12 Best Protein Powders for Breastfeeding Moms (2024 Guide)

Here are a few suggested protein powders that may be helpful for nursing mothers:

Protein powders can be a very helpful supplement for breastfeeding women who need a convenient way to squeeze a little bit more protein into their diet.

However, registered dietician Emily Gelsomin from Harvard Health advises:

“Chances are you can adjust your food intake to get what you need. Protein from food is often cheaper, less risky, and naturally includes beneficial nutrients.”

As amazing as protein powders specifically for breastfeeding moms are, always keep in mind the importance of using them as a supplement and not as a replacement for the nutritious food sources that your body needs!

During my breastfeeding journey, I only relied on protein powders and other supplements on days when I knew I wasn’t making the best food choices.

Best Protein Powder for Breastfeeding Moms

Let’s take a look at the best lactation protein powders available that are safe for breastfeeding so that you can make the best choice.

There are many protein powders out there, but experienced moms like myself recommend the following options as being the best.

1. Vital Proteins Natural Whole Nutrition Collagen Peptides

Vital Proteins is an affordable option for postpartum moms and has very limited added sugar and no artificial ingredients. It provides 18 grams of protein per serving.

2. Ritual Essential Protein Powder

This clean protein powder has amazing organic, non-GMO ingredients with no artificial ingredients or added sugar.

Its vanilla flavor has hints of spice and caramel and provides 20 grams of protein (organic pea protein) without having that “chalky” feel.

3. Boobie Body Superfood for Super Moms

Boobie Body protein powder is a lactation powder built specifically for breastfeeding mamas. It is a bit more expensive than other powders, likely because of its organic ingredients.

Providing 19 grams of protein per serving, this plant-based powder is a great supplement for other things as well such as fiber, iron, and choline. 

4. Baby Booster Salted Caramel Protein Powder

This is a prenatal protein formula designed for expectant mothers; therefore, it is rich in folate and other essential nutrients for your baby’s development.

It provides 20 grams of protein per serving and is approved for postpartum moms too.

5. Pink Stork Pregnancy and Nursing Protein Powder

This protein powder is a great option for pregnant or nursing mothers looking for additional ways to boost their protein intake.

It is made of real ingredients, and each serving contains 20 grams of whey protein and zero added sugar. 

6. Garden of Life Grass-Fed Collagen Protein Powder

If you’re looking for a plant-based or vegan option, this one is definitely worth looking into! It is made of superfood ingredients and even contains probiotics. 

7. Naked Whey

This powder is advertised as only having one ingredient: whey protein.

While it may not taste delicious on its own, it is a great option for adding to recipes for additional nutrients and 25 grams of protein. 

8. Orgain Organic Vegan Protein Powder

This is a very popular plant-based powder that checks all of the vegan (or non-vegan) boxes! Its main ingredient is pea protein, but it is also made with brown rice and quinoa.

Considering the high-quality, clean ingredients, this is one of the best and most affordable protein powder options.  

9. Ora So Lean & So Clean

As the name implies, this plant-based superfood protein powder does have very clean ingredients! Choose from unflavored, vanilla, chocolate, or vanilla chai.

10. Milk Dust Lactation Protein Powder

This is another powder marketed specifically for new moms. In terms of ingredients, it has some great ones and will definitely provide important nutrients, including folate, B12, and iron. 

However, it is lower on the protein scale as it only offers 16 grams of protein in each serving, and it comes with a bigger price tag.

11. Body Fortress Super Advanced Whey Protein Powder

Body Fortress is one of the best, most affordable protein powders on the market.

They have high-quality whey protein with great macros — high in protein (30 grams/serving!), low carb, low sugar, and low fat.

While it’s not specifically a lactation powder, it is still a great option for new moms. 

12. Majka Lactation Protein Powder

Majka is another well-known, plant-based lactation and breastfeeding supplement powder.

It is made with all organic, non-GMO ingredients including flaxseed, turmeric, and pea protein. Also, all products are free of dairy, soy, gluten, and refined sugar. 

Looking over a breastfeeding mother's shoulder at her baby looking up at the camera.

Protein When Breastfeeding

Protein isn’t called the building block of life for nothing! Protein plays an important role in many important functions including building muscle and aiding in recovery (like after giving birth!).

If you have given birth and are now breastfeeding, you know that there is a lot of demand on your body, especially physically.

It just makes sense that your body will need a little bit of extra nourishment during this time. However, be cautious to not overdo it. 

According to this study published in the National Library of Medicine, a lactating woman needs about 2 grams of protein per kilogram of her weight.

To put that into perspective, a 140-pound woman would need about 120 grams of protein per day in order to maintain her muscle mass while providing enough nourishment for her newborn baby. 

While protein requirements truly vary depending on caloric intake, activity levels, and body composition, about 25-30% of your daily calories should come from protein! 

Truly, the best way to ensure an adequate amount of protein each day is to pay attention to what you are eating and be sure that you are nourishing your body appropriately with balanced meals and protein-rich snacks.

Many mothers are turning to breastfeeding protein powders for their convenience and versatility in protein-rich recipes!

Benefits of Protein for Breastfeeding Moms

Protein powders can be especially convenient for lactating women who are busy and may not have as much time to prepare protein and nutrient-rich meals or snacks.

Protein powder can easily be added to smoothies, yogurt, and oatmeal or into recipes for lactation cookies, energy oat bites, and other snacks as a way to increase protein intake. 

In addition to being an easy way to get in a little extra protein, protein powders can help in muscle recovery, help a mother feel full for longer periods of time, and help her get the vitamins and nutrients she needs to support her own body as well as nourish her little one. 

