Avoiding excess weight gain is more vital compared to losing weight during pregnancy. Weight gain is something natural that you will experience during your pregnancy. Pregnancy weight affects your post-pregnancy weight-loss struggle, but you should never starve yourself to stay in shape. According to The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, all women need to gain weight during pregnancy, regardless of their BMI (Source). However, this weight depends on your pre-pregnancy weight, and you need to be more careful about what you eat if you are overweight or obese.
Obesity during pregnancy is extremely unhealthy and can cause the following problems:
- Sleep apnea
- Premature delivery
- Infections in mother
- Defects in the heart of the baby
- Blood clots in mother’s legs
- High blood pressure in mother
- Type 2 or gestational diabetes in mother
- Preeclampsia, a condition of high blood pressure that affects other organs, such as the kidneys
As your baby grows, your body will start to change, with an increase in blood volume and amniotic fluid. Women who are overweight need safe methods to control their weight gain during pregnancy. In this article, we will discuss safe and healthy tips to reduce weight and to avoid potential weight-related complications.
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How to healthily lose weight while pregnant?
Most doctors don’t recommend losing weight during pregnancy; instead, they encourage women to get essential nutrients and to keep safely exercising. According to research, losing weight at this time can cause complications later, even for women with obesity (Source). Ideally, women with obesity should try to lose excess weight before getting pregnant. Women who weigh more than 60 pounds or more may not need to gain weight for a healthy pregnancy. In such cases, the fetus uses the body’s fat stores for energy.
By not gaining weight during pregnancy, a pregnant woman will automatically lose her fat stores. Hence, after childbirth, she would naturally have a lower body weight compared to her pre-pregnancy weight. Some women start losing weight in first trimester due to morning sickness and nausea. In such a case, you need to consult with your doctor about how to get enough nutrients. As you move forward to the second trimester, you will start to feel better and gain better. Losing weight in second trimester is normal if you are still experiencing nausea. But, if you notice constant weight loss during your second trimester, you need to be cautious because it could be a bad sign.
How to safely lose weight while pregnant?
A healthy lifestyle matters a lot when you are trying to stay healthy during pregnancy. Create a concrete diet and fitness plan and follow it strictly to lose weight during pregnancy. If you’re overweight or obese and your doctor has recommended you to control your weight, here are some safe methods for you:
Know your weight needs
Your weight gain during pregnancy should depend on your pre-pregnancy weight and BMI (Body Mass Index). The following table will help you know how much weight you need to gain or lose during pregnancy:
|Weight Categories during Pregnancy||Body Mass Index (BMI)||Recommended Weight-Gain Range|
|Underweight||Less than 18.5||28 – 40 lbs.|
|Normal||18.5 – 24.9||25 – 35 lbs.|
|Overweight||25 – 29.9||15 – 25 lbs.|
|Obese||30 and more||11 – 20 lbs.|
Source: Institute of Medicine/the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG)
Know your calorie needs
Not all pregnant women have the same calorie requirements or need to gain the same amount of weight. You need to know your calorie requirements and get along with them as they tend to increase in the second and third trimester. Calorie intake for women with healthy weight increases around 300 kcal per day during pregnancy. It may vary depending on your BMI. Hence, consult your doctor to know and understand your caloric needs.
Eat small meals frequently
Eating small meals regularly, help manage your weight, whether you are pregnant or not. It allows you to manage your portion size. Eating small meals help prevent you from feeling sick or nauseous during pregnancy. It is recommended to eat three not-too-big main meals with two or three smaller meals in a day.
Eat healthy food
You don’t have to starve yourself to lose weight or to stay in shape, especially not when you are pregnant. Your pregnancy needs you to eat a healthy diet. Here are some nutritious foods that you should eat:
- Vegetables and fresh fruits
- Low-fat milk and dairy products
- Whole grain cereals and bread
- Foods that are rich in Folate, such as strawberries, spinach, and beans
- Unsaturated good fats, such as olive oil, peanut oil, and canola oil
Foods that you need to avoid during pregnancy include:
- Foods that contain artificial sweeteners
- Junk food, such as chips, cake, candy, ice cream, and cookies
- Use salt in moderation
- Food and drinks with sugar and corn syrup
- Unhealthy fats, such as margarine, gravy, butter, mayonnaise, sauces, and salad dressings
A lot of women think that exercising during pregnancy will harm their babies. Fortunately, this isn’t true. Exercising during pregnancy is very useful and can help you stay active and in shape. It helps maintain your body weight, minimize birth effects, and reduce pain and aches that women experience during pregnancy. However, you need to make sure that you exercise for the right duration and in the right trimester.
Doctors today recommend 30 minutes of exercise per day for pregnant women. But, if your body tells you that it’s too much, you need to listen and stop. You can also shorten your duration of the exercise. Here are some of the most effective weight loss exercise that pregnant women can follow:
- Prenatal yoga
You need to avoid exercises that:
- Are performed in the heat
- Make you dizzy
- Are done on the back
- Cause you pain
1. Don’t eat for two
You don’t have to eat for two when you are pregnant. You need healthy food that is rich in nutrients. Make sure that you are consuming a diet that contains required amounts of calories and proteins along with folic acid, vitamin B12, and calcium. Eating for two can lead you to obesity, which can cause several problems like high blood pressure and gestational diabetes during their third trimester.
Eggs and yogurt are rich in protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Nuts provide protein, and milk and cereals are a great source of extra calories. Spinach is rich in folic acid which should be a part of your everyday intake. Red meat supplies iron to your body.
2. Carry your lunch to work
When you bring homemade food to work as your lunch, it saves you from eating junk food and fast food. You can make your required amount of food and take it with you. This way, you can add your favorites to the lunch box and avoid foods that can cause you to gain unnecessary weight.
3. Accept the changes
It is natural to gain weight during pregnancy, as it is essential for your baby. You need to accept these changes. Your body will grow as your baby grows, but you need to set limits for everything you eat. It is vital to eat healthy during pregnancy and to avoid any shortcut weight loss methods. You will find so many things attractive and crave so many foods that won’t be necessarily healthy for you and your baby; this is when you have to make a choice and opt for healthy eating.
How to lose weight while trying to get pregnant?
As long as you are eating a healthy diet and don’t get underweight, it is okay to lose weight when you are trying to get pregnant. Make sure that you find out your BMI before you start trying to lose weight. If you are overweight or obese, losing a few pounds will be a good idea before you decide to conceive.
Eating a healthy diet that is low in fat and high in nutrition, like fruits and vegetables, is an ideal approach to take when you are trying to lose weight. When you try to lose weight, it is best to do it slowly. Doctors recommend not to lose more weight than between 1 pound and 2 pounds per week. Quick weight loss will instantly run down your body’s fat, which is not a healthy way to begin your pregnancy.