After having a baby, moms find that they don’t have the time or energy to cook healthy meals for themselves like before the baby arrived, especially if it is their first baby. Moms are also anxious to lose their baby weight to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight, so they want to turn to meal replacement shakes to lose weight. However, are meal replacement shakes safe while they are breastfeeding their babies?
Meal replacement shakes are safe while breast feeding when used as a snack or to replace a light meal. Especially if you use a healthy shake that provides protein, vitamins & minerals, digestive enzymes, and other beneficial ingredients. However, ensure you eat enough calories while breastfeeding.
Meal replacement shakes can be a safe part of a healthy diet. At the end of this article, you will find out how to make your superfood meal replacement shake for a fraction of the money!
Breastfeeding Burns Many Calories
New moms who are breastfeeding their babies need around 500 extra calories per day to make enough milk. This is because it takes a lot of energy and calories for the body to produce as much milk as the baby needs. A nursing mom needs around 1,800 calories per day, and if she replaces even one of her meals with a shake, she won’t get enough calories to produce healthy milk for her baby.
New moms also are in a hurry to lose the extra weight, but according to the Le Leche League, losing weight too quickly can introduce contaminants into the mother’s bloodstream and, eventually, into the milk. They recommend that new moms lose about one to two pounds per week while breastfeeding.
While breastfeeding, you will automatically burn up to 500 extra calories. If you increase your caloric intake by 250 calories in addition to your normal intake, you will be able to lose the recommended amount per week.
A meal replacement shake might make the mom lose weight too quickly, and she will not produce enough quality milk for her baby. However, if she were to have a shake as a snack, in addition to three balanced meals per day, they would be safe for her to consume. As breastfeeding takes more calories, if new moms eat a balanced diet while staying within her caloric needs, she shouldn’t gain too much weight, if any.
How Much Extra Protein Do Nursing Moms Need?
Part of a new mom’s caloric needs includes extra protein to keep her healthy and that of her new baby through her milk. Yet, how much extra protein is necessary? While the protein requirement is different for every woman, a nursing mom will need around 80-90 grams of protein on average.
You might need more or less, depending on your overall fitness before your pregnancy started. If you’re more muscular and you work out with weights, you will need more protein than women who are not as muscular and are more sedentary.
The minimum protein requirements for non-nursing moms is between 0.36 and 0.45 grams per pound of body weight. That means that if you are 150 pounds, you will need between 54 and 67.5 grams of protein per day. If you are nursing, you will need at least 0.6 grams or more per pound of body weight to stay healthy and create healthy milk for your baby.
So what sources of protein are best? Whole food sources of protein are best for most of your protein intakes, such as chicken, beef, eggs, and beans. You can supplement your protein needs through a meal replacement shake no more than once per day if you are too busy for a full meal or are still hungry after a meal.
Protein from whole food sources will also provide extra vitamins and minerals that enrich your milk for your baby, such as vitamin B12, iodine, zinc, and iron, which your baby needs for proper growth and development. Meal replacement shakes lack several minerals that whole food protein sources provide.
Meal Replacement Shakes Are Safe as a Snack
As mentioned previously, meal replacement shakes are safe as a snack or a minor meal when you don’t have time or energy to make more of a meal. But you want to make sure that the shake you choose has the basic nutrients like folate, iron, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B12, so it will supplement your diet when you don’t eat a balanced meal.
Meal replacement shakes and bars can work in a pinch for snacks or calorie-controlled meals. However, to be successful in losing weight for the long term, you need to plan your diet around whole food meals and snacks. The reason behind this is that when you are eating real food and balancing your meals and snacks between whole foods and processed foods, you get a variety of food that gives you your daily nutritional requirements.
Look for healthy meal replacement shakes that do not contain artificial sweeteners, many preservatives or chemicals, or too many sugars. Whey protein is the most common protein source, but meal replacement shakes also use egg white or pea protein.
You can use soy protein, but soy is a common allergen, so if you might be allergic to soy, you might need to avoid this protein type.
Meal replacement shakes sometimes contain a weight loss accelerant, which is not healthy for breastfeeding moms. These fillers often trick the body into thinking it is full, but without offering a lot of nutrients. Breastfeeding moms need a meal replacement shake that does not contain these fillers.
