- 3 Love Handles Pregnancy Exercises
- It’s not too late to SLOW DOWN & LESSEN your Pregnancy Weight Gain.
- 16 Reasons You Can’t Get Rid of Your Love Handles
- You’re eating too much.
- You’re not eating enough.
- You stick to cardio exercise exclusively.
- You unwind with a glass of alcohol.
- You’re constantly stressed out.
- The only exercise you’re doing is ab workouts.
- You’re running too much, too often.
- You graze on food throughout the day.
- You love processed starches.
- Your body fat percentage is too high.
- You only work small muscles.
- You don’t make time for healthy eating.
- Your diet and exercise plan isn’t sustainable.
- You haven’t tried carb cycling.
- Your goals are all aesthetic.
- You’re relying on changing your diet without exercising.
- We Need to Change the Way We Think About Weight Gain During Pregnancy
- Managing your weight gain during pregnancy
- How to Safely Lose Weight During Pregnancy
- How Much Weight You Should Gain During Pregnancy
- Understanding your BMI
- More About Pregnancy Weight Gain
- How much weight to gain and when
- Where’s the weight going?
- Weighing yourself
- How many calories should you eat?
- Weight gain red flags
- Will all that weight ever come off?
- Extra weight in pregnancy
- Childhood obesity risk
- 1.Don’t Eat for Two
- 2.Pay Attention to Portions
- 3.Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals
- 4.Have some Fibre and Protein at Every Meal
- 5.Make Sure you’re Getting Enough Calcium
- 6.Drink LOTS of Water
- 7.Keep a food journal
- Pin for later:
- P.S. If you’d like to get healthy recipes, style & motherhood tips & inspiration sent to your inbox, subscribe below to receive my weekly updates!
- Your Guide to Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain
- How Much Weight You Should Gain
- How Much More You Should Eat
- The Best Foods to Eat
- How Much to Exercise
- Meal-Plan Tips for Keeping Calories In Check
- These pregnant celebs really took ‘eating for two’ to heart
3 Love Handles Pregnancy Exercises
When your pregnant, it seems like everything is growing proportionately. The belly area the most, of course. But what is annoying is how fast you lose the WAIST, right? Which is why I want to share with you these 3 love handles pregnancy exercises.
They will help you to not only strengthen your core so you have less aches and pains, but it will really help your WAISTLINE.
I know it seems silly to work your waistline during pregnancy but it is quite effective and beneficial (and safe).
Working your core will help your DEEP LYING MUSCLES OF THE CORE from completely DISTENDING.
Its the dissension of the muscles and organs during pregnancy that gives you that pooch that never goes away.
Need to start eating healthier this pregnancy? Want More energy? Want to know how to control weight gain?
Download this FREE 2-Week Fit Pregnancy Nutrition Guide
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Sometimes you will see a woman that looks fit, not over weight but then she has this BELLY POOCH.
Working the core will help you so that doesn’t happen.
There are 3 love handles exercises that you can do at home with no equipment and they are very effective.
But let me tell you something first.
If you don’t follow a good pregnancy diet, you will still gain a ton of weight no matter how much exercise you do.
So since I know that most doctors don’t give you the right information about pregnancy nutrition and how you should be eating in a way thats good for the baby and won’t make you gain a ton of weight……..
I’m going to give you a FREE Pregnancy Nutrition Guide.
Its a sample of what my Pregnancy Diet Plan E-Book looks like and I think it will really help you control weight gain as well as the yucky excess weight that accumulates on the sides of the growing belly 🙂
Click HERE to download it.
Pregnancy Nutrition Guide
If you follow it and you EXERCISE, you will not just have a great pregnancy but you will feel CONFIDENT, RADIENT, GLOWING. You won’t be uncomfortable and have aches and pains because you’ve gained so much weight. You will have an easier labor and delivery. You will sleep better, have more energy. And you will seriously decrease your chances of falling into POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION.
I can’t wait for you to get this Nutrition Guide, the recipes are amazing, and there are so many different options for snacks. You are going to love it. Download it here (It’s totally FREE): PREGNANCY NUTRITION GUIDE.
I hope you try these little circuit of love handles pregnancy exercises.
It will take you about 10-15 minutes and it will help you tons.
But make sure you are working out your whole body.
I know you’re tired and fatigued, but even just 3 – 20 minute workouts a week will help you so much to control weight gain, gain less weight, feel more energized, sleep better and then be able to lose your baby weight soooooooo much faster.
I lost mine in 6 weeks (by the time I went in for my first checkup), and then in about 3-4 months, I was in the best shape of my life.
And if I wouldn’t have done my Fit Mom To Be Workout Program, this would have never happened.
I know you can do this too.
And I hope this makes you feel encouraged and inspired to invest a little time into your health, your body during such an important time in your life.
I have worked with literally hundreds of THOUSANDS of pregnant women just like you who have gone through my Fit Mom To Be Workout Program and have been able to have better pregnancies.
- Gaining Less Weight.
- Having More Energy.
- Better Sleep.
- More Confidence.
- Lost Baby Weight Quickly.
Check this out……..
Here is your love handles pregnancy exercises circuit.
I hope you will do it.
Again, it will only take you about 10-15 minutes and maybe you can do 10-15 minutes of light cardio after.
10 Side Plank Hip Lifts Per Side
- Lie on side.
- Place elbow on floor.
- Bend legs and bend at the knees.
- Keeping hips in and chest up and hear forward, drop the hip as if to touch the floor.
- Then drive the hip back up, squeeze the oblique and repeat.
10 Quadruped Knee/Arm Extensions
- Kneel in a quadruped position.
- Driving your belly in and taking a deep breath, extend one leg and opposite arm.
- Try to point your toe and extend your arm fully.
- Keep your head in line with your back, don’t look up or too far down, kneck should be neutral.
- Bring arm and leg in as if you want your elbow to touch your knee.
- Then extend again.
- Do 10-15 per side and switch sides.
- Sit in a v-sit position and keep both feet on the floor.
- You can use your body weight or if you are up for it, you can grab a light weight or medicine ball.
- Rotate from the torso side to side in a very controlled fashion.
- Keep your chest up and your shoulders back.
- Try 10-20 per side.
I hope you try these love handles pregnancy exercises and that you make them part of your pregnancy workout routine.
If you start my pregnancy workout program, I will see you inside the program.
I have lots of tips for you and I can’t wait for you to see all the videos of the exercises.
Send me YOUR BUMP PICTURES, would be great to compare with after you have your baby….
So you can see how fabulous you will look.
I would also love to feature you and your beautiful bump.
Send them to [email protected]
Click here to start the Fit Mom-To-Be Workout Program so you can have a really good, safe and effective pregnancy workout plan that you can do for the rest of your pregnancy.
If you are struggling with what to eat and different options that are SAFE for the baby and won’t make you GAIN WEIGHT, you will totally enjoy and get great use of the MMF Pregnancy Diet Plan.
- Full Meal Plan for entire pregnancy (know exactly what nutrients you and baby need).
- Increase energy & decrease fatigue with the best food combinations.
- Easy Kid-Friendly Recipes that will save you time in the kitchen.
- Helps reduce cravings so you eat healthier and gain less weight.
- Yummy and comforting meals so you can still enjoy eating.
It’s not too late to SLOW DOWN & LESSEN your Pregnancy Weight Gain.
If you exercise, you will see a huge change.
Less weight gain, not as fast and you will feel tighter, more fit, more energetic and less fatigue.
If you don’t want to spend 6-24 months postpartum losing your “BABY WEIGHT”, invest a little time, energy and possibly resources into your health and fitness this pregnancy. It will be so worth it when you are back at your pre-pregnancy weight in less than 3 months and feeling like yourself again.
If you need guidance, support and a safe exercise plan, you will love my Fit Mom-To-Be Workout Program (tested by TENS OF THOUSANDS of pregnant women).
And you can do it for your entire pregnancy (its not just a 12 week program).
Here is what you can expect:
- Less Weight Gain
- Less Stretch Marks and Cellulite
- Faster Labor & Delivery
- Faster Postpartum Weight Loss
- More Energy
- Less Aches & Pains
- Less Chances of Gestational Diabetes
- Better Sleep
What You Get:
- Monthly workouts that change every 4 weeks (which delivers the best results).
- No gym is required (2 versions available: home and gym).
- Exercise Videos & Pictures of every single exercise.
- Can view, access and download on any smart phone, tablet or computer.
- Private Facebook Group for support, community and questions answered by Michelle Marie.
- Monthly pregnancy nutrition tips to help you throughout your pregnancy.
To start your pregnancy workouts, click here: Fit Mom-To-Be
16 Reasons You Can’t Get Rid of Your Love Handles
Love handles are a lot like that Debbie downer of a friend you’ve been trying to separate yourself from for years: Despite your efforts to shed the dead weight, it clings to you for dear life. It’s beyond frustrating.
