How Many Calories Should I Eat Pregnancy Calculator? The answer to this question is different for every woman. However If you’re expecting, then you’ll be glad to know that there are no strict rules on how much you should eat. You just have to remember to eat a balanced diet every day and snacking can be key. Here’s some helpful advice on how many calories you should consume.
How to Calculate Calories Needed During Pregnancy
Eating healthily is key to feeling well and optimizing your health but even more so during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, what you eat not only affects you but it also affects the health of your baby. Some experts even suggest that the way a mother eats during her pregnancy influences the risk of obesity for her child later in life. Getting just the right amount of calories during this critical period of your child’s development can have life-long consequences.
Some women tend to eat less during the first trimester because of morning sickness and nausea, while others give themselves permission to eat more of all their favorite foods. To eat the right amount of calories to support your child’s growth without gaining excess weight, you need only an extra 100 calories a day, according to dietitian Gloria Tsang. Determine the amount of calories you should eat by using the number of calories you used to eat to maintain your weight prior to your pregnancy and then add an extra 100 calories to support your pregnancy. For most women, 2,300 to 2,500 calories a day is a good range to aim for during the first trimester.
Second and Third Trimester
It is normal for pregnant women in their second or third trimester to be hungrier because their baby needs more fuel to develop at this stage. You will need an average of 300 extra calories a day to gain weight at a healthy pace while supplying enough energy to your growing baby. You can calculate your daily calorie need for these trimesters simply by adding an extra 200 calories a day compared to what you were eating during the first trimester. For most women, this would correspond to between 2,500 to 2,700 calories a day during these trimesters. Listen to your body and eat when hungry.
Expected Weight Gain
Women at a healthy weight should aim to gain between 25 and 35 pounds during their pregnancy. Overweight women should gain slightly less, between 15 and 25 pounds, while underweight women should target a 28- to 40-pound weight gain, according to the Ohio State University. Just a small part of this weight should be fat and the majority should come from the weight of the placenta, extra blood, uterus, breast tissue and other fluids. You need to consume enough calories to gain weight at a healthy pace. If you don’t gain enough weight, increase your calorie intake. If you gain weight too quickly, cut down on your calories slightly to prevent gaining excess fat, which can be hard to lose after delivery.
Increasing Calories Healthily
Obtain the 100 to 300 extra calories you need a day from nutrient-dense foods as much as possible. Avoid getting these extra calories you need from ice cream, chips and cookies. Although these foods contain calories, they contain very little nutrition to help your baby grow healthily. Add a 100- to 300-calorie snack or 35 to 100 calories at each of your three main meals to meet your caloric requirements. For example, a glass of milk, a plain yogurt with berries, 1 1/2 ounces of cheese, a can of omega-3 rich tuna or half a banana spread with almond butter each provides approximately 100 calories.
How many calories a day do I need while I’m pregnant?
For the first six months of your pregnancy (first and second trimesters), you won’t need to have more calories than you did before you became pregnant. That’s about 2,000 calories a day, on average.
However, during the last three months of your pregnancy (third trimester), you will need an extra 200 calories a day, making a total of about 2,200 calories a day.
Bear in mind that we’re all different shapes and sizes, and some of us are more active than others. So any recommendation about the amount of calories you need when you’re pregnant is based on averages.
The number of calories you need while you are pregnant depends on:
- your height
- your current weight
- how active you are
- your body composition and genetics
However, you may need to adjust your calorie intake if you are expecting twins or more, or if before you were pregnant:
- your BMI was 19 or under (underweight)
- your BMI was 25 or over (overweight)
- your BMI was 30 or over (obese)
Talk to your midwife if you fall into any of these categories. She will record your weight at your first antenatal appointment. She can also tell you what a healthy weight gain in pregnancy would mean for you.
There are lots of delicious, healthy snacks you can have for an extra 200 calories in your third trimester. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- A small, toasted wholegrain pitta, filled with a tablespoon of hummus with grated carrot and three chopped dried apricots.
- A small bowl of muesli with milk, and an apple.
- A slice of wholegrain toast, with mashed avocado or peanut butter.
- A yoghurt with a sprinkle of almonds.
- A slice of malt loaf, with cheese.
Being pregnant may sometimes make you crave fatty and sugary food. You shouldn’t go hungry, but try to get the balance right. Treating yourself to the odd packet of crisps is fine. The rest of the time, try to have healthy snacks between meals.
TDEE and Macro Calculations for Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, then counting macros is an effective way to maintain appropriate weight gain.
