How Many Carbs Should I Eat While Pregnant? When you’re pregnant and looking for answers about the best way to handle your diet, your biggest fear likely becomes the amount of carbs you eat each day. However, there’s a lot more to your pregnancy nutrition than just how many carbs you eat. There are many more changes and decisions that you’ll have to make to ensure you’re giving your child optimal health.
How Many Carbs Should I Eat While Pregnant
The macronutrients known as carbohydrates, or carbs, are made up of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen atoms. Either simple forms like sugars or complex forms like fibers and starches are accessible for them. Foods rich in carbs include grains, millets, pulses, vegetables, fruits, and dairy products. For the majority of species, they serve as the main source of energy. The body normally converts carbohydrates into simple sugars like glucose to generate energy that powers the brain, muscles, and other essential bodily organs.
Types of Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates can be of two types:
1. Simple Carbohydrates
White rice, white bread, refined cereals, spaghetti, cake, pastries, biscuits, added sugars, and junk food are examples of simple carbs that are high in energy and calories but low in nutritional content. They are easily broken down by the body, which causes a sharp rise in blood sugar and insulin levels. Pregnant women should preferably avoid eating these items.
Not all simple carbs, nevertheless, are harmful. Simple carbohydrates, which can be found in dairy products like milk, cottage cheese, and yoghurt as well as fresh fruits, are good sources of energy.
2. Complex Carbohydrates
Oatmeal, starchy vegetables including sweet potatoes, potatoes, and corn, whole grain bread, brown rice, dried peas, and beans are examples of complex carbohydrates that are rich in protein, fiber, and the minerals and vitamins that the developing fetus needs. Because they take longer to digest and provide energy over time, complex carbohydrates are a preferable food source.
Importance of Carbohydrates During Pregnancy
Some of the benefits of carbohydrates during pregnancy can be:
- Complex carbs contain fiber, which by regulating bowel movements and reducing constipation, may aid in preserving the health of the digestive tract during pregnancy.
- Consuming nutritious carbs can help a pregnant woman control her blood sugar levels, prevent any unexpected increases, and lower her risk of developing gestational diabetes.
- In order to fulfill the expanding energy requirements of the developing fetus, eating nutritious carbohydrates may help to counter the alterations that may take place in carbohydrate metabolism during pregnancy. Increased maternal hyperglycemia or insulin resistance are two metabolic changes that might occur.
- Through the course of her pregnancy, a pregnant woman who consumes nourishing complex carbs can maintain a healthy weight and reduce her risk of obesity.
- Carbohydrates might provide you the much-needed energy boost throughout pregnancy. They are easily converted into simple sugars, which the body can use to fuel cells and sustain the fetus during development.
- A pregnant woman may become ill because of the free radicals that are created during metabolism and which are destroyed by the phytonutrients found in carbohydrates.
- In the first trimester of pregnancy, some pregnant women find that eating carbohydrates helps them manage symptoms like morning sickness and nausea.
What is the Recommended Daily Intake of Carbohydrates During Pregnancy?
Therefore, there is no RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for the amount of carbohydrates that should be consumed each day during pregnancy. However, consuming more than 100 g of carbohydrates per day is not recommended because doing so could result in ketosis. (a metabolic state in which the fat breaks down to meet calorie requirements). The majority of dietitians recommend that roughly 60% of a pregnant woman’s daily caloric intake come from sources of carbs, with about half of those calories coming from whole grains. In a pregnancy, 10 to 11 servings of good carbohydrates per day may be plenty.
Is Low-Carb Diet Safe for Pregnant Ladies?
It is not safe for pregnant women to follow a rigorous or low-carb diet during their pregnancy. A low-carb diet throughout pregnancy can harm the unborn child’s weight and development because he may continue to lack important nutrients like calcium and folic acid. It might restrict the intake of fiber, fruits, and vegetables, which could lead to nutrient deficits that would probably be bad for the mother’s health. Low-carb diets are typically high in fat, which might cause unneeded weight gain during pregnancy and other pregnancy problems.
Eating Right Before and During Pregnancy
Getting the nutrients you require is crucial both before and throughout pregnancy.
There are also a few unique considerations for nursing mothers. See Nutrition Advice for Breastfeeding Mothers for further details.
- Preconception Make sure you get enough calories to maintain a reasonable weight. Adjust the number of calories you eat as needed to attain your weight gain or weight loss goals.
- Pregnancy Increase your diet by 300 calories per day starting in the second trimester. Monitor for appropriate weight gain and adjust your diet as needed.
- Breastfeeding Add 500 calories a day to your normal pre-pregnancy diet.
- Preconception Protein should account for 12 percent to 20 percent of your daily calories. Make sure to eat 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight (to convert pounds to kilograms, divide the pounds by 2.2), with a minimum of 40 grams of protein a day. For example, if you weigh 120 pounds, you should eat roughly 44 grams of protein a day.
- Pregnancy During pregnancy, you should get a minimum of 60 grams of protein a day, which will account for approximately 20 percent to 25 percent of your calorie intake.
- Preconception The amount of carbohydrates you should eat varies from person to person and should be based on an individualized nutritional assessment. That said, for most people, carbohydrates account for approximately 50 percent to 60 percent of their daily calories.
