In the USA alone, we consume 1.5 billion snack bars each year.
So it’s no surprise that many pregnant women wonder if they can eat their favorite protein bars during pregnancy and as a snack during labor.
Most protein bars are safe for pregnant women to consume, although you should note that because they are processed, these bars tend to be very high in sugar and contain other additives.
Is Protein Good For Pregnancy?
Protein is very important during pregnancy, particularly because it helps your baby grow new and tissue, helps make antibodies for their little immune system and helps create hormones and enzymes.
Given its importance, experts recommend that pregnant women need to eat at least 70 grams each day during their pregnancy.
This may be why some pregnant women crave protein rich foods during pregnancy, because it’s essentially their body’s way of telling them it needs more of the stuff.
Can You Eat Protein Bars While Pregnant?
If you’re wondering whether it’s safe to eat protein bars during pregnancy you’re certainly not alone.
This is because protein is not only good for pregnant women (more on this later), but protein bars also make an excellent on the go snack.
But is it safe to eat protein bars during your pregnancy?
In general yes, just like protein shakes, protein bars are safe for pregnant women to consume.
But there are a few additional things to consider and try doing, such as:
- Opt for bars that are relatively low in sugar and have few to no additives.
- Look for bars with as few ingredients as possible – in general the fewer the ingredients, and the more you recognize the name of these ingredients, the more natural the bar is.
- It’s best not to use protein bars as a meal replacement, but rather a convenient snack when you are out and about, traveling or short on time.
- Remember that there are more natural and less refined sources of protein (as well as carbohydrate and fiber) such as lean meat, (which should be thoroughly cooked), fish, nuts, seeds, peas, beans and fruit.
Pros of Eating Protein Bars While Pregnant
High In Protein
This is an obvious advantage, especially as it’s in the name, but one of the biggest pros is that they contain anywhere from 10-20 grams of protein.
As we’ve seen, protein is good for pregnancy, so the benefit of eating just one bar is that it could provide you with as much as 25% of your recommended daily intake
In addition, you should get a uplift in energy after eating a bar thanks to the other ingredients within the bar (more on this in a second).
Easy & Convenient Snack
Most of us live busy lives, and chances are that even once you discovered you were pregnant, you haven’t slowed down.
There aren’t many people who don’t appreciate a quick, easy, tasty and convenient snack, and protein bars offer all these traits.
Bars are great to have as a back-up during busy days or when traveling, and they’re small enough to take with you wherever you go, have a long shelf life and don’t need any special storage.
May Contain Other Beneficial Nutrients
Another advantage of protein bars is that depending on the brand and ingredients, there may be other nutritional benefits including up to 10 grams of “healthy” fats, 30 grams of carbohydrates and several grams of fiber per bar.
A healthy diet consists of a balanced mix of protein, fat and carbohydrates, so bars that contain ingredients like nuts, oats and seeds all offer some additional nutrients in addition to the obvious protein boost.
Cons of Eating Protein Bars While Pregnant
High In Sugar
Perhaps the main disadvantage to eating protein bars regularly is that they are high in sugar.
The sweeter bars on the market can contain up to 30 grams of sugar per serving, which is actually more than the entire 25 gram maximum daily sugar amount recommended by the American Heart Association.
So sweeter bars with a lot of added sugar should be viewed more as a one-off treat rather than something you should consumer every day, particularly if you tend to eat other sweet treats like chocolate bars or hot chocolate.
Where there are certainly worse foods to eat, it’s important to realize that protein bars (and snack / energy bars in general) are a processed food.
Processed foods tend to be higher in calories, fat and added sugar than more natural or home-made alternatives, and often contain additives.
Sugar, high-fructose syrup, colorings, hydrogenated oils and palm oil are just some of the additives that you may find in a protein bar, and none of these are ingredients that you want to consume in large quantities.
So again, it’s important to keep in mind that while protein bars can play a part in a balanced diet, they probably aren’t the kind of food you want to eat on a daily basis.
So if you have the option to eat more natural alternatives like fruit, almonds, cashew nuts, eggs, avocado or peanut butter, then these are the better option.
- Most protein bars are safe for pregnant women to eat.
- Not all bars are created equal, but keep in mind that most snack bars and protein bars on the market tend to be very high in sugar and contain additives.
- For this reason it’s best to view protein bars as a convenient source of protein and energy when you are short on time, traveling or looking for a sweet treat, rather than something you consume every day or use as a regular meal replacement.
- Healthier and more nutritious alternatives to bars include nuts, fruit, eggs and cottage cheese, but remember that uncooked foods such as beef jerky should be avoided by pregnant women.
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