Different Types of Protein Powders While Breastfeeding

When you really start looking into types of protein powder, it is easy to become overwhelmed by all the options. There are so many!

The most common protein powder options that you will see include: 

  • Whey protein
  • Plant-based protein powders such as soy, hemp, or pea
  • Casein protein
  • Isolate protein
Three scoops of different protein powders on a wood table.

Whey Protein vs. Plant Protein

Whey protein is derived from milk during the cheese-making process and is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids required by the body. 

It is particularly rich in leucine, an amino acid important for muscle protein synthesis. Whey protein is quickly absorbed, making it an ideal choice for post-workout recovery. 

Plant protein is sourced from various plants like peas, rice, hemp, or soy. While plant proteins may lack one or more essential amino acids, combining different plant protein sources can create a complete amino acid profile.

What To Look for in a Protein Powder & What To Avoid

Not all protein powders are created equally. You will want to keep your eyes open for these key ingredients while shopping for a safe protein powder: 

  • Natural ingredients: The more ingredients that you can pronounce, the better! Choosing a lactation protein powder (or just a regular type of protein powder) with whole foods is ideal compared to powders made of artificial ingredients. Organic protein options are recommended.
  • Vitamins: Key vitamins for lactating mothers include vitamins A and C and vitamin B complex, which includes folate, a very important vitamin for growing children. Protein powders marketed specifically toward breastfeeding mothers are more likely to have these vitamins, but you can find lots of brands that are vitamin-packed. 
  • Minerals: Iron, calcium, and potassium are the most important minerals for breastfeeding moms. Make sure that your protein powder contains some of these three minerals. 

What To Avoid

While many of the ingredients in protein powder are very helpful and essential for breastfeeding mothers, you should AVOID protein powders that have too much extra “stuff” that decreases their nutritional value, including: 

  • Added sugars: Many people do not realize that powders can be packed with added sugars or artificial sweeteners. Try to avoid powders with artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin.
  • Thickeners and gums: Xanthan gum and other thickeners are like glue in the digestive system. 
  • Fillers: Sometimes, fillers are added to bulk up the protein and save the manufacturer money. These ingredients (coconut flour, skim milk powders, added fibers, psyllium, and sugar) can cause bloating, constipation, and reflux in those with sensitivities.  
  • Heavy Metals: Some protein powders have been found to contain heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury. These toxins are linked to cancer and other health conditions. 

Word of Caution: Harvard Health shares that because protein powders are considered supplements, the FDA does not regulate the safety, labeling, or toxicity of the products.

Too Much Protein When Breastfeeding

Just like with most foods, you can always overdo it and have too many grams of protein per day, whether it’s coming from your main meals or protein supplements.

While lactating does require slightly more calories and protein, you should not strive to increase your protein intake drastically.

High-protein diets with not enough balance from other macronutrients can be unhealthy and put a strain on your kidneys and liver.

Having a balanced diet and nourishing your body with whole foods is truly the key. 

Other Ways To Boost Essential Protein Intake When Breastfeeding

A variety of healthy foods high in protein arranged on a table.

While protein powders are a great way to get extra protein, remember that proper nutrition is vital for a breastfeeding mother and for the healthy development of her baby. 

It is crucial to include other whole-food protein sources in your regular diet each day in addition to your protein powder. Good options include: 

  • Lean meats such as chicken, white fish, or turkey
  • Red meat like lean ground beef or steak
  • Fatty fish such as salmon or tuna
  • Greek yogurt
  • Eggs 
  • Low-fat cheese and milk
  • Legumes such as beans, chickpeas, and lentils
  • Nuts
  • Tofu
  • Whole grain bread
  • Oats
  • Quinoa

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Protein Powders Safe While Breastfeeding?

As long as you follow the guidelines and choose a protein powder with good ingredients, protein powder can absolutely be a safe snack option while breastfeeding.

However, like all things food and diet related, moderation is key. Be careful not to rely on protein powder as your only source of protein.

It should be used as an occasional supplement and should not replace protein from other whole food sources. 

Does Protein Powder Help Produce Breast Milk?

Protein is an essential nutrient required for overall health and breast milk production.

It is important to ensure that you have an adequate intake of protein as well as other nutrients in order to support your body’s ability to produce milk.

Protein powder is just one way to get extra protein, which lactating mothers often need more of in order to produce breast milk. 

Does Protein Powder Help Increase Breast Milk Supply?

There are many factors that affect a woman’s milk supply; however, a balanced and nutritious diet that includes a variety of foods rich in protein is recommended.

Protein powder alone may not increase milk supply; however, using it as a supplement for extra protein could result in a supply increase.

Does Protein Powder Help You Lose Weight?

Using protein powders has many benefits that can aid in weight loss including:

  • Boosting metabolism
  • Increase fat burning
  • Reduce hunger levels
  • Curb sugar cravings

However, you must be careful to select a protein powder that does not contain too much added sugar or additional ingredients that can promote weight gain.

You should also be mindful and remember that protein powders are often very high in calories. While they can aid in weight loss when used correctly, drinking too much can cause weight gain. 

Can a Protein Shake Replace a Meal?

While protein powder is an amazing supplement, it should be used as just that — a supplement for extra protein.

It should not replace a meal containing fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods.

You should focus on having a well-balanced diet while breastfeeding, rich in nutrients from a variety of food sources. 

Does Whey Pass Through Breast Milk?

It is possible for whey in protein drinks to pass through the breast milk. Since whey-based protein is a protein from cow’s milk, a baby with dairy sensitivities may also be sensitive to whey protein.