Are Premier Protein shakes safe during pregnancy?

Written by Jack Schrupp and reviewed by Ella McGonagle, M.S. Nutrition

Are Premier Protein shakes safe during pregnancy? I would not recommend drinking Premier protein shakes during pregnancy for several reasons. Keep reading to learn more.

premier protein shakes

Premier Protein is not pregnancy safe. 

What is Premier Protein?

Are protein shakes good for pregnancy?

Are Premier Protein shakes safe during pregnancy?

Why drink wholesome?

What is Premier Protein?

Premier Protein is a brand of protein supplements owned by Post Holdings, a massive consumer packaged goods company whose portfolio includes beloved brands such as Honey Bunches of Oats® and Peter Pan® peanut butter. It can be found nationwide in major retail chains such as Walmart, Costco, Target, Sam’s Club, and in grocery stores like Kroger, Safeway, and Publix. Its widespread distribution and low price point make it a popular choice among consumers. Although many people swear by Premier Protein shakes, they are not the healthiest option on the market. In fact, they are arguably one of the least healthy for reasons outlined below.

Are protein shakes good for pregnancy?

The food you eat while pregnant matters and can have an impact on your baby’s growth and development. Getting enough protein is particularly important as protein serves as the building block for muscles, skin, and bones. Protein also plays a vital role in the production of antibodies that safeguard against illness. Considering that protein requirements increase with each trimester of pregnancy, it is imperative that you establish a plan to ensure your dietary protein intake is sufficient.

Determining the exact amount of protein needed during pregnancy can be challenging. Numerous figures exist, most of which are not substantiated by research that accounts for the distinct needs of expectant mothers and developing infants. Fortunately, we have conducted our own research to shed light on this matter.

A recent study revealed that protein intake recommendations for pregnant women exceed the current guidelines significantly. Specifically, protein requirements are 39% higher in early pregnancy (before 20 weeks) and 73% higher in late pregnancy (after 20 weeks). These figures surpass the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR), which represents the daily nutrient intake level estimated to meet the needs of half the individuals in a specific life stage and gender group. Based on the research, the recommended EAR for healthy pregnant women should be set at 1.22 grams per kilogram in early pregnancy (approximately 69 grams for a mother weighing 125 pounds) and 1.52 grams per kilogram in late pregnancy (about 86 grams per day for a mother weighing 150 pounds).

woman making a protein shake

Just thinking about eating this much protein can be overwhelming, especially for expectant mothers. Even if you were to incorporate a generous serving of protein with each meal, as outlined below, you could still fall short of meeting your protein requirements.

Breakfast: 2 eggs – 12g protein
Lunch: 4 oz chicken breast – 32g protein
Snack: ¼ cup almonds – 7g protein
Dinner: 4 oz salmon – 23g protein
Total: 74g protein

Unless you weigh 100 pounds, a standard serving does not provide an adequate amount of protein. Additionally, pregnant women often encounter challenges with eating due to food aversions, decreased appetite, and morning sickness. This is where protein supplements can prove beneficial. Protein supplements offer a convenient way to increase your and your baby’s protein intake.

Research demonstrates that incorporating protein supplements into your diet during pregnancy improves embryonic survival and growth by stimulating placental angiogenesis, increasing blood flow, and promoting embryonic protein synthesis. In simple terms, using protein supplements to ensure adequate protein intake not only supports your baby’s development, but also improves its chances of survival. It is important to note, however, that not all protein supplements are created equal.

woman drinking a protein shake

Is Premier Protein safe for pregnancy?

Drinking Premier Protein shakes during pregnancy is not a good idea. Although Premier Protein shakes can help you boost your protein intake, they contain a host of added ingredients that can cause uncomfortable side effects and long-term gut damage. I mention gut health because more and more research shows that disruptions to the composition and function of the gut microbiome (the collection of microorganisms that help you digest food) can play a role in the development of a number of chronic diseases. This is not something that you want to take likely during pregnancy. 

A Premier Protein Vanilla Protein Shake contains over a half dozen food additives. While consuming additives in small quantities may not necessarily pose immediate harm, they can add up over time, particularly if you consume a daily protein shake. This can give rise to gastrointestinal (GI) side effects such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gas, and stomach pain.

Basically, food additives look nothing like real food, and are therefore hard to digest. They consequently linger in the gut longer than food should, providing extra time for gut bacteria to eat and produce gas, which causes bloating and stomach pain. Additionally, gas can slow down colonic transit, potentially resulting in constipation. Over time, the regular consumption of food additives can disrupt regulatory pathways in the intestines, paving the way for the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other systemic inflammatory disorders.

premier protein vanilla protein shake

Here is a list of the food additives in a Premier Protein Vanilla Protein Shake:

High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Natural and Artificial flavors, Inulin, Cellulose Gel and Cellulose Gum, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Carrageenan, Tripotassium Phosphate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Sodium Hexametaphosphate

Note that two of these ingredients on this list – Sucralose and Acesulfame Potassium – are artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners can cause serious harm in the long term as they alter the composition of your gut microbiota (the collection of microorganisms that help you digest food). Thi can result in significant and enduring gastrointestinal (GI) complications, as well as extensive inflammation and lasting damage to the delicate balance of the gut microbiome.

