Last Updated on August 31, 2023 by Jada Glover
You may be wondering if pre-workout drinks are safe to take while breastfeeding. And if, they are, which ones are safe to drink?
The short answer to the question, “Are pre-workout drinks safe to take while breastfeeding?” is yes. However, pay extra attention to the ingredients to be extremely careful with which pre-workout drinks you choose. Not all of them are best for a breastfeeding mother or her baby.
Pre-workout drinks and other dietary supplements can be safe for breastfeeding mothers if you choose products with natural ingredients that are safe and don’t overdo caffeine content or other stimulants.
As a new mom, this is not a time to take potential risks. Avoid any ingredient that causes concern, watch your nursing baby for adverse reactions or side effects, and never hesitate to consult your healthcare provider or lactation specialist before deciding which pre-workout drink is safe.
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What is a Pre-Workout Drink?
As a postpartum nursing mother, a pre-workout boost probably sounds enticing since you’ve gone through labor, delivery, and sleepless nights caring for a new tiny human being.
These supplemental drinks help reduce fatigue and tiredness while you exercise by increasing blood flow allowing oxygen to reach the muscles and your tired mommy brain.
Pre-workout drinks usually come in a powder mix that dissolves in 8 or 12 ounces of water. These pre-workout products come packed with supplements designed to increase energy levels during a workout and improve performance.
Most pre-workout drinks contain common ingredients to increase blood flow and nitric oxide production. Pre-workout drink mix powders may also contain creatine which helps increase muscle growth. Other ingredients in pre-workout supplement drinks include:
- beta-alanine to improve muscular endurance
- vitamin B12 for the healthy development of blood cells, nerve cells, and proteins
- citrulline malate to help improve blood flow throughout the entire body
- betaine anhydrous to increase muscle endurance, power, and force
With the promise of delivering a feeling of energy while exercising to get back into shape, these supplemental drinks sound wonderful. However, a nursing mother should know what she consumes since it could affect her breast milk and nursing infant.
Ingredients to Avoid
Always research the ingredients in any pre-workout drink. Choose ingredients that are safe for you and your baby. Stay away from any listed ingredients that could cause adverse effects on your baby’s health or your milk production.
Of course, stay away from any product that has a warning label directed toward pregnant or nursing women to avoid. Also, avoid fat-burning or ingredients often found in energy drinks that promise rapid weight loss.
As a new mom, choose your pre-workout drink carefully. Many contain high levels of caffeine or stimulants that could pass through the breast milk to the infant. Caffeine in high amounts may also lessen your milk supply.
Pay attention to your body and your baby’s reaction. Start slowly with a small dose of pre-workout drink mix and gradually increase it. Take note of how your body and how your baby reacts.
The main ingredient to look for and avoid in high amounts while nursing is caffeine. A safe caffeine intake for a healthy individual is between 300 to 500 mg daily. However, nursing mothers should keep their caffeine levels closer to 200 to 300 mg a day or lower. Many pre-workout products pack large amounts of caffeine or other stimulants into the combination of ingredients, so read the label carefully.
Mothers who consume large amounts of caffeine often report their nursing infant experiences fussiness, jitteriness, or poor sleep habits.
Caffeine is also a diuretic, so excess consumption may quickly cause dehydration and lower your milk supply.
Additionally, the increased blood flow boost you receive from a pre-workout drink mix may cause tingling, while all the energy-boosting power may backfire and cause insomnia.
Monitor caffeine consumption. Limit your caffeine intake to no more than 300 mg per day. If you or your baby become irritable or jittery after drinking caffeine, reduce your caffeine intake or discontinue it entirely.
Also, avoid artificial sweeteners. Look for these nonnutritive sweeteners (NNS) on the ingredients label as saccharin, sucralose, Aspartame, or acesulfame-potassium. While the FDA considers all artificial sweeteners, except saccharin, safe for lactating women, use extreme caution. Recent studies have linked Aspartame to cancer and other health issues. Also, avoid Aspartame if your baby has an inherited genetic disorder called phenylketonuria.
