Is Too Much Protein Beneficial Or Harmful During Pregnancy?
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While it is important to eat protein during pregnancy, too much of a good thing can also become a detriment. If a pregnant woman eats more protein than is necessary, it can prove harmful to the fetus and may impair its growth. Studies have shown that high protein diets inhibit the fetuses’ growth as a result of pregnant women’s skewed eating. The daily intake of Protein should be increased during pregnancy. The best indicator of upping your protein intake depends on your changing weight during pregnancy.
There should be an average weight gain of 12 kg during pregnancy and WHO recommends a Protein gain of 597 g (range 497 g to 696 g) during this period. NNC also recommends the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) for Protein for pregnant women as 46 g per day (0.75 g/kg/day) in the first trimester and 60 grams (1.00 g/kg/day) per day during the second and third trimesters.
Nutrition and diet the pregnant woman should have while consuming protein
During pregnancy, the ideal diet includes the right amounts of protein, calcium, iron, folate as well as the essential vitamins and minerals. A pregnant woman needs both micronutrients, namely, vitamins and minerals and macronutrients which are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats for the healthy growth and development of the fetus.
In order to meet these nutritional needs, pregnant women can eat beans, lean meat, poultry, fish and shellfish, eggs, milk, cheese, tofu, and yogurt. It is a nutritional fact that animal products are complete protein sources (all nine amino acid components) as compared to the vegan options which are deficient in some amino acids, in which case supplements can be taken.
The right way to eat enough protein during pregnancy is to ensure that you eat three to five servings of protein daily. Doing this is relatively simple, as all you need to do is to drink two 8-ounce glasses of milk, a 6-ounce chicken breast, and a 6-ounce serving of yogurt, for example. It would be the wisest course of action to get your gynecologist or doctor to plan the right diet for you, keeping in mind the right choices and the food allergies, if you have any, in order to ensure that you get the right nutrition during this time.
However, as a rule of thumb, cooking with Greek yogurt, eating plant based protein (with the added benefits of being fiber rich), adding lean meat to your diet, drinking a smoothie a day, including eggs and a bit of fish in your diet should take care of your protein requirements. This would easily provide you the additional 300 calories during the second and third trimesters, 1200 milligrams of calcium, 600-800 micrograms of folate as well as 27 milligrams of iron which you need.
Protein supplements for pregnant women
It is generally considered an unwise choice for pregnant women to take protein powders because of the many ingredients which can pose threats to the baby’s health. Protein powders are considered supplements and the FDA leaves it to the discretion of the manufacturers of these products to evaluate their products’ safety and labeling.
Doctors, however, advise against the use of supplements because of the following facts:
- Protein powders may include certain additives like extra vitamins, caffeine, creatine, or artificial flavors which may harm pregnant women.
- Almost all protein powders available are lactose-based and may not suit pregnant women who are allergic to them.
- Most protein supplements are high in sugar or contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame or acesulfame potassium and thaumatin which should be avoided at all costs.
- Heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, and cadmium may also be present in them which are hazardous to the baby’s and mother’s health.
Eating for two can be stressful, but it need not be, if you are a little careful. We all want our bundles of joy to be born as and stay, well, bundles of joy. In order to do that, however, we need to make sure that we take the right diet and eat the foods that are right for us and eschew from eating the wrong ones. However, that doesn’t mean living like a saint but eating sensibly. Feel free to indulge in those cravings, though in moderation, but do indulge as a happy mother is a healthy mother too!
Aarti Puri is Harvard educated and the founder and CEO of Magnolia Kids, a primary school. She is a psychologist, writer and teacher trainer. She's starting her YouTube Video channel for moms and kids soon!
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mom Store.