October 20, 2020
• Updated on
3 Jun

Why is Protein Important during Pregnancy

Why are proteins important for pregnant women

Proteins are the builder nutrients in the body and are found in each and every cell in your body. They bring structure to the cells and help them not only function optimally, but also self repair after daily wear and tear instantly. This is the reason why optimal protein intake is necessary for a pregnant woman, because it is not just you who you are eating for, but also , and more importantly, the child that is growing inside of you.

During pregnancy and later, proteins help maintain and rebuild your body’s tissue health. They ensure that the growth rate of the baby inside is normal and ample intake helps reduce the risk of low birth weight for the baby. It helps in the creation of optimal skin, muscles, hair and bones of the child. Proteins are also needed to make antibodies for the baby’s immune system and for the optimal transportation of oxygen through blood. The amount of food based protein taken during pregnancy determines the future of your child’s health. It enables you baby’s cells to grow and develop and have a strong foundation to build upon for the rest of their life.

What is the recommended amount of protein a pregnant woman should have every day? It is recommended that for every kilo on your body, you need approx 1 gram of protein, every day. However, as a pregnant woman, you need nourishment for two so your protein intake requirement definitely goes up. According to WHO and FAO, Additional protein is recommended for pregnant women of 1 g per day in the first trimester, 9 gms per day in the 2nd Trimester and 31 g protein/day third trimesters. It is recommended that the higher intake during pregnancy should consist of normal food, rather than commercially prepared high protein supplements. Speak to your nutritionist and doctor to get the right amount based on your health conditions and lifestyle requirements.

How does one manage so much protein intake every day? It’s simple, distribute the portions across meals every day so that you are getting 2-3 portions of protein in almost every meal. A portion of protein can be visually represented by the size of your palm. The quality and quantity of protein play a very important role in the baby’s growth and development. You must eat a large variety of proteins to get all possible amino acids for your child’s health.

Here’s the recommended portions for Non Vegetarians , Ovo Vegetarians, Vegetarians and Vegans

Food Groups                        Number Of Servings

Milk and it's products                     3 cups

Lean Meat/ Eggs                             2

Pulses                                              3 bowls

Cereals                                            8

Nuts and seeds                               3 exchanges

Red meat should avoid during pregnancy, difficult to digest, bloating, irritation

Food Groups                        Number Of Servings

Milk and it's products                      4 cups

Pulses                                              3 bowls

Cereals                                             8

Nuts and seeds                               4 exchanges

1 cup= 250 ml; 1 bowl= 200 ml; cereal one exchange= 20 g i.e. 1/8 cup; Nuts and seeds one exchange= 2 tsp= 8-10g


Food Groups                        Number Of Servings

Pulses                                              4 bowls

Cereals                                            8

Pseudo cereals                               4

Nuts and seeds                              6 exchanges

Milk and its products- milk, paneer, curd; Nuts and seeds such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, almond mylk, cashew milk

Opt for Lean Meats: Lean organic chicken, wild salmon, eggs are good sources of animal proteins. Moderate intake of each of these meats will help you get most of your amino acids, iron and DHA needs sorted. Rustle them up in a salad, put them in sandwiches or even adding them to your favorite recipes. Make sure you have the skinless variety and you’re not getting unnecessary fat from these, except from the omega 3 rich salmon.

Have Plant Proteins: It’s great if you are a non-vegetarian. You will get your key proteins easily, however, they are but just one type of amino acids. Switch them up with some good plant proteins as well. Add nuts seeds, legumes, daals which contain a lot of phytonutrients and antioxidants that maintain cholesterol levels, fat and sodium in the body, making the environment optimal for the baby’s growth inside the womb.

Cereals , Psuedocereals, Pulses: Pulses can be taken such as dal ka cheela, sprouts, channa tikki, rajmah tikki. Pseudocereals such as amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa and other grains such as steel cuts oats and millets should be added. Always have a cereal pulse combination to increase the absorption of protein because protein is deficient in methionine and cereals are deficient in lysine but high in methionine. Cereal-Pulse combination is necessary to maintain the balance.

Yogurt: Not only is yogurt good for your digestion, it is also an amazing resource of protein. You can have it with all your big meals as a thumb rule.

Nuts and Seeds: We cannot stress on how powerful nuts and seeds are in every aspect of your life. Peanuts, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, and almonds are all good sources of plant protein, with numbers ranging from 4 to 7 grams per serving- which roughly a handful of them together. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia, flax and sesame seeds are also packed with protein, contributing 5 to 9 grams per serving. Sprinkle them in salads, have them as a snack every day to get your daily dose naturally. If you’re into nut butters, opt for peanut butters made at home, homemade almond butter, coconut butters for your easy protein servings. However, all of these are high fat, so eating in moderation is advised.

Avoid soy and tofu during pregnancy.

At Nutrition By Lovneet we specialize in pregnancy and post natal nutrition. If you’d like to explore this package with us, click here.



Lovneet Batra
Lovneet Batra is a clinical nutritionist with over a decade of experience treating patients and educating people on the benefits of a healthy diet. One of Delhi’s most sought-after nutritionists...
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