“For men, love handles are hard to lose because most of their fat cells are located in this area,” explains personal trainer and nutritionist, Jim White, RD. Women’s bodies like to deposit fat into the hip and thigh area, too, which creates the illusion of love handles, says Leah Kaufman, MS, RD, CDN. “When women begin to lose weight, it happens in other parts of the body first. I oftentimes hear my patients say that their face may appear thinner, but they are still having trouble losing in their midsection and hips.”
While these facts may sound dismal (you can’t do much to alter your genetics, after all) there are other things you can control that will help you shrink your hips and melt away those pesky love handles once and for all.
Read on to find out the 16 reasons you can’t lose love handles, and how you can get rid of love handles with these easy ways to lose weight in your hips.
You’re eating too much.
While it may seem obvious, but if you want to lose your love handles, you need to consume fewer calories. And one of the easiest ways to do that is to simply reduce your portion sizes. “Creating a deficit of 500 calories a day can help someone lose a pound a week. This can help with reducing fat around the love handles and all around the body,” notes White.
One of the easiest ways to reduce your calorie intake? “Swap in broccoli, spinach or other non-starchy vegetables to replace higher calorie foods that may be packing in the calories,” advises Marisa Moore, RDN, LD. For even more simple ways to shave calories from your diet, don’t miss our report, ways to cut 250 calories.
You’re not eating enough.
When you’re cutting calories, note that you don’t want to decrease your intake too quickly. Excessive dieting and not eating enough can wreak havoc on your hormones. Not only is this bad news for your metabolism, it can mess with your sleep quality, energy levels, mood, and strength, too, cautions Victoria Hartcorn, Co-Founder of Excelerate Wellness, LLC. “If your hormones aren’t in balance then physique goals are going to be much more challenging to attain,” she explains, adding, “Eat adequate amounts of wholesome food, resistance train with intensity, and don’t over-exercise or abusing cardio. If amending your diet and exercise routine doesn’t help you to feel and look better, then getting bloodwork done to check hormone levels would be the next best step.”
You stick to cardio exercise exclusively.
Don’t get us wrong, cardio can help you burn calories and lose weight, but if you want to slim your hips, you’ll have to lift some iron, too. “Cardio activity may work to burn calories, however, it won’t necessarily target the specific area you’d like to lose from. Although you can not spot reduce, targeting certain areas with weight training may help to build lean muscle mass, decreasing overall fat, explains Kaufman.
You unwind with a glass of alcohol.
Sure, stress causes levels of wait widening cortisol to spike, but relying on booze to unwind is not the answer. “Alcohol contains a lot of calories and Americans are simply overdoing it by turning alcohol consumption into an everyday event,” says White. Just two glasses of wine a day can add nearly 1,500 calories to your weekly calorie intake. That can add up to a half-pound of weight gain per week and two pounds per month.” And unfortunately, if you tend to gain weight in your love handles, that’s exactly where those extra lbs. are bound to wind up. For those few times that you do choose to indulge, though, do so wisely with the help of these healthy alcoholic drinks.
You’re constantly stressed out.
“Hip and belly fat is often a result of high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol,” explains Jacobson. “Stress is inflammatory and can lead to spikes in blood sugar, which is what happens when you eat a pastry!”
To keep waist-widening stress at bay, Jacobson suggests reassessing how you react to stressful situations. “Engage with people and activities that bring you joy. This not only helps uplift the spirit, but it also makes you leaner and more confident.” Hartcorn agrees that stress can lead to love handles, adding, “many people look at stress management as a luxury, another thing on the to-do list that doesn’t ever get done. Some people even consider it to be boring. However, there are so many ways to uniquely alleviate stress, so you just have to think outside the box and customize stress management tools so they work for you. For example, while others may be able to complete periods of passive or active meditation, some aren’t at all interested in these practices and would do much better with something like coloring or a leisurely walk. The options are endless.”
The only exercise you’re doing is ab workouts.
If oblique exercises and crunches were all that was needed to be done in order to banish love handles, we’d be a nation filled with swimsuit models. If only it were that simple! “I see so many women coming into the gym and doing an entire working consisting of crunches, sit ups, and side bends to try to burn stubborn fat from their bellies,” says Miriam Fried, a New York City-based personal trainer for the Dan Roberts Group. “In reality, while core exercises will help to tone your abs, your main focus should be on doing full body workouts and eating a healthy diet to create an overall caloric deficit which is the only way to lose fat from any region of the body.”
You’re running too much, too often.
Many people assume that they need to run, and run, and run some more if they want to shed the pounds. However, if you overdo it with the steady cardio, you could do more harm to your body than good, warns, Hartcorn. “Spending months doing excessive steady state cardio like long-distance running can lead to adaptation, lowered testosterone levels, and a sustained release of cortisol. While our bodies cannot adapt to anaerobic efforts (like jumping and sprinting), they can adapt to prolonged aerobic activity. This means that over time, the body will not need to use as many calories to power you through your miles. That also means that you will need to continue to run just as much to simply maintain your weight. Further, excessive running has been proven to lessen testosterone levels, a key hormone in muscle preservation and growth.” For even more tips that can help to whittle your middle, check out these things you must do for a flat belly.
You graze on food throughout the day.
“Love handles start and end in the kitchen,” says chef and Body Space Fitness personal trainer Dean Sheremet. “I’ve been playing with intermittent fasting over the last year and the results have been incredible. I’ve shortened my window of eating to 8 hours a day. Outside of 1 to 9 pm, I consume water, coffee, and amino acids in a beverage. I used to eat five times a day, so overcoming the mental aspect was much more challenging than the physical. I turned it into a meditative act and eventually it gave me great satisfaction to be able to control myself better.”
A recent study recently presented at the Obesity Society’s annual meeting backs Sheremet’s suggestion. For the study, researchers followed 11 overweight men and women, over two four-day periods. During one period, the study participants ate all of their meals within a six-hour time span. During the second period, they consumed their meals between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Despite the fact that both diets included the same number of calories, participants reported being less hungry while following the time-restricted feeding schedule. Restricted feeding may “positively impact body composition both by increasing fat oxidation and by reducing energy intake,” the study concludes. For even more ways to melt fat around your middle, don’t miss these foods that melt love handles.
You love processed starches.
“Love handles typically form when a person has excess stomach fat. For a lot of us, this is usually a result of eating too many processed starches and grains,” says functional medicine dietitian, Miriam Jacobson, MS, RD, CDN. “These foods spike blood sugar levels and make it biologically impossible for you to burn fat. Look at the areas of your diet where you are reliant on carbohydrates and begin replacing things like white bread and pasta with healthier options. For example, you could replace the toast that you typically enjoy along with your eggs with some avocado and kale.” For more ways to dial back your intake of the starchy stuff, don’t miss these essential carb cutting hacks.
Your body fat percentage is too high.
It may seem obvious but if you have too much fat on your frame, you’re going to have a pretty tough time targeting the fat that’s covering your hips. “If a woman’s body fat percentage is above 25 percent or a man’s body fat percentage is above 15 percent, the shape of their body may be less than ideal,” Piya Tony Vacharasanee, NASM, ACSM, of Body Space Fitness tells us. To lower your overall body fat percentage, hit the gym five days a week, incorporating both cardio and weight training and add some of these fat-fighting ingredients into your daily diet.
You only work small muscles.
You know you have to challenge your muscles with weight training in order to improve your overall body composition, but if you’re targeting tiny muscles like the triceps and biceps, you’re not getting as much bang for your buck. “Larger movements that involve the total body helps to increase muscle mass, which then allows glucose to be used by the muscles instead of stored as fat,” explains Vacharasanee.
Exercises that help you lose love handles should incorporate a variety of muscles. Examples include:
- Dumbbell squat
- Bent over row
- Reverse lunge to overhead press
“Do eight reps of each exercise in order and you should feel the benefits within a couple of weeks,” shares Vacharasanee.
You don’t make time for healthy eating.
Running from work meetings to the kid’s soccer game and back to the office, again, is enough to leave anyone feeling strung out. Which, in turn, could lead to extra pounds around the hips. “A stressful work or personal life can lead to higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which triggers the storage of belly fat and can lead to less desirable food choices,” says Jess Horton, the personal trainer behind the blog The Fit Petite, adding “When you are rushed or stretched thin, making healthy eating choices is more difficult and can fall off of your priority list.”
You may not be able to rid the amount of stress in your life, but you can develop a better plan to help you handle it. Horton recommends this morning schedule to reduce stress and help target love handles:
- Wake up 15 minutes earlier
- Allow yourself to wake up slowly and use this time to set the tone for the day
- Start your day in quiet and sit with a cup of detox tea in the dark
- Pray, meditate, and enjoy those precious morning moments
- Resist the temptation to check your email or hop on social media
If you follow these morning tips, “you will feel more in control and you’ll be in a better place to make healthier decisions through the day. Over time, this can help you reach your body goals,” notes Horton.
Your diet and exercise plan isn’t sustainable.
When it comes to weight loss, slow and steady wins the race. That means it’s super important to find a diet and fitness routine that’s sustainable, says Fried. “If you really want to burn fat from those stubborn, tricky areas it takes time and patience. If you can’t adhere to your fitness routine long term, chances are you’ll lose patience quickly and are more likely to give up before reaching your goals. So eat healthily, but allow yourself a cookie or burger every now and again. Work out hard, but give your body appropriate rest when needed. Find workouts and food choices that suit your goals and your life.” Better yet, find ways to make healthy living fun with the help of these fun ways to lose weight.
