Benefits of Protein Diet in Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a wonderful and life changing moment. It’s a period of rapid growth and development for both mother and the baby. Also, there is need for extra nutrient support for mother and baby. With lot of health information around, it can be extremely overwhelming to try and find out which advice to trust. Here we discuss the basic of protein and walk through the importance of protein diet in pregnancy.

What is protein?

Proteins are essentials of the life and are present in every cell of our body. Protein is a macronutrient which builds muscle mass of the body. These macronutrients provide calories or energy to our body. These proteins are found in the animal products and sources like nuts and legumes. There are 3 macronutrients on which our body depends: protein, fats, and carbohydrates.

They mainly provide structure and allow us to function by maintaining tissues, bones, muscles, cartilage and skin. Proteins act as chemical messengers transporting important information between our cells, tissues and organs. Also, they help with storage and transport of nutrients. Proteins also play an essential role in increasing immune system and are best source of sustainable energy. 

Why protein diet is important for pregnancy?

Protein is very essential for supporting rapid changes of growth and development during pregnancy. After taking protein, our body breaks it down into several individual amino acids, which are then used to build cells, tissues, muscles and organs.

During pregnancy, several of amino acids are used to develop the cells, tissues, muscles and organs of the baby. In mother the protein is used to help support to increase the growth and development of breast tissue and organs that are required to accommodate and nourish a growth of the baby.

While pregnancy happens, the body automatically increases the blood vessel volume and supply to support the growing baby. After delivering the baby, red blood cell mass will increase by 20-30%. Protein is essential in helping to transport of blood around the body and the baby.

Role of protein during pregnancy

Proteins are found in every cells of the body, which is making skin, muscles, bones and hair. They are helping them function properly, as well as helping the cells to repair themselves. They have vital role during pregnancy because it helps to baby grow normally while other important areas of development.

  • Helps growth and development of baby, and also repair of new or damaged tissues.
  • Making antibodies for the immune system.
  • Maintaining hormones and enzymes.
  • Helping muscles function property.
  • Transporting oxygen through their blood.
  • Help to promote a healthy birth weight.

A baby with correct birth weight has reduced risk for developing diabetes or becoming over weight later in life of the baby. The main role of protein during pregnancy is to enable baby’s cells to develop and function better from the beginning. The later growth and development has strong foundation to build upon, throughout childhood. 

How much protein shall I take in pregnancy?

This doesn’t depend upon the women or pregnancy. Every woman is different to compare to others. Their requirements will vary from one another because of variation in diet or exercise. But you have to ensure adequate protein intake during pregnancy. A general rule of pregnancy care is intake of total protein of 1.2- 1.6g per kg per day from good quality sources. This will vary from person to person and important to ask about protein diet to your physician to control the protein in our body.

How to increase protein diet during pregnancy?

The protein requirement during pregnancy is increased. It may be enough if you are taking seeds, nuts, legumes which are good source of protein. These are loaded with disease- fighting phytonutrients/ antioxidants, cholesterol lowering fiber and are naturally  low in saturated fat and sodium. They boost protein intake while getting extra vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

 Can you eat protein powder when pregnant?

The protein powder is safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding. So it’s important to consultant with doctor regarding this. Mostly protein powder contains 24g of organic, fermented plant source of protein, vitamin and minerals including zinc to help for reproductive system and have iron, folate and vitamin B.

Some source of proteins for pregnant women

Food SourcesBenefits
Meat and poultryLean meat or poultry like chicken breast without skin is low in saturated fats
FishRich source of protein is oily fish, like sardines and salmon which also have high level omega 3 fatty acids
EggsEggs are best source of protein in pregnancy with good amount of choline for brain growth of baby.
Cheese and dairyCheese and dairy contain vitamin and nutrients like calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D in addition to protein.
Beans and pulsesVegetarian based sources of protein which includes red lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, baked beans and tofu.
Seeds and nutsContain large amount of proteins, nutrients, considered as best snacking food.
Protein diet for pregnancy

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