How to Have a Healthy Pregnancy on a Plant-Based Diet
Pregnancy is a unique time in a woman’s life, nutritionally speaking. Not only does the pregnant woman have to take in the proper nutrients to support her own body and give it strength while growing a baby, but she also has to be mindful of taking in what the baby needs while it is growing and developing.
There’s no go-to “pregnancy diet” you should follow during gestation. Generally speaking, you should stick to those same basic principles everyone should stick to in order to stay healthy, such as steering clear of processed foods as much as possible, eating lean protein, and getting your fill of fruits and veggies. Nevertheless, there are certain nutrients you should be sure you’re getting like folate, iron, vitamin D, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, iodine, and protein.1
If you are on a plant-based diet, however, getting certain nutrients like lean protein and iron can be a challenge. A protein source like Nuzest Clean Lean Protein, which is made from pea protein, could be a healthy pregnancy addition on a plant-based diet. Clean Lean Protein supplies you with 20-21 grams of premium plant-based protein, plus it is a natural source of iron.
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Calorie and Protein Needs by Pregnancy Trimester
Macronutrients, calories, and protein needs will increase throughout your pregnancy. Therefore, nutritional needs can change according to the trimester of pregnancy you’re in. It is always safest to discuss personal nutrient needs with your doctor as each woman’s personal health circumstances can vary. A few general rules do exist that can act as a good platform for getting the right levels of nutrition at each stage of pregnancy.
The goal of protein intake is around 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight before you are pregnant.7 The World Health Organization recommends upping protein and energy-rich foods throughout pregnancy.10
By the second trimester, you should start upping your calorie intake per day by about 300 calories. A good goal to remember is to aim for your protein intake to make up between 20 and 25 percent of your daily caloric intake.7
By the third trimester, protein, iron, calcium, and other nutrient intakes should be at their most. Protein should be increased significantly; it is best to have quality protein with each meal and snack.8
Throughout the entire pregnancy, you should be taking in:1,9
- 400 to 800 micrograms a day of folate
- 1,000 milligrams a day of calcium
- 600 international units (IU) a day of vitamin D
- 27 milligrams a day of iron
- 300 mg of DHA for omega-3 fatty acids
Importance of Exercise During and After Pregnancy
Exercise during pregnancy is important. It helps keep your circulatory system functioning well to deliver oxygen-rich blood to the fetus, thwarts unnecessary weight gain, and gets you physically prepared for labor and delivery. A few other reasons exercise during pregnancy is important4:
- lowers risks of gestational diabetes
- increases your energy and boosts your mood
- helps you sleep better
- improves your posture in spite of body challenges
- reduces common aches and pain
- reduces issues with swelling and bloating
- improves problems with constipation
The American Pregnancy Association recommends expecting moms to get 30 minutes of exercise on most or all days, but they also state that even 20 minutes three or four times a week is good.4
Some types of exercise should be avoided during pregnancy because they could potentially pose a risk to the baby, such as:
- exercising in hot or humid weather conditions
- contact sports
- exercises that poses a risk of falling
- intense bouts of exercise without a warm-up or cool-down period
- exercises that involves holding your breath
Postpartum exercise is going to help your body bounce back and help you shed some of the extra baby weight. Just make sure you wait until your postnatal six-week checkup before you tackle any exercise other than walking and kegals.5
Of course, it is always best to discuss exercise plans with your doctor, especially if you plan to start a new exercise plan during pregnancy or post-pregnancy or have had any complications.
Is Pea Protein Safe During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding?
Yes, pea protein is considered safe during pregnancy and even after pregnancy when you start breastfeeding. Not only is it safe, but it can also help provide some of the additional required protein your body and the baby’s body needs during these times. Each individual’s circumstances can be different, however. It is always best to seek personalized advice from your doctor before taking nutritional supplements during pregnancy or lactation, including protein supplements made with plant-based protein.
Proper nutrition post-pregnancy is just as important as it is during pregnancy. Your body is in the process of recuperating and healing, and staying energetic to care for a new infant is going to be tough if your diet is lacking what your body truly needs. Likewise, if you are breastfeeding, you are essentially still supporting two bodies with what you eat, so proper nutrition is vital.
New moms should eat between 1,800 and 2,200 calories daily, and lactating moms should have as many as 500 more calories than that.2 Lactating mothers should aim for 25 grams of extra protein per day.3
Protein and pregnancy should go hand in hand because protein is a valuable part of a healthy pregnancy. Research has indicated low protein during pregnancy could be relative to lower birth weights and a predisposition to insulin resistance later in life.6 If you follow a plant-based diet and struggle to get enough protein, adding Nuzest Clean Lean Protein to your daily intake may help.