You haven’t tried carb cycling.
While complex carbs like oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and beans are definitely not the enemy to weight loss, eating them all the time may be slowing your progress, says Sheremet. To fight back against the bulge, try carb cycling, which simply means eating more carb dense meals on workout days a few hours before you hit the gym and limiting carbs on days when you’re not training. “This strategy has helped me put on muscle and shed fat in a way I never thought possible,” Sheremet adds.
Your goals are all aesthetic.
Studies show that when goals are aesthetic-based, rather than health or strength related, they’re more difficult to stick with long term. “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to slim down, burn those love handles, or build a little bit of muscle and definition. But I find that when you focus your energy on non-appearance-based goals, you’ll enjoy your workouts more and feel better about your body all around!” says Fried. “Want to do a pull-up? Run a 5k? Great! Set your mind on those athletic based goals and the aesthetics will follow.”
You’re relying on changing your diet without exercising.
White recommends following the 60/5 rule when you’re trying to get rid of love handles. In addition to cutting 500 calories a week through diet, White explains the rule is based on working out for “60 minutes of exercise five times a week.” This amount of time should be enough to help you burn an additional 500 calories a day by incorporating weight training and cardiovascular training into your routine.
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We Need to Change the Way We Think About Weight Gain During Pregnancy
Photo: Svetlana Iakusheva /
Despite the increase in body-positivity, self-love, and acceptance messaging we’re seeing on social media (keep it coming!), we still have a long way to go with how our culture treats pregnant women. Let’s be real-people say really dumb things to pregnant women about their weight and appearance. And then there’s the invasive touching and unsolicited advice (about diet and exercise especially) which can all be extremely triggering for someone who’s already on an emotional roller coaster.
That’s why when I’m working with someone who’s expecting, sure, we talk about the nutritional basics and guidelines for a healthy pregnancy, but we spend just as much-if not more-time talking about the mental and emotional stuff that comes up around food and body image.
One of the biggest hurdles? Fighting that culturally ingrained feeling that any weight gain is bad. Many women feel pressure to gain only the minimum amount of weight recommended and experience a lot of anxiety around what people will think and say about their changing body. I often see women wanting to avoid situations that make them feel especially vulnerable, whether it’s brunch with their judgy mother-in-law or catching up with that friend who magically only gained 25 pounds and had six-pack abs again a week after giving birth.
There’s also a ton of food shaming that goes on during pregnancy. A conversation with a fear-mongering relative (or a complete stranger) has brought clients to my office in tears, convinced that because she ate nonorganic greens last week (or whatever it might be), her baby is going to be born deformed. And while food cravings and aversions, or an unpredictable appetite are extremely common during pregnancy, they can make women feel like a failure at following “the rules.” Generally speaking, as hormones fluctuate and preferences change, you’re especially vulnerable to slipping into negative thought patterns and feelings of guilt about what you’re eating. For example, many women get down on themselves if their usual salad lunch makes them want to barf or if previously “off-limits” foods like ice cream start finding their way into their diet. (Related: Weird Pregnancy Side Effects That Are Actually Normal)
Exercise is another touchy subject. Staying active during pregnancy can be helpful for managing stress and supporting stable blood sugar, along with helping you stay strong and build up stamina for labor. (Related: How Running During Pregnancy Prepared Me for Giving Birth) That said, it’s smart to modify workouts as your pregnancy progresses so you stay comfortable and safe. Making adjustments can be emotionally tricky sometimes, though. When nausea or fatigue make it tough to hit the gym, many women beat up on themselves for-gasp-resting instead of making like those happy smiling pregnant ladies they see on social media crushing it at CrossFit. Because even though logically, we know that everyone curates, it’s hard not to play the comparison game.
And while there is more real talk on social media about pregnancy, many women still feel like they can’t talk openly about it when they feel less than glowy and excited. In fact, it’s common to feel guilty expressing anything but love and wonder when it comes to their bodies during pregnancy and to not let on if they’re feeling like anything less than a domestic goddess.
While it’s a good idea to check in with a therapist or dietitian (more on that below!), here are some of the things I’ve found to be helpful for my clients:
1. Give yourself a reality check when you notice negative self-talk creeping in.
Seriously, you’re growing a human. Lots of things are happening in your body, and it’s normal to need to change up your eating and exercise routine. Also, it’s okay not to feel “OMG I’m so excited and everything is awesome!” all. the. time. Some weeks you’re going to feel like everything is going well that you’re right on track, and others you’re going to feel exhausted or overwhelmed or like you want to hibernate. Be honest with yourself about what you need. Remind yourself that the big picture is about having a healthy pregnancy for you and your baby.
2. Look at changes as an opportunity to try something new.
If you’re too wiped or don’t feel comfortable with your pre-pregnancy workouts, check out a gentler type of activity (like, prenatal yoga instead of heated Vinyasa), or book a few sessions with a trainer to learn some modifications to help you be active and stay safe. Or simply practice the art of resting, especially if rest days have made you anxious in the past. When it comes to your diet, listen to what your body is telling you it wants. If you’re suddenly craving steak when you never did before, it could very well be that your body needs extra iron!
3. Shut down body-shamers.
People say stupid stuff. Like, astoundingly dumb. Even when they mean well when they comment on your size or the shape of your belly (and they usually do), it’s often just not appropriate. While you may not be able to change the ridiculous stuff that comes out of their mouths, you *can* do something about how you deal with it. Talk to a trusted pal, friend, or therapist about it, vent on social media, journal-whatever helps you deal. Depending on your relationship with that person, you can also feel free to shut it down and say something, like, “Hey, I know you’re trying to be helpful, but when you say that, it makes me feel ____.”
4. Reach out to a doctor, therapist, or dietitian.
If you feel you need extra support, having a trained professional to share your questions and concerns with can be incredibly helpful at a time you’re prone to overthinking. And if you’re someone who’s worried about what your life (and body) will be like after giving birth, talk to friends or family members who’ve been there. Remind yourself that it will be an adjustment but that you have options. If it will help ease your anxieties, make a plan for after you give birth to work with a trainer once your doctor gives you the okay. Talk with a nutritionist about what to eat to stay strong and energized while working toward your health and weight goals as you adjust to life as a new mom.
Look for pregnancy or motherhood-related content that makes you laugh or smile or feel understood-not insecure. (Emily Skye has been open about her issues during pregnancy.) Or totally abandon the pregnancy stuff and just follow accounts of cute puppies or whatever brightens your day. No reason you can’t take a break from social media too!
Managing your weight gain during pregnancy
Some women are already overweight when they get pregnant. Other women gain weight too quickly during their pregnancy. Either way, a pregnant woman should not go on a diet or try to lose weight during pregnancy.
It is better to focus on eating the right foods and staying active. If you do not gain enough weight during pregnancy, you and your baby may have problems.
Still, you can make changes in your diet to get the nutrients you need without gaining too much weight. Talk to your health care provider to get help with planning a healthy diet.
Below are some healthy eating tips to help you get started.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables make good snacks. They are full of vitamins and low in calories and fat.
- Eat breads, crackers, and cereals made with whole grains.
- Choose reduced-fat dairy products. You need at least 4 servings of milk products every day. However, using skim, 1%, or 2% milk will greatly reduce the amount of calories and fat you eat. Also choose low-fat or fat-free cheese or yogurt.
Foods to avoid:
- Naturally sweetened is better than foods and drinks with added sugar or artificial sweeteners.
- Food and drinks that list sugar or corn syrup as one of the first ingredients are not good choices.
- Many sweetened drinks are high in calories. Read the label and watch out for drinks that are high in sugar. Substitute water for sodas and fruit drinks.
- Avoid junk-food snacks, such as chips, candy, cake, cookies, and ice cream. The best way to keep from eating junk food or other unhealthy snacks is to not have these foods in your house.
- Go light on fats. Fats include cooking oils, margarine, butter, gravy, sauces, mayonnaise, regular salad dressings, lard, sour cream, and cream cheese. Try the lower-fat versions of these foods.
- Knowing the amount of calories, fat, and salt in your food can help you eat healthier.
- Most restaurants have menus and nutrition facts on their websites. Use these to plan ahead.
- In general, eat at places that offer salads, soups, and vegetables.
- Avoid fast food.
Cooking at home:
- Prepare meals using low-fat cooking methods.
- Avoid fried foods. Frying foods in oil or butter will increase the calories and fat of the meal.
- Baking, broiling, grilling, and boiling are healthier, lower-fat methods of cooking.
- Moderate exercise, as recommended by your provider, can help burn extra calories.
- Walking and swimming are generally safe, effective exercises for pregnant women.
- Be sure to talk to your provider before starting an exercise program.
It can be challenging to stick to the guidelines for pregnancy weight gain, especially if you’ve never craved carbohydrates so much in your life and it seems like everywhere you turn, people encourage you to eat for two.
