Preggo Health Nut

Pregnant and fit is not an oxymoron.. its possible!

Nutrition During Pregnancy (in detail)!

on February 11, 2013

I started my new class this week, Nutrition Through the Life Cycle. And naturally it starts with nutrition during pregnancy. So although I have already posted some information about this, there was some more great information I read that I would like to share! Some of it my be information you already know but, that’s ok.. the more times you read the information the longer it’ll stick! 😉  This class I am taking, takes an evidence based approach meaning they base the information provided off of proven studies. So the information I am about to give you has actually been tested and proven to be true. This is a lot of info so, grab a healthy snack, settle in, and get ready to learn…

One very important factor in how pregnancy will progress is the mothers nutritional status prior to pregnancy. Although some pregnancies are a complete surprise, if possible a woman should start to prepare her body by exercising and eating well balanced meals (plus adding an iron supplement). The human body has an incredible ability to compensate for nutrient deficiencies and excesses, but a woman cannot provide essential nutrients for her child if she herself is deficient in them. Therefore, it is very important to assess a pregnant woman’s health before and during pregnancy, her lifestyle choices, and environmental exposures, so that she can determine how she needs to alter her diet or lifestyle to best support her growing fetus.

So, if you are wanting to stay in shape and eat right while preggo, you need to assess your previous health status by figuring out your BMI to determine what weight category you fit into, determine what kind of diet you typically consume, and figure out what lifestyle choices (smoking, drinking, etc) aren’t compatible with pregnancy. Once you have done this, you can better decide how to alter your lifestyle and diet to fit the needs of your growing bundle of joy!

What weight category do you fit into?
Underweight: BMI 18.5 or less- you should aim to gain 28-40 lbs total
Normal weight: BMI 18.5-24.9- you should aim to gain 25-35 lbs total
Overweight: BMI 25-29.9- you should aim to gain 15-25 lbs total
Obese: BMI 30 or more- you should aim to gain 11-20 lbs total

After you have determined how much you should gain this pregnancy, now you need to determine how many calories to take in. Basically, for the first trimester- you don’t need to add any extra calories to what you are already consuming (unless you were under weight- add 150 cals); second trimester- add about 350 calories per day; third trimester- add about 450 calories.

*One side note: If you aren’t pregnant yet and are trying to lose weight before getting preggo, be very careful not to over-restrict micronutrients to the point of becoming deficient. Also, if you are already preggo but were previously overweight, make sure if you are going to restrict calories, that you are eating very nutrient dense (basically don’t eat very many empty calories (sat fats, sugars etc), eat foods that have calories that count (with lots of vitamins and minerals)!

So, now that you know how many calories to consume. Here is a basic break down of a balanced diet for you and how it affects your growing fetus:

Protein is very important for healthy development of fetal enzymes, antibodies, muscle, and collagen (basic framework for the bodies tissues, bones, blood vessels, etc). To accommodate the high need of protein the mothers body adapts during pregnancy to conserve protein. The 2002 RDI for pregnant women recommends 1.1 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or an additional 25 grams (added to what you needed to consume pre pregnancy). Most women in the US already consume more protein than needed so meeting this during pregnancy shouldn’t be too hard. Although vegetarians, vegans, low-income women, and those experiencing severe morning sickness (vomiting), need to pay attention to make sure they are consuming adequate protein. All women need to make sure they are high-quality sources of protein that include all essential amino acids. This is easy if you are eating animal based products, if not just make sure to eat lots of plant based proteins and grains (peanut butter and toast, hummus and veggies, tofu, etc).

Lipids and Fats including sterols, phospholipids, and triglycerides (primarily made up of fatty acids) are another basic building material of the body tissue and are integral to body functioning. They are essential for the formation of cell membranes and hormones, and proper eye and brain development. There is no RDI for fat while pregnant but try to keep it at 20-35% of total calories. Also try to make sure the majority of fats consumed are mono and poly unsaturated fats (filled with omega 3’s and 6’s)- these are necessary for development of brain and eye, and allow for optimal immune function.Try to stay away from saturated fats as much as you can. Empty calories such as saturated fat is ok once in a while and in moderation but, too much can cause adverse health problems and excessive (unwanted) weight gain.  Another dietary fat source that is important is choline. Choline supports the the structure and function of the brain and spinal cord. Pregnant women should consume 450 mg per day. Good sources include milk, eggs, and peanuts.

