Can pregnant women eat protein bars?
In this article, we will answer the query “Can pregnant women eat protein bars?” We will cover relevant information regarding protein needs and their role during pregnancy, the benefits and possible risks of protein supplements, and other protein-rich snacks.
Can pregnant women eat protein bars?
Yes, it is not the most common recommendation, and it is not the best option, but yes, protein supplements (including protein bars) are allowed during pregnancy (1,2).
The main purpose of protein bars will be to help to reach the protein daily requirements; however, you should take into account that your protein requirements should be met by your diet. If you want to use a protein supplement, it is mandatory to ask for professional advice (1,2).
Can protein bars help meet the increased protein requirements during pregnancy?
Yes, in fact, protein bars are intended for athletes with a high demand of protein and energy, so they are very good for meeting energy and protein requirements (3).
A protein bar could provide you with 20 – 50 g of protein, depending on the formulation and the serving size. Besides, protein bars are normally elaborated with Whey protein and Casein, which are high quality (contain all essential amino acids) proteins (3).
High quality proteins are important for your health because they contain essential amino acids, which are needed for creating tissues, hormones, muscle, and organs (4).
What are the protein requires during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, your daily protein requirements are around 1.2 g/kg (during the first 16 weeks) and 1.55 g/kg (near to week 36), which are higher than the general recommendation of 0.8 g/kg (2,5).
Remember that you share your nutrients with your baby, and you will need an extra load of everything (including proteins) to ensure your health and your baby’s development (2,4).
In addition, pregnancy produces several adaptations in the human body, for example: the blood volume increases, there are new tissues to create like placenta, the body must prepare to make breast milk, among others (2,5).
All the changes during pregnancy increase the needs of proteins, because they contain amino acids, which are the building blocks for organs and tissues (4).
What are the potential benefits of protein bars for pregnant women, and when should protein bars be considered?
There is controversy about the possible benefits of eating protein bars or supplements during pregnancy (1,2).
The evidence shows that the consumption of protein supplements, but maintaining a healthy protein intake (1.2 – 1.5 g/kg) could help prevent pregnancy complications and help achieve a good weight in babies (1,2).
You should consider a protein bar or protein supplementation if you do not meet your daily protein requirements with your diet. Please take into account that you must ask for professional advice from your trusted gynecologist and nutritionist (1,2).
Are there any ingredients to avoid or limit in protein bars during pregnancy?
Some protein supplements can contain stimulants like caffeine, which is not recommended during pregnancy because it can increase the risks of miscarrying or reducing baby’s weight (6,7).
Caffeine is contained in coffee, cocoa, tea, or could be added as caffeine in the product. Therefore, if you are going to consume protein supplements, check for those products free of caffeine and cocoa (6,7).
What are some alternative protein-rich snacks for pregnant women?
An excellent protein-rich snack is Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt will provide you with high-quality proteins, but also with essential micronutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and B vitamins (8).
Calcium and vitamin D are crucial for maintaining good bone health and preventing osteoporosis. B vitamins are known for promoting a good cognitive development in children, especially folate and cyanocobalamin (8).
Here are some delicious recipes for Greek yogurt!
In this article, we answered the query “Can pregnant women eat protein bars?” We covered relevant information regarding protein needs and their role during pregnancy, the benefits and possible risks of protein supplements, and other protein-rich snacks.
- Lassi ZS, Padhani ZA, Rabbani A, Rind F, Salam RA, Das JK, et al. Impact of dietary interventions during pregnancy on maternal, neonatal, and child outcomes in low- and middle-income countries. Nutrients, 2020;12(2):531.
- Elango R, O Ball R. Protein and Amino Acid Requirements during Pregnancy. Advances in Nutrition, 2016;7(4):839S–844S
- Jovanov P, Sakač M, Jurdana M, Pražnikar ZJ, Kenig S, Hadnađev M, et al. High-protein bar as a meal replacement in elite sports nutrition: a pilot study. Foods, 2021;10(11):2628.
- Huecker M, Sarav M, Pearlman M, Laster J. Protein supplementation in sport: Source, timing, and intended benefits. Curr Nutr Rep, 2019;8(4):382–96.
- Mousa A, Naqash A, Lim S. Macronutrient and micronutrient intake during pregnancy: An overview of recent evidence. Nutrients, 2019;11(2):443.
- Piattoly TJ. Dietary supplement safety: Risk vs reward for athletes. Oper Tech Sports Med, 2022;30(1):150891.
- Boylan SM, Cade JE, Kirk SFL, Greenwood DC, White KLM, Shires S, et al. Assessing caffeine exposure in pregnant women. Br J Nutr, 2008;100(4):875–82.
- Aktypis A, Tsakalidou E, Manolopoulou E. Yogurt and health. In: Zabetakis I, Tsoupras A, Lordan R, Ramji D, editors. Functional Foods and Their Implications for Health Promotion. San Diego, CA: Elsevier; 2023. p. 221–34