Protein is important during pregnancy for you AND for your baby. Read how to include protein in your pregnancy diet
Protein is essential as part of your healthy pregnancy diet – the amino acids that make up protein are the building blocks of your body’s cells and of your baby’s cells too. Regular supplies of protein are especially important during the second and third trimesters when your baby is getting bigger.
And it’s not just your developing baby that needs plenty of protein – you do too! Your own body is changing to accommodate the needs of your baby – even the volume of your blood increases by around 40-60% during pregnancy and in order to reach and maintain this level you need adequate protein, water and other essential vitamins and minerals.
A healthy pregnancy diet should contain about 70-80g of protein a day – about 25g more than you needed before you became pregnant. Some sources recommend aiming for 80-100g a day, especially if you are very active.
Lean meats and fish are the obvious sources, along with dairy products including milk, eggs and cheese. If you don’t eat meat your pregnancy diet should include foods like tofu, seeds, nuts, beans and legumes such as chick peas, pinto beans, kidney beans and lentils.
You don’t have to get the recommended amount of protein every day. Instead, aim for that amount as an average over the course of a few days or a week but there are easy ways to top up your protein intake if you don’t think you’re getting enough in your usual diet.
- A glass of milk (or a hot milky drink) at bedtime will give you about 20g of protein
- 100g of porridge oats contains 12-13g of protein – make your breakfast porridge with full milk instead of a mixture of milk and water and include a generous handful of seeds for even more protein to kick-start your day.
- Eggs have about 6-7g of protein so feel good about a generous omelette for lunch or two scrambled eggs for breakfast – and serve with wholegrain bread or toast and a topping of grated cheese.
- Snack on trail mix or raw veggies dipped in hummus – all those lovely chick peas are protein packed.
- A standard size chicken breast will give you 17-18g of protein; a 3oz/85g salmon steak has about 22g of protein and a 4oz/115g beef steak around 25g
- Teaming salmon steak with lentils gives you a double whammy of protein
- An avocado has 10 gms of protein and a cup of peas has 9 gms
- Don’t feel much like eating? A cup of yogurt has 13g of protein