The Power of Protein

September 5, 2016


This guest post is from our favorite ladies, Natalie and Holly, over at The Modern Proper. Their mission is to reinvent proper for the modern homemaker, one delicious meal at a time. Check out more of their delicious recipes here.


As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I’m the mother to three wonderful kids. Three kids, three births and three pregnancies, each unique in their own way. With my son Scout, I had a textbook first labor and birth, straight and to the point. Nine hours of active labor, progressing steadily and pushing for a little under an hour, resulting in the birth of a healthy 8lb 13oz boy. Our second son, Wallace, came a little faster. My water broke while I was sleeping at 3:15 AM and by 7:30 AM he was in my arms. Things were a little hectic at the hospital scrambling to get me a room and a pool filled before his arrival, but all was well and we were thoroughly smitten with our ruddy 8lb 3oz little man.

When I became pregnant with my third child, our daughter, we had a decision to make. Do we risk another fast and chaotic labor trying to get me to the hospital in time or do we explore the options of having her at home? Finally, when I was 24 weeks pregnant and we had put in MANY hours of research, thought, and prayer, we found ourselves transitioning my care to a wonderful group of midwives who would deliver our baby girl at home.

I went in for my first appointment with these midwives thinking we’d instantly be talking delivery. After all, the aches, pains, and sickness were all just a part of the process I had to go through to receive the precious gift our sweet baby girl, right? My visit that day was far from what I had ever experienced at a routine prenatal appointment and I soon learned these midwives had higher expectations for my health and well being than I had come to hold for myself.




It was my nutrition, not labor, that was the main topic of conversation that day, as I was asked a flood of questions about what was making my pregnancy difficult. Instead of a pat on the back and an “I’m sorry you’re feeling that, you’re more than halfway there, just hang in a bit longer,” my midwife helped me chart out a nutritional plan that, before long, would help to eliminate most of my pregnancy discomfort. The plan required me to keep a log of everything that went into my mouth (yes, even ice cream, turns out that actually does count when you’re pregnant).

Over the course of my treatment with that midwifery practice, I repeatedly heard of their belief that 90% of all pregnancy related discomfort could be largely credited to a lack of protein and water. Just how much protein is needed? For me it was 80g. Had I been pregnant with twins, it would have been 110g. I was shocked. That seemed like a lot. How was I going to do it? I wasn’t sure, but decided to give it a try. I don’t claim to be a doctor or midwife, or to tell you what’s right for your body, but what I can tell you is that my third pregnancy, once I had committed to this nutritional shift, was drastically different than my previous two. I felt a sense of vitality and health I didn’t experience with my boys or think was possible during pregnancy, because I had all but forsaken the power of protein and proper nutrition.

Once I became aware of how much protein a pregnant me required, I began tracking just how much I had consumed for the day, at every meal and snack in fact. This meant learning exactly what was in the food I was eating, which overall helped me make better choices for myself and my growing baby. The higher levels of protein I was consuming helped me stay fuller longer, thereby keeping my nausea at bay, increased my energy levels tremendously and took away my cravings for filler foods such as carbs and sugar.




If you’re wanting to give this a try (because what do you have to lose?), I found this amazing little calculator that helps determine how much protein you should actually be consuming. Once you know how much should be going in, the next step is deciding what should be going in, and that’s where I come in. I’ve put together a breakdown of some common foods that can be found at any grocery store and made in any kitchen and their protein value. This is the list I wish I had when I first began my protein journey. It makes getting in the right foods a no brainer and is one less thing for you to have to research yourself (because which car seat and stroller are best already consume 95% of your waking hours…I know…I’ve been there).

Pregnancy in all forms is difficult…you’re growing an entire life afterall! If you can do your part in making good choices, it can be easier than you may have been led to believe. For me, protein was the magic ingredient that changed my outlook on that beautiful season. (Don’t worry, I still found room for ice cream from time to time.) And if you’re wondering how my birth went with our daughter, turns out home was the smart choice after all. She was with us start to finish in less than two hours.




Nuts and Seed and Grains:
Almonds (¼ c) 8g
Almond Butter (¼ c) 16g
Cashews (1 c)
Cashew Butter (¼ c) 12g
Pine Nuts (½ c) 9.25g
Sunflower Seeds (1 c) 9.5g
Flax Seeds (¼ c) 7.5g
Hemp Seeds (3 tbsp) 9g
Chia Seeds (1 oz) 4.7g
Oatmeal (1 c) 14g
Brown Rice (1c) 4.5g
Quinoa (1c) 24g

Dotted Line2

Black Beans (1c) 15.25g
Cannellini Beans (1c) 15.25g
Chickpeas (1c) 14.5g
Kidney Beans (1c) 7.75
Lentils cooked (1c) 18g

Dotted Line2

Apple (1) .5g
Apricot (1c) 2.25g
Avocado (1) 4g
Banana (1c) 1.6
Blueberries (1c) 1g
Blackberries (1c) 2g
Cherries (1c) 1.5g
Grapefruit (1) 1.5g
Grapes (1c) 1g
Orange (1) 1.25g
Peach (1) 1.35g
Pear (1) .7g
Red Peppers (1c) 1.2g
Raspberries (1c) 1.5g
Strawberries (1c) 1g
Tomatoes (1c) 1g
Watermelon (2c) 1.75

Dotted Line2

Vegetables and Leafy Greens:
Artichoke Cooked (1) 3.5g
Arugula (1c) 5.2g
Asparagus (1c) 4.25g
Beets (1c) 2.1g
Broccoli (1c) 2.5g
Brussels Sprouts (1c) 4g
Cabbage (1c) 1g
Cauliflower (1c) 2g
Cucumber (1c) 1g
Green Beans (1c) 1.8g
Green peas (1c) 1.8g
Kale (1c) 2.25g
Mixed Greens (2c) 1g
White Mushrooms Cooked (1c) 5g
Spinach (1c) .8g
Sweet Potato (1) 2.25g
Yellow Squash (1c) 1.25g
Zucchini (1c) 1.9g

Dotted Line2

Greek Yogurt (1 c) 23g
Cheddar Cheese (1 oz) 7g
Swiss Cheese (1 oz) 7g

Dotted Line2

Animal Protein:
Egg 6g
Lean Steak (4 oz) 20g
Ground Beef (3 oz) 23g
Pork Tenderloin (3 oz) 13g
Ground Turkey (3 oz) 21g
Turkey Breast (3 oz) 26g
Tilapia (5 oz) 22.5g
Halibut (3 oz) 23g
Salmon (4 oz) 30g
Shrimp (3 oz) 18g
Chicken Breast (4 oz) 36g

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September 5th 2016

Wow! This is amazing! I calculated and I need 68g! I’m not pregnant anymore and breastfeeding my 3 month old. Do you have recipes for the meals in the photos above?


September 13th 2016

You can find all these recipes on The Modern Proper!

September 6th 2016

That calculator is amazing! I’m nursing my second now and can’t believe I should be getting 101g!

I’m also curious about where the pictures came from…and if there are recipes attached. 😀

September 13th 2016

You can find all these recipes on The Modern Proper!

September 6th 2016

I’m going to give this a shot b/c I’m feeling not so great! Did you use any special tool to “track” how much protein you were getting? Or just good ol’ pen and paper? Thanks!!

September 13th 2016

I’m a little old fashioned and used a good ol’ pen, paper and calculator.;) After a week of tracking I got the hang of what my body really needed and was able to judge my intake based on how I felt. -The Modern Proper