For the first part of my pregnancy, I didn’t think a whole lot about nutrition. Even though I didn’t have crazy morning sickness, I was still so tired so my only goal was to remain energized and stay full. As the pregnancy progressed, I started realizing how important it was to make sure that what I was eating was good for me and would also be good for the baby. After I finally got settled into the midwife practice we’ll be delivering at, I found out I was supposed to have anywhere between 60-100 grams of protein a day. For someone who has never tracked what I eat and has never been great at having a high protein diet, I thought there was probably no way I’d ever get that much protein in a day. What I realized though is that I was already getting a lot more protein than I thought I was and that there are a few easy and sneaky ways to easily increase your daily protein intake.
Track Your Protein Intake
When I was first asked how much protein I got per day, I guessed I was probably averaging around 30g per day. I figured that was about half of what I was supposed to get and again, thought there was no way I was getting the recommended amount. I started tracking my protein intake using an app and searching the foods I was eating to see how much protein they had, and I was shocked to find that I was already getting an average of 50-70g per day without even changing my diet.
If you don’t think you’re getting enough protein but haven’t ever tracked it, start by tracking your protein intake for the first three days or so to see where you’re at. You may be surprised at how much you’re already getting! You also may be surprised by which foods have lots of protein in them versus which don’t, which can help you to make healthy decisions when eating.
The best tip I received was to make sure that every snack has a protein element to it. This means things like crackers or chips by themselves aren’t great snacks to have. First of all, they won’t fill you up when you’re pregnant and they have very little, if any, protein which means it’s basically a pointless snack. If you want to eat those kinds of snacks, eat them with a meal so that you’re already getting enough protein per meal.
Add Dairy to your Diet
I eat meat, but my primary source of protein actually comes from dairy. I looove yogurt and it has been a favorite snack of mine this entire pregnancy. Just having a cup of yogurt with some granola gets me 16g of protein in one sitting. That’s almost an entire meal full of protein! You can also have cheese with crackers, a glass of milk, or even adding milk to your cereal in the morning can help a ton. I should also mention that I don’t eat eggs, I’ve just never cared for them, but if you like eggs, having those for breakfast can be a huge boost to your daily protein.
Eat Your Veggies
Leafy greens and other veggies are actually packed with protein! These are great to add to your meals to add another boost of protein. If you like salads, add some nuts, cheese, or grilled meat to them to have a well rounded and protein filled salad! Eating your veggies is great for pregnancy in general, not just for adding protein.
Use Protein Powders or Bars
Make sure your consult your doctor about which protein bars or supplements are good to eat during pregnancy!
Adding in some protein supplements can also really boost your protein intake during pregnancy. I love these ZonePerfect Perfectly Simple bars because they are easy to grab on the go and there are some great flavors. These are great snacks that add in 10g of protein to your daily count!