
- Nuts like almonds, cashews, and walnuts
- Whole grains
Do I need extra calories while breastfeeding?
According to general nutritional guidelines, nursing moms need about 500 calories more per day than their usual food intake.
This is because you use more energy (aka calories) to produce milk. In order to provide your body with the energy and nutrition to produce milk, you do need to increase your caloric intake by about 500 calories.
A Dietitian’s take on weight loss while breastfeeding
Here’s some honesty: I do not advocate for moms to try and lose weight while nursing, if they can avoid it.
Moms have enough external pressure on their shoulders, and they do not need to add more to it by following unrealistic societal expectations.
Adding extra stressors, like weight loss, shortly after giving birth can hinder postpartum mental health and recovery.
But, since I often do get asked about safe weight loss while breastfeeding, let’s talk about it.
How to lose baby weight while breastfeeding
Even though many will tell you that one of the best ways to lose weight postpartum is to breastfeed, this is actually very controversial.
While some studies have shown that women who breastfeed tend to lose more weight postpartum than women who don’t, other studies have shown no clear association between breastfeeding and weight loss.
If you are breastfeeding and having a hard time losing weight, then there are a few things you can do without going on a fad diet and impacting your milk supply.
Tip #1: Build healthy meals
First thing you can do is make sure your meals are well balanced. This means adding in protein, healthy fats, fiber and lots of plants into your meals.
And since we are talking about protein shakes and protein powders in this blog post, make sure to check out this balanced protein smoothie recipe.
Smoothies and shakes is one of the easiest meals you can incorporate a serving of protein powder.
Protein has been shown to reduce your hunger hormone, ghrelin, whereas fiber and healthy fats slow down digestion and helps keep you full for longer.
Tip #2: Get as much sleep as you can
Before you roll your eyes, I get it. It is SO hard to get enough sleep with a newborn or any kids for that matter.
However, sleep deprivation is associated with an increase in appetite and the stress hormone, cortisol, which can result in weight gain and weight retention.
I know this is easier said than done, but those dishes and that load of laundry can wait. If you are tired and can use a nap, then take the nap. Your mental health is more important and that extra 15 minutes of sleep can make you even more productive and energized later on in the day.
Tip #3: Be kind with yourself
No matter what your postpartum weight loss goals are, practice self care first and foremost. You just had a baby. Take it slow. Focus on healthy lifestyle behaviors versus punishing yourself to fit into your pre-baby jeans.
Let go of self-induced pressure to hit a specific number on the scale and focus instead on other more important health markers like your energy, sleep, mood, stress levels, and a healthy diet.
10 Best Protein Powders for Breastfeeding Moms
Ritual Essential Protein
This daily shake is designed specifically for pregnancy and postpartum women to provide their bodies with the nutrients that they need throughout pregnancy, recovery, and lactation.
Ritual Daily shake for pregnancy and postpartum women is full of vitamins and minerals that help women to meet their nutritional demands. Not only does it help with boosting nutrition, this protein powder can help to build lean muscle mass and retain bone density.
This is one of the few lactation protein powders that is third party tested meaning their products are safe, nutritious, and up to industry standards.
Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
Vital Proteins is a wonderful choice for breastfeeding mothers who are looking for a more affordable protein powder.
I love this option because it contains 20 grams of protein and it is a great supplement in a new moms daily diet. It can also be found easily in any major grocery store.
Garden of life grass-fed collagen protein
Another safe option for a breastfeeding mama, Garden of Life has an impressive nutritional profile with the essential amino acids, and probiotics. The main protein ingredient is organic pea protein.
Naked whey is an excellent option a protein powder that uses simple ingredients. With only three ingredients; whey, vanilla, and coconut sugar it is packed full of amino acids due to whey being the main ingredient.
Boobie Body Lactation Protein powder
This nourishing lactation protein powder is made specifically for the breastfeeding mother and is made to meet her nutritional needs. Boobie Body has 6g of fiber and has a great source of vitamin D and iron. The main ingredient is organic pea protein sweetened with monk fruit extract and stevia. If you want a vegan protein powder this might be the option for you.
Orgain Organic Protein
Orgain is a brand that has a great selection of protein powder options. It includes whey-based protein powders, plant-based protein powders, and protein shakes. This protein powder is affordable and uses high-quality, simple ingredients. It also is a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, iron, riboflavin, thiamin, and pantothenic acid.
Ora Organics So lean and so clean
Another vegan protein powder is Ora Organics so lean and so clean. This protein powder is an effective way to add more produce and protein to your diet. This plant-based protein powder uses lots of fruits and vegetables blended in their ingredients including kale, blueberries, acai, and pomegranate. This powder uses pea protein and includes digestive enzymes to help break down the plant protein. This helps eliminate bloating while maximizing absorption.
Milk Dust Breastfeeding Protein Powder
Marketed specifically as a milk dust lactation protein powder. This powder is vegan and uses organic ingredients. Milk Dust is a great source of folate, vitamin B12, and iron.
Pink Stork Pregnancy and Nursing Protein
Pink Stork Pregnancy and Nursing protein powder is simple and contains all of the essential ingredients like collagen whey protein and calcium to aid in recovery. Added benefits include joint repair and aids in strengthening hair, skin, and nails.
Majka Organic Lactation Protein Powder
Majka nourishing lactation protein powder is a plant-based protein powder that is made with all organic ingredients designed to be a great breastfeeding supplement. It is designed to boost the milk supply for breastfeeding moms and to support energy levels. It provides probiotics and digestive enzymes which aid nutrient absorption and helps to keep you feeling full and energized.
A Dietitian’s Favorite Protein Powder
If I had to choose one protein powder, I would definitely choose the Vital Proteins option. It is so versatile, tastes great and it is affordable. You can also purchase this in any major grocery store.
More importantly, it is third-party tested which puts my mind at ease when I use it.
Using protein powders can be a great way and a safe option to increase your daily protein intake while sustaining a healthy milk supply. Just be sure to read the ingredient list and look for ones that use whole ingredients.
Depending on which you prefer, you can choose powders with plant-based proteins or ones with dairy products like whey. Protein plays an important role as it is the building block of the body. It helps the body repair and recovers after birthing. Therefore choosing one with a complete amino acid profile while having essential nutrients is an easy way to boost your intake of protein. Especially for busy moms.
Having said all this, I do not believe that buying a protein powder is essential. You can get enough protein from the food you eat by adding more protein-rich foods into your diet and increasing protein portion sizes.
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