How Many Calories?
If you’re a calorie-counter, you’ll be surprised to know you only need 300 extra calories when pregnant. That’s the equivalent of an apple, a tablespoon of peanut butter and a cup of low-fat milk. It’s not a lot extra, which brings to the point that your calories need to be packed with nutrients to keep your baby healthy. Your total calories should be broken into 3 categories: 20% from proteins, 30% from healthy fats and 50% from carbohydrates.
Proteins are very important to your baby because they’re in charge of growing healthy tissue and cells. However, you don’t need to eat a whole steak or an entire bag of beans to get the 75-100 grams of protein you’ll need daily. Meat contains protein, but so do milk and other dairy products, tofu, eggs, nuts, seeds, tuna and other fish, beans and whole grain foods like oatmeal and whole grain breads.
Fats Are Good!
Healthy fats take shape in the form of nuts, seeds, oils and butter. Believe it or not, your brain is made up of 70% fat. Healthy fats promote brain cell growth and offer your body a store of energy to use to feed your baby. However, fat is fat, and over-doing it will provide you with calories you don’t need. By eating a handful of nuts, using olive oil on a salad or cooking with a little butter you can easily get the fats you need without over-indulging.
Carbohydrates make up 50% of your daily caloric needs, so you need to make your choices nutritious. Sure, cake is a carbohydrate, but so is whole grain bread, potatoes, fruit and vegetables. Carbohydrates are broken down into two groups: starch and sugar. Starches are complex carbohydrates that take some steps to break down. They keep you fuller longer and are better sources of nutrients. Sugar-based carbohydrates are simple and easy for the body to break down, which makes them less filling and easy to pack on as fat. Cake, white breads and other processed foods are full of simple sugars.
By filling up with nutritious calories from proteins, good fats and complex carbohydrates you’re well on your way to having a gorgeous, healthy baby!