The main problem with proprietary blends on a label is that they often hide specific ingredients or their amounts. When you see proprietary blends listed as an ingredient, question what the term encompasses. You can’t be sure how much of each component the product actually contains. If you or your baby reacts after you consume a pre-workout drink with a proprietary blend, it will be difficult to pinpoint which ingredient caused the adverse reaction.
Unnatural Ingredients or Unnecessary Fillers
It’s always a good idea to stick with natural ingredients. Consuming only natural ingredients is especially important when supplying nutrients to a growing baby through your breast milk. Some unnecessary additives include magnesium stearate, silicon dioxide, titanium dioxide starch, microcrystalline cellulose, stearic acid, simethicone, vegetable gum, talc, or propylene glycol. None provide nutritional value.
Supplements that Negatively Affect Milk Supply
Also, avoid supplements that negatively affect milk production, harm the baby, or potentially cause an adverse reaction, such as Ashwagandha, Bilberry, Berberine, or goldenseal.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that helps our bodies handle stress. However, it can cause excessive drowsiness in infants. In some cases though, it can be beneficial as a galactagogue to increase breast milk supply.
Bilberry is a fruit rich in antioxidants but may cause hypoglycemia in infants and decrease milk supply for nursing mothers.
Berberine is a compound in the herb goldenseal which may interfere with the baby’s immune system leading to jaundice.
Pre-Workout Drink Ingredients
When you start reading the labels on the pre-workout products, you will notice a few widely used ingredients regardless of brand.
If whey protein powder is an ingredient, look for signs of adverse effects in your baby, such as excessive fussiness, stomach upset, green-colored stools, or diarrhea.
Creatine is a top ingredient in pre-workout formulas. Creatine Monohydrate is a naturally occurring compound in meat and milk. This ingredient is considered safe to consume while breastfeeding. However; if you notice your baby has excessive bloating, burping, or spit-up, creatine could be the culprit.
BCAAs Branched Chain Amino Acids are another ingredient in most pre-workout drinks. BCAAs are similar to creatine. While it helps to rebuild muscle and speed recovery, it also removes lactic acid and increases protein absorption in muscle tissue. BCAAs have minimal adverse effects on babies.
Caffeine is often in pre-workout mixes because of its ability to increase the density of receptors for serotonin, GABA, and acetylcholine which boosts your mood and energy levels. However, as previously mentioned, excess caffeine can interfere with nursing. Keep in mind that exercise in and of itself often boosts the production of endorphins and other “feel-good” hormones.
Beta-alanine increases exercise capacity and decreases muscle fatigue. It is an amino acid that increases muscular endurance, reduces fatigue, and may help buffer lactic acid buildup, which causes muscle soreness. The daily recommended safe dose for healthy individuals is 4-6 grams. However, nursing women should limit their intake.
L-arginine is an amino acid that helps boosts nitric oxide production and helps the body build protein. It gives you an extra muscle pump. You will find limited research about the safety of use while breastfeeding.
L-citrulline is a non-essential amino acid that helps support muscle energy and peak muscle power output. It is not recommended for use while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Vitamin B12 is essential for healthy red blood cell production, nerve function, and DNA synthesis. B vitamins also improve energy levels and boost moods. It is considered safe for breastfeeding mothers.
While you’re anxious to get back into shape and lose that baby belly, listen to your body and use caution when starting a postpartum workout. Overexertion often leads to decreased milk supply. Take care of yourself as you recover. Allow more time to rest, and don’t push yourself too hard.
Focus on eating a healthy diet balanced with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. Don’t jump quickly to restrict your calorie intake. Remember that breastfeeding burns about 300-500 calories daily, so avoid ingredients that deliver too many stimulants or promise fast fat-burning or weight-loss results. Also, drink plenty of water with electrolytes to stay hydrated.
Ensure you get plenty of rest and allow time to recover from childbirth before jumping back into the workout routine. Stay hydrated to help maintain your milk supply at optimal levels and keep your body functioning. Dehydration causes fatigue, muscle cramps, and a decrease in milk production. Drinking water before, during, and after exercising helps prevent dehydration and promotes faster recovery.
