How Many Calories to Consume During Pregnancy

How Many Calories to Consume During Pregnancy

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That you need to eat for two during pregnancy is a common misconception among many people. While you don’t need to stack up on an extra plate for your developing baby, you will need to increase the intake of calories during pregnancy slightly. On a daily basis, an average person may consume up to 2000 calories, depending on their activity levels, age and weight as well.

The number of calories added to the diet of a pregnant woman also varies for each woman and is based on numerous body factors and the nature of pregnancy. It is recommended to draw out a diet plan with the help of a doctor or a dietician based on individual needs if required.

Calories Needed in the First Trimester

You may stick to your usual calorie intake during your first trimester; you don’t need to make drastic changes to your diet. However, some women may experience some weight loss due to morning sickness. An additional 100 calories during this time can be beneficial to keep a continuous supply of nutrients to the body. Morning sickness also tends to dehydrate you, so ensure that you drink plenty of water and stay sufficiently hydrated throughout your pregnancy.

Calories Needed in the Second Trimester

As you step into the second trimester, you may notice that your appetite has increased as your baby needs more nutrients to develop. It’s when you need to pay proper attention to what you are eating on a daily basis. Ideally, during the second trimester, you will need an additional 300 to 350 calories per day, bringing your total calorie count to about 2300 to 2500, based on your usual intake.

Pregnant woman eating

Calories Needed in the Third Trimester

You will need an additional 300 calories in your third trimester to supplement the nutritional needs of your growing baby. The third trimester may bring in bouts of heartburn and make it difficult for you to eat. You can overcome this by breaking up your meals into smaller portions throughout the day. A glass of milk may also help to alleviate heartburn.

If you’re of average weight, then 11 to 15 kg weight gain during pregnancy is ideal. The number is a little lower for overweight women (7 to 11kg) and a little higher for underweight women (12 to 18kg).

Pregnancy Calorie Calculator

Every woman is different and will have different requirements regarding calorie intake. The number of calories essential for a pregnant woman depends on various factors including.

  • Body Mass Index
  • Height
  • The level of activity
  • Rate of metabolism
  • Multiple pregnancies (twins or more)

Numerous calculators and apps take in some of these details to give you a total count of calories that you need to intake during different trimesters of pregnancy.

How to Know You are Getting the Right Amount of Calories?

Although consuming the right amount of calories are recommended during pregnancy, it is not a rule that you need to stick to every calorie count strictly. What is more important is to eat healthily and have a healthy weight gain to supplement your baby. While you can take measures out of a pregnancy calorie calculator, you must remember that, if you are eating healthy and providing all the nutrients for your baby, you can rest easy.

You can also keep a tab on your weight gain and ensure that your pregnancy weight is hovering at the right range based on your body characteristics and lifestyle.

How to Increase Calorie Intake during Pregnancy?

Your calorie intake during pregnancy should mainly comprise of healthy options like whole grain foods, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean meat. However, when your craving gets the better of you, the occasional pack of chips or chocolate bar may be excellent, but ensure to strike the right balance.

Pregnant woman making cereal

Here are a few food choices to increase calorie intake for pregnant women. Each one of these meal combinations has about 200 calories, and all the bread and crackers are wholegrain.

  • A regular bowl of muesli, skimmed milk and an apple
  • Low-fat yoghurt with six to seven almonds
  • One tablespoon of cottage cheese in combination with two slices of bread
  • A boiled egg with a slice of toast
  • 1 stick of mozzarella with an apple
  • 10 medium-sized crackers with a tablespoon of low-fat hummus and grated carrot, along with three dried apricots

How to Maintain Calorie Count?

When the occasional craving becomes one too many, you may gain a lot of weight during pregnancy. Here are a few ways you can ensure that you get your daily intake of calories for pregnancy and stay satiated.

  • Do not skip breakfast. If morning sickness makes it challenging to eat a full-fledged meal for breakfast, you can try some dry toast or crackers. You can have something brought to your bed before you wake up and finish the rest of the breakfast over the course of the morning.
  • Regular exercise, adequate intake of water, and sufficient supply of high-fibre food items in your diet can help you curb cravings and control your appetite.
  • Make fruits and vegetables a part of your everyday diet. Fruits and vegetables contain essential fibres that can help you reduce blood pressure and reduce the risk of conditions like preeclampsia.
  • Make sure that healthy foods are within reach. Fruits bowls, smoothies, dry fruits, low-fat yoghurt and the kind, make it easier to opt for a healthy choice of snack when you are hungry.
  • Add a small amount of protein, like lean meat, with each meal. This will help balance out a meal and keep you full for longer.

Common Misunderstandings

Pregnancy comes with its own set of myths and facts. Here are a few common misunderstandings that surround pregnancy nutrition.

You need to eat for two.

While you need to take in some extra calories to supplement your baby, by no means will you need to eat for two

No fish during pregnancy.

While certain fish with high mercury content should be avoided, that does not include all the fishes. Sardines, Salmon, Rohu, and Calta(carp), can be consumed in moderate amounts and can contribute to cognitive development in the baby.

Cold and sour food can cause flu in mothers.

It stems from an age-old belief. In truth, Vitamin C is essential to aid the absorption of iron in the body for both the mother and the baby.

Papaya and pineapples can cause miscarriages or abortions.

Only raw papayas and pineapples contain specific enzymes, which when consumed in large quantities may cause uterine contractions. However, ripe papayas and pineapples, when consumed in moderation are safe. Although, due to artificial ripening, traces of the harmful enzymes may remain in the fruits, which is why most pregnant women are suggested to steer clear of them.

Pregnancies are varied, and the need of every pregnant woman may be different. You will not need to keep track of all the calories you intake during your pregnancy. If you can eat healthily, stay fit and keep at a healthy weight, you will we right on track to welcome a healthy baby.

Also Read: A Guide to Fasting During Pregnancy