One note of caution: If you use meal replacement shakes as snacks, be sure not to eat too much at another meal. You’ll need to stay within your caloric allowance per day, and if you add several extra ingredients to your shake, you might overshoot your limit. If you have a shake as a snack, eat a little less at the next meal.
Breastfeeding Moms Need a Balanced Diet
Most new moms get a wealth of nutritional advice before leaving the hospital with their babies, especially if they choose to breastfeed. Part of the nutritional advice centers around what constitutes a balanced diet, such as how much protein, carbs, and fats to have for each meal. Portion sizes are also recommended for calorie control.
However, eating a balanced diet with a new baby can be challenging. Often, new moms fall into the fast-food trap that can be disastrous for losing weight. If you don’t have a lot of time for meal prep, here are some things you can do to eat healthily and save time:
- Buy pre-cut produce such as broccoli, celery, carrots, or apples. When you need a snack, it’s easy to pull this out and eat it without a lot of trouble.
- Deli meat and cheese make decent low carb snacks or even a meal when you don’t have a lot of time.
- Rotisserie chicken can make a quick meal when paired with mashed potatoes and a vegetable. Look for pre-made mashed potatoes in the meat or deli section and pre-seasoned vegetables in the freezer section.
- When you have time to make a meal, put extra food in smaller containers to have lunch the next day. That way, you won’t need to reach for a meal replacement shake when you need a meal.
- If you have a few moments the night before, create a meal that can go in a slow cooker for breakfast the next morning, such as eggs, sausage, and hash browns.
A balanced diet while breastfeeding will reduce the need for relying on meal replacement, shakes very often. Remember to stick to only one shake per day, or you’ll miss out on the fiber and other nutrients you need for recovery and healthy milk production.
Meal Replacement Shakes and Protein Powders Work Well With Superfoods
Today’s nutritional trend in shakes and smoothies is adding superfoods to the shakes for added nutrition and antioxidants. Chia seeds, spinach powder, goji berries, or other superfoods have made their way into meal replacement shakes because of the shakes’ superior nutritional qualities.
If you cannot find shakes with superfoods added, you can always add them when making your shake. Whole spinach or spinach powder will add iron, while blueberries will add several antioxidants to boost your immune system, as well as your baby’s immune system.
Later in this article, you will learn how to make your own meal replacement shake, but for now, the basics of making a meal replacement shake involves the following steps:
- Start with a healthy protein powder without additives or artificial sweeteners.
- Add water or milk–dairy-free or dairy, depending on your preferences.
- Add berries, superfood powders, and almond or peanut butter.
The basic meal replacement shakes with superfoods would make a healthy snack or small meal when you don’t have time to sit down to a meal.
Our #1 Recommended Super Food Meal Replacement Shake is Shakeology.
- Superfruits & Antioxidants
- Prebiotics & Probiotics
- Digestive Enzymes
- Supergreens & Phytonutrients
- Vitamins & Minerals
Best of all Beachbody does not take shortcuts when it comes to the quality of their Shakeology ingredients, for this reason, they offer the following as well:
- NO Artificial Sweeteners
- NO Artificial Colors
- NO Artificial Flavors
- NO Artificial Preservatives
- They Do Offer Dairy-Free Options
- And Shakeology Is Certified to Have a Low-Glycemic Index
You Still Need Your Vitamins and Minerals
If you still have your prenatal vitamins, and your doctor tells you to keep taking them during breastfeeding, continue to do so. However, you might not always get enough nutrition with your diet. So if you are looking for a meal replacement shake to supplement your nutritional routine, look for one that contains a wealth of vitamins and minerals.
Many meal replacement shakes have a minimum of the following vitamins and minerals. If your shake doesn’t have at least the minimum, you might want to find another shake.
- Vitamins A, C, E, and K
- Vitamin B6 and B12
- Pantothenic acid
- Vitamin D
These are the minimum nutritional requirements of any meal replacement shake because the entire point of a shake is to still get all the nutrition in one shake.
Choose a Shake With Digestive Enzymes
Digestive Enzymes are a great addition to meal replacements today as you need more than vitamins and minerals. Because, after having a baby, your body changes drastically in how your body digests food. For example, before having a baby, you might be able to digest gluten well, but after your baby is born, that sandwich might cause stomach issues due to the bread.
A meal replacement shake with digestive enzymes like bromelain or probiotics can help you recover better. You still might be sensitive to gluten, but a meal replacement shake with digestive enzymes might help you feel better.