It’s even more helpful when attempting to lose weight post-pregnancy – healthily and sustainably.
However, you must pay special attention before jumping in.
What should my macros be when pregnant?
Weight gain is a normal part of pregnancy, and increased calories are a necessity.
However, the “eating for two” mindset can sometimes lead to unhealthy and unnecessary weight gain during pregnancy.
Excessive weight gain can lead to complications such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, back pain, and obesity after pregnancy.
When pregnant, you are eating to support a developing fetus.
What is appropriate weight gain during pregnancy?
According to the latest medical guidelines:
Should I measure calories while pregnant?
Pregnant women only need to eat an additional 200-300 calories per day.1
More if you are underweight and less if you are already overweight.
So here’s how that works when calculating your macros.
Example macro calculation for a pregnant woman
A 29-year-old woman weighs 150 pounds, is 5’4″ tall, and does light activity.
Using my calculator, we see that her maintenance calories and macros are:
Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE): 1914 calories.
The calculator recommends the following macro split:
- Carbs: 211 grams (44%)
- Protein: 124 grams (26%)
- Fat: 64 grams (30%)
To account for her pregnancy, she would add calories:
- 1st Trimester: 1914 calories (no extra calories required)
- 2nd Trimester: 2214 calories (300 extra calories)
- 3rd Trimester: 2314 calories (400 extra)
To calculate the macros for the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, some math is required.
2nd Trimester additional 300 calories, split into macros.
- Carbs: 44% of 300 = (.44 x 300) / 4 = +33 grams
- Protein: 26% of 300 = (.26 x 300) /4 = +19.5 grams
- Fat: 30% of 300 = (.25 x 300) / 9 = +10 grams
Final adjusted macros for 2nd trimester:
- Carbs: 244 grams
- Protein: 143.5 grams
- Fat: 74 grams
How much protein is too much during pregnancy?
Different countries have different recommendations for protein intake during pregnancy.
The broad guidance is 10-35% of energy, with some countries suggesting 15–25% of energy.
The example above shows around 25.9% – however, our macro calculator has an option for more moderate protein amounts (which may be the best option)
How many carbs do I need while pregnant?
A low carbohydrate diet is not recommended during pregnancy – unless you are at risk of gestational diabetes.
The suggestions made by the calculator example above are appropriate.
If you fall into the obese category, you may want to lose fat while pregnant. This may help avoid the complications often associated with obesity and pregnancy.
I strongly advise you to check all of this over with your OBGYN before beginning.
They will understand your complete health profile and can give you the “all clear” before beginning this or any dietary regimen. They will monitor the weight gain of your baby and make sure you are on track for a healthy pregnancy.
- 140 page step-by-step guide.
- Achieve fat loss without starvation.
- Individually tailored to your body composition.
What should my macros be when breastfeeding?
If you want to lose the weight gained during pregnancy, then counting macros is a great option.
It allows you to maintain a safe calorie deficit for fat loss while having the resources to produce a nutritious milk supply for the growing baby.
Step 1: Get your base calorie needs.
Experts recommend that breastfeeding mothers consume 400-500 extra calories during the breastfeeding period.
Some sources say as little as 300 extra, but if a woman is also trying to lose weight, 300 might not be enough to produce highly nutritious milk.
Here’s an example using the macro calculator.
Let’s say a 29-year-old woman is 150 pounds and 5’4″ tall and does light activity. Set the calculator to a goal of lose weight. TDEE and macros are as follows:
Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) for weight loss: 1531 calories
- Carbs: 144 grams (37.7%)
- Protein: 124 grams (32.3%)
- Fat: 51 grams (30%)
Step 2: Adjust calories for breastfeeding
Add an additional 400 calories to the TDEE.
Breastfeeding Adjusted Weight Loss TDEE: 1931 calories
Step 3: Adjust macros for breastfeeding
To adjust the macros, we ration them out at the percentages given:
- Carbs: 37.7% of 400 = (.377 x 400) / 4 = +37.7 grams
- Protein: 32.3% of 400 = (.323 x 400) /4 = +32.4 grams
- Fat: 30% of 400 = (.30 x 400) / 9 = +13 grams
Breastfeeding adjusted weight loss macros:
- Carbs: 181.7 grams
- Protein: 156.4 grams
- Fat: 64 grams
Some women with a lot of weight to lose may be OK with just adding 300 calories, while others may have to add in 500.
Always consult with your OBGYN or Pediatrician before beginning any diet while breastfeeding.