During pregnancy, your diet provides you and your unborn baby with the nutrition necessary to grow, develop and stay healthy. Your recommended intake of some nutrients increases, and protein is no exception. It is important to know how much protein you need for a healthy pregnancy and how you can get it from your diet.
Protein is used to help build the cells in your body and in the body of your unborn baby. It also provides energy. According to Babycenter, protein is especially important during the last two trimesters of your pregnancy. This is the time that your baby is growing the most rapidly and your body is preparing to nourish him during and after the pregnancy.
Before pregnancy, you needed only 45 grams of protein a day. That need increases to 70 grams while you are pregnant. You can reach this recommended amount by eating three to four servings of protein a day. If you do not get enough protein, you may experience muscle fatigue or fluid retention. Babycenter notes that most women in the United States regularly eat more protein than they need even while pregnant.
Meat, poultry, fish, cheese, eggs and milk are all good sources of protein. Half of a chicken breast contains about 27 grams of protein and one cup of milk has about 8 grams of protein. If you do not eat meat or animal products, you can still get protein from beans, nuts and soy products, such as tofu. One cup of soy milk has 6 grams of protein and one cup of kidney beans has 13 grams of protein. Animal foods are complete sources of protein, which means they contain all the amino acids you need, and plant foods are not, so be sure to eat a variety of plant foods if you do not rely on meat or dairy for your protein needs.
Consuming too much protein can strain your kidneys. Some animal sources of protein also contain saturated fat. There is no upper level intake for protein, so be sure to eat a balanced diet and choose lean meats and low fat dairy products whenever possible.