Pay close attention to your body’s response to postpartum exercise and pre-workout supplements. If you experience any adverse effects such as fatigue, dizziness, or lightheadedness, slow down and discontinue using the pre-workout drink until you consult your healthcare professional.
Best Pre-Workout Drinks for Nursing Mothers
If you choose to use a pre-workout drink mix, consume it about 20 to 30 minutes before your workout to give it time to start to work. Also, eat a balanced diet to ensure you have the proper calories and nutrients to support breastfeeding and exercise.
Here are some of the best natural pre-workout drinks to try:
Legion Pulse is a popular all-natural choice. The brand also makes a caffeinated version, but you won’t miss the extra stimulation. It comes in several flavors, all of which are a refreshing break from the typical chocolate or vanilla found in protein shakes.
Choose from fruit punch, blue raspberry, green apple, strawberry kiwi, or sour candy. Mix with water for a fast pre-workout drink. As a bonus, the company guarantees you will see results, or they will give you your money back.
The Genius Brand PRE workout drink mix offers a natural nootropic option. Nootropics are supplements that improve cognitive function. This delicious pre-workout drink is free of preservatives, unnecessary fillers, artificial flavors, banned substances, GMOs, or soy. There is no need to worry about a proprietary blend. Choose blue raspberry, sour apple, sour cherry, or grape limeade.
This ultra-clean stimulate-free pump pre-workout drink provides a keto-friendly option. Don’t worry about any unnatural ingredients. The mix is sugar-free with no artificial sweeteners and no stimulant. Choose from cherry limeade or blackberry lemonade. Fruit Punch, or Pineapple Orange Mango. The pre-workout mix offers a nitric oxide booster of beetroot. The mix is naturally sweetened with stevia.
RARI Nutrition Infinity Pre-Workout Performance offers all-natural ingredients with no caffeine or artificial sweeteners. This mix provides a high-performance energy powder in a sour gummy worm flavor. It also comes in blue raspberry, candy watermelon, or strawberry lemonade. Add one scoop to an 8 or 12-oz. glass of water 20 to 30 minutes before workouts.
Garden of Life offers this pre-workout drink mix in blackberry cherry or blackberry flavors. It is a fantastic Vegan option and is gluten-free and sugar-free. It is also dairy-free and non-GMO certified. While it does have 85 mg of caffeine, this falls well below the limit for a nursing mother. And, with the Garden of Life option, the other ingredients are too good not to recommend. It has a natural nitric oxide booster and B12.
Are pre-workout drinks safe to take while breastfeeding? While pre-workout drinks for breastfeeding mothers are considered safe, it depends on the ingredients as well as your and your baby’s response to the specific mix. These pre-workout supplements may benefit you by boosting energy and stamina while helping to keep you hydrated.
Choose options with natural, pure ingredients, preferably without caffeine, and no artificial sweeteners or proprietary blends. In the meantime, allow your body time to work back into exercise slowly. Start with low-impact workouts like walking. Put the baby in the stroller or a front carrier, and go for a walk together. Get plenty of rest, or as much as your baby will allow, and eat a healthy, balanced diet.
How long should I wait to breastfeed after drinking pre-workout?
It’s a good idea to wait for at least 2 to 3 hours after consuming pre-workout drinks before breastfeeding to ensure the caffeine and other ingredients have had time to work through your system. The exact amount of time will vary depending on your metabolism.
What ingredients should I avoid in pre-workout drinks while breastfeeding?
Avoid excess caffeine, artificial sweeteners, and proprietary blends that don’t disclose exact ingredients.
What if my nursing baby has an adverse reaction to the pre-workout drink?
If you see a change for the worse in your baby’s behavior or digestion after using a pre-workout drink, swap it out for a different brand, or nurse your baby right before you drink it to allow more time for it to work its way through your system before the next nursing session. Of course, if your milk supply drops or the baby becomes extremely fussy or uncomfortable, consider avoiding the pre-workout drink entirely.