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Fit Pregnancy: Things You Should Know

Updated on October 26, 2012

Fit Pregnancy

There is nothing like a positive pregnancy test to focus your attention on your lifestyle and eating habits. Suddenly you realize that everything you eat, drink, and do with your body can directly affect the new life you are carrying. And, if you are like most mothers-to-be, this profound realization makes you want the best for your baby, even before he or she is born.

If this is your first pregnancy, you will most likely have more time to take care of yourself, and you should. If you're a seasoned mom, with a toddler clinging to your leg, knocking over plants, or crying for dinner, you undoubtedly face a much greater challenge to finding time to put a healthy meal on the table.

By planning ahead for pregnancy, you can create optimal conditions for fit pregnancy, especially during the critical first three to eight weeks of life following conception. Improving your own health will positively influence the health of your baby, facilitate delivery, and prepare you for the hectic duties of motherhood that lie ahead.



Good Eating Habits and Gradual Weight Gain

For a fit pregnancy, good eating habits are more important than ever. It is not the time to skip meals, feast on junk food, or load up on empty calories for quick energy. The foods you eat have a direct effect on the development of your baby from conception to birth. Strike a balance between healthy weight gain and nutritional intake. Try to keep in mind that you are not eating for two, you are eating carefully for one.

For a fit pregnancy, it is critical to learn about the nutritional value of the foods you eat and to select your diet with care. Selecting a variety of nutrient-rich foods versus calorie-rich foods will help prevent excessive weight gain, which can put you at risk for high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and permanent obesity. Conversely, a diet too restricted in calories can be inadequate in protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Insufficient calorie intake can result in the breakdown of stored fat (or ketones) in the mother's blood and urine, which can be harmful for the fetus.


Make your 300 extra calories count

Be wise about your 300-calorie additional intake. Choose to eat a sandwich with a glass of milk instead of candy bars and high-calorie sodas and soft drinks.

For a fit pregnancy, the rate at which the weight is gained is also important. Don't become obsessed with your weight gain—in fact, feel free to put away your scale. Your weight will be closely monitored by your doctor during each office visit. A trend of excessive or inadequate weight gain in more than one month (a gain of more than 5 pounds or less than 2 pounds) indicates that your dietary intake may need to be evaluated. If your weight is excessive and on an upward trend overall, take an inventory of your eating habits to pinpoint problem areas. Try cutting down on fried or fatty foods, fast foods, convenience foods, desserts, and soft drinks. Also, monitor your portion sizes more closely.

Below mentioned are some of the Macronutrients necessary for a fit pregnancy.



Energy

Energy is vital for fit pregnancy. Energy comes from protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Calorie intakes during pregnancy vary from woman to woman depending on a number of factors, such as her metabolism, prepregnancy weight, stage of pregnancy, and physical activity level. It is estimated that, on average, a pregnant woman requires a total of 85,000 additional calories over the course of 40 weeks of pregnancy. This breaks down to approximately 300 extra calories per day.4 During the first trimester, energy needs are generally low, and 300 additional daily calories are not required. Needs begin to pick up in the fourth month as the uterus, mammary glands, placenta, and fetus grow and blood volume increases. In the later stages of pregnancy, energy needs climb to support the growing fetus and the extra weight of the mother.

Protein

During pregnancy extra protein is needed to help with fetal brain development and with muscle and tissue formation. Inadequate amounts of dietary protein can impair the development of the placenta and fetus, resulting in low birth weight and intrauterine growth retardation. For the mother, protein is essential for the increase in maternal blood volume and for the formation of amniotic fluid. During labor, delivery, and lactation, protein storage reserves are tapped, making it vital to have an excess amount. Most women will need to consume between 60 and 70 grams of protein per day.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are vital for a fit pregnancy. Carbohydrates fuel your brain and body. Adequate intake of carbohydrates is necessary to allow protein that would otherwise be tapped for energy to be used for muscle building and tissue formation in the fetus. Always choose complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, beans, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, fruits, and vegetables, which contain vitamins (particularly the B complex vitamins), iron, and fiber. While simple sugars, such as candy, sodas, and desserts, may give you a temporary energy boost, they are sources of empty calories and should not be substituted for nutrient-rich foods.

► Fats

Pregnancy is the wrong time to start counting fat grams. No dieting is allowed—but do not use your pregnancy as an excuse to pig out either. Fats play a central role in skin health, cell formation, and fetal brain development (60 percent of the dry weight of the brain is fat), and therefore they should not be restricted during pregnancy. All fats provide slow-burning, long-lasting energy and also help with absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. However, not all fats are created equal, and some are better for you than others. In general, it is best to choose unsaturated fats over saturated fats, and to eliminate trans fats from your family's diet.

Why are omega-3 fatty acids important for pregnant women?

DHA is the most critical omega-3 for your baby's brain and eye development in the womb and during infancy. Your baby's brain will have its greatest growth spurt during the last trimester of pregnancy, and DHA is known to be a significant structural component of the brain.7 EPA is also imperative, though it plays a cell-signaling rather than cell-structuring role in the brain.

In regard to eye development, DHA is a fundamental component of the retina (30 to 50 percent of the retina is made of DHA). Deficiency is associated with poor night vision and other visual and spatial interpretation problems. Additional research results show that an increased intake of DHA through supplementation during pregnancy may help prevent preterm delivery,
increase head circumference and birth weight, benefit infant problem solving at nine months and infant visual acuity at four months of age, and prevent depression during pregnancy and postpartum

The power of yogurt

Yogurt is made by heating milk and then adding culture. The fermentation process results in the breakdown of casein, or milk protein, one of the most difficult proteins to digest. Yogurt is so high in calcium, 6 ounces provide as much calcium as 8 ounces of reduced-fat (1% or 2%) milk. This makes yogurt ideal for fit pregnancy

Books that might interest you!

Super Fit Mama: Stay Fit During Pregnancy and Get Your Body Back after Baby
Super Fit Mama: Stay Fit During Pregnancy and Get Your Body Back after Baby

uper Fit Mama shares Tracey’s secrets for safely getting in shape and back to your pre-baby weight. Her medically-sound program features a blend of strength training, Pilates, yoga, and cardio. Inside you’ll find:

• Expert advice on staying fit and eating right during each pregnancy trimester

• Fun, fast, and safe exercises for the first weeks and months postpartum

• Easy-to-follow meal plans and delicious recipes

• Tips for strengthening your pelvic floor, easing back pain, and losing belly fat

Stay inspired along the way with Team Mallett, real moms who have successfully used Tracey’s plan. Whether you start the program during pregnancy or after baby, Super Fit Mama will help you get your confidence back—along with a body that’s even better than before!

 

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