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.
Being a new mom is hard, especially when there's so many new and foreign things going on with your body.
If you're like me, you were probably told "breast is best" and had one or two visits from a lactation specialist at the hospital.
Then they said "good luck!" and left you to figure it out with baby.
Um, ok, no pressure.
After a few weeks, your nipples have [hopefully] adjusted and baby is [hopefully] eating well.
But what about keeping a good milk supply, curbing your cravings, or satisfying your constant hunger?
That's where lactation protein powder comes in. It solves all of those problems!
I'm gonna share my unpopular (but nutritionally and scientifically backed) opinion with you.
You don’t need a fancy protein powder with the label “lactation” on it to have a good milk supply!
All you need is the protein itself!
But, like you've concluded (because you're reading this blog post), not all protein powders are created equal.
In this blog post, I talk about :
Protein is one of many essential nutrients for a healthy body, especially for breastfeeding mamas.
In addition to building muscle, protein helps to:
As you can see, protein plays an important role in so many functions in our body. It's also an excellent way to meet your daily protein needs without spending more time in the kitchen.
When lactating moms eat enough protein, their bodies are more efficient at taking care of themselves, so there is more energy and calories available to produce milk.
Furthermore, eating enough calories each day means your body is properly nourished, so it'll be much easier to lose the "baby weight."
Not eating enough means your body is constantly hungry and wants to hold onto every calorie you eat, which means it has no desire to lose weight.
Therefore, protein is essential for breastfeeding moms!
Most importantly, all the benefits of protein are passed through breastmilk to baby, so baby is getting all the benefits too!
Some nutritionists or personal trainers recommend 0.8 grams to 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, but bodyweight doesn't account for body composition, caloric needs, or exercise habits.
I teach all my clients to have 25%-30% of their total daily calories come from protein. This way, the intake of protein is proportionate to each woman and her unique protein requirements and nutritional needs.
I personally use this rule and I consistently had a healthy milk supply even while lifting weights and running long distance!
For example, an adequate amount of protein for an 1800 calorie diet is at least 120 grams of protein.
A mom’s milk supply will increase with adequate calorie intake from a balanced diet and minimal amounts of processed foods or artificial ingredients. Protein powder is a great option to maintain calories while minimizing less nutritious foods, which, in turn, will boost milk supply.
Yes! Protein shakes are a great option for a quick, healthy snack, as well as a simple, convenient way to boost daily protein intake. However, it is not recommended that protein drinks become a meal replacement in a regular diet.
Protein shakes can help postpartum women lose weight because protein boosts your metabolism, curbs sugar cravings, and keeps you fuller longer. However, the best way to lose weight after having a baby is to focus on overall nutrition through a healthy, balanced diet.
Whether you opt for whey, soy, isolate, or plant based protein, here are a few key ingredients your lactation supplement should have:
An easy way to know if a protein supplement is a safe option for you is to check the ingredient list on the back of the container.
Some brands might advertise key ingredients that their product doesn't have, but it's always good to check.
For example, 1st Phorm protein has Red 40 in it, a carcinogenic artificial dye made from petroleum that has been linked to ADHD in kids.
Yet this brand is one of the bigger brands I found in my research.
I recommend avoiding the following ingredients in your lactation protein powder(s):
100% whey protein powder is made from cow's milk and is naturally gluten free. Because it's an animal product, it is a complete protein (which means it has all 9 essential amino acids or a complete amino acid profile), it has BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) to promote building muscle, and it is more protein dense.
Plant based protein is gluten free, dairy free, and vegan, but is not a complete protein. However, manufacturers will mix different plant based protein together until they make complete protein.
If you don't have any major food allergies, either protein is a great option. You'll get the all the benefits of protein from regular and vegan protein.
If you have a lactose intolerance or avoid dairy products, plant proteins are the best choice.
I researched the 15 most popular protein powders, both regular, plant based, and lactation, and reviewed them below.
There are also infographics that compare five different metrics for each brand of protein powder: price, quality of ingredients, ratio of protein per serving, overall taste, and whether or not you can find it in stores.
The metrics are shown by one, two, or three stars. Each metric has specific criteria that determines how many stars, and three stars is the highest rating. The criteria are as follows:
Now that you understand the graphics, lets learn about the 15 most common protein powders in 2022!
