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Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Protein Needs Increase During Pregnancy

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OK...so I am focused on pregnancy nutrition these days since I only have a few weeks left!

Did you know that the Dietary Reference Intake for protein goes from 46 grams for females to 71 grams for pregnancy??? Another way to calculate is to take your weight in pounds and multiply by 0.36 before you are pregnant. If you are 135 pounds pre-pregnancy you need 49 grams of protein. Once you hit late first and definitely into second trimester and beyond, you need 0.5 grams per pound (use your pre-pregnancy weight to calculate) plus an extra 25 grams. So that means 93 grams per day! If you are having twins add another 25 grams for a total of 118 grams per day!

That is quite a jump and many women I talk to don't realize they need more protein, let alone that much more! Your prenatal vitamin doesn't have protein, so make sure you eat enough protein in your diet to make up for the increase.

Why so much more protein?
Protein is used to support the production of new cells, enzymes, and hormones. As the baby grows, it needs protein to develop hair, nails, skin, and organs. Also, protein actually helps with fluid balance preventing swelling and can help maintain proper blood pressure.

Good food sources of protein
  • All meats (poultry, fish, pork, beef, seafood)
  • Milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese
  • Tofu
  • Soy based vegetarian alternatives
  • Whey or soy protein powders
  • Eggs
  • Legumes (beans!)
  • Quinoa
  • Nuts and seeds
One of my favorite little indulgences this pregnancy has been FAGE yogurt. It has over twice the protein of other yogurts and is so thick and creamy you feel like you are eating cream (but it is fat free)! It is all natural with only two ingredients: milk and live cultures with no additives, preservatives, or sweeteners. I add fresh fruit and some high fiber cereal to it for a nice little breakfast parfait. Because it is so high in protein, it also keeps you much more full all morning. I use it either as breakfast or as a snack midmorning.

FAGE 0% in 8 oz size:
120 calories
20 grams of protein
25% calcium
0 fat, sat fat, trans fat
9 grams sugar (comes from milk naturally, no sugar is added)

FAGE comes in FAGE Total 0% which has no fat or FAGE Total 2% which has some fat but not a lot (4.5 grams in 8 oz). You get it in big tubs or individual cups and the 2% comes with "sidecars" of fruit puree or honey to dip or pour into the yogurt for flavor. They also have FAGE Total and FAGE 5% which is much higher in fat but I don't recommend that for everyday consumption due to the high saturated fat content.

Fore more information on FAGE yogurt, check out www.FageUSA.com
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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