Pregnancy Diet: How To Lose Weight Safely During Pregnancy
April 28, 2020 by Reed Carver
Proper nutrition is crucial for every future mom. As you are now not only caring for yourself, but also for your baby, every single decision you make is twice as important as before. Due to this, many women opt to switch their pregnancy diet in order to ensure the well-being of their babies.
Pregnancy promotes weight gain. Every pregnant woman is well-aware of the random cravings in the middle of the night, limited activity, and an increased daily calorie count. Its natural to put on a little weight while expecting, but the right kind of diet may help limit that.
Weight loss is often not the main concern during pregnancy, and it shouldnt be. Its more important for you to follow a healthy meal plan than to lose a few extra pounds. However, some women are told to lose weight by their doctors. If that is the case, dropping some weight might be beneficial to both you and your child.
There are ways for future moms to lose weight safely and without feeling cranky over missing out on your favorite meals. What are some of the best pregnancy diet tips?
Avoid Whole Milk Products
You are required to drink milk during your pregnancy. It is one of the best sources of essential nutrients, including calcium and protein . That said, most people do not realize that there are different types of milk and milk products.
For this reason, you may tend to find milk having a different nutritional profile, which may affect your calorie intake. Let us break this down by looking at the nutritional profile of both whole milk and skim milk.
According to Medical News Today, one cup of whole milk contains the following nutrients :
- Calories- 149
- Phosphorus- 246 mg
- Vitamin D- 2.9 mcg
If you look at the nutritional profile of both types of milk, you will notice that skim milk has fewer calories. Since the idea is not to gain weight during pregnancy, you are advised to settle for skim milk if necessary.
Consuming skim milk will reduce the amount of fat and calories that you consume. Similarly, as with milk, you are also advised to consume low-fat milk products if necessary. This means that you have to choose low-fat or fat-free milk products like yogurt, Ghee and cheese.
Know How Much Weight You Need To Gain
Being overweight during pregnancy can sometimes change the focus to only losing weight. But the fact is, youll still gain some weight, and it is important to know how much a healthy amount of is. After all, there is a human growing inside of you!
Follow these pregnancy weight gain guidelines from the , based on your weight before you became pregnant:
- obese : gain 11 to 20 pounds
- BMI between 25 and 29.9: 15 to 25 pounds
- normal weight : can gain between 25 and 35 pounds
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Does Breastfeeding Help You Lose Weight
Breastfeeding has been shown to help new mothers lose weight. In order to produce milk, your body spends around 300-500 extra calories each day.
As long as youre eating a healthy diet, this energy expense will help you create the calorie deficit that is necessary to lose weight after giving birth. While you breastfeed, youre also releasing hormones thatll help shrink your post-baby uterus, which can flatten your belly faster.
Get Healthy Start Vouchers
Healthy Start is a UK-wide scheme that provides free vitamins and weekly vouchers for milk, plain fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables and infant formula milk.
You qualify if you are on benefits and:
- you are at least 10 weeks pregnant
- have children under the age of four
- All pregnant women under the age of 18 qualify whether or not they are on benefits.
To find out more and apply visit Healthy Start or call 0345 607 6823
The other pages in this section also include lots of information, ideas and tips about managing your weight during your pregnancy and after your baby is born. We also have lots of information about being active in pregnancy and eating a healthy diet in pregnancy.
NICE Guidelines Weight management before, during and after pregnancy National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
Last reviewed:Next review:
Read more about weight management in pregnancy
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What Trimester Do You Gain The Most Weight
You will notice your body weight will increase the most during the 2nd and 3rd trimester. This also corresponds to when your baby starts to gain the most weight.
With that being said, it is usually during the 2nd trimester where you will start to feel like yourself again and be able to participate in the activities you liked to do prior to pregnancy.
Make sure to counteract an excessive increase in weight by sticking to the guidelines I mentioned above.
Why Should You Lose Weight During Pregnancy
Having excess weight during pregnancy can lead to health problems and complications which will affect both you and your baby. These include:
- Blood clots, particularly in your legs
- Sleep apnea
- Premature birth
With increased risks for certain complications and conditions already present, losing weight, while beneficial and necessary, also carries its own risks. Fortunately, there are safe ways for you to do it if your doctor recommends that you need to lose weight.
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Your Weight During Pregnancy
If you are obese and pregnant, do not try to lose weight during your pregnancy. It will not reduce the chance of complications and may not be safe.
The best way to protect you and your babys health is to go to all your antenatal appointments. This is so your midwife, doctor and any other health professionals can help with any problems you might face and take steps to prevent or manage them.
Avoid Sweet Or Sugary Drinks
Some women may try to defend themselves by saying that they have sugary or sweet pregnancy cravings. We understand that these food urges can be hard to avoid. However, if possible, experts urge you to consider keeping away from these foods and only consuming them with moderation.
