Women's Healthcare Topics

I’m pregnant, do I Only Need 300 Extra Calories a Day?

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Eating Wisely During Pregnancy

Eating during pregnancy many women get the impression they have to eat for two. Realistically speaking you need to add roughly 300 extra calories to your diet each day during the second and third trimesters. That is if you are carrying one baby. Moms of multiples will have to add slightly more calories to their diet.

During pregnancy eating 300 extra calories isn't very much. It is about the calories in half a bagel and cup of yogurt. The problem is most women feel incredibly hungry during pregnancy. It may actually seem like a chore not eating during pregnancy all that time (that is of course provided you have survived morning sickness, which often destroys even the heartiest of appetites).

So how do you eat enough during pregnancy, curb your appetite and not go overboard? The key is making healthy and nourishing selections. Most women find their appetites far more controlled when they eat several small meals per day instead of three large ones accompanied by snacks. By eating throughout the day you are providing your body and your baby with the constant energy they need to grow and thrive. You also get the added benefit of charging your metabolism and your energy reserves throughout the day.

The simplest way to do this is to break your three large meals down into six smaller ones. That way you'll be eating during pregnancy roughly every 3 hours. This will help curb hunger pangs. What you don't want to do is eat a full size meal six times every day, as you will be getting much more than the recommended 300 extra calories every day. Think about 1/2 the size of your ordinary meal. Most women will get roughly 400 calories at each sitting, though this will vary from woman to woman depending on your individual body composition, activity level and caloric needs.

Pregnancy Health Section

Don't Count Calories

Learn about a healthy pregnancy diet.

Most women focus too much on calories when eating during pregnancy. Pregnancy is not the time to count calories or the time to lose weight. It is the time to eat as nutritiously as possible. This means selecting high fiber, nutrient dense foods that will fill you up and provide you and your baby the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need to thrive.

Lean proteins, vegetables and whole grains are excellent choices to start with when eating during pregnancy. Keep in mind the more fiber you consume (in the way of fruits and vegetables) the less constipation you will have to battle throughout your pregnancy. High fiber foods also fill you up and keep you feeling fuller for longer periods of time. If your diet doesn't naturally incorporate a lot of high fiber foods, you should gradually ease into a high fiber diet. Too much fiber all at once can contribute to bloating and excess gas, a problem most women have during pregnancy without any assistance from their diet.

You should also be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout your pregnancy. Many times our bodies trick us into thinking we are hungry when we are actually thirsty. The mechanisms that trigger thirst are the same as those that trigger hunger. If this is the case you could eat when you are actually thirsty. One easy way to drink enough water is to keep a water bottle handy at all times. If you don't like the taste of plain water try spicing it up a bit with some lemon or lime. Some women prefer sparkling water to plain water. Just be sure you select sparkling water that is sodium free.

Carbonated sodas can contribute to bloating, and many contain too much caffeine or sugar to be worth the while, so stick to other hydrating drinks if you can while pregnant. Yet another way to maintain a healthy diet when eating during pregnancy is simply stocking your refrigerator with healthy foods and snacks. If you have healthy snacks readily available, you are more likely to go for them than to go for the higher fat, sugary sweets that may be the alternative. Remember, you can stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight gain during pregnancy when you take some time out to eat right during pregnancy and nourish your body and your baby.


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