Protein During Pregnancy: Why Is It Necessary And How Much Do You Need?
Protein During Pregnancy
Changing how you eat, often holds the key to a healthy pregnancy. Expecting mothers need to consume the right nutrients in the right quantities for the health of their baby and selves. Getting enough calcium, iron, and vitamins is important, of course. But does your diet during pregnancy provide you with an adequate amount of protein? If not, it may be the time to revamp your diet.
Why You Need Protein During Pregnancy?
Protein is crucial for your baby, especially during the second and third trimesters.1 It provides amino acids for the development of bones, cells, and muscles. The right intake of Protein during pregnancy reduces neonatal complications2
A woman of average weight would ideally need to put on 10-14 kg (avg 12 kg) throughout her pregnancy.3
However, pregnant mothers on a low-protein diet gain less weight and, in turn, their babies may have lower weight at birth.4 Inadequate protein in the foetal stage could also lead to chronic health problems later in life.5
How Much Protein Should You Consume?
Your daily Protein intake needs to increase during pregnancy.6 Your changing weight during pregnancy can determine how much Protein you will require.
Consider an average weight gain of 12 kg during pregnancy. WHO recommends a Protein gain of 597 g (range 497 g to 696 g) for the same.
Further, NNC states that in the first trimester of pregnancy, the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) for Protein for pregnant women is 46 g per day (0.75 g/kg/day). In the second and third trimesters, it is 60 g per day (1.00 g/kg/day)7
Which Are Best Sources Of Protein?
Eggs are an excellent source of Protein, vitamins, and minerals. Fish and lean chicken are other sources of protein. However, avoid fish with high mercury content as it can harm your baby’s nervous system. Instead, go for low-mercury options, like, pomfret, or shrimp.8,9
Increasing the protein intake need not be a challenge for vegetarian mothers. You can gorge on protein-rich fruits and vegetables during your pregnancy. Bananas carry loads of nutrients and are especially rich in protein.10
Dairy products like milk and curd are packed with protein and calcium. Soya is another good option.11
As a vegetarian mom-to-be, you may already be consuming sprouts and lentils. Another easy way to raise your protein intake is by simply increasing the portions you eat. Just one-and-a-half cups of lentils will give you an extra 25 g of protein.
Brown rice and beans are other great additions to your diet. Need a mid-day snack? Munch on nuts and dry fruit when you get hungry.12 You could also benefit from high-protein drinks like Mother’s Horlicks.
Here is a quick overview of the protein content of some common foods:13
|Meat||Chicken leg (skinless)||19.4 g|
|Fish||White pomfret||19.0 g|
|Milk and milk products
|NOTE: The protein content is given per 100g portion.|
Getting The Balance Right
Maintaining a nutrition journal can help you track your eating habits. This can ensure you make up for any shortfalls in your daily meals. It is also advisable to consult a nutritionist. Adapting to a new diet during pregnancy, is not easy, and you need to be extra careful. But the proper health of your baby and yourself will make it worth all the effort.
The author is Neha Chandna, who is a practicing dietitian since the last 8 years. The views, opinions and recommendations expressed in this article are solely those of the author and intended as an educational aid. Please consult your doctor for professional advice concerning specific health/medical matters.