How Many Extra Calories Should You Be Eating When Pregnant? Find Out If Your Pre-Pregnancy Weight Matters, As Well As Nutrtional Requirements Throughout Each Trimester.

How many extra calories do you need when pregnant to maintain a healthy weight? Depending on if you are underweight, overweight or normal weight, the recommendations during pregnancy vary. In general, if you are “eating for two” this could mean trouble for you and your bun in the oven. Before you order the extra helping of desert, pick up these basics on how many extra calories per day are okay for a healthy pregnancy.
Michelle Bruns Maffei

The amount of weight you should gain during your pregnancy should be discussed with your OB/GYN, based on your individual health. But, if you’re looking for the recommended weight gain during pregnancy, the following guidelines (based on pre-pregnancy weight) are generally accepted:

  • Underweight: 28 to 40 pounds
  • Normal weight: 25 to 35 pounds
  • Overweight: 15 to 25 pounds
  • Obese: 11 to 20 pounds

Gain too much weight, and you increase your risk for gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Gain too little weight and your baby may be born too small or too early. “The general rule of thumb: proper pregnancy weight gain is based on the weight you start off with,” advises Baltimore OB/GYN Dr. Saul Weinreb, MD, Senior Medical Advisor of and expert for “A pregnant woman who starts off with less weight should gain more, and someone weighing more should gain less.”

For the health of your pea in the pod, the key is to pack in the right kind of calories, in the right quantities, when it will count the most.

First trimester
Dr. Weinreb advises his patients to expect to only gain a few pounds during the first three months. “During the first trimester, you should gain a negligible amount of weight, about 5-10% of your total weight gain for the entire pregnancy. Some even lose weight because of vomiting and nausea.” Experts recommend an average of an additional 150-200 calories per day during this time when baby’s on board.

Second and third trimesters
You can rack up 300 extra calories per day, if you’re under or average weight, during the last two thirds of your pregnancy. “The second trimester is when weight gain really begins, totaling about 30% of overall weight gain,” says Dr. Weinreb. “During the third trimester, a total of 50%+ of weight gain should occur.”

Adding up the numbers
Try not to get caught up in the weight you’re adding to your stature. Remember that it’s not all fat you are gaining; the extra calories are helping fuel the baby factory you’re running inside your belly. Before you climb on the scale, it may help to understand where the extra calories are going:

  • Baby: 7 to 8 pounds
  • Larger breasts: 1 to 3 pounds
  • Larger uterus: 2 pounds
  • Placenta: 1/3 of the weight of your baby, give or take
  • Amniotic fluid and increased blood volume: 10 to 20 pounds depending on the person
  • Fat stores: 6 to 8 pounds

You may be concerned with shedding weight once your bundle of joy makes her grand entrance into the world, but dieting during pregnancy is a no no. “You may not be able to do anything about fluid retention, but fat storage can be controlled by healthy eating habits,” notes Dr. Weinreb.

Instead, fill your growing belly with healthy choices, adding the recommended extra calories to your day with good-for-you food. And, it’s okay to reach for a sweet treat once in a while…you’ve earned it!

For more tips on eating right during pregnancy:

Tags: calories expecting nutrtion obese underweight

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