How Overweight Is Too Overweight?

Alexandra Powell Allred's picture

QUESTION

Dear Fitness Expert,
How overweight is too overweight to be pregnant? Is it dangerous to the baby to be very obese? I'm 23 and at least 100 lbs. overweight and would like to become pregnant within the next 2 years. Any advice?

ANSWER

Hi. Great question and I am pleased you asked. Right away...you are thinking like a mother. Good for you.

Anyone who is more than 10 pounds overweight will feel the strain on their joints (which, believe me, is an issue in the latter half of your pregnancy) and obese women face more serious dangers such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. These medical conditions become even more serious when pregnant. For these reasons you need to talk to your OB/GYN right away and work with a nutritionist.

Now, having said that (and it is a MUST) plenty of overweight women have perfectly healthy pregnancies and babies. Your health is more important than what your scale says. I am so proud of you for thinking about all of this in advance.

You should begin a few things right now -- nothing radical so don't panic.

  1. Stop drinking sodas. By eliminating soda pops from your diet, you will lose between 20-26 pounds within a year. Even if you do nothing else, you will drop this weight. Because these drinks are so addictive, it may be a struggle. Studies show that soda pop drinkers are more addicted to sugars and tend to eat more sugary/fatty snacks throughout the day. A recent study had one group of people eat jelly beans (solid calories) and another consume an equal amount of calories through soda pop (liquid calories). The jelly bean group consumed less calories throughout the day whereas the liquid group did not feel satisfied and continued to snack. In addition, dropping this habit will encourage you to drink more water -- something that is very beneficial during pregnancy. Not only will you lose even more weight but will be more hydrated and less likely to feel morning sickness. Yeah!
  2. Focus more on raw veggies and grilled meats. Stay away from fried foods.
  3. Start a physical fitness program. But start slowly. One of the biggest mistakes I see is when a woman discovers she is pregnant and decides she better start working out. You want to be in shape before you get pregnant so that you can safely continue to workout during your pregnancy. And when I say "in shape" I want you to knock that image of a buff Demi Moore out of your head. You can be overweight and be in good physical shape. In truth, 100 pounds is too much and you want to work on losing some of that weight but there is no golden weight for mothers-to-be. We want to see healthy moms more than skinny moms!

If you have any more questions about how to start working out or what to do, please ask. Again, I am so proud of you for thinking of your baby and your health BEFORE you get pregnant. Way to go!

-- Alex