How to Increase Protein Intake during Pregnancy
Proteins are the basic requirement of our body. They form both structural and functional components of the cells, tissues and the organs. The recommended daily dietary allowance of protein is 56 grams for adult men and 46 grams for adult women. In children (1 to 3 years of age), the daily protein intake is recommended to be 13 grams, which increases gradually with age.
During pregnancy, the need of almost every nutrient doubles, including protein. During the second and third trimester of gestation, the protein levels in the body of the mother must be adequate enough to support her baby’s growth and organ formation. It is recommended to have at least 80-100 grams of proteins daily during pregnancy. For the mom-to-be, protein requirement can even be greater if she is to give birth to twins or triplets.
Besides the growth and development of the baby, protein requirement during pregnancy also increases so as to overcome its loss, which occurs due to severe nausea and vomiting that is further exacerbated by urinary protein losses.
Pregnant mothers can easily increase their daily protein intake by following the below mentioned simple tips:
Start your morning with a protein rich breakfast
- Have cheese omelet for breakfast. This can be the best protein-rich morning meal you could be having. Eggs and cheese, as we already know, supply enough proteins for our body to function properly.
- Have oatmeal or cereal adding nuts. This can be a protein rich cereal between the grains, nuts and dairy.
- Have whole grain French toast topped with nut butter.
- Boil eggs and add two eggs with your favorite breakfast.
Eat protein snacks throughout the day
- There is no need to remind you about the protein benefits of dairy products. In between meals, you can treat yourself to Greek yoghurt, cheese sticks, cottage cheese with fruit, and cream cheese with celery to increase the overall protein intake.
- Nut butter protein can be added to apples, celery or wheat crackers.
- For those who have nuts or dairy allergies try hummus with carrots, lentils or beans with rice.
Eating Protein for lunch and dinner
- Have chicken breast along with your dinner. This can tickle your taste buds along with providing your baby enough proteins to grow.
- Add beef, lamb or pork to a vegetable stir fry.
- Using ground turkey in the place of ground beef offers more protein.
Eat fish regularly
Fish is also an excellent source of protein. It is also safe to eat fish during pregnancy. But be careful not to eat predatory fishes such as sharks, sword fish, king mackerel, etc, as they can be mercury contaminated. Do not eat raw mussels, oysters and other shell fishes too.
Fishes that are safe to consume during pregnancy include catfish, cod, Pollock, salmon, herrings, sardines, tilapia, etc. But do not eat them raw or partially cooked.
Besides being a great way to increase protein intake during pregnancy, fishes are also a good source of other nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, vitamin D and calcium, all of which are essential for proper development of the fetus.
According to the department of Food and Drug administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection agency (EPA), 12 ounces of sea food, that is 340 grams per week is safe to be consumed during pregnancy.
Discuss with your care provider about the kinds of protein supplements you can take and also, their amount each day. Protein powders to make smoothies or protein bars are popular. The idea of a supplement is not to replace a meal but rather add a protein snack to boost the total protein intake for the day. Some mothers prepare a smoothie before bed or early in the morning.
How to increase protein intake in a vegetarian mom-to-be
A vegetarian diet is considered overall healthy; however, pregnancy and lactation require special concern. Hence for vegetarian mothers, a well-planned protein containing diet is essential. Whole grains, soy, roasted beans, kidney beans, legumes, peanuts, almonds, walnuts, etc. are great sources of proteins. Also, if you are a semi-vegetarian, milk, eggs and other dairy products can overcome the needs of increased protein intake during pregnancy. Don’t forget to discuss with your care provider about the various protein supplements you can have during pregnancy.
Charlotte Sanchez(CPM) is a Certified Professional Midwife and
Childbirth Educator of over 20 years.