But gaining too much weight while pregnant can raise your risk for birth complications like c-section delivery and premature birth. And even if you start pregnancy overweight or obese – like more than half of American women – sticking to the recommended range of weight gain can significantly reduce your risk of health problems like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
Below, doctors and nutritionists offer 10 important – and achievable – tips for healthy pregnancy weight gain.
1. Start pregnancy at a healthy weight if possible
“The most important thing you can do before getting pregnant, in addition to taking prenatal vitamins, is to start your pregnancy at a healthy weight,” says Lauren Hyman, an ob-gyn in West Hills, California.
If you’re at the “thinking about it” stage of pregnancy, or trying to conceive, consider making a preconception appointment. Your healthcare provider can help you figure out your current body mass index (BMI) and suggest ways to lose weight if necessary.
2. Eat moderately and often
You don’t need that many extra calories per day to nourish your growing baby. Current guidelines call for 340 extra calories per day in your second trimester and 450 extra calories per day in your third trimester if you’re starting pregnancy at a healthy weight. (If you’re underweight or overweight, these numbers will differ based on your weight gain goal.)
That’s not a lot of extra to play around with, so choose foods that pack a big nutritional punch and help you feel satisfied.
“Focus on small, frequent meals that are high in lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables,” says Hyman. Learn more about meal planning during pregnancy.
Then choose healthy snacks between meals.
“Eating a healthy snack every three hours should help you avoid overdoing it at mealtimes,” advises dietitian Frances Largeman-Roth, author of Feed the Belly: The Pregnant Mom’s Healthy Eating Guide. Not only will you be providing good nutrition for your baby, but your blood sugar will stay level throughout the day so you’re less likely to feel starving at dinnertime.
Choose meals and snacks that include protein, fiber, and some healthy fat, says Largeman-Roth. Examples include an apple with two tablespoons of peanut butter, an English muffin with a scrambled egg and spinach, protein-enriched pasta and tomato sauce, or Greek yogurt with a palmful of nuts or granola sprinkled on top.
Fruit with lots of fiber and high water content – like grapefruit, oranges, apples, berries, pears, and plums – can also help you feel full and keep constipation at bay.
3. Drink up (water, that is)
It’s important to avoid dehydration during pregnancy – and drinking enough water has the added benefit of helping you feel satisfied between meals and snacks.
The Institute of Medicine advises pregnant women to drink 10 8-ounce glasses of water or other beverages each day. Some nutritionists suggest adding more for each hour of light activity. Largeman-Roth recommends three liters of water daily, or 101 fluid ounces.
Other experts suggest monitoring urine color: If it’s dark yellow or cloudy, your body needs more fluids. Sip throughout the day to keep your urine color pale yellow or clear – a sign of proper hydration.
Drinking water also eases constipation, one of the less happy side effects of growing a person inside of you. When you’re pregnant, your digestive system slows down, which ensures that you wring every possible bit of nutrition from your food. Getting enough fluids will help keep things moving along and prevent uncomfortable bloating.
Largeman-Roth, who recently gave birth to her third child, ups her water intake by keeping a pretty glass or water bottle with her at all times and chilling pitchers of water with sliced lemon, lime, or cucumber to make it more appealing. “You drink more when your water tastes good,” she says.
4. Make your cravings constructive
No one expects you to avoid french fries and ice cream completely when you’re pregnant. After all, cravings come with the territory.
The key is to satisfy your urges while getting the protein and healthy fats that you and your baby need (and that will help you feel full).
“A little trick I use is to combine something healthy with one of my less-healthy cravings,” says Largeman-Roth. “For example, I mix a high-fiber cereal with some really yummy granola on top. You get the fiber you need to help prevent constipation, plus the sweet crunch you’re craving.”
When Largeman-Roth was pregnant and craved the salty satisfaction of chips and salsa, she toasted a tortilla, then topped it with a fried egg and a pile of shredded cheese, salsa, and diced avocado.
“It has more calories than just the chips,” says Largeman-Roth, “but it packs in a lot more nutrients.” The added protein from the cheese and egg will help you feel full longer.
5. Make starches work harder
Carbohydrates can be a pregnant woman’s best friend, especially if you’re battling the nausea and vomiting of morning sickness. But simple starchy food such as white bread, rice, and pasta raise your blood sugar without giving you the nutrition that comes with whole grains.
Better to reach for complex carbohydrates – such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole grain breads and pastas – which not only provide you and your baby with more nutrients, but will help you feel full for longer and make you less likely to give in to unhealthy cravings later in the day.
6. Start a simple walking regime
“The most valuable thing any pregnant woman can do is walk,” says Jeanne Conry, past president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. For expecting moms who are new to exercise, Conry recommends a program she calls “10 Minutes for Me.” She has her patients walk 10 minutes a day and keep track of when they do it. Every 30 days, she has them add another 10 minutes, so that by the end of the first trimester they’re walking 30 minutes daily, which they can continue to do for the rest of pregnancy.
Boston ob-gyn Laura Riley, who is medical director of labor and delivery at Massachusetts General Hospital, suggests that her patients purchase pedometers and shoot for 10,000 steps a day. It may sound daunting, but remember that steps done while running errands and walking around the office still count.
“It’s not just important for managing weight gain,” says Riley. “You’ll have a lot fewer aches and pains as you get to the end of pregnancy if you stay active.”
7. If you’re already moving, don’t stop
Unless your workout routine includes competitive kickboxing or other risky activities for expecting moms, there’s no reason you can’t keep it up during pregnancy.
With the exception of contact sports, Riley tells her patients to “do whatever they normally do – running, walking, aerobics, whatever. There are very few things you cannot do during pregnancy.”
You may have to modify your movements as your girth grows and your center of gravity changes, but otherwise, says Riley, there’s no reason you can’t stick to your usual activity.
Learn the best kinds of exercise during pregnancy and find out when it’s not safe to work out.
8. Have the occasional indulgence
Largeman-Roth satisfied her pregnancy sweet tooth with a half-cup serving of full-fat ice cream (about the size of a tennis ball) served in a small bowl to make it look bigger.
Hyman, the California ob-gyn, agrees that her patients shouldn’t deprive themselves of a favorite treat. Instead of making that indulgence a daily habit, though, she advises enjoying it once a week.
9. Make weight a regular discussion
Having a conversation about weight gain with your doctor or midwife at every prenatal visit will help you stay on track and make changes if you need to.
Conry calculates her patients’ body mass index (BMI) at the first visit, then gives guidance on pregnancy weight gain.
“I tell them what their goals are and what will happen during the different trimesters,” Conry says.
Calvin J. Hobel, a maternal-fetal medicine expert at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, studies the health of women during and after pregnancy. He recommends that doctors show women how they are gaining on a curve to help them stay on track.
“Seeing where you are at the beginning and then watching your trajectory is very important,” says Hobel.
To see where you land on the weight-gain curve, and learn how much you should gain based on your height and pre-pregnancy weight, try BabyCenter’s pregnancy weight gain estimator.
10. Breastfeed if you can
While this tip won’t help during pregnancy, it’s worth knowing that breastfeeding can help you meet your goals for healthy weight loss afterward.
“Breastfeeding is the best fix for losing the extra weight you’ve gained during pregnancy,” says Hobel.
When breastfeeding goes well, it burns 500 calories daily. Also, birth and the body changes that happen in the first six weeks postpartum should help you drop your first 20 pounds (just from the baby, placenta, and water weight leaving your body). It’s a great jump start to losing your pregnancy weight.
Kate Rope is a freelance writer and editor and coauthor of The Complete Guide to Medications During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding.
How to Safely Lose Weight During Pregnancy
Even before they’re born, your future baby relies on you in numerous ways. Your body nourishes and carries them for about 40 weeks, helping them grow and develop. Having excess weight can cause problems during pregnancy because it can get in the way of these processes.
Being obese while pregnant may lead to:
- premature birth
- cesarean delivery
- heart defects in baby
- gestational diabetes in mother (and type 2 diabetes later in life)
- high blood pressure in mother
- preeclampsia: severe form of high blood pressure that can also affect other organs like the kidneys
- sleep apnea
- blood clots (especially in your legs)
- infections in mother
Despite such dangers, your best approach to weight loss is through a consistent, yet gradual plan with a focus on healthier lifestyle changes. Gradual weight loss is best for your body and your baby.
If your doctor recommends that you lose weight, here’s how to do so safely during pregnancy.
1. Know how much weight you need to gain
Being overweight during pregnancy can sometimes change the focus to only losing weight. But the fact is, you’ll still gain some weight, and it is important to know how much a healthy amount of is. After all, there is a human growing inside of you!
Follow these pregnancy weight gain guidelines from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, based on your weight before you became pregnant:
- obese (BMI of 30 or more): gain 11 to 20 pounds
- BMI between 25 and 29.9: 15 to 25 pounds
- normal weight (18.5 to 24.9 BMI): can gain between 25 and 35 pounds
2. Cut down on calories
The first way you can lose excess weight is by reducing your daily calorie intake. Eating more calories than you burn off is the most common cause of weight gain. It takes a 3,500-calorie deficit to lose 1 pound. Over the span of a week, this equates to about 500 calories per day to cut out.
