Beyond Eating for Two? What You Really Need When You're Pregnant

Children and family
Women's health
pregnant belly

We often hear that when pregnant, one should eat for two, but what is the reality? Here's a brief overview of how to calculate the energy and protein needs of healthy pregnant women, along with some tips from a nutritionist to help you implement it in your daily routine.

How many calories should one consume per day during pregnancy?

A little reminder: insufficient or excessive pre-pregnancy weight is an indicator of a higher-risk pregnancy, as is insufficient or excessive weight gain during pregnancy.

  • First trimester: eat well, but not necessarily more
  • Second trimester: basic energy needs + 340 kcal
  • Third trimester: basic energy needs + 452 kcal

What are the protein requirements per day during pregnancy?

A little reminder: proteins are the basic building blocks of all your baby's cells.

  • First 20 weeks of pregnancy: 1.1 g of protein per kg of pre-pregnancy weight
  • Last 20 weeks of pregnancy: 1.1 g/kg of pre-pregnancy weight + an additional 25g of protein

For example, the daily calorie needs of a 30-year-old pregnant woman, measuring 1.65 m, with a normal pre-pregnancy weight of 50.4 to 68 kg, and who is lightly active, would be:

  • 1st trimester: 2000-2200 calories
  • 2nd trimester: 2340-2540 calories
  • 3rd trimester: 2452-2652 calories
  • 56g to 75g of protein per day in the early weeks, and 81g to 100g thereafter.

To give you an idea of the protein content in foods:

  • 100g cooked meat, poultry, or fish, or cooked seafood (about the size of a woman's palm) contains 25-30g of protein
  • 1 serving of dairy products (100g Greek yogurt, 250ml milk, or 50g cheese) contains 8g of protein
  • 150g firm tofu contains 14g of protein
  • 2 large eggs contain 14g of protein
  • ½ cup of legumes contains 7-9g of protein
  • 30ml of seeds and nuts contains 2-4g of protein
  • ½ cup of cooked quinoa contains 2g of protein

How to apply all of this simply?

  • Have a breakfast that is not too sugary. Pay attention to cereals and juices that quickly increase the amount of sugar consumed per day.
  • Eat 2 meals a day that include both carbohydrates, a protein source (meat and alternatives), and vegetables.
  • Have 2 to 3 snacks per day, such as fruits and/or dairy products and alternatives.
  • Eat a variety of foods and colors to vary essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Above all, listen to your body and your hunger; it's also about respecting your needs. Indeed, whether pregnant or not, there are days when we are more hungry than others.

In conclusion, taking care of your nutrition during pregnancy is essential to ensure your health and that of your baby. Calculate your energy and protein needs according to the different stages of your pregnancy and adjust your diet accordingly. Make sure to eat balanced meals including carbohydrates, proteins, and vegetables while avoiding overly sugary foods. Also, have nutritious snacks throughout the day and prioritize a variety of foods to obtain essential nutrients. Listen to your body, respect your hunger, and don't hesitate to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

By following these simple recommendations, you can be sure to provide your baby with the necessary nutrients for their growth and development while taking care of your own well-being. Remember that each pregnancy is unique, so it's important to consult your healthcare professional for specific advice tailored to your situation. Enjoy this extraordinary journey and savor each step of your pregnancy by adopting healthy eating habits.

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist