Is protein powder good for breastfeeding and weight loss? Yes!
Protein is a critical macronutrient during breastfeeding. And protein powders that are USDA Certified Organic and filled with real, whole-food ingredients (and third-party tested for safety) are a convenient and delicious way to nourish your body and facilitate gentle, sustainable weight loss without compromising your milk supply.
Important disclaimer: We believe in supporting both the mom and baby post-partum. We don't believe in stress-inducing diets or a rapid "snap back" to pre-partum habits. We believe in gentle and sustainable changes that help the body heal and help you feel amazing. We also believe in bio-individuality, so as always, please consult a Registered Dietician for specific advice.
Protein is Essential During Breastfeeding
Getting enough protein is crucial for all women, but it is particularly important for breastfeeding moms to facilitate a consistent milk supply while feeling nourished and full (and not hungry all the time!)
For women in general, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is a meager 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. According to Harvard researchers, however, this should be viewed as the minimum amount required to not get sick, and consuming up to double this recommendation can have positive health outcomes.
Keeping this in mind, to calculate your non-postpartum protein needs, multiple your bodyweight in pounds by .36. This number is the absolute minimum protein your body requires. Now multiply that number by two to get a good healthy upper limit.
According to the World Health Organization, women should consume an extra 25 grams of protein per day for the first six months of breast-feeding. This can of course vary from person-to-person, so if you're curious about your individual needs, working with a Registered Dietician can be a huge help.
Protein Powders are a Convenient Breastfeeding Solution
If your increasing protein needs sound intimidating, protein powders can be a hugely helpful and convenient solution for meeting your goals without overdoing it on meat, eggs, and cheese.
Protein powders can also help combat sugar cravings by steadying your blood sugar levels. The right one can also pack in many nutrients and serve up a delicious and filling meal or snack (that you can consume with only one hand and take on-the-go as needed.)
What to Look for in a Protein Powder when Breastfeeding
#1: Make Sure it is USDA Certified Organic
Not all protein powders are created equal. Because they are unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), you'll want to ensure that your protein powder of choice is USDA Certified Organic. This ensures what is on the label is actually what is in the product, and also means it meets strict regulations for farming and manufacturing. By definition, USDA Certified Organic products are Non-GMO.
#2: Check that it is Third-party Tested
Make sure the manufacturer uses an independent ISO 17025 certified laboratory to test for heavy metals, pathogens, and any major allergens you're concerned about.
You'll also want to make sure they make the full ingredients list available and are transparent about their sourcing practices.
#3: Decide on Dairy Free, Gluten Free, etc.
Going plant-based with your protein powder is an easy way to cut back on animal products. You'll also want to avoid whey protein if you are concerned about dairy allergies. Look for gluten free products if that is a concern for you as well.
#4: Look for Low Glycemic Sweeteners
You'll want to check for added sugars and opt for low glycemic sweeteners like organic stevia extract or organic monkfruit. These will help add a light sweetness without causing a huge blood sugar spike.
How Protein Powders Support Weight Loss
Consuming protein helps you feel full. It helps curb "hunger" hormones while sending fullness signals to your brain. Eating protein, particularly at breakfast, is also widely researched and consistently shown to enhance satiety and reduce caloric intake later on in the day.
In addition to helping you eat less later in the day, eating protein at breakfast is also shown to help reduce belly fat. In fact, eating high-quality protein is inversely related to belly fat, meaning the more you eat, the less belly fat you will have.
Protein has the highest thermic effect of all macronutrients, meaning that your body expends the most energy (burns calories) to digest it. More than carbohydrates or fat.
Our Favorite Breastfeeding Smoothie Recipe
Made with milk-boosting protein, flaxseed, and brewer's yeast.
The Cocoa Lactation Smoothie
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/2 frozen banana
1 tablespoon almond or sunflower seed butter
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 tablespoon Brewer's Yeast
2-3 teaspoons maple syrup, monkfruit or stevia
Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender until well combined. Add a handful of ice to thicken and continue blending until creamy.
More fun ways to Use Protein Powders when Breastfeeding
Make Protein Muffins for a great grab-and-go breakfast or snack.
Triple or quadruple this grain-free granola.