Before you slash this many calories from your diet, be sure to keep a log and figure out just how many calories you really eat. You can talk to a dietitian to discuss food plans. You can also look up nutritional labels for foods from stores or restaurants to get a sense of how many calories are in each food.
Keep in mind that pregnant women should eat no fewer than 1,700 calories per day. This is the minimum and helps to ensure that both you and your baby are getting enough energy and nutrients on a regular basis.
If you normally consume far more calories than this, consider cutting down gradually. For example, you can:
- eat smaller portions
- cut out condiments
- swap unhealthy fats (like butter) for a plant-based version (try olive oil)
- trade baked goods for fruit
- fill up on vegetables instead of traditional carbs
- cut out soda, and opt for water instead
- avoid large amounts of junk food, like chips or candy
Take a daily prenatal vitamin to ensure that you are getting all of the nutrients you and your baby need. Folate is especially important, as it helps decrease the risk for birth defects.
3. Exercise 30 minutes daily
Some women are afraid to exercise out of fear of it harming their babies. But this definitely isn’t true. While some exercises, such as situps, can possibly be harmful, exercise overall is extremely beneficial.
It can help you maintain your weight, reduce birth defects, and even ease some of the aches and pains you experience during pregnancy.
The current recommendation isn’t different from nonpregnant women: 30 minutes of activity per day. If this is too much for you to start, consider breaking up the 30 minutes into shorter blocks of time throughout the day.
Some of the best exercises for pregnant women are:
- prenatal yoga
On the flip side, you should avoid any activities that:
- rely on balance, such as bike riding or skiing
- are performed in the heat
- cause pain
- make you dizzy
- are done on your back (after 12 weeks of pregnancy)
4. Address weight concerns early
While you’ll certainly gain weight naturally from your pregnancy, the majority of this weight gain happens in the second and third trimesters. Your baby also grows rapidly during the last two months of pregnancy. You can’t control weight gain attributed to your baby and supporting elements like the placenta, so it’s best to address any weight issues earlier in pregnancy.
Some success in weight intervention among pregnant women has been reported through a study published in the journal Obesity.Researchers found that women who received advice between weeks 7 and 21 of pregnancy were less likely to gain excess weight during the third trimester. The same group of women studied also benefited from weekly support group meetings.
This is just one example of when early planning helped to stave off excess weight gain. If you want to lose weight, or control the amount of weight you gain overall during your pregnancy, be sure to have your doctor help you come up with a plan early on. Your doctor can also refer you to a dietitian for more advice and meal planning.
How Much Weight You Should Gain During Pregnancy
If weight and gain have always been unspeakable words to you, added pounds are about to be a plus: You’re pregnant, and that means you’re supposed to gain weight. That said, it’s important to know how much to gain and when to gain it.
Pack on way too many pounds and you increase your chances of gestational diabetes, hypertension and complications during labor and delivery (not to mention you’ll more likely find yourself with stretch marks plus extra pounds to shed once you’ve delivered). In fact, a government report from November 2015 found that 47 percent of American moms gained more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy, putting themselves and their babies at risk for health problems both during and after pregnancy.
Pack on too few, as about one in five moms do, and you’re at an increased risk for a baby who’s born too soon or too small (or both) along with other pregnancy complications. Bottom line: A steady pace is best for you, your body, your pregnancy and, most of all, your baby.
While all of this may sound overwhelming, in most cases there’s a lot you can do to keep your weight gain under control (plus, of course, your doctor will be there to guide you). Here’s some important info to keep in mind to gain a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy.
Best Foods to Eat While Pregnant
Understanding your BMI
You may have heard the often-repeated 25 to 35 pounds as the suggested weight gain goal range for women during their pregnancy, but that’s directed at women whose Body Mass Index, or BMI, falls into the “normal weight” category. Your BMI is calculated by your height and weight. The first step to determining your personal weight gain goal is to determine your BMI.
More About Pregnancy Weight Gain
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How much weight to gain and when
Unlike the equation used to calculate your BMI, the process of putting on pounds is not an exact science. Your rate of weight gain will depend on a variety of factors, such as your metabolism, your activity level and your genetics — just another reason why it’s important to keep up your doctor appointments throughout your pregnancy. That said, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) offers general weight gain guidelines based on various BMI ranges (see chart below), which vary by trimester:
- During your first trimester, your baby is still tiny, which means you don’t need to gain more than a total of three to four pounds. However, if you’re suffering from morning sickness, you might not gain an ounce (or might even lose a little). That’s OK, as long as your appetite picks up and you make up for those pounds in the second trimester.
- In your second trimester, your baby starts to grow in earnest. Your weight gain should pick up so that, if you started your pregnancy at a normal weight, you’d gain a total of about 14 pounds.
- In your third trimester, baby’s weight gain will pick up steam, but yours may start to taper off for a net gain of about 10 pounds. Some women find their weight holds steady or even drops a pound or two during the ninth month, when ever-tighter abdominal quarters can make finding room for food a struggle.
Gradual weight gain is as important as the number of pounds you gain, since your baby needs a steady supply of nutrients and calories to grow during his or her stay in the womb. The amount of weight you should gain each week in trimesters two and three differs depending on your BMI:
If you’re carrying twins (and eating for three), the weight gain recommendations for women of an average weight is 37 to 54 pounds. Overweight women should gain 31 to 50 pounds, and obese women should gain 25 to 42 pounds.
How closely will you be able to follow this formula? Realistically, not that closely. There will be weeks when your self-control will waver and it’ll be a rocky road (by the half gallon) to your weight gain total. And there will be weeks when eating will seem like too much of an effort. Try not to stress over the scale. As long as your overall gain is on target and your rate averages out to the above, you’re right on track.
Where’s the weight going?
Ever wonder how your pregnancy weight is distributed in your body? It may feel like it’s all in your belly, but that’s not actually the case. For a 30-pound weight gain, here’s the approximate breakdown:
- Baby: 7.5 pounds
- Placenta: 1.5 pounds
- Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds
- Uterine enlargement: 2 pounds
- Maternal breast tissue: 2 pounds
- Maternal blood volume: 4 pounds
- Fluids in maternal tissue: 4 pounds
- Maternal fat stores: 7 pounds
You need weight in all these areas in order to have a healthy baby and to get your body ready for motherhood (including preparing your body for nursing).
For the best weight gain results, keep an eye on the scale — what you don’t know can throw your weight way off-target. Try to weigh yourself:
- At the same time of day
- Wearing the same amount of clothes (or none at all)
- On the same scale
- Once a week (more often and you’ll drive yourself crazy with day-to-day fluid fluctuations; if you’re scale-phobic, try weighing yourself twice a month)
Waiting until your monthly prenatal checkup to check your weight is fine, too — though keep in mind that a lot can happen in a month (as in 10 pounds) or not happen (as in no pounds), which can make it harder for you to stay on track.
How many calories should you eat?
The key to healthy pregnancy weight gain is eating a well-balanced pregnancy diet. That means some not-so-fun news: The expression “eating for two” is a myth — or at least an exaggeration. (Sorry!) Instead of doubling your caloric intake, you likely won’t need any more calories in the first trimester. In the second trimester you should add about an additional 300 calories per day, and in the final trimester of your pregnancy you’ll need about 500 calories more per day than you were eating before you conceived. As a rule, instead of just eating more, focus on eating nutrient-rich foods that will give you energy, help keep morning sickness at bay and fuel all of the incredible fetal development going on inside of you, from fetal bone growth to cognitive development to the formation of your baby’s skin, eyes and digestive system.
Keep in mind, too, that if you have a fast metabolism are very physically active or are carrying multiples, you may gain weight more slowly and will need to eat more calories. And if you were overweight or obese before you got pregnant, you may not need as many calories. As always, it’s important to check with your practitioner to get a personalized recommendation on your caloric and weight gain goals.
Weight gain red flags
If you gain more than three pounds in any one week in the second trimester, or if you gain more than two pounds in any week in the third trimester — especially if it doesn’t seem to be related to overeating or excessive intake of sodium — check with your practitioner, as it could be a symptom of preeclampsia. Check, too, if you gain no weight for more than two weeks in a row during the fourth to eighth months.
Will all that weight ever come off?
Many women fear that they won’t be able to lose the weight they gain during pregnancy once baby is born, but there’s no need to stress about it. There are lots of healthy ways to lose weight after pregnancy — and many of them are also great ways to meet other new moms (like stroller walking groups or baby-and-me yoga classes). Many gyms offer childcare for babies as young as 3 months old, which is a great way for you to boost endorphins and get a break from your little one — both of which can help keep the baby blues at bay. On top of that, many women are shocked at how quickly they are able to lose the pounds by breastfeeding alone (women who breastfeed for even a few months tend to lose weight faster than those moms who don’t at all). Just remember, gaining the right amount of weight (and not too much) during pregnancy makes it a whole lot easier to shed the pounds once baby arrives.
