Maintaining Weight During Pregnancy

Deborah A. Klein's picture

QUESTION

Hi,
I'm 26 years old and almost six weeks pregnant with my first baby. I have always been very overweight, and have tried everything to lose the extra pounds. I have been very dedicated, especially when I knew I wanted to conceive, to losing weight but no matter how hard I try, absolutely nothing works.

I have even seen dietians and they just tell me to keep doing exactly what I already have been (eating healthy, avoiding sugar and fat, eating protein and fiber, light exercise) and nothing changes. Believe me, I don't cheat on my diets but I still never lose any weight.

Anyway, I know I can't really diet while pregnant and I am pretty resigned to not losing weight anyway, but I wanted to know, based on my age and current weight (240 pounds), how many calories should I be eating per day to make sure I don't gain any more weight (besides baby) during pregnancy? I just want a vague idea so I don't overeat or undereat. I am eating healthy now, fruits, vegetables, low sugar, high fiber type meals. I'm just not sure how much for pregnancy.

ANSWER

While you are pregnant, let's not focus on losing weight; let's focus on keeping your weight gain to the minimum healthy amount. A good goal is to gain 15 to 25 pounds maximum while pregnant if you are concerned about your body weight now. Also, not gaining too much is more healthful for you and your baby and essential for helping prevent gestational diabetes.

Aim to exercise daily, do exercises that are not straining on your stomach, such as walking, swimming, prenatal yoga, light dancing. To keep your muscle mass up, your metabolism up and to prepare you well for holding your baby, do some light weight lifting while seated. Use light free weights, 3 to 5 pounds each, lift 12 to 15 times for 3 sets, doing shoulders, biceps and triceps.

Eat small meals within an hour after waking and every three to four hours throughout the day. Go for high fiber and low fat protein foods at most eating times. Eat veggies and fruit twice per day. Stay clear from the fried foods and foods that leave shine on your fingers. Go for bean based soups and salads and grilled fish/chicken with high fiber starches/starchy vegetables (e.g., whole wheat pasta, yam, butternut squash, quinoa, green peas, brown rice) with lots of veggies.

Cheering you on!
Deborah Klein, MS, RD