Two questions recently came in asking about protein powder. First, Wayne asks:
Love your site & recipes! Do you have a particular brand of protein powder you like to use when baking things like the oatmeal power cookies? Wayne Culbreth
The short answer is Optimum Whey 100% Gold Standard or GNC 100% Whey Protein. But really, there are many others that fit the bill. What I look for in a protein powder is simple. I don’t want bells and whistles, which include creatine, vasodilators, stimulants, herbal extracts, or any proprietary mumbo-jumbo-pseudoscience-bodybuilding hype. I look for one low in carbs, sugars, and fat, because I just want the protein! Other than that, the reason I like these two is taste. I received the GNC product as a prize in a strongman competition, and became hooked on the chocolate caramel flavor (it rocks in the breakfast cookies!), the Optimum Nutrition brand I have been buying in Double Dark Chocolate and Vanilla Ice Cream for years. And if it ain’t broke….
Question #2 comes from Sonya:
Hi, I am trying to get an answer about whether protein powders are okay to take during pregnancy? I have been told that Syntrax Matrix is okay? I would love to hear your opinion please. – Sonya
Great question Sonya. Many women wonder about this and other supplements during pregancy. Extra protein from protei powder is quite safe during pregnancy (in fact, your body can’t tell the difference between protein from, say, chicken, and from a protein powder smoothie.) But you should be careful about additives in the protein powder.
To start off, any powder which has vasodilators, fat-burners, caffeine, any herbal extract, or claims to increase “pump” is out, in my book. I wouldn’t want to take any unessary drugs or druglike substances during pregnancy. Some people also feel that it’s prudent to avoid artificial sweeteners, colors, and preservatives, though no definite evidence has been found that these are harmful. I’d look for a natural protein powder with a short ingredient list of things anyone would recognize. I would also skip ones sweetened with stevia, although it is “natural”, the safety record is just not that extensive, as it is so new to the market.
I’d first recommend a natural whey or casein protein. These tend to taste good and are high quality protein. Some debate exists over usage of soy supplements during pregnancy, due to the phytoestrogens that occur in soybeans. Currently, no research has concluded that pregnant women should avoid soy, but I hope more thorough studies are done soon. Personally, I don’t think soy foods pose a real danger, but it never hurt to be overly cautious.
One thing is for sure, don’t rely on protein powders or other meal replacements for a large portion of your diet, you still need to eat healthy, nourishing foods to get enough calcium, iron, folate, and calories. Make sure to keep regular appointments with your doctor to ensure your weight gain is on track, and keep active for a healthy, enjoyable pregnancy.
Georgie Fear RD