Gaining too much weight during pregnancy is tied to an increased risk of complications for both mother and baby. However, some doctors are reluctant to recommend that pregnant women restrict their weight gain, in part due a lack of tools to help mothers do this safely.
But now, a new study finds that with the help of nutritional counseling and a smartphone app, pregnant women who are overweight or obese can safely restrict their weight gain in pregnancy.
In the study, women who were overweight or obese were assigned to follow a specific diet during pregnancy. The women received guidance from a nutritionist and used a smartphone app to log meals. At the end of the study period, these women had gained less weight than pregnant women in a control group who didn’t follow the diet. The women on the diet gained 4.5 lbs. (2 kilograms) less than the other women. What’s more, babies born to mothers in the diet group were not at increased risk of low birth rate or other problems.
It’s “very reassuring” that babies born to mothers who restricted their weight gain during pregnancy were not at increased risk for harm, said Dr. Saima Aftab, the medical director of the Fetal Care Center at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, who was not involved in the study. Aftab added that doctors currently don’t have specific tools to help pregnant women restrict weight gain, and so the type of program in the study “may be a solution in the future.”
However, Aftab stressed that larger studies are needed to examine whether this approach ultimately leads to heathier pregnancies and healthier babies, because the current study wasn’t designed to answer those questions.
The study, from researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, was published Sept. 24 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Extra weight in pregnancy
Women who are overweight or obese in pregnancy have a greater risk of pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes and pregnancy-related high blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic. What’s more, women who are overweight and obese are also more likely than women at a healthy weight to gain too much weight during pregnancy, which puts them at risk of having larger babies. That factor can lead to problems with delivery as well as low blood sugar levels in the newborn. Babies that are born larger than average may also be at higher risk for obesity in childhood, the Mayo Clinic says.
Because of these risks, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) recommends that overweight women gain 15 to 25 lbs. (7 to 11 kg) during pregnancy and obese women gain just 11 to 20 lbs. (5 to 9 kg). For comparison, women of healthy weight should gain 25 to 35 lbs. (11 to 16 kg) in pregnancy, the NAM says.
Still, nearly half of U.S. women gain too much weight in pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the new study, the researchers analyzed information from 281 women who were overweight or obese at the start of their pregnancies. The women were divided into two groups: an intervention group and a usual-care group.
The intervention group met with a nutritionist, who counseled the women on how to follow the DASH diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish and lean protein and low in salt, sugar and saturated fat. The goal of the diet was not to help the women lose weight but to restrict their weight gain in pregnancy to meet the NAM recommendations. Women in this group also used a smartphone app to record what they ate, and a nutritionist reviewed these logs to provide feedback. In addition, the women were given a pedometer and told to aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity, such as walking, per day.
Women in the usual-care group were given general advice on nutrition and physical activity in pregnancy but did not receive coaching or use the smartphone app.
At 35 weeks of pregnancy, women in the intervention group had gained 22 lbs. (10 kg), on average, compared with 26 lbs. (12 kg) in the usual-care group. In addition, about 31 percent of those in the intervention group stayed within the NAM recommendations for weight gain in pregnancy, compared with just 15 percent in the usual-care group.
Babies born to mothers in the two groups had similar birth weights, on average, and were not at increased risk of neonatal problems, the study said.
The current study looked at whether the intervention worked and was safe, but the research wasn’t designed to look at whether women who followed the diet were at lower risk of pregnancy complications or had healthier babies, Aftab told Live Science. That’s why larger studies are still needed before a program like this could be recommended by doctors.
In addition, unexpectedly, obese mothers in the intervention group were more likely to need cesarean sections than women in the usual-care group. This finding could have been due to chance, but it’s another reason to take caution regarding the results and to conduct further studies, Aftab said.
Childhood obesity risk
More studies are also needed to determine if the children born to mothers who restricted their weight gain in pregnancy have a lower risk of obesity themselves. The researchers said they plan to follow the children until they are at least 3 to 5 years old to help answer this question.
In addition, although women in the intervention group tended to eat a healthier diet than those in the usual-care group, women in the two groups had similar levels of physical activity. That’s because, even though women in the intervention group were encouraged to track their activity, they often did not and usually fell short of their exercise goals. The women reported time constraints, fatigue and work-life balance as barriers to meeting the physical activity goals, which shows that more efforts are needed to improve physical activity in this population, the researchers said.
Original article on Live Science.
Trying to stay healthy and fit during pregnancy? Today I’m sharing some of my secrets to prevent gaining excess weight during pregnancy so that you can stay in good shape for those 9 months and beyond!
When I first got pregnant, I received a lot of dietary recommendations and advice on what to expect during pregnancy. And I mean A LOT.
Some of the things I most commonly heard were, “Eat as much as you want…you’re eating for two!” or “pregnancy ruins your body…your body will never be the same again.”
It also seemed like EVERY woman I talked to felt the need to share with me exactly how much weight they gained during their pregnancy, and it usually ranged anywhere from 5-100lbs.
That’s a pretty wide range.
And let’s just be honest. The thought of gaining 100lbs doesn’t exactly make you want to jump for joy.
On a day to day basis, I’ve always worked really hard to eat right and exercise in order to stay fit and healthy, so these comments and stories honestly TERRIFIED me. As much as I wanted a baby and knew that there would be sacrifice involved in having a child, I also didn’t want to give up all the years of hard work that I had dedicated to staying in shape.
I also didn’t want to view my body in a negative light for the rest of my life post baby.
We all want to feel good about ourselves, right?
This was probably one of my biggest fears when I first found out I was pregnant.
At the start of my pregnancy, I really didn’t know what to expect or even how much I should change my eating habits. I had never done this pregnancy thing before! One thing I did know, however, was that I didn’t want to pack on a whole bunch of additional pounds that I would have to work super hard to lose post pregnancy.
In my mind, having a baby is overwhelming enough without having to work on losing a ton of weight too.
I made a commitment to myself to eat as healthy as possible throughout my pregnancy, not only for my own benefit, but also for the health of my baby. After all, there was a little person growing inside of me, so I wanted to ensure that I was providing all of the necessary nutrients.
By the end of my pregnancy, I had gained approximately 20lbs, which was primarily baby and fluids, and I was pleasantly surprised that I hadn’t gained very much additional body fat.
Now I’m certainly not saying this to brag, but more so as an encouragement to you, because I had always just assumed that gaining a bunch of body fat was a given when you’re pregnant because that’s what I had always read or been told. And I think a lot of women have this perception. But that totally doesn’t have to be the case!
If you take care of yourself, pay attention to what you’re eating and exercise on a regular basis, you definitely don’t have to give up your body when you have a baby.
There are some key strategies that you can implement to minimize gaining excess body fat during pregnancy and save yourself a TON time and effort trying to lose the baby weight.
Now before I share some of my strategies, please recognize that pregnancy is a very individual journey and of course everyone will experience a different rate of weight gain. Along with following these strategies below, I recommend working closely with your doctor to ensure that you’re gaining the right amount of weight for you and your baby.
Now, here are some of the strategies that I found worked for me!
1.Don’t Eat for Two
This is the most common misconception and one of the most frustrating things that I heard throughout my pregnancy.
You DON’T need to down tubs of ice cream and burgers and fries every day to feed the baby.
The baby doesn’t need that crap and neither do you. In reality, unless you’re severely underweight in the first trimester, you don’t need any extra calories to support the growth of the baby.
In the second trimester, you only need an extra 300 calories and in the third, an extra 450 calories.
That’s equivalent to an apple, handful of nuts, and a yogurt. It’s really not that much extra food.
Personally, I’m not a calorie counter, so I wasn’t calculating my calories every day. I just listened to my body and ate when I felt hungry and made the healthiest possible choices when the hunger struck.
So PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE ignore everyone who tells you to eat for two.
2.Pay Attention to Portions
One thing I’ve always been very conscious of are my portion sizes, and this didn’t change when I became pregnant. Although I was often told that you become ravenous during pregnancy and down everything in sight, I didn’t really find that to be the case.
That being said, I do know that some women experience a significant increase in appetite.
During the first trimester, I was quite nauseous so the thought of eating didn’t really appeal to me all that much because I had a hard time coming up with foods that I actually felt like eating. By the third trimester, the baby was taking up so much room, that I would get full really quickly.
If you do find that you’re super hungry, try throwing some extra vegetables on your plate. It will add some extra bulk and fibre and help you better control your portions to prevent overeating throughout the day.
Or another strategy is to use a smaller dessert-sized plate. The plate will appear a lot more full which will trick you into thinking that you’re eating more than you actually are!
3.Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals
I found that because I didn’t have a whole lot of room for food as the baby was growing, my best strategy was to eat smaller more frequent meals throughout the day.
This didn’t change much from my pre-pregnancy days because I’ve always been the type to eat a small meal or snack every 2-3 hours. I find that it helps to keep those hunger levels in check, energy levels up and prevents me from overeating at the next meal.
It’s also a good strategy for managing heart burn which is something that a lot of pregnant women struggle with.
I was very fortunate because I didn’t have to deal with heart burn and I think it was largely due to making healthier food choices, and eating smaller portions more frequently throughout the day. You might find that it works for you too!
