Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Importance of Protein in Pregnancy

I will admit, I am in no way an expert on this particular topic! The first five months of my first pregnancy, I followed a vegetarian diet. With my second pregnancy, I had an aversion to almost every kind of meat, especially chicken, and lived on pasta and bread! After coming across some information about the importance of protein in the diet of pregnant women, I changed my ways, and fast!

The recomendation for a pregnant mother is 80-100 grams of protein per day! That seems like a lot, but before you get overwhelmed, consider this method: try consuming 20 grams of protein with each meal for a total of 60 grams, making up the difference with snacks spaced throughout the day.

Some High-Protein Snack Ideas:

1. Apple, sliced and served with peanut butter

2. English Muffin spread with peanut or other nut butter (I just discovered cashew butter, and it's yummy!)

3. Whole-wheat crackers and hummus

4. Hard boiled eggs

One of the problems I have ran into in preparing meals high in protein is the cost! I would love nothing more than to have this excuse to eat a big steak everyday, but that is so expensive. With such an increase on my protein intake, I've had to come up with more frugal options. Here's what works for me:

Milk and Dairy--high in both protein and calcium, necessary for healthy bone development in baby and maintaining bone density in mom. I do not like to drink a lot of milk, but I try to drink at least two glasses per day and get the rest through yogurt or ice cream. I personally don't care much for cheese, but of course this is an excellent source of dairy-based protein as well.

Eggs--Frugal and packed with protein, eggs are a staple in my pregnancy diet. The best thing about eggs is that they are so versatile that it's hard to get bored with them! Try eating them scrambled with butter, in an omlette with veggies (my fave!) or in a quiche.

Beans--Another cheap protein powerhouse! There are a lot of ways to prepare beans beyond the standard soup beans--try making falafel out of chickpeas, Cuban-style black beans and rice or refried beans in tacos. Very simple, yet filling and nourishing.

Canned Salmon--This has been a lifesaver to me on days when I really haven't wanted to cook, but knew I had to get in my protein requirement! My husband loves it in salmon patties, but I have also served it in salmon salad (mix with mayo, onion powder, paprika, red onion and celery) to serve with crackers, or try this salmon melt recipe from Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking:

For more information on the importance of protein in the pregnant woman's diet, I suggest you check out the Bradley Method website at They have a lot of good information on nutrition during pregnancy, as well as natural childbirth in general.


  1. I wanted to share a couple more sources of inexpensive, easy and delicious protein that will make excellent snacks.

    First of all cottage cheese is a great protein source, and very inexpensive. Perhaps you don't like the taste of it. I don't love it either! But, I do love this -- one container lowfat yogurt (blueberry, strawberry or cherry!), which has about 5 grams of protein mixed with 1/2 cup lowfat cottage cheese, which has 13 grams of protein and only 90 calories. I think this is a delicious and satisfying combination!

    Another idea is chocolate whey powder, which I buy in huge bags at SAMS, so I can make my athletes protein drinks! 1 scoop of protein powder has 23 grams of protein. Mix that with a cup of milk, a banana, and some ice for a delicious smoothie snack!

    Just thought I'd share these ideas. Perhaps they will be helpful to you.