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:
- 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
Proteins are an essential part of all living organisms, especially structural components of the body tissue such as muscle, hair, and collagen.
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
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
|Food||Serving size||Amount of Protein|
|Soybeans product tofu tempeh soybeans||100g||10-19g|
|Lentils||1 cup cooked||18g|
|Baked beans||1 cup cooked||14g|
|Black beans||1 cup cooked||15g|
|Chickpeas||1 cup cooked||15g|
|Kidney beans||1 cup cooke4.d||15g|
|Quinoa||1 cup cooked||8g|
|Soy Milk||1 cup||7g|
|Wholemeal Bread||1 slice||4g|
|Wild Rice||1 cup cooked||7g|
|Spelt or Teff Flour||1 cup cooked||10g|
|Potato||2 medium potatoes||8.5g|
|Sweet potato||1 cup||2.1g|
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