Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ten Great Ways to Get Protein

Why is protein important?
Okay, so as you probably know, protein is very important for pregnancy and growing a baby, but why do we need so much?
  • Getting a high amount of protein is proven to help minimize complications during pregnancy and birth. 
  • Protein is made up of amino acids. These form the basic building blocks for your AND IN TURN your baby body's cells.
  • Particularly at around 37 weeks, your baby's brain will really need those amino acids or "building blocks" from protein to make his or her brain into the organ that will help your baby do all the necessary functions when he or she is born. 
10. Carbs- Foods like noodles, rice, tortilla, corn, bread and potatoes actually have a pretty good amount of protein in them. This may not be the best way to get your main source of protein, but if you need a little something extra or a side that has some protein in it these might be some great choices. A cup of noodles, rice or corn has between 6-7 grams and most medium potatoes and single slices of bread have around 2 grams.

9. Select Vegetables- Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, asparagus, and squash have protein in them. These again would not be significant ways to get protein, but would be great to boost the amount of protein in a meal or snack as a side dish. Kale and broccoli each have around 5 grams of protein per cup while the rest of these vegetables have between 2-3 grams per cup.
8. Lentils- different kinds of beans like pinto, navy or kidney beans are are very good sources of protein. These provide 7 grams of protein per half cup. This is a great, easy way to get a little extra protein from a side dish or snack. Lentils are also known to help with morning sickness (seriously!) Eating 1/4 to 1/2 a cup every time you are feeling nauseous will take that away. Eventually, you will need to eat less and less lentils to make you feel better.

7. Eggs- Eggs have 6 grams of protein each, and let's be honest, who eats just one egg? The Brewer pregnancy diet suggests that you eat 2 eggs every day anyways. Any style, cooked anyway is fine. Eggs in French toast, or omelets is a great way to get eggs in your diet.

6. Milk/Dairy Products- Milk and other dairy products are not only good sources of protein but also great sources of calcium. We all know how important calcium is for our pregnancy bodies. One cup of milk has 8 grams of protein. Cheese has between 6-7 grams, and yogurt has around 7 grams.

5. Protein Shake- There are lots of protein shakes out there that have TONS of protein in it. Make sure to get a good one. Try out a few and see what you like. The most popular flavors are the traditional chocolate, vanilla or strawberry. These shakes can have anywhere from 15-30+ grams of protein.

4. Protein Powder- This is another great way to get a significant amount of protein. The most popular kinds of protein are soy and whey. Either is fine, but I use soy protein. When looking at protein powders, always look at the ingredients and try to find the purest protein possible. These powders are great to make protein smoothies with. I mix a scoop of the powder with my bananas, yogurt, milk and ice in the blender to make a super protein shake. I use the vanilla flavor and I love the taste.

3. Nuts- Almonds, cashews, pecans and sunflower seeds are excellent sources of protein and are great for quick and easy snacks. Almonds have 21 grams of protein per 4 oz, cashews have 19 grams and pecans have 10 grams (all per 4 oz) Peanut butter has 9 grams per 1/4 cup and sunflower seeds have 13 grams per 2 oz. These are great snacks to pack and take to work to snack on throughout the day. Make a mixed nut bag or a high protein "trail mix" with these nuts and maybe other protein snack foods. You will be surprised by how much protein you will have eaten if you snack on these throughout the day.

2. Meats- This is probably a obvious way to get quite a bit of protein because when you think of protein you probably think "red meat". Beef, turkey, chicken, pork and liver all have 20 or more grams of protein per 3 oz. If you incorporate a rotation of these meats into your dinner or lunch almost every day, this can be your main source of protein. Remember to cook your meat fully to the safety guidelines for that particular meat. Sorry, the "medium rare" steak is going to have to wait until after the baby comes! Stick with fully cooked, no pink in the middle, steaks. If you are not a fan of  red meat or chicken (or you are a vegetarian) There are plenty of other ways to get enough protein.

1. Fish- Although many say that fish should be limited during pregnancy because of mercury, it is also a GREAT and HEALTHY source of protein. The types of fish that have a high concentration of mercury are the fish to limit. (The recommendation that I was told was no more than 2-6oz portions per week) Fish like salmon, shrimp, scallops, and lobster are great fish to get a significant amount of protein. So head out to your favorite fish restaurant or go to the store or market and get some fish and eat up that protein!

Here is a website that has a list of high protein foods and a protein counter that will help you keep track of how much protein you eat every day.
Top 10 Foods Highest in Protein
Protein Counter

I hope these protein power foods help you get your recommended amount of protein and help you get a variety of foods (so you are not eating the same thing every day!) Happy eating and happy, healthy baby and as always, God bless you and your family!

Until the Whole World Hears,
Katie on FACEBOOK!

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