4.Have some Fibre and Protein at Every Meal
This one is HUGE! The combination of fibre and protein helps to regulate your blood sugar and can also control hunger levels since fibre and protein both make you feel full for longer. As an added bonus, the fibre helps keep you regular.
Everyone knows that constipation is no fun. Especially when you’re pregnant. Believe me, there’s enough going on down there. So be sure to load up on that fibre, striving for 25-35 grams per day!
5.Make Sure you’re Getting Enough Calcium
When boosting my calories in the second and third trimester, one thing I paid attention to was making sure that I was getting some extra servings of calcium-rich foods since calcium requirements increase to 1200mg per day during pregnancy.
Now I don’t tolerate dairy very well since it tends to upset my stomach and make me breakout more, so I generally don’t include it much in my diet.
Instead, during pregnancy, I added a couple of servings of unsweetened almond milk at breakfast and snacks and also included other calcium-rich foods like almonds, broccoli, and salmon with bones to my diet.
It’s also very important to take a prenatal supplement throughout pregnancy to ensure that you’re getting those extra nutrients you might be skimping on in your diet like calcium, iron and folate.
6.Drink LOTS of Water
Another strategy I recommend to stay fit and healthy during pregnancy is to drink LOTS of water. You gotta chug that H2O!
Throughout my pregnancy, I usually drank anywhere from 12-14 cups of water per day and even more on days that I exercised. I carried around a 750 mL bottle with me throughout the day and kept refilling it, making a mental note of how much I was drinking.
Having a large bottle constantly full can make it really easy to calculate if you’re getting enough fluids.
Also, one strategy I use to make drinking water a little more refreshing is to mix the plain water with Perrier water or to infuse fruit, cucumbers or fresh herbs into the water, like this recipe for Sassy Water. It just makes the water taste SO much more refreshing.
I also drank about 2-3 cups of herbal tea (just make sure it’s pregnancy-safe) like my all time favourite decaf Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Green Tea. This stuff is seriously the best! Even though it’s technically a Christmas tea, I actually order a stash of it in bulk from Amazon so that I can drink it all year long. Who says you can’t drink candy cane tea in the summer?!
7.Keep a food journal
I know, I know. We hear this one all the time, but it works!
By writing down what you eat during the day, it helps keep you more accountable and if you are packing on the pounds a little faster than you’d like, you can always go back and review your food journal to see where you might be overdoing it and figure out what tweaks can be made.
At the end of the day, who wants to write down that they had a double whopper cheese burger, a handful of candy and a whole sleeve of cookies?? NO ONE.
Writing down what you eat can help keep you on track.
Overall, I felt like these strategies really helped me keep my weight gain in check, along with regular exercise. If you’re interested, you can check out some tips for staying fit during pregnancy here.
You’re going to hear a lot of stories during pregnancy and get a lot of unsolicited advice, but don’t think that just because your Great Aunt Maud packed on the pounds and suffered with major heart burn or constipation that that has to be your destiny too.
If you follow these strategies, it will help keep your weight in check so that you can spend more time enjoying your baby and less time worrying about how you’ll lose the extra baby weight.
What strategies worked for you when preventing excess weight gain during pregnancy?
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Your Guide to Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain
Pregnancy — the one time in your life when you feel it’s acceptable to put on pounds. But if you’re assuming that pregnancy gives you free reign to eat junk food, think again. And although occasional treats won’t hurt, eating for two doesn’t mean eating twice as much. The truth is, a healthy diet has never been more important.
“Women who gain too much weight during pregnancy are more prone to gestational diabetes, have a higher risk of delivery complications, and tend to have trouble losing weight after the birth,” says Kathleen M. Rasmussen, Sc.D., R.D., professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University and chair of the committee on the report Weight Gain During Pregnancy: Reexamining the Guidelines at the Institute of Medicine. Preventing these complications is as simple as avoiding excess weight gain.
If you followed a well-balanced diet before baby, you may not need to make any major changes. But the changes you should make will help to provide all the nutrients your child will need for healthy growth and development. Eating right will also give you all the ingredients you need for a healthy weight gain. Here’s how to make every calorie count and ensure your scale doesn’t tip too far in the wrong direction.
- RELATED: Pregnancy Weight Gain: What to Expect and Why It’s Not As Bad As You Think
How Much Weight You Should Gain
So what’s a reasonable rate for the scale to go up each week? Helain Landy, MD, professor and chair, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, and fellowship director, Division Director at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., says she recommends the common sense approach.
“For normal-weight patients, ideally they should gain 25-35 pounds, and for 40 weeks in a pregnancy, that’s usually a pound or a half pound per week.
- RELATED: How to Chart Your Pregnancy Weight Gain
How Much More You Should Eat
Now that you’re eating for two, you may need to eat a bit more — but not as much as you think. So how much is too much? That depends on your age and what you weighed before you became pregnant. If you began your pregnancy at a normal weight, you should expect to gain between 25 and 35 pounds. That may sound like a lot, but it translates into eating about 300 more calories a day. A healthy snack, such as a small bowl of cereal with milk and fruit, can easily do the trick. Women who follow this guideline should gain four to six pounds in the first trimester and about one pound a week during the second and third trimesters.
However, if you began your pregnancy under- or overweight, you have different weight gain goals. Underweight women need to gain more (28 to 40 pounds), while overweight moms-to-be may need to put on 15 to 25 pounds. Women who exceed their recommended weight gain may be more likely to have a difficult labor resulting in cesarean delivery. Women who don’t gain enough weight, however, may risk going into premature labor.
The bottom line? Putting on the proper number of pounds is the healthiest way to go.
- RELATED: How Your Pregnancy Weight Directly Affects Your Baby’s Size
The Best Foods to Eat
Eating the right amount of food from each of the five groups in the USDA Food Guide Pyramid will ensure that you and your baby get the nutrients you both need. But before you get too excited about the number of servings you’re allowed, pay attention to what constitutes a serving. For example, one pancake the size of a CD — not three giant ones smothered in butter and syrup — equals one serving of grains.
Whether you have three big meals a day or six small ones, it’s important to eat consistently. You may also be more comfortable eating smaller meals later in your pregnancy as your baby puts more pressure on your abdomen.
Here’s how your diet should divide up in a day:
Grains: 6 to 11 servings Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy. Try to work in as many whole grains as you can; they provide fiber and ease constipation, a common problem during pregnancy. One serving of grains is roughly one slice of bread or one cup of cooked rice, cereal, or pasta.
Fruits (2 to 4 servings) and Vegetables (3 to 5 servings): Packed with essential vitamins and nutrients, fruits and veggies have fiber as well. These foods enable you to use iron more efficiently and help your baby build tissue. A veggie serving can consist of one cup of raw leafy or cooked vegetables. One fruit serving can be one medium-size whole fruit, one cup of canned fruit, or one cup of fruit juice. Moms-to-be should strive to eat at least one daily serving of produce rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes.
Protein: 2 to 3 servings Protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, and beans are crucial for your baby’s tissue growth. Two to three ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish (about the size of a deck of cards) is considered one serving. One egg, two tablespoons of peanut butter, or 1/3 cup of nuts can also count as one ounce of meat. If you’re vegetarian, be sure to meet your protein needs by eating eggs; tofu and other soy products, such as soy burgers and soy milk; and dried beans, such as split peas.
Dairy: 3 to 4 servings Give your body the calcium it needs to help build baby’s bones and teeth with dairy. A serving is 1 cup of milk or yogurt, two one-inch cubes of natural cheese, or 2 ounces of processed cheese. Avoid unpasteurized soft cheeses such as Brie, feta, Camembert, and Roquefort, as they can be sources of listeriosis, a bacterial form of food poisoning that’s particularly dangerous in pregnancy. Women who can’t eat dairy should consult their doctor about taking a calcium supplement.
Fats: These should be approached the same way as when you weren’t pregnant — sparingly. We’re not talking about the healthy fats found in fish and olive oil. The kinds you need to be wary of occur in foods such as butter, meat, and full-fat dairy products. During pregnancy, fats should make up 30 percent of your daily calories. They give you energy and help your body use certain crucial vitamins.
- RELATED: A Food Safety Guide for Pregnant Women: What to Eat and What Not
How Much to Exercise
Don’t immediately drop your workout routine when you see the plus sign on that pregnancy test. Regular exercise is good for your overall health, and it will help you burn calories and store fat in the right places, such as in your butt; this fat will be easier to burn off after baby than fat around your middle, where loss-resistant adipose tissue is formed.
Celeste Durnwald, MD, assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, recommends 30 minutes of light exercise like walking or swimming three days a week for the physical health benefits. Unless you’re experiencing a complication like placenta previa or bleeding, you should be able to continue your pre-pregnancy exercise routine. If you weren’t active before you conceived, you can still start now. Stay motivated by making a walking date with another pregnant friend or your partner. Or, take the kids on a walk to go play at the park.
“Even if you can sustain exercise for at least 10 minutes, you’re getting a benefit,” says Dr. Durnwald. “You can still see some benefits from the natural release of insulin with exercise after 15 minutes.”