- Pregnancy Some women experience gestational diabetes, or diabetes during pregnancy, which may require them to limit their carbohydrate intake to 40 percent to 50 percent of their daily calories. To learn more, please see Dietary Recommendations for Gestational Diabetes.
- Preconception The amount of fat you should eat varies from person to person and should be based on an individualized nutritional assessment. For most people, less than 10 percent of their daily calories should come from saturated fat and up to 10 percent from polyunsaturated fat. Eating monounsaturated fat is preferred.
- Pregnancy During pregnancy your body needs more fat. Roughly 25 percent to 35 percent of your daily calories should come from fat, depending on your carbohydrate goals. Eating monounsaturated fat is preferred over saturated varieties.
Both before and during pregnancy it is important to eat between 20 and 35 grams of fiber each day. This is the same as the guidelines for the general population.
Sodium intake recommendations both before and during pregnancy are the same as those for the general population: 3000 milligrams a day. In some cases, there are medical reasons to restrict the amount of sodium in your diet. Talk with your doctor if you are unsure about your sodium intake.
It is important not to drink alcohol both if you are planning to get pregnant and if you are pregnant. Alcohol exposure during early fetal development can cause serious problems for your baby.
- Preconception It is safe to use any artificial sweetener on the market.
- Pregnancy The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved aspartame, acesulfame-K and sucralose for use during pregnancy. Check with your doctor before using other artificial sweeteners.
- Preconception It is important to get enough folic acid, or folate, before you become pregnant. Begin adding 400 micrograms a day prior to conception to reduce risks of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly.
- Pregnancy During pregnancy, increase your folic acid consumption to 600 micrograms a day.
- Breastfeeding While breastfeeding, make sure to get 500 micrograms of folic acid a day.
- Preconception Between the ages of 14 and 18, you need 15 milligrams of iron a day. Between 19 and 50 years of age, you should get 18 milligrams of iron a day.
- Pregnancy During pregnancy you need more iron and should get 27 milligrams a day. Some women suffer from anemia and need even more iron, up to 60 milligrams a day as directed by their doctor.
- Breastfeeding While breastfeeding you don’t need as much iron and can reduce your intake to 9 milligrams a day, 10 milligrams a day if you are 18 years or younger.
Do not take your prenatal vitamin or iron at the same time as calcium.
- Preconception Between the ages of 14 and 18 you need 9 milligrams of zinc a day. Between 19 and 50 years of age, you should get 8 milligrams of zinc a day.
- Pregnancy During pregnancy you need more zinc and should get 11 milligrams a day, 13 milligrams if you are 18 years old or younger.
- Breastfeeding While breastfeeding you should get 12 milligrams of zinc a day, 14 milligrams if you are 18 years old or younger.
Eating Carbs During Pregnancy
Ah, carbohydrates—the bane of countless diets. Should you stay away from them while expecting? Let’s get to it.
Going low-carb is not a good idea while pregnant. You obtain energy from carbohydrates, which can also be a significant source of fiber (you need all the fiber you can get right now!) and other nutrients. In fact, you should get around half your calories from carbohydrates.
Carbs to avoid
Instead, go for whole grain bread, brown rice, baked potatoes (skin on) and fresh fruit. (Note: Fresh fruit contains a lot of simple carbs, in the form of naturally occurring sugar, but it also contains a lot of fiber and essential nutrients.)
As a rule of thumb, “the more complex and whole grain the carbohydrate is, the better,” says Deborah Goldman, MD, an ob-gyn at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island. “The more complex the carbohydrate, the more whole grain it is, the slower your body absorbs it. That will help your blood sugar levels remain consistent, instead of bumping up and down.”
Carbs to choose
Choose whole grain bread, brown rice, roasted potatoes with the skin on, and fresh fruit as an alternative. (Note: Fresh fruit contains a lot of simple carbs, in the form of naturally occurring sugar, but it also contains a lot of fiber and essential nutrients.)
Generally speaking, whole grains and complex carbohydrates are preferable, according to Deborah Goldman, MD, an ob-gyn at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island. “Your body absorbs carbohydrates more slowly the more complex they are and the more whole grain they contain. Your blood sugar levels will be more stable as a result rather than fluctuating.
How many carbs to eat
Pregnant women should eat 9 to 11 servings of carbohydrates per day. (A serving size of carbs is smaller than you probably think: 1/3 cup of rice counts as a serving. So does 1/2 of an English muffin or 1 ounce of cereal.) Ideally, about half of your carb intake should be whole grains.
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What are the consequences of high blood glucose levels during pregnancy?
An increased risk of the woman acquiring gestational diabetes during pregnancy and later type 2 diabetes is linked to high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. It also raises the risk of pregnancy and birth difficulties for both the woman and the child, including premature delivery, shoulder dystocia, and pre-eclampsia, as well as primary caesarean delivery and infant hypoglycemia (low blood glucose levels) immediately after birth.
The most frequent association between high blood sugar levels and gestational diabetes is during pregnancy. However, blood glucose levels that are just a little bit raised but not high enough to be identified as gestational diabetes are linked to an increased risk of some negative health consequences, but not all of them.
It has been discovered that blood sugar levels within the diagnostic range for gestational diabetes are independently related to the offspring’s risk of poor glucose tolerance, obesity, and increased blood pressure at age seven. Therefore, preventing excessively high blood glucose levels during pregnancy may improve the health of the unborn child in the future.