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Protein In Pregnancy

Updated: Feb 25, 2021

Protein plays a vital role in pregnancy as it helps your baby to grow. It does this by growth and repair of new and damaged tissue cells. Protein is needed to build every cell in the human body and plays amazing important role in your red blood cells and placenta.

Protein is an important nutrient and should be part of a healthy balanced diet during pregnancy. Studies have shown that mothers who take the recommended amount of protein during pregnancy have a higher birth weight, which means decreasing the risk of a variety of problems associated with low birth weight.

Pregnancy can drain you of energy so again protein is key and becomes more important in the second and third trimesters. It helps to stable blood sugar levels, plus serves a key role in hormone function.

There is a difference between meat and plant based protein. Unfortunately many plant proteins don’t have the all needed amino acids which is classed as quality protein so if you are vegan or vegetarian then you will need to ensure you are getting a balance of these good proteins from grains and legumes.

Role of protein in pregnancy

  • Growth & repair of damaged tissues

  • Making antibodies for immune system

  • Making hormones & enzymes

  • Helping muscles function

  • Transporting oxygen through the blood

The recomended amount of daily protein in pregnancy is 60-75 grams which should be spread throughout the day.

Aim for 20 grams of protein in each meal, see some examples below

  • 6g - per egg

  • 12g - 8 ounces of low fat cottage cheese

  • 7g - 1 ounce cheddar

  • 8g - 1 cup low fat milk

  • 18g - 1 cup lentils

  • 15g - 1 cup black beans

  • 27g - 1/2 chicken breast

  • 23g - 3 ounces salmon

Sources of protein

  • Meat & poultry - Turkey, chicken, mince meat, steak.

  • Fish - Salmon, sardines, mackerel.

  • Eggs

  • Diary - Cheese, milk, yogurt

  • Beans & pulses - Chickpeas, lentils, baked beans, kidney beans.

  • Seeds & nuts - Walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds

  • Grains - Oats, quinoa, wheat.

Ideas to add protein to meals

  • Add seeds & nuts to salads

  • Add oats to smoothies

  • Peanut butter on toast or rice cakes

  • Pancakes with added nuts & seeds

  • Creamy soups & pasta sauces (homemade)

  • Grate cheese over your potato, salad, soup, chilli, eggs

  • Yogurt & grains for snacking

Its key to eat a healthy balanced diet whilst pregnant and if you are unsure about any foods to avoid then always consult your doctor or health advisor to be sure.

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