One of my personal favorites. I've been using this protein powder for over three years and I love it!
They have high quality whey protein at a very affordable price (one of the best prices per pound!) and I love their macros too. High protein, low fat, low carb, and low sugar.
It's not specifically a lactation protein powder, but it's a great low-cost option for new moms on a budget.
You can find Body Fortress protein in most grocery stores. I usually buy mine at Walmart or Amazon.
The standard flavors available in stores are vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.
If you shop on Amazon, they have additional flavor options like Banana Creme, Cookies and Cream, and Peanut Butter Chocolate.
The sister company of Body Fortress, Pure Protein is very similar in quality, flavors, and price.
In addition to protein powder, this brand also has protein bars, shakes, and savory snacks as well, so there are more options for supplemental protein besides protein powder.
I even wrote a recipe for Pepperoni Pizza Chicken Parmesan (pictured below) using their protein cheese puffs. I love how versatile this brand is!
A well known lactation protein powder, Majka is a plant based breastfeeding supplement made with all organic, non-GMO ingredients, and each product has no gluten, soy, dairy, and refined sugar.
Some of the key ingredients in their protein powders are organic flaxseed, turmeric, and pea protein.
Of course, with high quality ingredients comes a higher price tag. Majka lactation protein powders retail for $69 and are rarely available in stores, if at all.
I haven't personally tried Majka, but as a nutritionist and mama, I love that their products are made with clean and wholesome ingredients.
Similar to Majka, Milk Dust is marketed specifically as a lactation protein powder. It's made with vegan, organic ingredients like chia, pea protein, and cinnamon.
While the amount of protein per serving is one of the lowest I've seen, Milk Dust does have 100% of the RDI for folate, as well as 74% RDI for vitamin B12 and 30% RDI of iron.
In addition, Milk Dust lactation protein powder is a little more pricey at $59 per container and it's only available online.
If you choose to try Milk Dust, be sure to check out my recipe for Vanilla Almond Granola that uses their protein powder.
One of the most well known clean protein powders, Orgain has whey based protein, plant based protein, and protein shakes.
The main ingredient in their plant based protein is organic pea protein, but it's also made with brown rice and chia seeds.
I love that their protein is so clean but also so affordable! It's a cheaper price per pound than Body Fortress and Pure Protein AND it has clean, high quality ingredients.
An amazing clean protein powder. Period. This brand is so popular right now and continues to expand across the county into grocery stores, retailers, and local health shops. This means they are available both in store and online.
I love that their protein powders are sweetened with Stevia, a natural sweetener, and contain a special blend of digestive enzymes to help your body absorb the most amount of protein.
They also have so many different flavors and continue to release new flavors almost every month!
If you have a bigger budget, Clean Simple Eats is a great way to give your supply the lactation support it needs.
Very similar to Clean Simple Eats, Just Ingredients is another clean protein powder brand that's made with real, natural ingredients.
They also have different flavors, but to my knowledge, they're only available online, unless you live in Utah.
They are also two dollars more expensive per pound than Clean Simple Eats, but the quality is the same.
I've personally used Just Ingredients protein in protein shakes and many recipes and it's a great protein powder! You can use the code "thewellnourishedmama" to save 10% at checkout.
Click here for some Just Ingredients protein recipes, including the french toast pictured below.
Known for their clean prenatal vitamin subscription, Ritual stands out from other brands because their ingredients are "made traceable," which means they can tell you exactly where each ingredient was produced and supplied.
I also love that their protein has 3 grams of fiber, 10% of the RDI for iron, and 45% of the RDI for choline. I haven't seen this in other supplements.
I considered Ritual one of the more expensive brands, but it is $10 cheaper per pound than Clean Simple Eats or Just Ingredients.
An actual lactation protein powder built just for the breastfeeding mama.
Boodie Body is right in the middle price wise, meaning it's not on the cheaper end, but it's not on the expensive end either.
In addition, Boobie Body has 6 grams of fiber, 125% of the RDI for vitamin D, and 40% of the RDI for iron, which is considerably more than Ritual.
You can find Boobie Body at some Targets and Walmarts, but if you subscribe online, you get a free eBook of recipes with your purchase!
