Extra Protein


Building a Healthy Baby Means Extra Protein for Mom

By Elisha Daigneault, Nutritionist

Pregnancy – a time for preparing yourself and your world for your new little one. With the new baby it seems as though you need more of everything: more furniture, space, clothes, and, of course, more food.

If you are like many women, you are secretly celebrating the idea of French fries and nightly cookies and ice cream. Eating your favorite treats every so often is fine, but needing extra calories means needing extra nutrients, such as protein, rather than extra sugar or fat. The majority of the extra calories needed in pregnancy should come from more of your healthful selections, such as an extra serving of broccoli with cheese sauce at dinner or an extra snack or two during the day. A fruit and yogurt parfait is a delicious snack that provides protein, calcium, and important phytonutrients.

Adequate protein is essential for the development of the growing baby. Protein is needed to form the cells that are quickly becoming your baby. Inadequate protein can cause many health problems, including low birth weight which is linked to chronic disease later in life.

The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommends that women eat an additional 25 grams of protein per day to meet 71 grams of protein per day during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Prenatal vitamins during pregnancy ease the task of getting in more of other important nutrients but they do not contain protein. Meeting this recommendation will be easy with your food, though, with a little bit of planning. Check out the amount of protein packed in these tasty options:

  • 1 ounce of boneless skinless chicken breast = 8 ½ grams of protein
  • 1 ounce of wild salmon = about 7 grams of protein
  • 1 ounce of broiled pork tenderloin = 8 ½ grams of protein
  • Almond butter and jelly on whole wheat bread = about 10 grams of protein
  • 8-ounce glass of skim milk = about 8 grams of protein
  • Light string cheese = 8 grams of protein
  • 6-ounce container of yogurt = at least 5 grams of protein
  • 1 cup cooked black beans = 15 grams of protein
  • 1 cup lentils = almost 18 grams of protein
  • ½ cup of cooked tempeh = about 15 grams of protein
  • ½ cup of firm tofu = almost 20 grams of protein

The months of your pregnancy are the time when you have the most control over the nutrients your baby gets. Eating a little more of the healthful foods you already enjoy and taking your prenatal vitamin will increase the amount of important vitamins and minerals and the amount of protein you eat as well. A few small additions will put you well on your way to a healthy start for your little one.

By Elisha Daigneault, Nutritionist

* The comments contained herein are no substitution for regular medical care from a qualified M.D. or provider. The creator of this website assumes no responsibility for information used in lieu of seeking help from a medical doctor. Any person who is ill needs to IMMEDIATELY contact their doctor and seek personal medical services.

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