The rationale behind this is because they tend to contain numerous and empty calories. For instance, a 12-ounce can of soda contains roughly ten to thirteen teaspoons of sugar, depending on the type of soda your drink .
Similarly, other sugary drinks like energy drinks also have a high content of empty calories. According to Medical News Today, a 12-ounce can of an energy drink has ten to fourteen teaspoons of sugar. Similarly, a 12-ounce can of a sports drink has five to ten teaspoons of sugar .
All these extra and empty calories result in a calorie surplus, which contributes to weight gain. With this in mind, instead of these drinks, you are advised to focus on healthy and low-calorie beverages. One of these drinks, and especially the one you need to consume throughout pregnancy, is water.
Talk to your doctor or dietitian if you are thinking about drinking other low-calorie drinks like protein shakes. They will advise you on the best servings to avoid surpassing both your daily calorie and protein requirements.
Our bodies need sodium to perform various functions. These include :
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Are There Foods That Are Harmful To Eat During Pregnancy
There are specific foods that you will want to avoid during your pregnancy. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can have a negative effect on your immune system and put you at greater risk for contracting a foodborne illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , has found that contracting the foodborne illness Listeria during pregnancy can cause premature delivery, miscarriage, and even fetal death. Pregnant women are 20 times more likely to contract Listeria.
Another food of concern for pregnant women is fish. Although fish is a low-fat, healthful protein choice, there are certain fish that have elevated levels of methyl mercury or Polychlorinated Biphenyls , a pollutant in the environment.
Consuming fish with high levels of methyl mercury during pregnancy has been associated with brain damage and developmental delay for babies.
- Eating identified safe fish 1 time a week is safe for pregnant women.
- The March of Dimes recommends pregnant women should avoid all raw and seared fish. Raw fish includes sushi and sashimi, undercooked finfish, and undercooked shellfish .
- Avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish even when cooked as they have higher levels of mercury.
- The March of Dimes cautions against eating fish that may contain higher levels of PCBs. Fish in this category include bluefish, bass, freshwater salmon, pike, trout, and walleye.
For more information on safe fish, go to the CDC or the March of Dimes.
Your Care In Pregnancy
If you are obese in pregnancy, you’ll be offered a test for gestational diabetes.
You may also be referred to an anaesthetist to discuss issues such as pain relief in labour. You’re more likely to have an instrumental delivery , and it can be difficult for an epidural to be given.
Talk to your midwife or doctor about your birth options. Ask if there are any particular safety concerns for you around giving birth at home or in a birthing pool.
You may be advised to give birth in a hospital where there’s easy access to medical care if you need it.
Find out more about your options on where to give birth.
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How Can Excess Pregnancy Weight Gain Be Treated
To best decrease the risk of excessive weight gain during pregnancy, try to engage in weight loss activities before you get pregnant. Just by losing a small amount of weight, like 10 to 20 pounds, can act as a jump start to improving your overall health. It will also get you on the right foot so that you can have a much healthier pregnancy and delivery.
If you gain too much weight during pregnancy, this can lead to many different health complications for yourself and your baby.
These complications can include gestational diabetes, sleep apnea, disorders related to high blood pressure, and the need for a C-section. The baby could then become more likely to be overweight or obese when they get older.
Even if you have extra weight, you can still have a healthy pregnancy. You will just need to undergo additional supervision from your medical team and make preparations for special considerations that may need to take place for your delivery.
During your pregnancy, you will also need to take special care to eat a healthy diet to ensure a gestation period and delivery free of the most serious complications.
Consult With A Registered Dietitian
If its determined that losing weight is important for the health of your pregnancy and for a healthy delivery, you will need to work closely with a healthcare provider to ensure that you are getting the nutrition and calories you need, both for yourself and your growing baby.
Again, since healthcare providers rarely recommend weight loss, when they do, they will be working carefully with you to ensure that the weight loss is done in a safe manner.
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Why Should I Exercise During Pregnancy
Staying active during pregnancy will help you to slow weight gain and have a healthier pregnancy and delivery. Exercise is safe for most pregnant women. Talk to your health care provider to find out what type of physical activity is safe for you.
- Benefits of exercise during pregnancy
- Slows weight gain
Did You Know? Women who exercise during pregnancy may have shorter labors and easier deliveries.
Weight Loss In Late Pregnancy
Growing babies gain the most weight during the final trimester, so you likely will too. Thats why weight loss in the third trimester could be especially disconcerting. Losing weight while pregnant at this late stage could be related to poor baby growth, low amniotic fluid or pregnancy-induced hypertension or preeclampsia. If youre losing weight and its beyond your first trimester, call your provider. It could very well be something harmlesssuch as fluctuations in day-to-day water retentionsays Shah. But to be safe, its always best to consult with your doctor.
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Managing Weight During Pregnancy
Some women are already overweight when they get pregnant. Other women gain weight too quickly during their pregnancy. Either way, a pregnant woman should not go on a diet or try to lose weight during pregnancy.
