Beef builds beautiful bodies. Do you believe it? I do!
Recently I was chatting with a friend, who is also pregnant, about our weird pregnancy cravings. They were ranging from pineapple to pastries to the classic pregnancy craving—pickles. I admitted that a strange craving of mine, from about the time the 24/7 nausea and vomiting subsided at week 15, has been grilled hamburgers and grilled steak.
But then I got to thinking—is it really that strange? I took the Protein Challenge last year and found out that I fell short of meeting my daily recommended value of protein every day. And being pregnant—literally growing a small human for nine months—it’s no wonder that sources say you need even more protein—to the tune of about 6-10g/day—every day.
Side note: When you breastfeed, your protein needs go up even MORE—depending on mom’s height and weight. Sources vary widely about an exact number–but literature states protein needs increase by about 15-70 grams more/day than when not pregnant (a topic for another day).
So I think it makes perfect sense that one of my main cravings has been beef! Not only is it delicious and I love incorporating it into our meals even when I am not pregnant, I definitely understand why my body is craving it a little extra right now.
Protein for a Busy Life
Along with being 38 weeks pregnant, I am also a busy mom to a five year old and an almost-three-year old. I am a group fitness instructor, runner, and health and nutrition enthusiast. So I knew after the results of the protein challenge that I had to do better at eating the optimal amount of protein for my active lifestyle if I wanted to feel my healthiest, perform my best, and be able to keep up with my crazy kids, fitness goals, AND doing my best to maintain a healthy pregnancy.
Let’s pause for a moment and talk about why we need the macronutrient protein. Protein gives you the building blocks for new tissue synthesis (think: it helps to build and preserve muscle), helps to keep you feeling full, and since protein is found in every cell of the body, it helps provide structure and function to your cells.
Protein also contains amino acids necessary for fetal growth. So during pregnancy, the protein you eat also helps not just with growth of new tissues, but contributes to making antibodies for baby’s immune system, making hormones and enzymes, helping muscles function properly, and helps with the transport of oxygen through baby’s blood (from the AptaClub website).
Lean Beef is Nutrient-Dense
If you have read my Food Philosophy, you know I don’t count calories, and I especially don’t count calories while pregnant. I focus on eating whole foods in as close to their natural state as possible. Which translates to whole grains, fruits, veggies, dairy, nuts, healthy oils, and lean meats. Translation—eat an orange instead of a glass of orange juice. You get more nutrients that way, such as fiber.
So it makes sense that I am going to pick the most nutrient-dense foods to get the most bang for my buck during pregnancy, when I am nourishing not only my body, but growing a baby too. Enter lean beef.
As far as nutrition goes, I call lean beef a “high-quality” or “nutrient-dense” food because it has TEN essential nutrients, for relatively few calories, in ONE 3-oz serving. So not only is it an EXCELLENT source of protein, zinc, selenium, niacin, and vitamins B6 and B12, but also a GOOD source of phosphorus, iron, riboflavin, and choline. And I bet you picked out a few of those that are also really important during pregnancy, right?
If you wanted to get the same amount of protein as in that 3oz serving of lean beef (which contains around 170 calories), you would have to eat THREE CUPS of quinoa (no way possible, right?!?), which also amounts to about 666 calories (I can’t afford that calorie-bomb while maintaining a healthy pregnancy weight). You could also eat SIX tablespoons of peanut butter (which I could easily and happily do!!!), but again that would be around 564 calories. Or you could eat almost TWO cups of black beans (and then no one would want to be in the same room with you), for around 382 calories.
Building My Beautiful Body–And my Baby’s
So you could say that beef has been one pregnancy craving that I have NOT been ignoring. Our meals often include lean beef, but I have thrown in a couple of our favorite recipes maybe a little more often than usual into the meal rotation the past few weeks. You can check out an example for some delicious burgers and another favorite hearty beef dish that the whole family loves.
As baby’s due date nears (less than two weeks away) I am pretty confident that she will be beautiful—because I have been building my body and hers with nutrient-dense lean beef AND because, well, she is my daughter so of course I am biased!
*If you would like your own “Beef Builds Beautiful Bodies” hat shown in the picture, available in many colors, head to Faith Family and Beef and grab yours! Then send me a picture of you sporting it!