PROTEIN NEEDS: It is recommended that during your pregnancy you should be consuming around 70 grams of protein per day. During pregnancy, a woman requires more protein than the usual 50-60 grams before pregnancy to support the developing fetus and increased need of the mother. The amino acids which make up protein also form the basic building blocks of your body's cells — which in turn also form the building blocks of your baby’s body too. During the second and third trimester is when you should make sure your protein levels are where they should be, especially as this is when your baby will be growing it’s fastest and that means placing more demand on you for all his/her essential nutrients.
PROTEIN SOURCES: There are many different sources of protein, so you shouldn’t really get bored with what you are eating. Foods such as beans, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, nuts, and yogurt, are just an example.Make sure you're eating good protein with every meal and snack every day.
Each food portion listed below is the equivalent of one serving, which is about 20 grams of protein:
Beans, Nuts & Legumes
1 cup firm tofu or 1 1/4 cup soft tofu
5 or 6 tablespoons peanut butter
3 oz. peanuts
1 1/2 cups cooked beans such as: chickpeas, kidney beans, baked beans, pinto beans, refried beans, lentils or black beans
three 8-oz. glasses soy milk
2/3 cup cottage cheese
2 cups yogurt
3 oz. Swiss, cheddar or most other cheeses
2 oz. Parmesan cheese
3 large eggs
two and a half 8-oz. glasses milk
Meat and fish
3 oz. chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork, or veal
**Protein Shakes: The question about protein shakes came up on Twitter yesterday and I want to pay specific attention to this source of protein.
Although eating a well-balanced healthy diet meets daily protein needs, protein shakes offer a convenient way to consume extra dietary protein. A woman should carefully read the ingredient list on food labels of protein shakes or supplements before consuming them during pregnancy
The source of protein found in protein shakes usually consists of whey, casein or soy protein, all of which are safe during pregnancy for most women. Protein shakes may contain ingredients that a pregnant woman will want to avoid. Some brands of protein shakes, specifically those made for sports nutrition or weight loss, may contain artificial sweeteners, herbs or performance-enhancing ingredients which are not recommended during pregnancy. Researchers have not yet established the safety of using herbs during pregnancy, according to the American Pregnancy Association, and some herbs may cause injury to the developing fetus.
Since many types of protein shakes promote weight loss, they may contain artificial sweeteners as ingredients. Some artificial sweeteners may be unsafe during pregnancy; research on artificial sweetener use during pregnancy is limited. According to the American Pregnancy Association, sucralose and limited amounts of aspartame are safe to consume during pregnancy, but questions remain about the safety of saccharin.
In general, stick to a pure 100% protein powder to make sure that you are getting just the protein and no additional ingredients that may interfere with your pregnancy. A great option, especially for those with nausea or food cravings is to create your own protein shakes. Start with good 100% protein powder, then add a liquid such as unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk, add some ice & fruit for a simple smoothie.
**If a company has a disclaimer "Do not take while pregnant" they may have added additional vitamins, minerals, herbs, or other ingredients that are not recommended for pregnant women. Read the labels and ask your health care provider for details and suggestions.
Teri Lang Patterson
Certified Fitness Instructor & Coach specializing in Aqua Power Training, Kickboxing, Weight Training & Yoga.
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