How can we power up on plant protein during pregnancy? The building blocks for our body’s cells and that of our baby is Protein and thankfully many vegans and vegetarians are already getting plenty of protein from their diet. However, the key is to get a varied amount and a good range of the essential amino acids.

One of the best products that contain a range of essential amino acids is soya with other excellent non meat protein sources including:

  • Eggs
  • Dairy products (such as milk, yogurt and cheese)
  • Some dairy-free alternatives (such as soy dairy-free alternative drinks and yogurts)
  • Beans and pulses, chickpeas, kidney beans, soy beans and lentils
  • Nuts and nut butters, peanut butter, almond butter and cashew butter, look for the ones that contain no palm oil and sugars
  • Tofu

Proteins are an essential part of all living organisms, especially structural components of the body tissue such as muscle, hair, and collagen.

How can I power up on plant protein during pregnancy?

The Role of Protein

Building muscles and tissues – protein is important for the synthesis and repair of damaged body tissue and if we’re not getting sufficient amounts from our diet it may lead to muscle wasting. 

Hormone synthesis – hormones are the chemicals produced by the glands that help to coordinate the activities throughout our body.  Most of these hormones are protein in nature and bind to their specific receptors to generate results

For instance, insulin is a hormonal protein which is crucial for controlling blood sugar levels with oxytocin being another example of hormonal protein which helps stimulate contractions during childbirth.

Enzymes – enzymes are the tiny protein molecules that are used by the body to help speed up various chemical reactions.  They play a crucial role in regulating the speed of many activities such as relaxation and contraction of the muscles.

Some protein enzymes such as amylase and lipase are present in your digestive system and help you digest carbs and fats, whilst another enzyme called ATP is responsible for the exporting of cellular toxins from our cells.

They help modulate our immune systems

Antibodies refer to specialised protein configurations that help provide immunity to the body against invaders.  They are produced by the body as soon as it meets specific antigens such as bacteria and viruses.  The body contains a system of several proteins that provide a second line of defence to the body against foreign invaders and helps us to ward off illness and fight infection. Protein is vital for energy production, and the digestive system breaks down protein to release amino acids and energy and just one gram of protein breaks down to provide four calories of energy.

Daily protein requirements during pregnancy

Daily requirements of Protein during pregnancy

0.8g of protein per kg of body weight

0.36g of protein per lb of body weight

46g per day for the average woman + additional 6g per day during pregnancy

Some experts actually believe this to be low and advise 1.3g per kg or 0.6g per kg

Between 46-75g per day for average woman

How can I power up on plant protein during pregnancy?

Many western diets tend to get their protein from meat and the general thought is that people seem to equate protein with meat without considering the protein value of other foods.

Power up on plant protein during a plant based pregnancy

FoodServing sizeAmount of Protein
Seitan100g25g
Soybeans product tofu tempeh soybeans100g10-19g
Lentils1 cup cooked18g
Baked beans1 cup cooked14g
Black beans1 cup cooked15g
Chickpeas1 cup cooked15g
Kidney beans1 cup cooke4.d15g
Quinoa1 cup cooked8g
Soy Milk1 cup7g
Oats1 cup12g
Peanut Butter2tbs8g
Wholemeal Bread1 slice4g
Wild Rice1 cup cooked7g
Spelt or Teff Flour1 cup cooked10g
Spinach100g3g
Potato2 medium potatoes8.5g
Sweet potato1 cup2.1g
Asparagus1 cup3g
Artichoke14.2g
Pistachios1 cup25g
Broccoli150g4.5g

This illustrates that it is possible to power up on plant protein whilst on a vegan diet. 

A very basic sample meal plan for the day

Breakfast – milkshake 1 cup of soy milk 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and half a cup of oats 21g protein

Lunch – 1 sweet potato with lentils and broccoli 24g

Afternoon snack 1 serving of pistachio nuts 6.25 grams

Dinner baked beans and 2 slices of whole wheat bread 22g

Total protein 74 gram

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