All About Protein (Part 2 of HMM Series)

All About Protein (Part 2 of HMM Series)

Fast Facts:

• Protein is the primary structural building block of your body.

• Your body uses proteins to make most body tissues, including bones, tendons, cartilage, muscles, internal organs, skin and hair.

• The average woman is 15% protein.

• A diet low in protein may result in lower birth weight, lower cognitive function in baby, and other complications.

• Women have a reduced ability to metabolize protein during pregnancy. Too much protein during pregnancy can increase your baby’s risk for low birth weight and overall fetal mortality.

• It is true that pregnant women need extra protein. However, aim for 20-25% of your calories from protein or no more than 110 grams of protein per day.


Best Choices:

• Eating animal products, especially meats, are the easiest way for your body to use proteins.

• Eggs are a perfect protein, meaning that they contain all of the essential amino acids.

• Choose grass-fed meats, wild-caught fish, pastured poultry & eggs, wild game, and organic dairy (if tolerated).


Be Informed:

• Proteins such as gluten (from wheat, rye, barley, etc.), casein from cow’s milk, and soy are all proteins that are difficult for your body to handle and digest.

• Fish is a great protein source, but watch out for fish high in mercury, like shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.

• Choose wild-caught fish over farm-raised. Farmed fish are fed soy, rendered poultry litter, and antibiotics. These fish also have a different ratio of fatty acids compared to wild-caught fish. (Fact: The standard American diet or SAD is very high in omega-6 fatty acids and very low in omega-3 fatty acids. The ideal ratio of these fatty acids should be 1:1 instead of 50:1 for most Americans. Stay tuned for next week’s blog post where we will be discussing more about fat.) *Read more about fish below!


Buying Tips:

• Buy local, 100% grass-fed meat, pastured pork & poultry. (Tip: Don’t go lean! Enjoy eating the skin and fat from these natural meats). If these options are not available to you then your second best option is lean conventional meats from your grocery store. Choosing lean is a good way to avoid consuming unnecessary toxins, which are commonly stored in the fat.

• Buy wild-caught fish, such as sockeye salmon, sardines, and anchovies.

• Buy local, pastured eggs.

• Need help finding quality meats, eggs, or dairy? Check out or to find local meats, eggs, and dairy in your area, or buy quality meats from US Wellness Meats.


Cooking Tips:

• Cook meat on low heat to prevent charring/blackening, which oxidizes healthy fats turning them into unhealthy fats.

• Cook eggs on low heat (the ideal way to cook an egg is poached or raw, but I don’t recommend raw if pregnant). Iodine or GSE (grapeseed extract) are natural ways to disinfect the eggshell to kill salmonella. Remember to never eat an egg that has been cracked!


Additional Tips:

• Add more protein to your diet with a good quality protein powder, such as pea protein, 100% grass-fed whey (unflavored with no added sugar), or gelatin (collagen hydrolysate) from grass-fed cows like this one. Add to hot or cold beverages.


Your Prescription: Aim for 4-6 ounces of clean protein (about the size of your palm) at each meal and 2-3 ounces (about half the size of your palm) with each snack.


Is fish safe during pregnancy?

• Today most fish are contaminated with mercury, which can be toxic to humans if too much is consumed. However, it is not commonly known that fish also contains a high amount of selenium, which binds with mercury and protects against mercury toxicity. Fish is still a healthy option if eaten in moderation and certain species like shark, swordfish, tilefish, and king mackerel are avoided. Fish is a great source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D. Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA & EPA) are crucial for your baby’s neurological and brain development. In addition, they play a key role in determining length of gestation and may reduce the incidence of preterm birth.

• Although farmed fish may be lower in mercury, farmed fish like salmon are raised on grain feed, soy, and rendered poultry litter, which alters the fatty acid ratio. For this reason wild-caught fish is still considered to be superior to farm-raised. The best choices of wild-caught fish include sockeye salmon, sardines, anchovies, Petrale sole, and tilapia because they have the lowest content of mercury. Check out this link for more information about which seafood is safe to eat.

• Aim for eating fish 2 to 3 times per week for the omega-3 benefits. I recommend no more than 6 ounces per serving or 12 ounces per week. *If you do not eat fish then try a good quality omega-3 supplement made from fish or algae. Aim for a minimum of 200 mg of DHA per day.


I offer nutrition services for women who are pregnant, postpartum, or trying to conceive. At Halley Holloway Nutrition I use Medical Nutrition Therapy with a functional medicine approach to best help my clients. Nutrition is not “one size fits all”, which is why I work with you to develop an individualized nutrition plan that supports your health goals. With your commitment I can help you boost your fertility, have a healthy pregnancy, and ultimately have a happy baby! I will be your teacher, coach, and motivator!


Stay tuned for next week’s post, All About Fats, part 3 of our Healthy Mommy & Me series!

Cheers to real nutrition for healthy beginnings!



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