Breastfeeding, while being a beautiful experience, takes a toll on the entire body – mentally, physically and emotionally. It’s important that while we are nourishing our baby, we are taking care of ourselves as well. One thing many moms complain about is their ravenous appetite while breastfeeding – and having a few healthy, high protein breastfeeding snacks can help with satiety and satisfaction by keeping us full for a longer period of time.
In a perfect world, we would be eating three healthy meals and a couple snacks to meet the increased demand of breastfeeding. Sometimes this is just not feasible. This post contains a combination of simple snacks, healthy recipes, and convenient on-the-go products for your breastfeeding journey.
Nutritional Needs While Breastfeeding
Nutritional needs are increased for women who are breastfeeding as compared to those who are not. It is estimated that women need 300-500 additional calories while breastfeeding, depending on the amount of milk produced. Weight loss doesn’t affect milk supply but consuming a less than 1500 calories per day might.
In order to maintain our lean muscle mass, it is recommended to eat an additional 25 grams of protein per day (1). One study stated that protein needs should be even higher, an estimated 1.7-1.9 g/kg/day (2). Protein is considered the most filling macronutrient, and can promote positive changes in body composition (3).
Some micronutrients, like choline, calcium, vitamin C and iodine, are increased – even more so than pregnancy. Therefore, it is recommended to continue taking a prenatal vitamin until your breastfeeding journey comes to an end.
Are There Foods That Will Increase My SUpply?
You may have heard that oatmeal or brewer’s yeast will increase your milk supply. I wish I could say with confidence that this is true. However, research on the use of galactagogues is extremely limited, with low certainty that any of these foods increase milk production (4).
However, some people swear that oatmeal increases their milk supply. While it’s a healthy and nutritious food for breastfeeding – just know that there is very little research that confirms this. Even so, I’ve included a few delicious recipes containing oatmeal.
Building a Healthy Breastfeeding Snack
Think of breastfeeding snacks as another way to fill in those nutrient gaps which you might not be getting with your meals. A high protein snack with at least 10 grams of protein will help meet the increased protein demands while hopefully keeping you full until your next meal.
Further, consuming a diet adequate in protein will help preserve your lean body mass while you’re trying to shed the baby weight.
Healthy, High Protein Breastfeeding Snacks
Broken down by 1) simple snacks, 2) high protein recipes and 3) convenience snacks.
Some of these recipes call for protein powder. When selecting a protein powder for breastfeeding, make sure it’s third-party tested and contains very few ingredients – check out my post on recommendations for protein powders for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Greek Yogurt or Cottage Cheese with Fruit/Vegetables
Greek yogurt and cottage cheese both provide about 13 grams of protein per 1/2 cup serving. They’re also a good source of calcium! Add some berries on top to make this even more nutritious.
If you aren’t a fan of the texture of cottage cheese, try it whipped! It can be used in so many ways. Try it on toast with red chili flakes and avocado.
Fruit and Nut Butter
Fruit with two tablespoons of nut butter make for a super quick breastfeeding snack – like apples or bananas with peanut or almond butter.
Turkey, Cheese and Crackers
A simple snack plate consisting of turkey, cheese and crackers provides a well-balanced snack high in protein and calcium. This could also be a “one handed” snack while you’re in the midst of breastfeeding.
Keeping a few hard-boiled eggs in your fridge can make for a quick and filling snack, with one egg providing 6-7 grams of protein.
Smoothies are a great one-handed snack and a convenient way to get those micronutrient needs. If you’re using protein powder, it’s best to select one that’s third-party tested for heavy metals and with very few ingredients.
A Greek yogurt or cottage cheese smoothie make for a delicious non-protein powder option.
High Protein Breastfeeding Snack Recipes
Protein balls are a popular breastfeeding snack for many reasons. They’re packed with nutrients, require no baking, and are simple enough to pick up and eat when you’re short on time. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, and the freezer for up to three months!
Add some chia or flaxseeds, which contain omega-3 fatty acids – shown to improve behavior, cognition, attention, and anxiety in children (5).
