Most pregnant women quickly learn about Foods to Avoid in Pregnancy, Additives to Avoid in Pregnancy and general information on Diet and Nutrition, but have you thought about how much protein you are eating?
Many women run for the hills when they usually think about nuts, meat and dairy products. How can they eat all of those without gaining too many calories?! But there are ‘good calories’ and ’empty calories’, and, as well as eating healthy, regular snacks in pregnancy, you need to make sure you are eating well-balanced meals rather than faddy diet ones.
Why is protein important during pregnancy?
The amino acids in protein help build your unborn baby’s cells and tissue and are essential for the healthy development of his heart, lungs and other vital organs.
When you are pregnant, your body’s blood volume increases and this too requires protein to fuel the increased manufacture. Because your body demands extra protein, it is important to maintain your own body’s tissue regeneration during this time.
If you are breastfeeding, you will need to maintain an increased intake of protein until you stop lactating.
Good sources of protein
Dairy products and nuts are good sources of protein, though some specialists advise that you should continue to consume these only in the normal levels you would usually do when not pregnant. If you have any allergies yourself to these foods, then discuss your diet with your doctor as it is important to find rich alternatives while you are pregnant.
Good organic meat (including chicken and turkey) and fish are good sources of protein, as well as eggs. If you do not eat meat or fish, try tofu or soya products like quorn, or pulses and beans.
If you are eating meat, make sure it’s good healthy and fresh. You may prefer to eat fish but if you do, check out our article on why eating fish is good for fetal development but also, why you should moderate your intake of oily fish.
In the UK (and the West in general) our diet tends to be quite protein heavy, but if you have got used to a diet which is light on these in order to lose weight, pregnancy is the time to give that regime a rest!