Protein diets seem to be all the craze these days: The Paleo Diet. Atkins. The Zone. Keto. Protein powder. Even if you’re not on a special diet, we as a nation are obsessed with protein (seen any burger commercials lately?). Still, vegetarians and pregnant women need to pay attention to the amount of protein they consume. The second and third semesters are particularly critical to give your baby and body enough protein as that’s when your baby grows the fastest and your organs’ and breasts’ sizes increase. Additionally, women can develop gestational diabetes, and consuming a protein-rich diet helps keep blood sugar levels steady.
During pregnancy, you need three servings of protein every day. The rule of thumb is 70 grams per day, but depending on your weight, it may vary. To learn how much protein your body needs, you could visit ChooseMyPlate.gov and create a custom meal plan. If you miss getting enough protein for a day, don’t worry. Instead, aim for the amount of protein you need as an average over a few days. However, weight and hair loss, lack of focus, muscle fatigue, frequent infections, and even hangnails can be red flags that you’re not getting enough protein in your diet.
Most women have no trouble reaching their protein goal, but reaching your protein quota is never more important than during the third semester, when the baby’s brain is developing rapidly. During time, increase protein sources that are extra high in omega-3 fatty acids. Good sources are grass-fed lean meat, poultry, eggs, milk and dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt. (Seventy grams of protein roughly equals the total of a cup of low-fat cottage cheese, a 3-ounce lean burger, and two eggs, for example). Vegan options include tofu, beans, peanuts and peanut butter, wheat germ, and whole grains, such as quinoa.
Just remember: Eat three or four servings of protein daily, and you’ll be on your way to eating the best for your healthy pregnancy and your baby.