One of the things that pregnancy brings is food cravings. These cravings can hit you at any point and can change throughout your pregnancy. The most common craving that we hear from pregnant women is steak. As with any other cravings, you would ask yourself, is it safe to crave steak during pregnancy?
Steak or red meat is safe to consume during pregnancy provided that it is cooked with an internal temperature of 145F and it is eaten in moderation. Beef is rich in protein and iron which are nutrients that promote the growth and development of the baby. The recommended protein intake for pregnant women is 71 grams daily which is equivalent to 5 ounces of lean meat.
Read along as we answer common questions when it comes to craving steak while pregnant.
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Is it normal to crave steak and other red meat while pregnant?
If your craving for meat is stronger than you expected or you are a practicing vegan that suddenly finds herself with a craving for meat, you might be a little worried.
Craving steak or red meat during pregnancy is completely normal. If you are currently craving red meat, you might have heard that it is your body telling you that you are lacking protein or iron. In reality, you can crave steak because it brings you comfort which is a much-needed feeling during pregnancy.
In reality, growing a baby inside of you is hard work and you might feel the need to reward yourself with a juicy steak or a delicious hamburger. This is all normal and part of the course when it comes to pregnancy.
If you are vegan and have been for a while, you might have a sudden strong craving to eat meat. Sometimes you just have to give in to your cravings as long as you do so in moderation. Craving for something that you haven’t consumed in a while is okay and as long as it is cooked and prepared well, it should be safe for you and your baby.
When do women usually start craving steak?
So, when does a craving for steak or other meats typically start?
The first trimester is characterized by morning sickness because your body is trying to get used to all the hormonal changes that pregnancy brings.
Craving for steak typically starts during the tail-end of the first trimester and will continue throughout the second trimester. After this period, your body will be more comfortable going in the second trimester which often brings about pregnancy cravings.
The cravings typically will disappear and in the last trimester, but this is not the case for everybody. Each pregnancy is different and some women have cravings all throughout their pregnancy and some, none at all.
Is steak safe to eat during pregnancy?
If you don’t normally eat a lot of red meat or aren’t sure of the potential risks that come from eating it during pregnancy, let’s take a look.
Red meat is an excellent source of iron, zinc, and protein and is therefore deemed safe to consume during pregnancy provided that it is well-cooked and not raw. However, care should be taken to avoid eating too many extra servings of red meat as it has been linked to higher rates of mortality and gestational diabetes.
The following nutrients can be found in beef:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin B6
As with anything that you consume during pregnancy, it is okay to give in to your cravings as long as you eat red meat in moderation. In a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, they found out that just one additional serving of unprocessed red meat above the recommended dietary intake such as steak or hamburgers, raised the participant’s mortality rate by 13%.
Additionally, in a Nurses’ Health cohort conducted between 1991 to 2001, they found out that pregnant women with the highest intake of animal protein had increased chances of developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy compared to women who consumed less or minimal animal protein.
What temperature should your steak be cooked during pregnancy?
While many people enjoy their steak rare, medium-rare, medium, or medium-well, special care should be taken during pregnancy.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, steaks should reach an internal temperature of 145F, then rest for 3 minutes before carving or consuming. This includes beef, pork, lamb, veal, chops, and roasts.
The internal temperature of the meat is not the only thing that you should be concerned about, you should also make sure that the meat is properly handled and comes from a reputable source. If you are cooking or preparing your own food, make sure that you are washing your hands properly and cleaning and sanitizing your cooking utensils and cookware properly.
When ordering steak from a restaurant, you have to make sure that there is no red and the meat is well-cooked. This will prevent your exposure to food-borne illnesses that include listeria.
What kind of steak can you eat while pregnant?
For beef, not all cuts are created equally when it comes to fat and protein content.
When it comes to eating steak during pregnancy, it is recommended to consume leaner types of meat. This includes meat that has less than 10 grams of total fat and 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat.
A good clue when you are grocery shopping or in a restaurant is to look for “round” or “loin”. This ensures that the meat cut is leaner compared to other options.
During pregnancy, you should avoid consuming any exotic meats like alligator, crocodile, or ostrich. There is not enough research to warrant the safe consumption of exotic meats and that is why it is best to stay away from them especially when you are pregnant.
Is steak a good food to eat while pregnant?
The recommended daily protein intake for pregnant women is 71 grams per day but it is also dependent on how much you weigh. This recommendation is roughly equivalent to 5 ounces of lean meat.
Red meat is generally considered to be a good source of protein as well as important vitamins and minerals during pregnancy but should be consumed in moderation.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, protein is a much-needed nutrient that you should consume more of during pregnancy. Protein is important for the overall health and development of your baby and provides energy to pregnant women. The recommended protein intake depends on your weight. For example, a 150-pound woman will need 75 grams of protein on a daily basis. To come up with this, you can divide your pre-pregnancy weight by 2.
Red meat is also a great source of iron. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists suggests that pregnant women should have an iron intake of 27 mg daily between food intake and prenatal vitamins. Iron helps with the production of red blood cells, which help carry oxygen throughout your body.
See the table below for the different types of steaks and the corresponding nutritional information per 100g:
|Calories in grams
|Fat in grams
|Protein in grams
|Less than 1g
What does it mean if you crave steak while pregnant?
Cravings are completely normal during pregnancy and can be caused because of sudden hormonal imbalances. A popular old wives tale says that cravings are your body’s way of letting you know that you are lacking that specific nutrient. In the case of craving red meat, this might mean that your body is lacking iron or protein.
Craving for different types of food during pregnancy can also mean that your body is trying to seek comfort through food. Pregnancy can bring about a lot of hormones and feelings that can be overwhelming. This is the reason why pregnant women crave comfort food or food that is fried and has high-fat content.
Does craving steak while pregnant mean it’s a boy or girl?
It is also an old wives’ tale that if you are craving steak, this means that you are having a boy. While it is fun to talk about cravings and try to correlate them to whether you are having a boy or a girl, there is simply no medical or scientific explanation that supports this.
If you want to learn more, I have a HUGE list of the most common pregnancy cravings just for you!