— Pumpkin Protein Balls (Nourished by Nic): 5 grams of protein per ball.
— With two variations, these Oatmeal Protein Bites (K Campbell Nutrition) contain 7-9 grams of protein per bite.
— Power Protein Balls (Dietitian Mo), with peanut butter, chia seeds and dates.
Baked Lentil or Tofu Nuggets
These Baked Lentil Nuggets (Christina Iaboni) are a great alternative to chicken nuggets that even your kids could eat. The lentils are rich in protein and fiber, and the hemp hearts add more protein and healthy omega-3 fats.
Another idea? Vegan-friendly Air Fryer Tofu Nuggets (Bites with Blair) with 21 grams of protein per serving. Since these are a bit more labor intensive, it’s a good idea to make in a large batch and store in the freezer.
High Protein Oatmeal
If you’ve already been consuming oatmeal to increase or maintain your milk supply, why not make it even more filling and nutritious? This quick, high protein vegan oatmeal recipe (Bites with Blair) can be made in less than five minutes and contains 30 grams of protein!
Other recipe ideas are these protein overnight oats (Jackie Silver Nutrition).
Chia seeds are tiny but mighty – loaded with fiber, which is often lacking in most diets. This chia pudding recipe (Eating Bird Food) has 19 grams of protein as well as omega-3 fatty acids.
For more variations, this recipe (Jackie Silver Nutrition) contains three different flavor profiles: Matcha Chia Pudding, Peanut Butter Chocolate, and Fruit and Nut.
Another healthy breastfeeding snack that can satisfy a sweet tooth is yogurt bark! Here’s a recipe for chunky monkey yogurt bark (Live Well Dietitian) with just a few ingredients.
Make a large batch and store in the freezer in an airtight container for up to three months (like it will last that long).
Roasting chickpeas in the oven makes for a crunchy, plant-based snack rich in protein and fiber – and can easily be eaten with one hand while you’re breastfeeding your little one. Try these BBQ Roasted Chickpeas from Bucket List Tummy – they can even be thrown on salads or in stir-fries.
Homemade Trail Mix or Trail Mix Bars
Another super simple breastfeeding are these Healthy Trail Mix Bars (Bucket List Tummy) with powerhouse ingredients like rolled oats, hemp seeds and peanut butter. Just pop them in the freezer to set- no baking required.
Store in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for a couple months. Each bar has 3 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein.
Healthy, Convenient Breastfeeding Snacks (From the Store)
These items do contain Amazon affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I receive a small compensation if a purchase is made.
RX Bars contain very few ingredients with no artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols. Each bar contains 12 grams of protein.
Another great option are Aloha Organic Plant-Based Protein Bars, with 14 grams of protein and sweetened with monk fruit.
Trail Mix or Pumpkin Seeds
String cheese is good source of protein and calcium. Compare food labels of different products to find the best product.
Brewer’s Yeast for Lactation
While there isn’t much research to back up the claims that Brewer’s Yeast can increase milk production, there are countless reviews claiming that it does. It can be used in cereals, oatmeal, smoothies and baked goods, with one tablespoon containing 7 grams of protein.
If you’re in need of a grab-and-go snack that makes little mess, beef jerky can be a great option.
Moon Cheese are crunchy cheese bites made with one ingredient only (cheese). Plus, one serving has 11 grams of protein and 25% daily value of calcium.
Salmon Salad On The Run
Try this Bumble Bee Salmon Salad with Crackers Kit. Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids while also being lower in mercury, and safe for women who are breastfeeding. Each kit is about 8 grams of protein and the “salad” is already mixed together.
A Few More Thoughts
The best breastfeeding snacks are higher in protein with some added nutrients from complex carbs, fruits, vegetables or seeds/nuts.
I looked over a lot of the “milk boosting” products out there, and I feel like the recipes in this post contain similar or better ingredients without having to pay for that hefty price tag. They’re just marketed well, without much context as to why they increase milk production.
There are no “special” ingredients that aren’t in most of the breastfeeding snacks listed above.
I hope this post gave you a lot of ideas for healthy and delicious breastfeeding snacks. Which one will you try?