If I were only passionate about fitness because of the way it made my body look, then I’d have to seriously reevaluate my motives. For me, getting pregnant and watching my body change has been a humbling and exciting (yes, exciting) experience. Right now I’m not worried about losing all my progress, gaining weight, or being imperfect. I’m worried about creating a healthy happy little human and if you’re pregnant, you should be too! One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is through your nutrition so let’s get started!
What is Reverse Dieting?
If you haven’t heard of reverse dieting, it’s pretty much the best thing ever… at least for nutrition nerds like me. Reverse Dieting is a period of time after a low calorie diet where you slowly work to increase your calories back to a maintenance level (or above). It helps you to recover your metabolisms and increase calorie intake with little body fat gain. However, you don’t HAVE to be pregnant or on a low calorie diet to begin a reverse diet. The slow and steady increase in calories will set up your metabolism for long term success. In the fitness community we often see women who restrict calories or eat clean, only to find themselves binging on junk food. When your body has been in “starvation mode” for so long, it is going to want to hold on to all of the calories it consumes during that junk food binge. That leads to fat gain. So instead, reverse dieting allows a slow steady increase and gives your metabolism enough time to adapt to the changes without gaining too much body fat. It will also decrease the urge to binge on junk food because you are supplying your body with the calories and nutrients it needs to thrive.
What Do You Need?
I like to start with calories. Caloric needs are going to be different for every person which is why cookie cutter diets don’t work! You can use this calculator to find what your daily calorie intake should be. Remember that calculators are just estimates and that this number should be a baseline or a starting point, not something written in stone.
Once a daily calorie intake has been established, I like to move on to macronutrients. Macronutrients are the the main nutrients you receive from the food you eat. They are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. You’ll keep protein constant, around 1.0 g/lb of body weight. Keep fat around 0.4 g /lb of body weight. You will then fill the rest of your calories up with carbs. Throughout your Reverse Diet, you will manipulate (increase) the amount of carbs and fats you consume on a daily basis.
Vitamins and Minerals
Moving down the nutrition pyramid, you’ll need additional vitamins during your pregnancy. First and foremost a prenatal vitamin. This will ensure you get enough folic acid, iron, and calcium. Most likely we don’t receive enough from our food alone. Taking a prenatal vitamin will help prevent any deficiencies in you and any birth defects in your baby. Remember, supplements do not replace a nutritious diet, they only fill in the gaps and prevent deficiencies.
Lots and lots of water! This will help your body absorb and transport those essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to the blood cells that we talked about earlier. Not to mention it will help prevent UTIs and constipation! You should aim to drink about 96 ounces (about ¾ a gallon) of water everyday during your pregnancy.
Weight Gain Expectations
Let me start by saying every pregnancy is different! Some women will need to gain more weight, some women may need to gain less weight. These are simply guidelines for what you can expect during each trimester.
Expect to gain about 3 to 5 pounds. If you gain nothing, that’s ok too!
Expect to gain 12 to 18 pounds, about 1 pound per week.
Expect to gain another 12 to 18 pounds, again about 1 pound per week.
Sample Pregnancy Nutrition Plan
No changes in calories
Slowly add in 300 calories
Keep protein intake the same. This will increase naturally as your calories and weight increase.
Increase carbs/fats by 0.2-0.5%
Gradually add in another 200 calories
Keep protein intake the same
Continue to increase carbs/fats by 0.2-0.5%
Food to Avoid
Raw meat, deli meat, fish high in mercury, raw shellfish, raw eggs, soft cheese, unpasteurized milk, unwashed vegetables, caffeine, and alcohol.
Getting pregnant doesn’t mark the end of your fitness journey. It marks the start of a new journey! If you would like help creating a personalized reverse diet, send me an email and we can get you started on the right path!
*Every pregnancy is unique and different. I just want yours to be a healthy and happy one! I am not a doctor and you should always consult your physician before participating in any kind of physical activity or nutrition program.