Pregnancy and Diet: The Macronutrients

What should I eat when I'm pregnant?

Calories

Why are pregnant women always so hungry? Energy requirements go up when you're eating for two! Your body requires an at least an additional 300cal/day during pregnancy (340cal/day during 2nd trimester and 452cal/day during 3rd trimester). 

Protein

It is estimated that about 925g of protein is accumulated during pregnancy. Protein is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks for your cells. It is very important for the growth of the fetus, specifically the brain, and also for breast and uterine growth. It is even more important to get enough protein during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, as this is when the fetus is growing the fastest. These increased demands must be met by the maternal diet. Pregnant women should be consuming 75-100g/day of protein (about 20% of your calories) or 2-3 servings. 

How much is 75-100g of protein?
Meat: 2-3 servings of meat (30 oz/serving)
Legumes: 2-3 servings of legumes (1/2 cup/serving)
Nuts: 1/3 cup of nuts will give you one serving of protein

Fat

Pregnant women should consume about 33% of their calories from healthy fats (about 40-60g/day). This energy from fat is used for fetal growth and development, specifically brain and vision. It also serves as a source of fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: DHA and EPA

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for development and growth. Since our bodies can't synthesize these fatty acids, we must get them through diet. EPA and DHA occur naturally together in foods. During pregnancy, DHA is extremely important for fetal nervous system development. Consuming adequate DHA and EPA during pregnancy is linked to higher intelligence, better vision, and a more mature CNS. Also, inadequate DHA during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk for maternal depression

How much DHA do you need?
DHA: minimum of 300mg/day
Sources: cold-water fish (salmon, sardines, tuna, anchovies, herring). With the concern of heavy metals in these sources, many people opt for fish oil supplementation from reliable source that is free of heavy metals. 

Carbohydrates

It's recommended that 45-65% of your calories should come from carbohydrates, a minimum of 175g/day. These sources should be coming from vegetables, fruits, and whole grains that are high in fiber.