Why should you care so much about your gut health? Well, research shows that the composition of the maternal gut microbiome could influence pregnancy outcomes, and the long-term health of mother and child. What you eat, and how it affects your gut, may have a significant effect on metabolic disorders during pregnancy, which, in turn, can affect the health of the child.

So, are Premier Protein shakes safe during pregnancy? Given what we know about food additives, Premier Protein shakes are not a good choice for pregnant women. 

Why drink wholesome

drink wholesome is made with real foods.

Our protein powders are not only additive and dairy-free (whey and casein, which are byproducts of cheese and yogurt production, are known to cause digestive issues), but they are also made with real food protein sources.

the alternative:

Protein Matrix Comprised of (Whey Protein Concentrate,  Whey Protein Isolate, Calcium Caseinate, Micellar Casein, Milk Protein Isolate, Egg Albumen, Glutamine Peptides), Polydextrose, Sunflower Creamer (Sunflower Oil, Corn Syrup Solids,  Sodium Caseinate, Mono- and Diglycerides, Dipotassium Phosphate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Soy Lecithin, Tocopherols), Natural and Artificial Flavor, MCT Powder (Medium Chain Triglycerides, Nonfat Dry Milk, Disodium Phosphate, Silicon Dioxide), Lecithin, Cellulose Gum, Salt, Yellow 5, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Papain, Bromelain.

*This is the actual ingredient list of one of the best-selling protein powders in the United States.

The majority of protein supplements, Premier Protein shakes included, are made with protein concentrates and/or isolates, foods stripped of everything but their protein content. Instead of being labeled as “peas” and “whey,” concentrates and isolates are listed as “pea protein” and “whey protein.” Without delving into the details, it is worth noting that protein concentrates and isolates undergo intensive mechanical and chemical processing. In some cases, carcinogenic solvents like hexane are employed to isolate the protein. Consequently, wha you end up eating bears little resemblance to real, whole food.

Your digestive system evolved to handle naturally occurring foods, not synthetic imitations. Feeding your gut anything but real food may therefore trigger an adverse response. Although the long-term consequences of consuming processed foods are not yet fully comprehended, accumulating research indicates that it can modify the composition of your gut microbiota and result in lasting damage to the delicate balance of your gut microbiome.

It is important to recognize that your gut serves a multitude of functions beyond food digestion. It acts as a protective barrier against pathogens, educates your immune system, and directly or indirectly influences numerous physiological processes within your body. It is for this reason that disruptions to the gut microbiome have been linked to the development of various chronic diseases. It is therefore in your best interest to steer clear of protein powders that rely on protein concentrates and isolates, as they may not be good for your gut and overall well-being.

vegan chocolate protein powder lifestyle image 1
vanilla protein powder lifestyle image 2

Instead of relying on protein concentrates or isolates, we make pregnancy-safe protein powders with real foods like egg whites and almonds. The egg whites undergo a simple process of pasteurization and drying before being transformed into protein powder. The almonds, on the other hand, are roasted, pressed to extract some oil, and then ground. These real foods present an easily digestible and gut-friendly alternative to protein concentrates and isolates.

One significant advantage of real foods is the fact that they contain enzymes and other digestive aids that facilitate the breakdown of nutrients, allowing for optimal absorption by the body. In contrast, protein isolates and concentrates lack these essential digestive aids, making them more challenging for the body to digest and absorb. Furthermore, minimally processed plant-based foods like almonds offer the added benefit of being rich in fiber, which promotes healthy digestion and regular bowel movements.

For individuals without allergies or sensitivities to eggs, egg white protein emerges as the optimal choice for gut health. Egg whites possess qualities such as low fiber content, low-FODMAP properties, natural alkalinity, and the highest protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) among whole foods. Our customers have reported experiencing fewer digestive issues when consuming egg white protein powder compared to other types of protein supplements.

If you cannot eat eggs, our vegan almond protein powder is a great alternative. We prefer almonds over other plant protein sources due to their gut-friendly properties. Research suggests that almonds exhibit prebiotic characteristics that can enhance the diversity and composition of the gut microbiome..


easy to digest

“I’ve had Crohn’s disease for 20+ years and it’s always been hard to find a protein powder my stomach can handle. I’ve had no problem digesting drink wholesome AND it tastes great. I highly recommend this protein powder if you have IBS or Crohn’s.” – Jesse

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This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. drink wholesome is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.