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Proteins are the building blocks of health in your body. Adding protein to your diet is a necessity and a daily intake of protein is even more important for pregnant women in order to help provide for the growth and development of the foetus. In order to incorporate protein into your diet, you will first need to understand the benefits it has to offer, along with the quantity of protein that you need to consume for a healthy pregnancy.
Why Is Protein Needed When Pregnant?
Every cell in your body has protein in it. Protein contains amino acids which provide these cells the structure and the ability to function effectively and also help repair the cells. During pregnancy, protein is essential to aid the normal growth and development of the baby as it promotes
- The growth as well as repair of new and damaged tissues
- The production of antibodies for the immune system
- Creation of hormones and enzymes
- Proper functioning of muscles
- Movement of oxygen through the blood
- Healthy birth weight in babies
A high protein diet during pregnancy is especially important during the second and the third trimesters of pregnancy as this is the time when your baby will grow at a faster pace. During this time, your organs, breasts, and body are also growing in order to accommodate and provide for the baby. A good quantity of protein can help facilitate these changes as well.
What Is the Amount of Protein Essential for Pregnant Women?
Most women require about 70 to 80 grams of protein during pregnancy, which is about 25 grams more than what you would need normally. Protein requirement in pregnancy varies based on your level of activity as well. If you are very active and engage in regular exercises, you may want to increase your protein intake to 80 to 100 grams each day.
The amount of protein required may also vary by weight. Adults usually need around 0.75 grams of protein for every kilogram that they weigh. Pregnant women will need an additional 6 grams of protein on top of this. Some women may need as little as 45 grams of protein each day, based on their body weight. You can always discuss with your gynaecologist the exact quantity of protein that you will need based on your level of activity and body weight.
While the quantity of protein is important, the quality matters too. Most doctors agree that animal protein is the best quality protein. However, if you are a vegan or vegetarian, you can get your recommended amount of amino acids from a good serving of legumes and grains.
Don’t stress about hitting the mark of protein intake each day. As long as you can manage to eat an average amount over the course of a few days, your protein intake should be sufficient.
Protein Rich Foods During Pregnancy
There are several acceptable food sources that are recommended for pregnant women.
|Food source||Protein content (per 100 gram)|
|Chicken breast without skin||32 g|
|Chicken eggs||12.5 g|
|Cheddar cheese||25.4 g|
|Whole milk||3.3 g|
|Semi-skimmed milk||3.4 g|
|Cottage cheese||12.5 g|
|Peanut butter||23 g|
|Red lentils||7.6 g|
|Cooked beans||7.5 g|
|Oats porridge||12 g|
|Plain soy milk||6 g|
|Roasted peanuts||25 g|
|Wheat germ||31 g|
|Algae (Seaweed)||1.7 g|
It is important to remember that not all fishes are safe during pregnancy. Some contain a high quantity of mercury and are best avoided as mercury may cause developmental delays in babies. Fishes like sardines and salmon have a good amount of omega 3 fatty acids in them which are ideal for neurological development in children. Small portions of fish once or twice a week are sufficient for pregnant women.
Many people also consume whey protein or protein powder for the intake of protein. While there are no studies that have been conducted to warn against their use, you will not have to rely on them for pregnancy protein intake, if you are consuming a healthy amount of protein through food sources. In case you want to make it a part of your diet, however, you can discuss the same with your doctor.
Protein is not only a great addition to your baby’s nutritional needs, but it is also equally important for you. Your body is working hard to provide for your baby and is going through a myriad of changes that require an adequate supply of energy. Proteins provide you with this energy and help you gain strength while helping promote growth in your baby. If you do not consume the required quantity of protein, you may face problems like weight loss, severe fatigue, excess water retention and infections during pregnancy. Babies that haven’t received the right amount of protein are at a higher risk of having low birth weight or developmental issues as well.
Also Read: Eating Chicken During Pregnancy