When you first have a baby, you usually get some stool softeners in the hospital. This is because when you’re pregnant in the third trimester, your internal organs are compressed because of your baby. Your intestines and colon don’t work as well, so when your baby is born, your body takes a little bit to start working again.
While stool softeners work to help everything become too hard to pass through, digestive enzymes work to help your food digest a little easier.
Meal replacement shakes that contain these enzymes can help your system get back to normal quicker than without them. When making your shake, put a little yogurt in your shake for more probiotics.
Which Meal Replacement Powders Are Best for Lactating Moms?
A meal replacement shake has a balanced mix of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, much like a balanced meal would have. However, a protein shake has mainly protein and is used by athletes or people who work out heavily to build muscle after working out. However, a meal replacement shake for lactating moms will encourage milk production while providing protein and nutrients for healthy weight loss.
Clean protein powders with superfoods like spinach, turmeric, and oats encourage lactation. When protein powders have no additives or chemicals, they are better for you and your baby.
Meal replacement shakes made specifically for lactating moms include the following brands:
- Milk Dust lactation and weight loss powder
- Ora Organics powder, complete with superfoods like blueberries and turmeric
- Shakeology meal replacement shakes
- Naked whey protein powder
The brands above use either plant protein or 100% grass-fed whey protein powder, without artificial sweeteners or added sugars.
You can also consider the following meal replacement shakes: 7 Best Meal Replacement Shakes for Women
Watch Out for Artificial Sweeteners or Added Sugars
Meal replacement shakes or protein powders, even the higher quality shakes and powders can often contain artificial sweeteners, which is not safe for your baby or you. Or they contain added sugars, which doesn’t help you lose weight very fast.
Aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, and other chemical-based sweeteners are unhealthy and can cause a wide range of problems. One mom created a meal replacement shake that didn’t contain sucralose because she is allergic to it. And there are other stories of people who have developed migraine headaches from sucralose.
Shake powders that contain stevia, monk fruit, and erythritol blends are usually cleaner and provide more nutrition for you than other powders. Some people refuse to use these sweeteners because they classify them as artificial sweeteners, even though they are natural sweeteners. However, for being zero carbs and zero calories, those are the safest natural sweeteners.
Look for shakes that list stevia, monk fruit, and erythritol in the ingredient list to be safe. No dyes or preservatives should be on the list either, to be safe for you and your baby.
How to Make Your Meal Replacement Shake
While you can find healthy meal replacement shakes, you can make your own by adding peanut butter and coconut oil, with some berries, to a protein powder and either water or milk.
The basics of a meal replacement shake are:
- Protein powder, either whey, egg, or plant protein
- Some fat such as coconut oil or a nut butter
- Fruit such as a banana, strawberries, or other berries
- A vegetable such as spinach or beetroot powder
- Extras like turmeric, ginger root, or other spices or seasonings
- An additional sweetener like raw honey to put on top of the shake
A safe meal replacement shake for lactating moms includes all three macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Plus, it will contain plenty of micronutrients like vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy, as well as probiotics for digestion.
You have several options that are only as limited as your creativity and imagination. There are the standard combinations of peanut butter, banana shake, or super greens shake with apples and super greens powder.
However, if the entire point of a meal replacement shake is quick and easy, there are several pre-made shakes that you can buy that are safe when lactating.
Meal replacement shakes can be safe for breastfeeding moms if they are clean and don’t contain many contaminants. Remember, everything you consume while lactating goes into your milk and is passed through to your baby.
Several companies have created healthy and clean meal replacement shakes specifically for breastfeeding mothers. Some of these shakes are for weight loss, while others are made for increasing how much milk moms make for their babies. Yet, do you need these specialty products?
If you’re generally healthy and produce enough milk for your baby, then you probably don’t need them.
- Trifecta: Protein Calculator
- Livestrong: Can You Drink Slim Fast While Nursing?
- Milk Dust: Is Protein Powder Safe For Lactation?
- Lose Baby Weight: Breastfeeding and Weight Loss Information
- Baby Center: Are Liquid Diets Safe for New Moms?
- Joyful Messes: How Much Protein Do You Need While Breastfeeding?
- Majka: What’s the Best Protein Shake For Breastfeeding Moms?
- Healthline: 4 Natural Sweeteners That Are Good For Your Health