Can I Drink Meal Replacement Shakes While Pregnant?

Can I Drink Meal Replacement Shakes While Pregnant?

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Last Updated on June, 2022

Meal replacement shakes are dietary supplements meant to be an easier, liquid alternative to a full, healthy meal. On top of that, they’re intended to help with weight loss. Both of those things are something that a woman especially needs help with during pregnancy.

Many pregnant women will find it difficult to do any work after a certain point. On top of that, they’ll also gain a lot of weight. While weight gain is a natural and healthy part of pregnancy, some women tend to gain extra weight, which can be hard to get rid of afterward.

To get proper pregnancy nutrition and maintain how they gain weight, some might add a meal replacement shake to their diet. But are they safe to drink during pregnancy for you and, more importantly, your baby? Let’s find out what the answer is!

Is it Safe to Drink Meal Replacement Drinks While Pregnant?

It’s important to form a good maternal dietary pattern that can help you fulfill your nutritional needs during pregnancy. Luckily, you can use nutritional shakes to help with this. These supplements are a great and healthy option for maintaining a balanced diet.

Meal replacement drinks can even help you get essential nutrients such as those you’d get from prenatal vitamins and help you fulfill your protein needs. These shakes will be able to satisfy your cravings and curb your hunger too. 

Consuming meal replacement drinks gives you more protein, fatty acids, prenatal vitamin, and other nutrients while ensuring you don’t gain excess weight. That helps you maintain a healthy diet when you’re pregnant and helps you lose weight afterward.

But do keep in mind that it’s only safe to drink meal replacements if you know what you’re doing. You’ve likely heard this time and time again, but it’s especially important for pregnant women intending to drink these shakes: TOO MUCH OF ANYTHING IS BAD FOR YOU.

Whether it’s consuming meal replacement drinks or a protein shake, you can’t overdo it, especially not when you’re expecting a baby. Protein powder and other similar supplements can fill your body with an excess of certain nutrients. Unfortunately, this can lead to all kinds of complications.

Take protein, for example. If you consume too much protein during your pregnancy, you’ll be more likely to develop gestational diabetes. On the other hand, going past your protein requirements might also cause a stunt in the baby’s growth.

It can even cause fetal or neonatal death because of ammonia toxicity. Don’t be alarmed, though. This is only if you drink protein shakes too often. 

With some of these effects mentioned, let’s get into more details about the side effects of meal replacement or protein powders during pregnancy. 

Will There Be Any Side Effects if I Drink These When I’m Pregnant?

Women stomach pain

This is pretty much the most common question pregnant mothers ask about these shakes, and understandably so. However, there are a lot of details to take into account if you’re hoping to go through a healthy pregnancy, and this is one of them.

The answer is simple enough. Take an electric outlet in your home, for example? Can it shock you if you try to touch it? 

Yes, it certainly can. But will that only happen if you purposefully aren’t careful and try to get yourself hurt? Again, just like the previous question, the answer to that one is yes.

This same logic applies to any meal replacement shake or protein shake when you’re pregnant. Can there be side effects to meal shakes/protein shakes? Yes, there certainly can be. However, you don’t have to worry about facing any of these if you’re just careful.

We’ve already talked about what happens if you drink too many meal replacements or protein shakes. Similarly, meal replacement shakes and protein shakes can cause nausea, dizziness, and other issues. 

But, you can easily avoid that if you add some more nutrition to the shake or get it through another meal soon after.

These minor but troublesome side effects might show up because meal replacements/ protein shakes aren’t nutritionally dense enough for a pregnant woman. Pretty much no meal is, so they have to eat extra.

If you’re careful and add more nutrition to your diet, you won’t have to worry about these effects. Similarly, as long as you’re careful and make/buy a suitable shake, you won’t have to worry. If you have any allergies, you should drink protein shakes/meal shakes that don’t have any ingredients that are harmful to you.

You need to avoid artificial ingredients too. This includes added sugars, artificially added vitamins (synthetic), artificial sweeteners, and more. 

These are all proven to cause many side effects, and they shouldn’t be a part of your daily diet regardless of pregnancy.

It would help if you watched out for heavy metals, unstable manufacturing conditions, and certain other ingredients. In addition, you should usually be cautious of anything that isn’t American Pregnancy Association or FDA approved.

Here’s a list of meal replacements without artificial sweeteners.

How Many Meal Shakes Should I Have Daily During Pregnancy?

Your body needs lots of water and other liquids when you’re pregnant. A minimum of 8-12 cups of water alone are recommended daily. That’s because water needs growth, especially more during fetal growth. 

It also helps deal with morning sickness, one of the biggest problems when pregnant. 

But, that doesn’t mean you should think about taking on an all-liquid diet. Pregnancy requires a balanced diet in every sense of the word. So, not only do you need to get balanced nutrition, but you also need to get a good balance of solids and liquids.

So, keep the number of meal replacement shakes you have during pregnancy to 2 at most. Drinking more than two might prevent you from getting enough calories, which is a no-go. Speaking of these, even with just 1 or 2 shakes a day, consider getting extra calories through other meals.

You’re eating for two people as there’s a developing baby inside you. To ensure that the growing baby can stay healthy throughout, try not to drink these supplements too often. 

Ensure that you get enough protein and other macronutrients throughout the day by eating a wide range of healthy foods, such as certain fruits and vegetables. Speaking of nutrients, let’s move on to the next topic.

Will Meal Replacement Shakes Provide Essential Nutrition?

Meal replacement shake

Yes, most meal replacements will provide all the essential nutrients you need during pregnancy. They’re a convenient and healthy option for getting more vitamin D, folic acid, high protein, and other things. 

These are all important nutrients that most women might not get the right amount of without meal shakes. Meal replacements can act as protein shakes, a prenatal vitamin, and a full meal all at once. 

