Every day your baby is growing bigger and bigger. His or her cells are replicating, dividing and
building a brand new person. It is estimated that the average term newborn has approximately
26 billion cells - that is a lot of new cells that your body is responsible for creating! As with
building anything, you need materials to create it. So, what does one need to build a baby?
Your body requires protein to build new cells. For an extremely thorough and scientific dive into
nutrition in pregnancy, I suggest every mom-to-be read Lily Nichols’ book, Real Food for
Pregnancy. Much of the information in this article is derived from her book and the article on her
website which can be read here. Let’s take a look at the research so you can understand why
we are so passionate about protein and ensuring our expecting moms get enough.
● Protein rich foods are naturally nutrient dense and are packed with micronutrients needed
to grow a healthy baby (such as B12, choline, zinc, iron, vitamin A, etc.)
● A result of eating enough protein is feeling full longer which prevents cravings for
processed carbs. This means you will have a more stable blood sugar which is important
for many reasons, but especially in pregnancy and mother’s with gestational diabetes.
● Having less spikes and drops in your blood sugar will mitigate symptoms of low blood
sugar (low energy, hunger, headaches and nausea).
● Researchers are finding that higher protein intake is helpful in the prevention and
treatment of preeclampsia.
● Adequate protein consumption may help swelling in late pregnancy.
● Researchers have shown that poor protein intake throughout pregnancy may increase
your child’s risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes later in life.
● Certain types of amino acids (which are types of protein) are critical for your baby’s
growth. Deficiency in the amino acid carnitine, for example, has been linked to preterm
birth, low-birth weight infants and intrauterine growth restriction.
So, how much protein should you be eating? Lily Nichol’s generalized recommendation is a
minimum of 80g/day in the first half of pregnancy, and a minimum of 100g/day in the second
half of pregnancy. People who are very active may want to aim even higher. As a reminder,
these are suggestions and are in no way medical recommendations.
If you have no idea how many grams of protein you are eating - that’s okay! Or, if you already
know that you are not even close to meeting these goals - don’t feel bad. Mindfulness is the first
We have a printablePregnancy Protein Tracker chart for you to use and see how you’re doing!
We suggest you track your intake for at least three days to get a good idea of your average
protein intake. You can use this list to help you determine how many grams of protein are in
your meals. Again, don’t feel bad if you are missing the goal (especially you mommas who are
struggling with sickness and food aversion). Being aware is the first step and every 1% change
makes a huge difference over the course of nine months.
You’ve got this; happy building - I mean eating!
Nichols, Lily. "Real food for pregnancy." United States (2018).
Nichols, Lily. "PROTEIN REQUIREMENTS IN PREGNANCY ARE HIGHER THAN PREVIOUSLY
THOUGHT." lilynicholsrdn.com, lilynicholsrdn.com/protein-requirements-pregnancy/. Accessed 31 May