Is whey protein harmful for kidney health during pregnancy? Could it be harmful to the baby? What’s the real story with consuming whey protein in pregnancy? We’ve been contacted a few times by followers with concerns about consuming whey protein during pregnancy and how it might affect kidney health.
The answer: We don’t know of any specific research that shows eating high-quality whey protein in moderation as part of a balanced diet is harmful to an otherwise healthy pregnant woman or her baby.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much scientific research on the use of whey protein or other supplements during pregnancy (or while breastfeeding). Pregnant women aren’t typically enrolled in clinical trials because of the ethical concerns raised in testing women and the developing baby during this vulnerable time in life. Still, women understandably want answers on what they can and can’t do during pregnancy.
Do pregnant women need to be concerned about whey protein?
Before we fall prey to panic, I’d like to clarify a few points:
– Protein intake is important during pregnancy. Humans need protein to sustain and build muscle tissue. Women who are not pregnant need 46 grams of protein daily. During pregnancy, protein needs to increase to a whopping 80 grams daily to meet the demands of the growing baby.
– Some women struggle to attain adequate protein in their diet. For them, a protein supplement may make sense. Whey protein (like Fertiliwhey) is an easy to digest, high-quality protein that can supplement a balanced diet when used as directed.
– Your pregnancy experience is as unique as you are. It’s true that pregnancy puts extra strain on the kidneys. Most healthy women’s bodies are easily able to adapt to these changes, and these women go on to have uncomplicated pregnancies and deliveries.
– You may not need a protein supplement at all. Research shows Americans eat 3-5 times more protein than they need, in part due to overconsumption of meat. Many pregnant women get enough protein in their daily diet. You may not need any supplement beyond a prenatal. A diet that is too high in protein can increase your risk of kidney problems or stones, even if you’re not pregnant.
– If you’re pregnant and concerned you’re not getting enough protein, take a look at your diet before turning to supplements. Switch up your protein sources. There are many choices. High-quality proteins to include: legumes like beans, peas and lentils, organic eggs, organic poultry, grass fed beef, seafood from uncontaminated waters, hemp protein, Spirulina, sprouted whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Be sure to drink plenty of water every day to encourage toxin filtration and healthy kidney function.
– Pregnant women with preexisting kidney concerns need special support. If you have kidney problems and are pregnant, it’s important to talk to your OB/GYN and kidney health specialists, and follow appropriate dietary restrictions. Speak to your doctor before consuming any type of supplement. Your doctors will need to create a pregnancy plan that is catered to you.
Choose Wisely or Seek Support
There are times when a high-quality whey protein supplement may be beneficial during pregnancy. It’s important to avoid subpar brands with added sugars, synthetic ingredients or chemical sweeteners. If you choose to supplement, only choose minimally processed whey protein like FertiliWhey, from grass-fed cows that are not treated with hormones or given GMO feed.
If you’re unsure or have questions on your specific diet needs, talk to your OB/GYN or midwife. Your pregnancy experience is unique to you, and we want you to have all the support you need as you move through it.
- Whey Protein. (1998-2017). Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/whey-protein/safety/hrb-20060532
- Everett, M. (2010, Sept.). Whey Protein and Kidney Damage. Retrieved from: http://www.livestrong.com/article/261806-whey-protein-kidney-damage/
- Mercola, J. (2014, Sept.). The Very Real Risks of Consuming Too Much Protein. Retrieved from: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/09/03/too-much-protein.aspx
- Pregnancy and Kidney Disease. (2017). Retrieved from: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/pregnancy