Pair these with a few other healthy meals throughout your every day, and there’s little chance you’ll miss out on anything essential. As long as the meal replacement is decent in quality, the answer to this question is a definite yes. 

Related: Meal replacement shakes women’s best

Pros and Cons of Drinking Meal Shakes While Pregnant

Now that you know more about what protein powders/meal replacement drinks can offer, let’s dive into their pros and cons. Go through both parts to figure out whether or not it’s worth it to try out these drinks during pregnancy.

Pros

  • Many women don’t consume enough grams of protein and/or have a low carbohydrate intake when pregnant. Extra carb and high protein diets are essential during pregnancy, and these shakes can help you meet all your (and your baby’s) nutrition needs.
  • It can be hard to get or even eat a full meal when you’re all tuckered out walking around with your baby belly. But, you need nutrition despite that. These shakes are a very convenient way of dealing with this, as it only takes seconds to get them ready and drink.
  • Morning sickness is a huge bummer and one of the “less exciting” parts of being pregnant. After waking up, a quick meal replacement can help you fight against morning sickness and make you feel better sooner.
  • Weight gain is a natural and healthy part of pregnancy. But sometimes, women might gain excess weight during pregnancy which is hard to get rid of afterward. Meal replacement shakes can help maintain this and make weight loss easier for new mothers.
  • A diet is usually very helpful, but it’s highly recommended that you don’t take on one during pregnancy unless your doctor recommends it. If you’re worried about that, you’ll be glad to know that meal shakes offer the best nutrition with quality ingredients. This means that you likely won’t have to think of any diets in the first place, as all the benefits you’d usually get from one are in this one compact drink.

Cons

Something to keep in mind about these cons is that they’re easily avoidable if you know what you’re doing. Just take a look at each one to see what we mean:

  • Most meal replacements use artificial additives to better suit weight goals. While they might be good for that purpose, they’re bad for your health. It’s well-proven that even the most popular artificial ingredients can cause severe issues, meaning that any meal replacement with these in them might be unsafe for you.
  • Drinking too many meal shakes will almost certainly lead to different problems. One example of this is nutritional imbalance. For example, you might get way too much protein but not many fats or carbs. This can lead to gestational diabetes mellitus and other problems in pregnant women.
  • Many meal replacements are only good enough to keep you full for 2-3 hours. After that, you’ll get hungry again. This leads to potential overeating and can also cause nausea, sickness, and other problems. (Avoid this by getting a shake proven to keep consumers full for at least 4-5 hours.)
  • Lots of these shakes might include allergens. Under no circumstances should you consume anything you’re allergic to, especially not during pregnancy. It can cause fatal problems. (This is something you can get past by carefully examining the ingredients and asking your doctor for help choosing the right supplement).

Do Meal Shakes Help With Weight Loss During or After Pregnancy?

A Pregnant woman having meal replacement shake

Nothing will help you with weight loss DURING pregnancy. You definitely shouldn’t even try to lose weight during this process. As mentioned, it’s natural, and it’s a very healthy part of the process. But that doesn’t mean you should completely let yourself go.

While weight gain is inevitable and healthy during this, excess weight certainly isn’t. Meal replacements can help you avoid exactly that. That way, it’s much easier for you to remain in optimal shape, making life much easier after childbirth.

So, to answer the question, meal shakes won’t, and SHOULDN’T help with weight loss during pregnancy. However, they will keep you fitter and make it easier to lose weight once the child is born

They provide lots of help to new mothers looking to recover their bodies after childbirth and make the process much simpler and short.

Is it Good to Buy or Make Meal Replacement Shakes?

Homemade meal replacement shake and Bottled Shake

This is another common question many people ask. But, unlike the others we’ve discussed, it’s not got a very simple answer. For example, homemade meal shakes and store-bought ones are entirely different products.

If you compare any two recently released phones, they’ll both have their ups and downs. For example, one might have a better camera, and the other might have a better display. One might have better RAM, while the other offers a better refresh rate etc.

Once you know about these differences, it gets easier to choose the better option for you instead of struggling to find the one that’s better in general. The same goes for these shakes, which have their pros and cons.

For example, a homemade shake is the healthiest choice. That’s because you’re using your ingredients and know that it’s healthy, which is a big worry during pregnancy.

But, getting all these ingredients and making a shake is much more difficult than simply buying and preparing a meal supplement. This is much more convenient and helpful when pregnant since you get easily tired.

You can create the ideal blend filled with all the macronutrients you need with homemade options. However, you might miss out on important vitamins, probiotics, digestive enzymes, and other micronutrients that only meal replacements can offer. 

So, there is no right answer between the two. You can choose the one which suits your needs better. But they’re both good options, and you can’t go wrong with either one as long as you know how to make/choose the right shake.

Worth reading: How to Choose a Meal Replacement Shake?

Conclusion

We’ve gone through everything we had to share about this topic, and now it’s up to you to follow through with it. We’ve discussed exactly why and how these shakes are safe for pregnant women through everything above. 

Just make sure that you keep the details in mind so that they stay safe. If you’re still worried about any risks, it’s best to consult your doctor before trying meal replacements.

If you’re looking to make meal shakes a big part of your diet even after pregnancy, keep in mind that there are certain additional things to keep in mind. Check out our take on whether or not meal replacements are safe during the breastfeeding stage if you’re worried about the future.

We’re sure you have lots of questions on your mind about all this, so feel free to ask them in the comments. We’ll go through them all and give the best answers we can!

About the author
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Jennifer Pantall
Jennifer Pantall is a Nutrition Therapy Practitioner. She loves tennis and has one daughter with a lovely husband that she adores. Jennifer also loves to spend time outdoors playing with her dog or walking in nature. You can find more about me here.
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