Protein is an essential macronutrient and is popularly known as the building block of life. It is important for people of all age groups & genders, and it is especially important for pregnant women. Pregnant women carry a child, and thus protein foods become a very important source of growth & support for the life inside them and themselves. The protein intake increases in women when they become pregnant.
There are different types of sources of protein that a pregnant woman can consume. Some sources are food-based while others are protein powders produced from natural sources like milk, yellow peas, brown rice, and so on. These protein sources can be truly beneficial, but some of the sources of protein can be counterproductive due to their low quality.
Thus, it is extremely vital for pregnant mothers to be aware of what they are consuming on a daily basis so as to ensure that they are having the best foods rich in protein & protein powder for pregnant women for themselves and their children.
How Does Protein Help You and your Child?
During the times of pregnancy, the mother’s body goes through several changes. Protein is very useful during those times. This macronutrient is a crucial source of energy for the body's repair of tissues like the mother's brain and muscles. Additionally, providing your child with the proper quantity of protein in their diet will provide them with the energy he or she needs to develop.
Amino acids, the basic units of protein, have a wide range of functions in the body, from preserving the structure of our muscles, skin, & bones to generating vital hormones for growth.
The already complex protein & amino acid metabolism is made more difficult during pregnancy.
Large amounts of protein are necessary for the growth of maternal tissues and the expansion of blood volume. The placenta and fetus' growth exert additional demands on the pregnant woman's protein intake. Therefore, consuming more protein is necessary to maintain a healthy pregnancy.
The development of your unborn child is also aided by eating enough protein throughout pregnancy because amino acids are necessary for healthy cell formation and function. Fulfilling your daily protein requirements may also reduce your risk of issues including preterm labor and fetal development limitation.
Poor diets deficient in essential nutrients during pregnancy, such as iodine, iron, folate, calcium, and zinc can result in anemia, pre-eclampsia, hemorrhage, and mortality in mothers. They can also result in a stillbirth, a low birth weight, wasting, and problems in a child's development. It is estimated that more than 20 million newborns suffer from low birth weight every year. Thus, it is essential to efficiently supplement a pregnant woman’s diet with the best protein sources.
Protein plays a vital role in your baby's development during pregnancy because it promotes healthy growth while also assisting in the formation of antibodies for the immune system, the growth and repair of new and damaged tissues, the proper functioning of muscles, the production of hormones and enzymes, and the transport of oxygen through the blood. All these are essential physiological systems that play a fundamental role in the development of the baby, and protein lies at the center of it.
Your child needs protein to grow healthy skin, hair, fingernails, and muscle growth. Additionally, it affects the fluid balance in your body, which might help you have healthy blood pressure and avoid pregnancy puffiness.
While getting enough protein is vital throughout your pregnancy, the second and third trimesters are particularly important. Your baby is growing at its fastest during this time, and your body is expanding significantly to accommodate your growing child.
The normal development of a baby's tissues and organs, especially the brain, depends on protein. Additionally, it aids in the development of uterine and breast tissue while pregnant. Even your blood supply is affected, making it possible to give your child extra blood.
Every trimester of pregnancy will increase the mother’s requirement for protein. The fetal component is negligible early in pregnancy, but the need for maternal volume expansion and tissue growth could be significant. The fetus may be to blame for the significant rise in protein requirements in late pregnancy. So, let us get into how much protein a pregnant lady will require to support herself and her child’s health.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a pregnant woman weighing 65 kgs (55 kgs – pregnant woman & 10 kgs – fetus) requires 55.5 g of protein per day during her second trimester and 68 g of protein per day during the third trimester. Thus, a pregnant woman will require 0.80-0.90 g of protein/kg or grams of protein of her body weight per day during the second trimester and 1.0-1.1 g of protein/kg of her body weight per day during the third trimester.
Consuming protein after delivering the child is also very important. According to the ICMR, a pregnant woman is required to consume 63 g of protein per day during 0-6 months of lactation and 59 g of protein per day during 6-12 months of lactation period. This helps support recovery for the mother after delivering the child and also helps promote milk production.
The infant is also required to be fed protein for physical growth & building up the immune system. An infant weighing 5.8 kgs is recommended to be fed 8 g of protein per day during 0-6 months of age.
After 6 months and up to 1 year of age, an infant weighing 8.5 kgs is recommended to be fed 10.5 g of protein per day. Thus, an infant will require 1.4-1.5 g of protein/kg of body weight per day during 0-6 months of age and 1.2-1.3 g of protein/kg of body weight per day during 6-12 months of age.
All the above recommendations for protein consumption per day are according to the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) Guidelines for Indians released by the ICMR in 2020.
Now that we know how much protein a pregnant woman requires, let us take a deep dive into the different sources of protein like protein-rich foods, protein powders for pregnant ladies, and so on.
Healthy plant-based protein protein sources are those protein sources that have all the essential amino acids. They are an ideal source of protein for women. Essential amino acids are not produced biochemically in the body, and thus they need to be supplemented via diet.