It is better to focus on eating the right foods and staying active. If you do not gain enough weight during pregnancy, you and your baby may have problems.
Still, you can make changes in your diet to get the nutrients you need without gaining too much weight. Talk to your health care provider to get help with planning a healthy diet.
Below are some healthy eating tips to help you get started.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables make good snacks. They are full of vitamins and low in calories and fat.
- Eat breads, crackers, and cereals made with whole grains.
- Choose reduced-fat dairy products. You need at least 4 servings of milk products every day. However, using skim, 1%, or 2% milk will greatly reduce the amount of calories and fat you eat. Also choose low-fat or fat-free cheese or yogurt.
Foods to avoid:
- Knowing the amount of calories, fat, and salt in your food can help you eat healthier.
- Most restaurants have menus and nutrition facts on their websites. Use these to plan ahead.
- In general, eat at places that offer salads, soups, and vegetables.
- Avoid fast food.
Cooking at home:
Will My Baby Be Affected If I Lose Weight During Pregnancy
Fortunately, no. In the first trimester, your baby is too tiny to draw out a large amount of nutrients. Your fat reserves are enough for her/him to grow. “The body’s first priority is to nourish the baby and thus it uses maternal reserves,” adds Dr Mukherjee. However, if you are unable to keep any food down due to severe nausea and morning sickness, consult a doctor.
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Risks Of Being Obese During Pregnancy
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has warned that overweight or obese women have a higher risk during pregnancy. Overweight can lead to miscarriage, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and hypertension to mention a few.
Overweight pregnant women also risk childbirth difficulty resulting in cesarean delivery. Mostly, overweight mothers have a higher tendency to have larger babies requiring surgery to give birth.
You will prevent a lot of pregnancy and childbirth complications if you lose weight before getting pregnant. However, if you are already pregnant, you need to take immediate action towards weight loss for healthy childbirth when you are due for delivery.
Eating healthy food and exercising during pregnancy are ways you can put your weight under control and have a healthy baby on your due date. Considering the likely stress women in pregnancy often experience, you will need to be very determined to overcome procrastinations that may follow your efforts to eat healthily and exercise. Importantly, knowing that these two activities would help to prevent gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, maintaining a healthy weight will enhance your health and that of your baby during and after pregnancy.
Tips For Managing Your Weight In Pregnancy
Every woman gains weight when they are pregnant. Because every pregnant woman gains weight differently, there are no official guidelines for how much weight you should gain. The most important thing is to keep your weight gain to a safe and healthy level for you and your baby.
Here are some tips for managing your weight gain in pregnancy.
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Take Small Meals Frequently
One of the characteristics of pregnancy is increased appetite. Pregnant women cant seem to control their cravings. So theyre hungry almost all the time taking more calories than is expected of them and gaining weight in the process. To avoid this, experts advise pregnant women to go for six smaller meals per day instead of three big ones.
It is also helpful to carry your own healthy snacks and lunch to work, drink a lot of water during the day and just before eating, and stock up your fridge with lots of healthy foods.
Body Image During Pregnancy
If you have struggled with your weight in the past, it may be hard to accept that it is OK to gain weight now. It is normal to feel anxious as the numbers on the scale edge up.
Keep in mind that you need to gain weight for a healthy pregnancy. The extra pounds will come off after you have had your baby. However, if you gain a lot more weight than is recommended, your baby will also be bigger. That can sometimes lead to problems with delivery. A healthy diet and regular exercise are your best ways to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby.
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How Can I Lose Arm Fat While Pregnant
You cant specifically lose arm fat- especially not during pregnancy. Instead, your goal should be to build arm muscle.
I have written an entire article on safe push up variations during each trimester of pregnancy that you might find helpful, along with a full list of arm toning exercises you can do during pregnancy and postpartum.
Side Effects Of Being Overweightduring Pregnancy
An Obese or overweight pregnant woman may be faced with some healthrisks as well as the unborn baby. Below are some of the risks the mother and baby can encounter:
Sometimes, pregnant obese women have miscarriages.
The child in the womb may be bigger than the average size expected and it can cause the child to become obese later in life.
The mother is at risk of developing gestational diabetes which could also cause the child to be too big resulting to difficulty in child delivery through the vaginal.
When the baby grows to become an adult, he/she has a higher risk of having a heart disease or diabetes.
Women who are obese can face problems during child delivery and labor.
The child could be diagnosed with neural tube defects.
The woman has an increased risk of Urinary tract infections during pregnancy and in the postpartum period.
Since delivery through the vaginal might be difficult, an option is the C-section, which means she has greater chances of having an infection or losing excessive blood.
It will be difficult to monitor foetal development in the womb.
The woman might have preeclampsia, which is very risky such that it can reduce the flow of blood to the baby.
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