One of the things that you and your baby can't do without is protein. It helps to keep your energy up, and it gives your baby the amino acids that she needs to grow.
How much protein do you need to keep things running smoothly? The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein in pregnancy is 60 grams, although some nutritionists recommend 100 grams; anything between those two amounts is fine. To put the idea of 'grams' into perspective, a litre of milk has about 30 grams of protein.
The Right Kind of Protein
You should pay attention not only to the amount of protein you consume but to the type of protein as well. Pregnant women need to eat what's considered 'quality' protein – —that is, protein containing large amounts of all the required amino acids. Most animal protein is quality protein, while most plant protein is not. That's why experts recommend that pregnant women consume animal protein every day. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, you'll need to balance certain foods, such as grains and legumes, for instance, to make sure that you get all the recommended amino acids.
Foods Packed with Protein
Red meat is probably the best-known source of protein, but you don't need to eat a steak at every meal to meet your quota. Plenty of other foods, like fish, poultry and eggs, are protein-rich. So are dairy products, nuts and beans.
Each of the following contains about 15 grams of protein:
- 2 large eggs
- One 60-90 g (2- to 3-ounce) serving of meat, fish or poultry
- 60 g (2 ounce) of hard cheese
- 65 g peanut butter
- 175 - 200 g cooked beans, peas or lentils
- 120 g cottage or ricotta cheese
- 95 g almonds
Some pregnant women aren't used to eating a lot of meat and dairy products and wonder if they'll gain too much weight. However, if you're eating a balanced diet, including the right amount of quality protein, you don't need to worry about putting on weight. Pregnancy is, after all, a time to gain weight. Eating properly is one of the best ways to keep your growing baby healthy and to feel your best, too.