Finding something that you like to eat during the first few weeks of pregnancy can be really difficult if you are suffering badly with morning sickness, and that awful metallic taste that you get at the back of your throat and so a lot of women turn to protein powder to boost their pregnancy nutrition.
Soon it becomes an easy option to supplement your pregnancy diet plan and protein powders start to make a regular appearance in your pregnancy nutrition.
A lot of OBGYN’s and midwives will have no problem with this and when it comes to the option of eating nothing or having a protein shake because it is the ONLY thing that will stay down, I can see the advantages.
However, there’s a lot of things about protein powders that are misunderstood and once you know the facts you may think differently next time you’re looking for an easy nutritious meal option.
Firstly protein powders come in many different forms. Protein powder can be made of lots of different bases such as rice protein, pea protein, hemp protein, but by far the most common is whey protein and soy protein (usually concentrate or isolate).
Now all protein structures are different and contain different amino acids and so using a protein powder that is based on just one protein or a mix of two or three proteins is unlikely to give you a wide enough amino acid spectrum to provide adequate nutrition for you and your growing baby – kind of defeats the purpose of having protein powder – right?
Protein powders are not wholefoods. They are processed and refined to the point of rendering the substance we know as protein powder completely unrecogniseable to the human body. Any level of processing and manufaturing will denature a food by altering its chemical structure. The heavier the refinement process, the more denatured a food becomes.
Whey protein as an example has to be handled at low temperature as its protein structures are extremely fragile. But todays whey protein powders are produced by drying skim milk at extremely high temperatures and then using the powder to bulk out energy bars, body building products and protein shakes.
Soy protein initially starts out with a lot of phytic acid (which blocks the body’s absorbtion of vitamins and minerals), enzyme inhibitors (the body uses enzymes to break down food and access nutrients), and isoflavanones (which mimics the effect of oestrogen in the body and is carcinogenic). It is then processed at extreme temperatures to reduce (but not eradicate) the effects of these undesireable properties. However, more toxins are formed during high-temperature chemical processing, including nitrates, lysinalanine and MSG and several of the proteins are so denatured that they become unusable to the human body (eg. lysine).
So what you are left with (in any protein powder) is a highly processed and refined substance that is so far from its natural state that the body does not recognise it as food.
Now in addition to all the harmful toxins that a protein powder contains your poor body also has to deal with a UFO (Unidentified Food substance of questionable Origin!). So because it has so many other jobs to do your body can’t cope and instead of flusing the toxins out, it shoves them somewhere where they will be less poisonous to the body – in your FAT!
Get this, the body will actually lay down excess fat just to store the toxins and keep them away from your baby and your body. Then it will drain all your water from your cells AND what you drink to dilute the toxins to a point where they are so dilute they no longer pose a threat to your body. So as well as getting fat, you’ve also got a massive water retention problem (which makes you look even fatter, congests your tissues and decreases the water available for amniotic fluid – essential for your baby’s protection, nourishment and development).
You still thinking protein powders are a good idea?
So you see protein powders are not the best option in pregnancy. They don’t do what they say on the tin, (i.e. give you enough protein to provide a good source of nutrients to supplement your pregnancy diet), and for all the benefit you get from them you may as well opt for a Big Mac instead!
The best sources of protein for pregnancy (and in fact in any human diet) are wholesome natural foods, ideally organic animal proteins, like chicken, beef, fish and eggs, or vegetable proteins like pulses, legumes and nuts. If you find you can stomach solid food then nutritious broth based soups are a thousand times better for you than a protein shake!