Fiber is important in pregnancy not only to the fetus, but to the mother as well. A high-fiber diet helps to reduce constipation which is a common (uncomfortable) side effect of pregnancy. Pregnant women should try to consume 28 grams per day. Fruits, veggies, beans, whole grains, seeds, and nuts are all good sources of fiber. (I like to add flaxseed and wheat germ to EVERYTHING for extra fiber!)

Carbohydrates are SO very important during pregnancy. Carbs are broken down into glucose (blood sugar) and the rapid growth of the fetus requires ample amounts of glucose to be available to the fetus at all times. A low carb diet while pregnant could put your baby at a risk for poor growth. Although a mild restriction of carbs may be recommended if the mother is diabetic (consult your doctor on this one). The RDA of carbs during pregnancy is 175 grams per day. Make sure the carbs you are consuming are good carbs such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, and legumes.

Vitamins and minerals are very important for vital development and growth of the fetus. By eating a wide variety of foods you can make sure to get the vitamins and minerals you need. Some vitamins and minerals you really want to pay close attention to are: Vitamin A, D, Calcium, B vitamins, folate, Iron, Magnesium, Zinc, and Iodine.

Vitamin A is critical during fetal development because of its role in growth, vision, protein synthesis, and cell differentiation. Recommended RDA for pregnancy is 770 micrograms per day. Can be found in fruits, veggies, fish, milk, and meat.

Vitamin D is necessary to help build and maintain strong bones and teeth of the fetus. RDA for pregnant women is set at 5 micrograms per day. Can be found in fatty fish (mackerel, salmon, sardines), liver, egg yolks, and fortified milk. Vitamin D needs can also be met by exposure of arms and legs to the sunlight for 5 to 10 mins for three times a week.

Calcium is important because your body draws on its own stores of calcium to support the growth of the fetus, so pregnant women need to make sure to replenish their own calcium stores. The RDI doesn’t change from non-pregnant women (1,000 mg per day). Its just important to make sure to consume calcium for your own health!

B vitamins are important for use as cofactors in energy metabolism, which is higher during pregnancy. The two B vitamins, Folate and B12, should be given special attention during pregnancy. Vitamin B12 is essential for the production of red blood cells, manufacturing of genetic material, and healthy functioning of the nervous system. The RDA is set at 2.6 micrograms for pregnant women. The only natural sources of B12 are animal products (meat, eggs, dairy, fish), but there are lots of foods (such as dry cereals) fortified with vitamin B12 as well. Folate (synthetic form is Folic Acid), is used in the manufacturing of neurotransmitters and particularly important in early pregnancy because of its essential role in synthesizing DNA in the cells. RDA for pregnant women is 600 micrograms per day. Good food sources of folate include avocado, bananas, orange juice, dry cereals, asparagus, fruits, green leafy vegetables, and dried beans and peas.

Iron is vital for fetal growth and development, it plays a key role as a cofactor for enzymes involved in oxidation-reducing reactions that occur in all cells during metabolism. It is also necessary as the component hemoglobin, which allows red blood cells to carry oxygen need throughout the body. During the last three months of pregnancy the baby is accumulating iron for use during early life. Without adequate amounts it can cause life-long neurological effects that cannot be reversed. The RDI for pregnant women is 27 micrograms per day. combining iron sources with vitamin C can be very beneficial because it improves absorption. Red meats and fortified cereals are great sources of iron.

Magnesium is a cofactor in over 300 enzymes in the body. The best dietary sources include peanuts, bran, wheat germ, nuts, and legumes.

Zinc is very important during the first trimester, when organs are formed and may play a role in assisting in immune system development. The RDA during pregnancy is 11 micrograms per day. Red meat is the best source of this, so if you don’t eat red meat, a supplement may be necessary.

Iodine is the leading cause of mental retardation world wide. Mothers who do not get enough can put their baby at greater risk of mental retardation, as well as growth, hearing, and speech problems. The RDI for pregnant women is 22o micrograms per day. Iodine can be found in salt, but supplementation is recommended for pregnant women (look for a prenatal vitamin that includes potassium iodide as the source.

Hope that break down helps! I know it is a lot of information and may possibly freak a pregnant woman out… being worried that you aren’t getting the adequate nutrients needed… but, don’t worry! As long as you are eating a wide variety of nutrient dense foods (fruits, veggies, grains, legumes, nuts, low fat dairy products, meats, fish, etc), you will be fine! And keep in mind, its okay to indulge in empty calorie filled foods once in a while (and I think its good for your sanity to do so)… try to keep it to a minimum!


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