I love Vital Proteins because they're affordable, clean (no artificial ingredients or sweeteners), and their protein has 10 grams of collagen peptides, which are the building blocks of your cartilage, bones, and skin.
Collagen is commonly used to improve hair, nails, and skin, which I'm sure every breastfeeding mother would appreciate.
This brand is also lactose-free and has one of the highest ratios of protein per serving at 25 grams of protein.
Vital Proteins is available in stores and online.
While 1st Phormula protein is less expensive and more convenient than some other protein brands, it's not one I would recommend for breastfeeding moms.
This brand has artificial sweeteners and colors, including neotame (similar to aspartame) and Red 40.
Their protein bars also have so many manufactured ingredients and palm kernel oil, an inflammatory oil that will hinder your progress in building a good milk supply and lose your pregnancy weight.
That being said, it's widely available and comes in many flavors.
I've never personally had KOS protein, but from what I can tell, it's a great option for nursing mamas.
Every ingredient is organic, it's macro friendly (meaning there's a balance of fats to carbs to protein), and with each purchase, they donate a meal to someone in need.
In addition, they're one of the few non-lactation protein powders I've found that has folic acid in it!
KOS plant based protein also has an incredible vitamin and mineral nutrition profile, with high amounts of iron, vitamin E, the entire vitamin B complex, selenium, and manganese, as well as 5 grams of heart healthy fatty acids per serving to help fight heart disease.
Overall, I think KOS is one of the best options out there.
Another clean protein powder company, Ora Organics has great ingredients at an average price.
What sets them apart from the other brands I reviewed is that their plant based protein powder has tons of fresh fruits and vegetables blended in like blueberry, acai, broccoli, kale, and pomegranate.
If you're looking for an effective way to get more produce in your diet, Ora Organics would be a great option!
I discovered this brand from an ad on Instagram a couple weeks ago and was very impressed.
Their vegan protein has all 9 essential amino acids but only 3 ingredients: pea protein, brown rice protein, and hemp protein.
What makes them incredible unique is that their entire product is plastic free (including the scoop!) and compostable.
The only downside is the ratio of protein per serving is one of the smallest ones at 15 grams per scoop and they're a UK based brand, so that adds a layer of complexity to US customers.
I first discovered this brand when I went to visit my in-laws.
My mother-in-law had the white chocolate peppermint flavor and it was SO good.
If you're looking for a lower calorie-higher protein ratio, IdealLean is a great choice.
They also have lots of unique and delicious flavors, and they're one of the cheaper options too.
The only downside? You can only get them online and they're usually out of stock.
In my opinion, the best lactation protein powder for breastfeeding moms is Orgain Protein Powder because it is delicious and made with clean ingredients, but also one of the most affordable brands on the market.
Best of all, it’s incredibly versatile so you can use it in so many different recipes (see below)!
If you have a bigger budget, I would choose Clean Simple Eats, Just Ingredients, or Form protein powders.
If the quality of ingredients isn't the most important thing for you and you have a smaller budget, I would choose Body Fortress or Pure Protein. These are the brands I used during my first pregnancy and they're still staples in my house.
Whatever your budget or quality preference is, it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor first and make your choice based on your individual needs.
As amazing as protein powder is, it's important to use it as a supplement for extra protein, not a meal replacement.
A healthy diet should consist of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, whole grains, and low fat dairy foods.
Proper nutrition is crucial not only for your breastfeeding journey, but the healthy development of your baby.
I recommend including these whole food protein sources in your regular diet each day in addition to your lactation protein powder:
Each of the 26 lactation recipes below aren't just delicious, they actually boost your milk supply too!
For all of my best lactation recipes, be sure to check out my Lactation Cookbook!
I wrote 52 recipes (one for each week of the year) and over 10 pages of my scientifically proven and personally tested tips and tricks.
I talk about the basics of lactation biology and nutrition, the best lactogenic foods, and answer questions like "how to have a good supply while weight lifting" or "how to keep my supply when my period comes back" and more!
You can download my cookbook here.
Protein is essential for a nursing mom and her baby's development, so I analyzed the top 15 protein powders and found the best lactation protein powder for breastfeeding moms. I also share how to choose a protein powder and my best lactation recipes!
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