When you're pregnant, your doctor or midwife might suggest that you get plenty of healthy protein daily. Aim for getting about 70 g of protein in your diet most days during pregnancy to support your growing baby. It's especially important to meet this protein goal during your second and third trimesters, when your baby is doing most of her growing. It may be tempting to get much of this protein into your system with protein-packed energy bars. While energy bars are not necessarily unhealthy during pregnancy, relying on them for your protein could be detrimental.
On the upside, eating a protein bar provides many nutrients your body needs during pregnancy. Besides protein, energy bars are often fortified with essential vitamins and minerals such as folic acid, calcium and zinc, which can help your growing baby. Many protein energy bars also contain fiber, which can help prevent constipation, a common side effect of pregnancy. Getting enough protein in your diet can help keep your energy levels up and ward off pregnancy fatigue.
However, if you rely too heavily on energy bars for your protein while pregnant, you may fill up on these bars and wind up eating fewer healthy whole foods. It's best to get your protein from nonprocessed foods such as eggs, low-fat dairy, lean meats and legumes. A protein bar can make a nice pick-me-up when you are unable to prepare a healthy protein-packed meal, but it's best to use the bars as a last resort and not a daily meal replacement.
If you eat too many protein bars while pregnant, you may subject your body to too many nutrients. For example, consuming too much vitamin A during pregnancy could increase your baby's risk of developing birth defects. Protein bars are often full of excess sugar and empty calories, which can cause you to gain more weight than is necessary. Some protein bars include herbs and other supplements that are not healthy for pregnant women.
If you want to eat energy bars during your pregnancy, talk to your doctor to make sure the type of bar you are choosing is safe. Or choose healthy alternatives for daily snacking, such as fresh fruit, low-fat string cheese, homemade trail mix with nuts and dried fruit, or granola bars without added vitamins and nutrients.