Beans are a great source of healthy protein and fiber. (For Spectrum Health Beat)
Beans are a great source of healthy protein and fiber. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

You may have seen recent articles about how protein is good for losing weight, your body and more.

When pregnant, however, protein is something you really need to focus on. It’s important to spread your protein throughout the day and not just during one meal.

“Eighty to 100 grams per day is essential for a healthy pregnancy,” said Tami Michele, DO, Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial Hospital OB/GYN. “Protein consists of amino acids which are the building blocks of new tissue necessary for baby to grow and for you to maintain your healthy body.”

When reading this, one thing you might not have noticed is Dr. Michele speaks about “grams” instead of “ounces.” A lot of public information lists protein in ounces.

Meat is a good source of protein. Some pregnant moms have an aversion to meat or its smell.

So what other sources of protein are there? Eggs are a great option. Dr. Michele recommends two per day. You can scramble, hard boil or serve soft. Other great options include dairy, fish, nuts, beans, lentils and peanut butter.

Here is a good list of equivalents for protein which is listed in grams.

Soy is often listed as a protein, but I personally don’t think it is the best choice. Dairy is a good option, but you should avoid fat free. Susan Wente, CNM, suggests nothing less than 2 percent milk so you and baby receive enough fat. Nuts are a great source of protein and a great item to have for a  snack.


  • 1/2 cup, 1 percent cottage cheese: 14 grams
  • 1/2 cup, part-skim ricotta cheese: 14 grams
  • 8-ounce container, low-fat yogurt: 9 to 12 grams (greek yogurt is higher in protein)
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese: 11 grams
  • 1 ounce Swiss cheese: 8 grams
  • 1 ounce part-skim mozzarella cheese: 7 grams
  • 1 ounce cheddar cheese: 7 grams
  • 1 large fresh egg: 6 grams

Beans, nuts and legumes

  • 1/2 cup raw tofu (firm): 20 grams
  • 1 cup cooked lentils: 18 grams
  • 1 cup canned black beans: 15 grams
  • 1 cup canned kidney beans: 13 grams
  • 1 cup canned garbanzos: 12 grams
  • 1 cup canned pinto beans: 12 grams
  • 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter: 8 grams
  • 1 ounce dry roasted peanuts: 7 grams

Meat, poultry and fish

Note that 3 ounces of meat or fish are about the size of a pack of cards.

  • 1/2 roasted chicken breast (no skin): 27 grams
  • 3 ounces sockeye salmon: 23 grams
  • 3 ounces trout: 23 grams
  • 3 ounces lean beef hamburger patty, broiled: 21 grams

One great way moms can get their daily protein is by drinking protein shakes. If you get a good quality whey protein powder, it can have around 20 to 24 grams of protein. This can be a wonderful start daily on your protein quota.

There are other ways to use protein powder. I’ve seen recipes where they cook it into baked goods, but more commonly it’s used in a shake or smoothie.

In our early pregnancy session, we’ve had several moms share how they use these protein smoothies to absorb more than just protein. One mom shared that she gets her veggies in her diet by also adding carrot, kale, spinach or other veggies to her smoothie.

She doesn’t notice a difference in taste and knows she’s doing a great thing for her body and her growing baby.