Do I Need Extra Protein While Pregnant?
It isn’t just steamed fish and tofu! Protein – which supports your baby’s healthy growth – can be found in a variety of foods. How much protein should you include in your pregnancy diet? Read on to find out.
You may have been wondering, “Should I increase my protein during pregnancy?” The answer, quite simply, is YES! Protein is found in every cell of the body, and make up our skin, muscles, hair, and fingernails. Without protein, our cells wouldn’t have a proper structure, and won’t be able to function nor repair themselves1.
A Good Start to Good Health
To help your baby’s cells function well from the start, you’ll need a good supply of protein during pregnancy! Support your baby’s healthy growth and development during pregnancy with a generous intake of protein, which helps with the2:
• Growth and repair of new and damaged tissues
• Making of antibodies for their immune system
• Making of hormones and enzymes
• Proper function of muscles
• Transporting of oxygen through their blood
One of the first benefits you are likely to see from a healthy protein intake is a healthy birth weight! A healthy birth weight has also been linked to a reduced risk of developing diabetes or becoming overweight later in life3.
How Much Protein Do I Need?
As your body changes during pregnancy, your own need for protein increases too. This is so that your body can support the synthesis of both material and foetal tissues. The recommended daily protein intake for pregnant women is 1.1g per kilogram of body weight per day. For instance, if you weigh 70 kg, you will need 71g of protein a day.
A good rule of thumb is to include a portion of protein at every meal so that you’re getting 2 to 3 portions per day5. A portion is generally equivalent to the size of your palm. Good sources of protein include5:
• Beans, pulses and nuts
The table below shows some protein sources and their protein content7:
|Food source||Protein content per 100g|
|Chicken breast (grilled without skin)||32g|
But it’s not just the quantity that matters – it’s the variety as well! This is because different proteins provide different amino acids.
Unless you are vegetarian or vegan, you probably don’t need to adjust your intake to meet your increased needs. If you wish to avoid animal products, you can also obtain many essential amino acids by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Don’t know what to pick up from the supermarket? Go for a lean cut of sirloin, chicken breast (without skin), tempeh (fermented soya product), oily fish like salmon, and every gym rat’s must-have – eggs!
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Questions about feeding and nutrition?
Our midwives, nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.