Even though people jokingly say that pregnant women are “eating for two”, I remember being surprised during my first pregnancy about just how many extra calories I would need each day. And at the same time, I found it difficult to satiate my intense hunger in a healthy way, so I was especially interested in getting some advice on the topic. That’s why I’ve asked Krista Limon, Registered Holistic Nutritionist at Early Roots Nutrition, to write a special post about the extra calories needed during pregnancy. In her practice, Krista follows a holistic, clean, and simple approach to mother’s and children’s health. Below, Krista provides realistic suggestions for how you can easily get your body the extra calories it needs during pregnancy – while still eating healthy and nourishing your body and your baby.
What's in this article?
The Extra Calories You Need During Pregnancy:
“Extra calories” can be a scary phrase for women, especially when we’ve been spending most of our lives trying to avoid them.
Some women are surprised to find that once you get pregnant you still need to pay attention to your caloric intake – but now you need to make sure you’re getting enough!
However, extra calories during pregnancy doesn’t mean extra ice cream, tacos and cheese on your pizza. Extra calories during pregnancy doesn’t give you permission to eat more junk, in fact it should be your motivation for eating less junk and more nourishing foods. You’re literally growing a human who needs all the nutrients it can get from you! And you need to make sure that there’s still nutrients left over for you. On top of all that, processed, refined and high-sugar foods wreak havoc on hormones (which you don’t need more of), fat metabolism, mood and hunger.
How Many Extra Calories Do You Need During Pregnancy?
Before you get pregnant you should be aiming for 1600 – 1800 of healthy calories a day. In your first trimester, you should be keeping it at the higher end, as close to 1800 as possible!
In the Second Trimester you need to add about 300 more calories a day to your diet, bringing it up to around 2,200.
In the Third and final Trimester you should be aiming for 2,400 calories per day.
If you’re growing multiple babies then you need to add another 300 per baby!
How to Fit in More Calories:
I know, that sounds like a lot! I remember having a hard time trying to fit enough calories into my diet every day, but I’m going to give you two tips that are going to help:
- Tip 1 – Eat 3 meals and 3 snacks a day. The snacks don’t have to be anything elaborate (unless you want them to be). They can be as easy as apples and banana dipped in peanut butter or vegetables with hummus. Hummus and peanut butter will help to add additional calories to your day.
- Tip 2 – Bowls! For breakfast, try making some oatmeal and throwing in as much as you can: nut butter, fruit, seeds, ground flaxseed, protein powder, nut milk, dark chocolate…the list is endless! You can make a very, very healthy but calorie-dense breakfast just by throwing in as much as possible. You can do the same thing with soups, chilis, roasted vegetables with sides, salads, etc.
When you’re already struggling to get in as many calories as possible, 300 more can sound like a lot!
Here are some examples of foods that are around 300 calories that you can add to your day:
- 1.5 avocados
- 3.5 Tbsp of peanut butter
- 7 Tbsp of Cashews (eaten throughout the day)
- 1.2 cup of brown rice
- 1 cup of chickpeas
- 1.5 cups of lentils
- 3 apples
- 3 bananas
How to keep track of your caloric intake:
My favorite way to keep track of daily calories is with a free app called Cronometer. I like it because I found it to be very accurate, and it has a fairly large inventory of food. It also keeps track of nutrients, which is very important during pregnancy!
Eating the right amount of healthy calories is not only important for the growth of your baby during pregnancy, but also for your energy levels, blood pressure and postpartum recovery.
Follow these guidelines, and you’ll be giving your child a great start!
Created by Krista Limon, Child Development Worker and Registered Holistic Nutritionist. Early Roots follows a holistic, clean and simple approach to mother’s and children’s health. I focus on giving your child the healthiest start to life possible – and your easiest and healthiest transition into motherhood. From fertility to pregnancy to your growing child – Early Roots Nutrition is a resource for you to be able to give you and your children the best care you all deserve!