You’ve probably heard that protein is the building block of life. So, it makes sense that you will need more of it when growing, and feeding, a baby! Protein is critical — not only to your baby’s growth and development, but to support your changing body as well. The good news is that meeting your increased protein needs during and after pregnancy can also be delicious! Pre/postnatal nutrition expert, Diana K. Rice, RD — The Baby Steps Dietitian — provides some guidelines on how much protein you need, and some tasty recipes to satisfy your requirements.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
Although every woman is different, pregnant and lactating women typically need about 25 additional grams of protein every day (at least 71 grams). To put that in perspective, that’s about the amount in one egg, one glass of milk and half a cup of beans combined.
How to Boost Your Protein Intake
If you eat a typical American Diet, you likely won’t have an issue meeting your increased protein needs (an 8oz steak has more protein than the average non-pregnant woman needs in a day!). If you think you need to boost your intake though, the easiest way is to add nutritious protein-rich snacks to your diet. Try an extra glass of dairy or soy milk each day and keep nuts and hard-boiled eggs for some quick protein in a pinch. Or to give your snacks a little more oomph, try one of these protein-packed make-ahead recipes:
Protein-Packed Fruit Smoothie: Perfect for when nothing sounds appealing. With the addition of egg white protein powder, this smoothie packs in a whopping 24 grams of protein! Skip the powder and you’ve still got 16 grams of naturally derived protein in a palatable, travel-ready format.
Guacamole Omelet Wraps: If a plain hard-boiled egg sounds super boring, or worse, makes you feel sick, guacamole makes everything better! This recipe packs 11 grams of protein (more if you add some optional cheese) and is easy to eat one-handed – crucial when you’re nursing!
Mediterranean Hummus Freezer Sammies: Does this situation sound familiar? You’re “hangry,” but have no energy to prepare anything that sounds good? Step away from that bag of chips and pull one of these from the freezer. Nuke it for just one minute and presto, 10 grams of protein in a satisfying snack.
Diana K. Rice, RD, is The Baby Steps Dietitian. A new mom herself with a two-year-old and a newborn, she’s on a mission to help women fit good nutrition into the messy intersection of pregnancy, postpartum recovery and feeding tiny humans by taking small steps that work for their busy lifestyles. She recently relocated from New York City to St. Louis, MO, but will always remain a city girl at heart! Visit dianakrice.com for easy recipes, infant and toddler feeding tips and positive body image stories, and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest for even more healthy and nutritious tips.