Protein-Packed Pregnancy: How To Meet Your Protein Needs During Pregnancy
December 7, 2023
Learn expert strategies to effortlessly meet increased protein demands for a thriving and healthy experience for both you and your baby!
When it comes to macronutrient needs during pregnancy, the focus is on protein and its increased needs during this time. Our carbohydrate and fat needs mostly remain the same as non-pregnancy.
Protein needs can range between 75 to 100 grams per day during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy. Needs will vary based on individual factors like pre-pregnancy weight, health conditions, and physical activity level. But these high demands for protein can feel like a struggle to meet – let’s discuss!
What is protein and why do we need more during pregnancy?
Proteins are made up of amino acids, that play an essential role in our body’s function and structure, such as our hormones, enzymes, tissues and organs.
During pregnancy, a woman’s body experiences an increased demand for protein to support the growth of the fetus, the placenta, and to help the mother’s body adapt to the changes occurring. The development of the baby’s tissues, muscles, organs, brain and central nervous system rely heavily on the mother’s protein intake. While the expanding blood volume, growth of uterus, and development of breast and uterine tissue of the mother require sufficient protein intake as well.
So how can you meet these high protein demands?
- Know your protein sources. There are many sources of protein that are important to remember when planning your meals. Be sure to incorporate a diverse and variety of protein sources into your daily diet – to avoid becoming bored by options and ensure you are meeting your needs. Here is a short list to keep handy: lean meats, poultry, fish and seafood, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
- When discussing food choices during pregnancy, we always add a quick reminder about food safety – choose reputable sources to buy your food from, clean your food before eating and cooking, and cook it well.
- Aim for balanced meals. It’s not just about the protein source, but when planning your meals start with the protein source, and choose your whole grain/starchy vegetable, fruits or vegetables, and healthy fat that pair well with that protein. For example greek yogurt (protein) for breakfast with fruit, granola (whole grain) and nuts (healthy fat).
- Use your snacks. Snacks are bridges to meals but they also serve as a way to help you meet your needs without having to put too much pressure on the meals. Snacks can pack a punch when it comes to nutrients and are very helpful in meeting your protein needs through food. Snack on protein-rich foods like hummus with veggies, a handful of nuts, or a boiled egg.
- You may need protein supplements. In some cases, a doctor may recommend protein supplements to meet the increased demand. However, these should only be taken under medical supervision.
Protein is an essential nutrient during pregnancy, crucial for both the mother and the baby’s health. Meeting increased protein needs can be achieved by consuming a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of protein sources and taking necessary precautions for safety. Consulting with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian can provide personalized guidance to ensure meeting these needs safely and effectively. To learn more about what Dining With Nature offers for infant nutrition care – take a look at our Services page.