Diet during pregnancy: proteins

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Philippe Gloaguen
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Proteins are essential during pregnancy because they are the essential building blocks for construction of bone tissue, muscle mass and in general all fetal tissues, especially starting from the second quarter.

“They can be of animal origin, such as those contained in meat, cold cuts, fish, eggs, milk and derivatives or vegetable origin, such as those of legumes, cereals and nuts ”explains the nutritionist Angela , freelance and research collaborator of the clinic in our city, an expert in pregnancy nutrition.

Proteins of animal origin they are called proteins of high biological value because they contain all the essential amino acids, that is, which cannot be synthesized by man (amino acids are the basic constituents of the protein chain). “But be careful: foods of animal origin must still be taken in moderation, because in addition to proteins they inevitably also contain saturated fat and cholesterol, which in the long run can have negative effects on the health of the heart, blood vessels and other organs and tissues ”explains the specialist.

Meat and cold cuts

So yes to meat, but preferring that white or in any case cuts that are not too fat and preferably no more than three times a week, with portions of about 150 grams. If you are not immune to toxoplasmosis, meat should always be eaten cooked (be careful with cooking inside too). In addition to meat, once a week you can also eat cold cuts (about 100 grams), always cooked if you are toxo-negative (cooked ham, mortadella, porchetta, zampone, cotechino).

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Fish, which in addition to containing high biological value proteins, also contains polyunsaturated fatty acids - such as the famous omega 3s - essential for the development of the fetal nervous system. The ideal is to insert it at least two or three times a week.

“Fish must also be consumed well done in order not to risk food poisoning such as hepatitis A or Salmonella ”he says. To consume it raw, you must be sure that it has been thermally blast chilled in the correct way, i.e. frozen in a domestic freezer at -18 ° C for at least 96 hours, or in a commercial freezer at -20 ° C for at least 24 hours.

I'm pregnant all types of fish are indicated (in portions of 100-150 grams): from the leanest and easily digestible ones such as plaice, sole, sea bream to the fattest ones such as salmon, tuna and swordfish. Large fish, such as tuna and swordfish, however, should not be consumed more than once a week, to avoid the risks due to contamination with pollutants such as mercury, which tend to be more present in these foods.

"A particular positive note goes to the blue fish (sardines, mackerel, herring, anchovies, garfish, amberjack), which is also an excellent source of vitamin D "underlines the nutritionist.

Read also: Nutrition during pregnancy: all the answers to your (many) questions

Eggs and cheeses

Eggs are an excellent substitute for meat or fish, because they contain proteins of high biological value and are the result easily digestible (with the exception of the omelettes, of course, which are a bit heavier). They can be eaten once or twice a week, and the same goes for cheese, excellent also source of calcium and, to a lesser extent, vitamin D (the serving is about 100 grams).

The most digestible cheeses are primosale, feta, goat cheese, stracchino, crescenza, quartirolo. If you do not have digestive problems, you can also consume more demanding aged cheeses such as pecorino. Instead, beware of blue cheeses such as gorgonzola and roquefort or soft cheeses with moldy rinds such as brie, because they may be at risk from Listeria: to consume them safely, just cook them for a few minutes.


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Legumes, cereals (and nuts)

"The proteins of vegetable origin they are said to have low or medium biological value as they are deficient in one or more essential amino acids "she says. But be careful: this does not mean that they are not precious, or that a pregnant woman cannot follow a vegetarian or even vegan diet.

"To make sure that the protein intake is adequate, enough combine different plant sources - in particular legumes and cereals - so that the protein profiles of the two sources complement each other ". In addition, it should be noted that foods of plant origin they do not bring cholesterol and saturated fats. Green light therefore to the classic pasta and beans, but also to chickpea hummus with perhaps wholemeal bread, spelled soup with lentils and so on. "Finally, it should be remembered that also the dried nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts) is an excellent source of protein, as well as omega 3: you can consume up to a maximum of 20-30 grams per day ".

Read also: Vegetarian or vegan diet in pregnancy

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