Thus, it is essential for pregnant women to have the best protein sources like protein powder for women which has all the amino acids in it, including the essential amino acids. Many food sources are also great for pregnant women to fulfill their daily protein needs. Let us take a look at a few of them.
One of the healthiest foods to eat when pregnant is lean meat. It is a great source of protein for non-vegetarians. Lean meat is not only rich in protein but also contains a lot of iron, which is essential for both your and your baby's development of a sufficient supply of red blood cells. The development of a baby's brain is likewise influenced by iron.
A cup of cooked lentils contains around 7 mg of iron and about 17 g of protein. It is one of the best and cleanest food sources for vegetarians. Additionally, lentils are high in folic acid, vitamin B9, which is essential for the development of your baby's nervous system and has a potent preventative effect against neural tube defects and conditions in which the spine does not properly form during pregnancy. The high fiber content of lentils can help keep your digestive system functioning and prevent constipation during pregnancy.
You need to eat more protein and calcium during pregnancy to meet the demands of your
developing fetus. Milk, cheese, and yogurt should be included in the menu. Dairy products contain two kinds of high-quality proteins: casein and whey. Some types also contain probiotic microorganisms, which promote intestinal health.
One of the best food sources of calcium is dairy, which also has significant amounts of phosphorus, B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc. Greek yogurt in particular is advantageous since it includes more calcium than the majority of other dairy products.
Given that they are a good source of protein, fiber, healthy fat, and minerals, nuts are a fantastic snack for pregnant women. Some of the nuts that pregnant women can enjoy consuming are walnuts, peanuts, and so on. Additionally, because they are nutrient-dense foods, you don't need to eat much to pacify your hunger, which is perfect for pregnant women who have morning sickness or who tend to feel full quickly.
An entire big egg contains 6 g of protein, making it a cheap and simple supply of amino acids. Eggs are great for protein but they also contain other micronutrients like Vitamin D. With 44 IU per big egg, eggs are one of the few food sources of vitamin D. For the development of your baby's strong bones and teeth as well as to maintain the health of your immune system, vitamin D is essential along with a healthy supply of protein.
Pregnant women can have multiple food cravings during their period of pregnancy. But while having those cravings it is essential to ensure that certain foods are not being consumed to ensure proper health care of the pregnant mother and baby.
Some of the foods which a pregnant woman shall avoid are, raw seafood, rare meats, processed & packaged foods, alcohol, unpasteurized dairy, and so on. It is advisable to consume cooked foods during pregnancy since it minimizes the probability of the body being exposed to harmful bacteria and developing undesired infections. Cooked food also aids in the easy digestion of food and helps maintain a healthy state of overall well-being. Thus, cooked food shall be consumed and consumption of uncooked food shall be given a break during pregnancy.
Protein metabolism is a complex process, and it gets further complicated during pregnancy. To derive the benefits from protein, it is best to consume protein from a source that can get metabolized & digested efficiently. Thus, protein powder for pregnant women is recommended since it gets digested & utilized easily and helps pregnant women obtain the benefits of protein throughout their pregnancy.
Protein powders are frequently promoted as being good for building muscles and giving them more energy. But these simple-to-digest supplements also have a lot of other advantages. Some people require a supplement to help them achieve their nutritional demands since they can't acquire enough protein supplements from a typical diet alone. Others struggle to get enough nourishment each day due to their hectic schedules.
Thus, protein powders for women can immensely benefit pregnant women and their kids. It is a clinically proven finding that infants whose mothers consumed types of protein powders to fulfill their protein requirements during pregnancy were found to be 0.5 g to 1 kg heavier & healthier than the infants whose mothers just relied on a typical food diet.
Protein powders can fulfill one-third of a pregnant woman’s daily protein requirements. The rest of the protein can be obtained from regular food-based diets. Only relying on a food-based diet for protein will make it difficult for pregnant women to effectively fulfill their daily protein needs. So, a protein powder with high absorption can definitely help a pregnant woman achieve a healthy & balanced state of being.
It is very important to find the safest and the best protein powder for pregnant women. If not, there can be some side effects on the pregnant mother and the baby. Some of these are bloating, constipation, and abnormal growth of the baby.
Thus, trust the best & buy the best while purchasing protein powders for pregnant women. It is essential that the protein powder has high-quality ingredients and easy digestibility.
In conclusion, it is essential for pregnant women to get their protein requirements fulfilled via a combination of protein-rich foods and protein powders so that they can have healthy growth for their baby while supporting themselves during the pregnancy period.
Having a clean and safe diet based around protein is vital and pregnant women shall do this effectively for their & their child’s better health. It is popularly said that “Healthy Nutrition leads to Healthy Babies”. Thus, a proper nutrition regime that is rich in protein, followed by pregnant mothers will lead to healthy & happy mothers & kids.
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