- RELATED: Is It Safe to Exercise During Pregnancy?
Meal-Plan Tips for Keeping Calories In Check
If you’ve gained the highest recommended weight already and you’re only at 28 weeks, you can still adjust your trajectory, says Dr. Durnwald.
“You can at least control the amount of weight gain at this point. I’ll tell patients, ‘Let’s only gain a pound a week, or a half a pound a week (for an obese woman)—that should be our focus now. We can’t do anything about the first five months, but we can still do something.’ It’s important to build the mom up because she might feel frustrated or defeated. If you feel negatively about yourself it can impact your eating, exercise habits, and our motivation with everything else.”
If your obstetrician suggests you tap the brakes on weight gain, don’t try a crash diet — your growing baby needs far too many nutrients for you to make drastic food cuts. Instead, tweak your meals so that pound-creep slows to a healthy pace. No need to deny yourself; these simple ways to cut at least 100 calories are 100 percent tasty.
- RELATED: A Week of Delicious Pregnancy Meals and Snacks
- Give your mug a makeover. Consider trading the milk or cream in your coffee for nonfat milk. Don’t want to forego the fatty stuff? Rethink your add-ins instead. Two pumps of vanilla syrup (the amount in a Starbucks tall) add 40 calories. Try flavoring your drink with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Cut Extra Calories Without Realizing It Sip your morning OJ from a tall, slender glass rather than a short, wide one, and you’ll down less, research shows.
- Slim your cereal bowl. Switch from 2 percent milk to skim and trade half of your cereal for a whole-grain kind that has about 70 calories per cup, such as Kashi 7 Whole Grain Puffs. Even better: Have three-quarters of a cup with high-fiber strawberries.
- Pour yourself a long, tall one. People down about 20 percent more juice when drinking from a short, wide glass rather than a tall, slender one, according to Cornell University research. Try that, and save more calories by mixing one part water or flavored seltzer with one part juice. Refreshing!
- Downsize your baked goods. Bakery muffins can weigh in at 400 calories (or more) each. Eat half, or try a VitaMuffin (at a sweet-tooth-satisfying 100 calories).
- Jazz up plain yogurt. Most presweetened varieties pack lots of sugar. Instead, buy nonfat plain yogurt and add your own fruit and a pinch of cinnamon.
- Change your spread. A dollop of full-fat mayonnaise on your turkey sandwich adds nearly 100 calories and 10 grams of fat. Go for mustard, which has loads of flavor and only a trace of calories.
- Liquefy. Soups, salads, yogurt, and cottage cheese have all earned a well-deserved rep from experts as smart bites. Foods that have a higher water content are more satisfying than those that don’t.
- Soup Smarter. If you choose a broth-based soup (such as chicken noodle or minestrone) over a creamy one like broccoli-cheddar or clam chowder, you’ll cut at least 100 calories and skip the heart-unhealthy saturated fat. What a souper selection!
- Have Fries with Friends. Can’t resist fast-food fries? Go right ahead! Ask for a small order and split it with a buddy. She’ll just think you’re nice–not looking to save 200 calories.
- Dump the Drizzle. Instead of stir-frying in oil (240 calories for two tablespoons), mist the pan (20 calories per two-second spritz). A Misto olive-oil sprayer (you add the oil) costs about $10.
- Do a Veggie Swap. Trade higher-calorie ingredients, including pasta, rice, and meat, for vegetables twice a day and you’ll trim calories. For instance, replace half the beef in your lasagna or fajitas with mushrooms. You’ll never miss the meat–promise.
- Phase out Fat. “Stir Greek-style yogurt into soup instead of adding sour cream for that rich taste,” says Stephanie Clarke, R.D., co-owner of C&J Nutrition. You can also use this type of yogurt in place of mayonnaise when your make chicken or egg salad or as a baked potato topper.
- Season Your Sides. If you top steamed broccoli with a tablespoon of butter, you add 100 calories. Flavor veggies with herbs, a sprinkle of sea salt, or some lemon juice.
- BYO Popcorn. Smuggle in a bag of the air-popped kind at the movies and you’ll save mucho calories and saturated fat. A typical small popcorn at a cinema, sans buttery topping, packs 370 calories; six cups of air-popped, around 180.
- Beware TV Brain. People who snack while they’re glued to the tube take in more calories than people who don’t. “Eating in front of the TV can give you food amnesia,” says Jarosh. “But when you’re mindful of what you’re eating, you’re more accountable for how much you’re putting into your mouth.”
- Say Hello to Sorbet. A small raspberry sorbet at Cold Stone Creamery has 160 calories; a small raspberry ice cream, 330.
- Party On! Just Do It Smart. “Rather than grazing at a buffet, put finger food on a small plate,” suggests Clarke. And be picky about hors d’oeuvres: Instead of, say, three pigs in a blanket, have three pieces of jumbo shrimp with a quarter-cup of cocktail sauce and save yourself 120 calories.
- By Richard H. Schwarz, M.D., Rachel Meltzer Warren, M.S., R.D., and Nicole Dorsey Straff
These pregnant celebs really took ‘eating for two’ to heart
Yesterday Kim Kardashian tweeted that she’s packed on 52 pounds since becoming pregnant with her second child — and she still has six weeks to go before giving birth.
Ok I’m 52 lbs up today….and I still have 6 weeks to go! I got my work cut out for me!!!! 💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) November 10, 2015
The reality star is due to deliver a son in December — her second child with rapper Kanye West.
“I’m gonna keep it real: For me, pregnancy is the worst experience of my life! I just always feel like I’m not in my own skin,” she wrote on her Web site, noting her favorite part is shedding the extra fat after giving birth.
Medical professionals say a woman should gain anywhere from 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy, but many boldfacers take the old “eating for two” adage to heart.
Here are other celebrities who didn’t take pregnancy lightly.
Blue Sage / Splash News
Weight gain: 57 pounds
When the singer was pregnant with daughter Blue Ivy, she admitted to tipping the scales at nearly 200 pounds. But after giving birth in January 2012, she wasted little time in getting her waist back. Cardio dance classes and ditching pasta helped her lose even more. And it prepared her to grace the April 2013 cover of Shape Magazine in a scuba-inspired bikini.
“I was 195 pounds when I gave birth,” Bey said in the mini-documentary, “Self Titled Part 4: Liberation.”
“I lost 65 pounds. I worked crazily to get my body back. I wanted to show my body. I wanted to show that you can have a child and you can work hard and you can get your body back.”
Leah Remini .Albert L. Ortega/WireImage
Weight gain: 80 pounds
Scientology isn’t the only thing the actress has dropped. After gaining 80 pounds while carrying her daughter Sofia in 2004, the “King of Queens” star expressed frustration with the public scrutiny of celebrity baby bodies. “No one wanted to talk about how I actually did lose the weight, just that I got fat,” she told People magazine.
She enlisted the help of a customized plan called 1st Personal Diet — and these days is looking slimmer than ever.
Weight gain: 55 pounds
The “Try” singer, known for her athletic frame, admitted to gaining 55 pounds when she was pregnant with daughter Willow in 2011.
“Hell yeah, I gained 55 pounds,” she told Cosmopolitan. “I think my baby may be part cheesecake.”
She soon ditched the rich desserts, however, and got her shredded shape back thanks to a vegan diet, yoga and lots of cardio.
Weight gain: 80 pounds
The former Playmate had the mother of all pregnancy bellies, ballooning by 80 pounds while carrying her son, Evan, in 2002.
She weighed in at 211 pounds — enough to qualify for the “Heavyweight” weight class in MMA fighting. “I thought it was a good idea that eating for two should start immediately,” she wrote on her blog for the Chicago Sun-Times.
She later slimmed down with the help of Weight Watchers.
Kendra Wilkinson.Daniel Robertson/startraksphoto.com
Weight gain: 60 pounds
Hugh Hefner’s former gal pal went from petite to plump with both of her pregnancies. She gained 60 pounds while carrying Hank IV in 2009 and 55 with her daughter Alijah in 2014. Through a strict workout routine, documented on her Instagram, she announced last January that she managed to bounce back to her pre-pregnancy weight.
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Doing some laps this morning with my boy before school starts. #healthyfamily #greatstartotheday
Jessica Simpson in LA in 2012.Norman Scott/startraksphoto.com
Weight gain: 70 pounds
The fashion mogul and singer has long been lampooned for her fluctuating weight. But in 2012, she gained 70 pounds during a seemingly endless pregnancy with her daughter Maxwell and caught even more slack from fans. After her son Ace was born a year later, the singer embarked on a serious mission to get svelte, slimming down via a workout regimen of cardio and strength training.
Kate Hudson and Chris Robinson at the Venice Film Festival in 2003.Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
Weight gain: 70 pounds
The sunny blond actress has long been known for her whippet-thin frame honed by punishing workouts. But when she was pregnant with both her son Ryder (born in 2004) and Bingham (born in 2011), she put on 70 pounds.
The fitness fanatic is now back in her skinny jeans — thanks to hard work and diet.
“If you want to be successful at anything you have to put the hours in,” she told Yahoo UK.