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Protein is an essential macronutrient that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including energy production and maintenance of overall health. For mothers, especially during pregnancy and postpartum stages, adequate protein intake is particularly vital as it directly impacts energy levels and overall well-being. 

Priti Korgaonkar, Nutritionist at AS-IT-IS Nutrition shares the effects of low protein intake on maternal energy levels and highlights the importance of a balanced diet rich in protein for mothers.

Why Protein Matters for Moms?

Protein is composed of amino acids, which are the building blocks of tissues, muscles, hormones, enzymes, and other essential components of the body. During pregnancy and lactation, a woman’s body undergoes significant changes and requires increased protein to support fetal growth, maternal tissue expansion, and milk production. Protein also plays a critical role in repairing and maintaining cells, supporting immune function, and providing a source of sustainable energy.

The Link Between Low Protein Intake and Energy Levels

When a mother’s diet lacks sufficient protein, it can lead to various adverse effects on her energy levels:

Muscle Weakness and Fatigue: Proteins are essential for muscle repair and maintenance. Inadequate protein intake can result in muscle weakness and fatigue, making everyday tasks more challenging for mothers, especially during pregnancy and while caring for young children.

Reduced Metabolic Rate: Protein has a higher thermic effect compared to carbohydrates and fats, meaning it requires more energy to digest, metabolize, and utilize. A low-protein diet may lead to a decrease in metabolic rate, resulting in reduced overall energy expenditure.

Imbalance in Blood Sugar Levels: Protein plays a role in stabilizing blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates. Without enough protein, mothers may experience fluctuations in blood sugar, leading to energy crashes and fatigue.

Impaired Hormonal Function: Hormones involved in energy regulation, such as insulin and thyroid hormones, depend on adequate protein intake. Insufficient protein can disrupt hormonal balance, affecting energy metabolism and overall vitality.

To maintain optimal energy levels and support overall health, mothers need to consume a balanced diet that includes an adequate amount of protein from various sources. Good sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Every woman’s nutritional needs during pregnancy and postpartum can vary based on factors such as age, weight, activity level, and health status. It’s important for expecting and new mothers to consult with a health practitioner or registered dietitian to determine their specific protein requirements and ensure they are meeting their nutritional needs adequately.

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