Eating Meat During Pregnancy: What You Should Know

Eating meat during pregnancy will help cover protein and iron requirements, while avoiding anemia and alterations in the baby's development.
Eating Meat During Pregnancy: What You Should Know
Saúl Sánchez Arias

Reviewed and approved by the nutritionist Saúl Sánchez Arias.

Last update: 16 December, 2022

Eating meat during pregnancy may be necessary to achieve an optimal protein intake, as these are nutrients that will positively intervene in the development of the fetus. In addition, they’ll improve satiety control and may even prevent the development of gestational diabetes, if the rest of the diet is properly and efficiently prepared.

For this reason, the daily protein requirements must be covered. However, not everyone achieves this. So, many diets end up losing adherence as the weeks go by. In the same way, during pregnancy, it’s crucial to promote other good habits, such as a certain amount of physical activity.

Is it possible to eat meat during pregnancy?

This is the first question to be answered. The answer is yes, but caution should be taken with raw meats, which should be avoided. In general, experts recommend cooking foods of animal origin correctly to avoid possible food poisoning that can negatively affect the health and development of the fetus. Meat shouldn’t be left red on the inside at this point. Rather, it’s key to reach at least a temperature of 150 degrees all the way through.

Sliced beef that's still red on the inside.
Meat provides protein of high biological value and essential minerals. But it’s key to prevent it from remaining red on the inside, so it must be well cooked.

The benefits of eating meat during pregnancy

However, when we talk about meat, we’re referring to a food with high nutritional density, so it should appear in almost any diet. On the one hand, it contains proteins of high biological value. On the other hand, it has essential minerals that will help to keep the physiology in good working order.

As for protein needs, we must emphasize that they’re increased during certain stages of life. Pregnancy would be one of them, as evidenced by research published in the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism . These elements participate in a multitude of different metabolic reactions. Consequently, if there’s a deficit, the fetus may suffer alterations in the development processes.

Likewise, meat contains a significant amount of iron in its interior. During pregnancy, blood volume increases, so if the requirements of this mineral aren’t met, anemia may occur. A study published in Clinics in Laboratory Medicine confirms this. For this reason, the dietary availability of this nutrient should always be ensured.

Is it better to consume red or white meat?

There are many myths about red meat. The truth is that there are insufficient clinical trials to prove that the presence of this food in the diet, in its fresh version, is detrimental to health. In fact, research suggests the opposite. It provides essential nutrients that are necessary for the body to function properly during the different stages of life.

However, it’s best to ensure variety in the diet. For this reason, it’s a good idea to alternate between red and white meat throughout the week. Nor should we forget about fish, which is another source of proteins of high biological value. In this case, we’re talking about a food that has a lower energy density, so it will help to avoid uncontrolled weight gain that can cause inflammation.

Be that as it may, one of the key points in the diet of pregnant women is to cover the nutritional requirements that are increased during this period. If in doubt, you can always consult with a nutrition specialist to obtain an appropriate approach to each individual case.

A variety of fresh products, including meats, cheese, fruits, vegetables, nuts and leghumes.
It’s important to eat meat during pregnancy, but within the framework of a varied and healthy diet. It’s also good to include fish, eggs, and dairy products to ensure a good protein intake.

It’s good to eat meat during pregnancy

As you’ve seen, eating meat during pregnancy is considered positive for the health of both the mother and the future baby. It’s only necessary to keep in mind that it must be cooked correctly to avoid microbiological risks. On the other hand, processed meat versions, such as sausages, should be avoided. These have additives inside that are considered harmful to the body in the medium term and can increase the risk of contracting diseases.

Finally, don’t forget that there are several alternatives to ensure a good protein intake during the gestation period. It’s not only the inclusion of meat in the diet that’s useful. Fish, dairy products, and eggs provide proteins of high biological value, which are ideal to cover the requirements and avoid problems in the development or function of the lean mass.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Richter M, Baerlocher K, Bauer JM, et al. Revised Reference Values for the Intake of Protein. Ann Nutr Metab. 2019;74(3):242-250. doi:10.1159/000499374
  • Horowitz KM, Ingardia CJ, Borgida AF. Anemia in pregnancy. Clin Lab Med. 2013;33(2):281-291. doi:10.1016/j.cll.2013.03.016

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.