Nutrition · Pregnancy

Protein in pregnancy: Why it’s important and how can I get enough?

Variety of high protein foods

As we start the New Year, we may think about making healthy lifestyle changes. Part of eating well is making sure you get enough protein to help build, maintain, and repair tissues in your body.

Why is protein important?

You need protein. When you eat food that contains protein, the digestive juices in your stomach and intestine go to work.  They break down the protein in food into basic units, called amino acids.  The amino acids can then be reused to make the proteins your body needs to maintain muscles, bones, blood, and body organs.  So when you’re pregnant, it’s important to eat enough high protein foods; protein will help your baby grow, help you gain enough weight and feel good!

Many foods contain protein but the best sources are meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils.

During the first half of your pregnancy your protein needs are the same as when you were not pregnant.  As your baby grows, and as your body changes in the second half of the pregnancy, you’ll need more protein.  This need is even higher for women who are carrying twins.

Mix and match your choices in your everyday meals and snacks for variety!

7 Good sources of protein for you:

  1. Meats: such as beef, pork, lamb, chicken, fish (including canned fish such as canned light tuna and canned pacific salmon). Tuna melt is a great and easy way to eat fish.
  2. Eggs; two eggs count as one serving of meat and alternatives. You can cook eggs in so many different ways and add them to your meals; hard boiled eggs on a salad and pan fried eggs in a whole wheat wrap are two of my favorite ways to eat eggs.
  3. Milk Products such as milk, buttermilk, yogurt, cheese, fortified soy beverage, kefir and paneer. Greek yogurt and fruits make a great breakfast to get you going.
  4. Legumes such as beans, chickpeaslentils, and soy (Tofu). Check out our Tofu berry whip recipe to try a delicious snack.
  5. Nuts or Nut Butters such as peanut butter, almond butter, etc. Have you tried cut up banana, on a layer of peanut butter on a whole wheat toast? Delicious and nutritious at the same time!
  6. Grain Products whole wheat flours, oat bran and wheat germ. Try overnight oats!
  7. Edamame and lima beans. You can buy these from the frozen section of the grocery store, add to your salads or soups!

I would like to note that safety of protein powders have not been tested during pregnancy and breastfeeding. You can meet your extra protein needs by eating healthy real foods such as above.

Please comment below and let us know how you enjoy your high protein meals and snacks!

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