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Let’s be honest: Moms are the ultimate endurance athletes. During busy days, we can’t just hit the pause button. We need the energy and strength to preserve—at least until the kids go to sleep. That’s why it’s important to adequately nourish your body with protein.
“Along with fats and carbohydrates, protein is one of the three macronutrients that is essential for bodily function,” explains Jessica D’Argenio Waller, MS, CNS, LDN, a nutritionist and Motherly’s health & wellness senior editor. “Protein is a crucial building block for muscle maintenance and is used in thousands of biochemical reactions in the body. It also helps you feel full.”
Although most of us know that protein is a vital component of a healthy diet, there are misconceptions about how much protein we should get to feel and function our best. For women, that’s further complicated by changing needs during pregnancy, postpartum and beyond 1https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002467.htm#:~:text=Every%20cell%20in%20the%20human,%2C%20teens%2C%20and%20pregnant%20women.
“I generally recommend pregnant and breastfeeding people aim for 70 grams to 100 grams of protein per day,” says D’Argenio Waller. “In both stages, you’re building or growing a baby, but you need to nourish yourself, too.”
Although individual needs vary, research shows it’s helpful to get 20 to 35 grams of protein per meal when not pregnant or breastfeeding 2https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26197807/. Of course, that can feel like a challenge when you barely have time to sit down.
“I’ve had so many nutrition clients confess to eating the crusts from their kids’ PB&J or leftover nuggets and calling it lunch—but that won’t keep you feeling energized all the way till bedtime,” D’Argenio Waller says. “Instead, aim to center each meal and snack around a protein-rich option, then pair it with a fat source and a complex carb.”
Waller’s leading tip is to spread protein intake out over three meals and two snacks throughout the day. For snacks, she says smoothies are a stellar way to work in extra protein. Protein powders are also a great way to add some extra flavor to a smoothie, like with Orgain’s chocolate, vanilla, cookies ‘n cream or other seasonal flavors. Just one serving is loaded with 21 grams of plant protein, which helps to support your daily protein intake.
If consuming enough protein hasn’t been a focus of yours in the past, you should start to see benefits of incorporating more protein into your diet throughout the day. Protein not only helps you feel fuller longer, but also provides immune support 3https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17403271/ while enabling your body to repair and restore 4https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20048505/. That can kick off a positive cycle. After all, the better you feel, the more energized you’ll be to take more healthy steps—like fitting in some more exercise throughout the day, committing to better sleep habits and making the space for self-care 5https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3505409/.
To start adding more protein to your diet, it can help to focus on simple swaps and additions rather than complete meal overhauls. For example, if you regularly make pancakes for the family for breakfast, add a scoop or two of protein powder to the batter. Or put a ready-to-drink shake in your bag for sipping on-the-go. If your kids always want to know what you’re eating and steal a bite for themselves, pack some of Orgain’s delicious kids’ nutritional shakes. Their growing bodies need protein, too!
Especially for moms, getting enough protein should be a priority because it helps you show up feeling your best for your family. “The role protein plays, no matter your age, can’t be understated,” D’Argenio Waller says. “It’s essential for growth, critical for helping build and support muscles, and is vital for cellular function.”
And, thankfully, it’s easy to incorporate more protein into your diet throughout the day with delicious protein-rich foods like nuts, beans, yogurt, lean meat and plant-based protein powders, shakes or bars.
One simple way to add more protein to your diet? Shop Orgain, which is available on Amazon and at retailers nationwide.
1. Protein in Diet. [Internet] MedlinePlus, National Library of Medicine. 2021.
2. Arentson-Lantz E, Clairmont S, Paddon-Jones D, Tremblay A, Elango R. Protein: a nutrient in focus. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2015;40(8):755-761.
3. Peng Li, Yu-Long Yin, Defa Li, Sung Woo Kim, Guoyao Wu. Amino acids and immune function. Br J Nutr. 2007;10.1017/S000711450769936X
4. Richard B Kreider, Bill Campbell. Protein for exercise and recovery. Phys Sportsmed. 2009; 10.3810/psm.2009.06.1705
5. Benjamin Gardner, Phillippa Lally, Jane Wardle. Making health habitual: the psychology of ‘habit-formation’ and general practice. Br J Gen Pract. 2012;10.3399/bjgp12X659466