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Can Eating Too Much Protein Be Dangerous While Pregnant?

author image Sara Ipatenco
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.
Can Eating Too Much Protein Be Dangerous While Pregnant?
A pregnant woman is eating vegetables. Photo Credit: IuriiSokolov/iStock/Getty Images

Protein is essential during pregnancy, and without sufficient amounts, your baby won't grow normally. Regularly consuming more protein than you need, however, can also impede your baby's development. Avoid either of these problems by learning how much is enough and how to go about getting exactly what you need.

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Protein and Pregnancy

You need plenty of protein during pregnancy because it promotes fetal tissue development, including the proper growth of your unborn baby's brain, according to the American Pregnancy Association. You also need adequate protein because it helps your body produce the extra blood you need to support a pregnancy. Protein is particularly crucial during the second and third trimesters, the American Pregnancy Association reports.

How Much Is Enough?

Pregnant women need more protein than women who aren't pregnant. Aim for 70 grams of protein per day, recommends the BabyCenter website, but the American Pregnancy Association notes that between 75 and 100 grams of protein is appropriate. You don't need to pack this many grams of protein into your daily diet, but instead make these amounts an average over the entire week, the BabyCenter suggests.

Dangers of Too Much Protein During Pregnancy

Protein foods, such as meat, can be high in calories. While you need about 300 extra calories per day during pregnancy, according to the American Pregnancy Association, eating more calories than you need each day can lead to unhealthy weight gain beyond what's appropriate to support your pregnancy. Getting more protein than you need isn't beneficial and might impair normal fetal growth, according to a 2003 article published in the "Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews." A 2012 article published in the "British Journal of Nutrition" reports that a high-protein, low-carb diet can inhibit growth of an unborn baby, partly because it can cause a pregnant woman to develop certain nutritional deficiencies.

Getting the Right Amount

Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet that includes lean meat, low-fat diary foods, fruits, vegetables and whole grains helps ensure that you get each of the nutrients you need, including protein. Talk with your doctor about the exact amount of protein you need, but including two to three servings of lean meat and two to three servings of vegetarian protein foods, such as beans, lentils and nuts, is likely to provide everything you need.

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