I’m pregnant and I’m on a strict animal-based diet. Have you seen those pregnant women who try to stick to a healthy diet while pregnant, so they drink green smoothies for breakfast, have big salads for lunch, and pile on the veggies at dinner? That’s not me.
My diet consists of animal foods and fruit. And guess what? I’m getting all the nutrients I need to be healthy and grow a healthy baby.
Why I’m Eating Animal-Based During Pregnancy
I want to give my baby the best possible foods and sources of nutrients, which is why I’m choosing to be on an animal-based diet that basically consists of meat and fruit. Animal foods are the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. The nutrients in animal foods are also usually easier to absorb than the nutrients in plant foods.
To me, it’s clear that animal foods are far superior to plant foods — even though many people might disagree with me.
Animal Foods are the Best Sources of Protein
To grow a healthy baby, you need a lot of protein and fat, and animal foods are the best sources. Your body can break down and absorb the protein in animal foods far easier than the protein in plant foods.
The body needs 20 amino acids. Some of them your body can make on its own, but there are 9 amino acids your body cannot produce, which we call essential amino acids. They are tryptophan, histidine, leucine, isoleucine, methionine, lysine, threonine, phenylalanine, and valine. (1, 2)
Protein sources that contain all the essential amino acids are complete proteins. (3)
Plant foods that contain all the essential amino acids are almost non-existent and you need to pair different plant protein sources to get all the amino acids you need. Animal foods, on the other hand, like meat, organ meats, eggs, and cheese are all complete proteins. No combining is necessary. (4)
Animal sources of protein are far superior and my baby deserves the best.
Animal Foods Contain the Best Nutrients for Growing a Baby
If you’re pregnant, you need to ensure you get all the vital nutrients, such as:
- Vitamin A to support the growth and maintenance of tissue, especially in the eyes, skin, and blood. Foods sources include liver, butter, egg yolks, and fish oil.
- Choline for healthy brain and spine development (5). Food sources include egg yolks, beef liver, fish, and dairy.
- B12 for brain and spinal cord development, as well as red blood cell and DNA formation (6). Food sources include fish, red meat, poultry, dairy products, and eggs.
- Zinc for preventing preterm birth. It’s also important for cell growth, a healthy immune system, and brain development. (7) Food sources include shellfish, poultry, red meat, and dairy products.
- Folate: Important for red blood cell formation, DNA and neurotransmitter synthesis, and the prevention of neural tube defects (8). Food sources include liver, kidney, and egg yolks.
- Iron: Needed for red blood cell formation and circulation. Animal sources of iron provide heme iron, which is much easier to absorb and use than non-heme iron from plant sources. (9) Food sources include eggs, shellfish, red meat, poultry, liver, and kidney.
- Omega 3: For healthy brain and eye development and to lower inflammation (10, 11). Food sources include fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, cod liver oil, caviar, oysters, and grass-fed beef.
There are obviously far more micronutrients you need while pregnant, but these are just a few I felt were worth mentioning.
Animal Foods Are Easier to Digest
Being pregnant alone can mess with your digestion and slow it down (12). I used to suffer from IBS symptoms that almost never went away, but when I cut down my fibre intake and switched to an animal-based diet, my digestive problems basically went away.
I don’t want to make things harder for myself by eating a lot of high fibre, hard-to-digest plant foods while pregnant — especially nuts, seeds, and grains.
Fruits are Easier to Digest and Lower in Plant Toxins
I’m avoiding toxic plant foods while pregnant. This means foods that are high in plant toxins and antinutrients like oxalates, phytates, phthalates, lectins, and goitrogens. The most toxic plant foods are leafy greens, the stems of plants, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, alliums, and brassica vegetables. (13, 14, 15)
Fruits, on the other hand, are entirely different and much safer for human consumption.
Animal Foods Contain More Stearic Acid, Less Linoleic Acid
I’m trying to avoid consuming a lot of linoleic acid while pregnant. Linoleic acid is a type of polyunsaturated fat and a source of omega-6 fatty acids that causes inflammation (16), especially when you don’t consume enough omega-3 fatty acids. It’s important to get the ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids well-balanced in your body. If you consume too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3, it can cause inflammation. (17, 18)
Linoleic acid also signals to your fat cells that it’s time to grow and can increase visceral fat in the body (19). Foods high in this fatty acid want to prepare your body for winter.
Do you know which foods are high in linoleic acid? Nuts, seeds, nut and seed butter, oils like canola and sunflower oil, conventionally raised pork and chicken, and processed sauces like mayonnaise and salad dressings are all high in linoleic acid (20).
Since being pregnant already signals the body to gain fat, so you have enough energy stores to grow your baby and breastfeed after they are gone, I don’t need something else, like linoleic acid, to tell my body to gain even more fat.
If I can manage the amount of weight I gain during pregnancy and stay within the healthy range, it will be much easier to bounce back afterwards.
Now let’s talk about stearic acid. Stearic acid is a type of fatty acid found in animal foods like butter and the fat you get on your beef. Stearic acid has shown promise in reducing visceral fat (21). Stearic acid isn’t the only reason I’ve been loading up on fatty meat and butter while pregnant, but it is definitely one of them.
What am I Eating on My Animal-Based Diet While Pregnant?
In my first trimester, I didn’t eat as much red meat as I wanted to (thanks to my morning sickness and food aversions), but I managed to eat a lot of fish and chicken and also loaded up on collagen protein powder. Eggs, unfortunately, were a hell no. I couldn’t stand the smell.
Luckily, in my second trimester, red meat started making a comeback and I now eat a few servings of red meat a day — mainly steak.
Other than meat, during my pregnancy, I’m eating fruits, including:
- Sweet fruits like apples, pineapple, bananas, peaches, nectarines, oranges, and mango (a lot of mangoes).
- Cucumber (with the skin removed)
Yes, olives, cucumber, avocados, and squash are all considered fruits.
The fact is that whatever I eat is what the baby will get its nutrients from. What you eat definitely influences your baby and I don’t intend to eat anything that could be harmful to my baby. Only the best will do.