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How to diet when you’re pregnant

When you become pregnant, you and your entire world changes. So what does that mean for what you eat? It’s incredibly healthy and normal to put weight on during pregnancy, for your body to change (sometimes drastically) and for your eating patterns and habits to change. Let’s look at some things to think about during and after pregnancy around your diet and what you eat:

Disclaimer: The following is not medical advice - every person is individual in their requirements and you should consult your health care professional on the below content.

Looking after yourself is extremely important during pregnancy - so what about eating and exercising?
Looking after yourself is extremely important during pregnancy - so what about eating and exercising?

What is a diet?

Put simply, a diet is just what we eat and drink. However it’s more commonly used to refer to a change in what we eat. For example, ‘I’m going on a diet’ or ‘have you tried the new diet yet?’. Dieting in that context is not recommended[1] by the Victorian Government as it “can seriously compromise your health and that of your baby”. However, they do recommend healthy eating.

Healthy Eating

Eating healthy isn’t just fruit and vegetables, it can include snacks like chocolate too. Healthy eating is all about getting the nutrients your body needs - not too much, and not too little either. It’s the philosophy our meal plans are built on. We refer to it as ‘a lifestyle, not a diet’ because at the end of the day, you’re just eating normal, quality food, in quantities your body can handle.

Want to change your lifestyle?

The UCLA suggests up to two-thirds of people who diet regain MORE weight within five years. Change your lifestyle, not just go on a diet.

Humans are all individuals and what we need varies from one person to another. However, catering for variances like age, weight, sex and how active you are, we can start to calculate what your body could need to either maintain or lose weight.

How much should I eat when I’m pregnant?

Your regular health practitioner will know you and your body the best, so give them a call or book in an appointment to chat. The Australian Dietary Guidelines provides current advice which includes the kinds of foods women should be eating during pregnancy[2].

Assuming you’re over 19 years of age, your vegetable, dairy and fruit intake should stay relatively the same, while your grain and meat intake should increase by roughly 40%.

They suggest specifically to choose foods which are high in iron, focus on reduced fat milk and hard cheeses, and enjoy a variety of fruit and veggies to ensure you get enough fibre.

Don't treat eating like a chore - eat with friends and family and celebrate the little things in life.
Don’t treat eating like a chore - eat with friends and family and celebrate the little things in life.

How many macronutrients (macros) do I need when I’m pregnant?

Ted Kallmyer, an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition, claims pregnant women need an extra 200 to 300 calories a day, on top of their normal intake[8]. He also refers to sources saying breastfeeding mums should add an extra 400 to 500 calories a day. Let’s take a look at an example:

A 30 year old woman, who is moderately active, weighs 80kg and is 170cm tall should eat roughly 2400 calories a day, according to our Noshh calorie calculator we use for our meal plans:

Carbs: 240g
Protein: 240g
Fat: 53g

However, if that 30 year old is pregnant, adding an extra three hundred calories a day increases her intake to:

Carbs: 270g
Protein: 270g
Fat: 60g

Confused about how many macros to eat?

Calculating how many macros your body needs to either lose fat or maintain your weight can be tricky. Noshh does that all for you, automatically. Calculate your macros today!

What shouldn’t I eat?

There’s two groups of foods you shouldn’t eat when you’re pregnant - those you don’t want to, and those you can’t! It’s not uncommon for pregnant women to have an aversion to food they normally eat or even enjoy. The opposite is also true - sometimes pregnancy drives cravings for foods to-be mums have never enjoyed!

Don’t eat foods that will make you sick or put you off eating your regular meals. For example, some pregnant women can’t stand red meat, and if they smell or see a steak cooking sometimes they don’t want to eat for a few hours, or longer! Try and avoid situations like that, where it leads to your eating habits getting interrupted.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines[2] recommends avoiding certain foods which may be harmful during pregnancy.

Foods which contain listeria

Avoid soft cheeses like Brie, Camembert, Ricotta and Feta, though hard cheeses are okay to eat. Meats that you get in the deli, often referred to as ‘sandwich meats’, like sliced ham and salami could also contain listeria. Try and make your own salads (washed of course) instead of eating pre-packaged and pre-made salads.

Avoiding soft cheese and alcohol can help keep you and your baby safe... it's hard though!
Avoiding soft cheese and alcohol can help keep you and your baby safe… it’s hard though!

Raw eggs

Often one of the easier things to avoid - raw eggs! They can sometimes contain salmonella (like uncooked chicken). So it’s best to avoid raw eggs… probably like you normally do!

Alcohol

Even though it’s not a food and a lot of people don’t consider it a part of their intake, alcohol can be a core part of a womans diet - and her social life! It’s often suggested[2] not to drink any alcohol at all while you’re pregnant, as it’s the safest option. Replace wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages with sparkling water to stay hydrated!

It’s important to speak to your doctor about what you can and can’t eat - soft cheese, raw eggs and alcohol certainly aren’t the only things that you should avoid.

Losing weight while you’re pregnant

It’s obvious that you’re growing a (albeit) small human, so you’re going to look like you’ve put on weight, right? What if you were just starting, or in the middle of you fat-loss journey and then you fell pregnant, do you have to stop? There’s scientific arguments both for and against losing weight while you’re pregnant.

In a 2007 study[3] doctors suggest it’s safe for obese mums to lose weight during pregnancy. In 2003, a study found 8% of American women tried to lose weight while they were pregnant, and over 30% tried to maintain their pre-pregnancy weight[4]. However, it’s important to understand that, it’s outlined in the ACOG guidelines that women across all shapes and sizes are encouraged to gain at least some weight during pregnancy.

That doesn’t mean you can’t change your physique, especially during the early months of pregnancy. A 2007 study[5] showed that exercising had both a positive physical and mental effect, highlighting that it made the to-be-mums feel happier.

Hiking and getting outdoors is a great way to maintain your fitness while you're pregnant - fresh air and beautiful views does a world of good, too!
Hiking and getting outdoors is a great way to maintain your fitness while you’re pregnant - fresh air and beautiful views does a world of good, too!

Going to the gym while pregnant

Everyone knows they feel better and happier exercising, but is it still okay to be going to the gym, or doing intense workouts when you’re pregnant? YES! Tammy Potter from Fitness First[6] recommends working out in every stage of your pregnancy after finding what’s right for you and your body.

Eating is just as important as exercise

As the saying goes, you lose weight in the kitchen and gain muscle at the gym. Find out how we can help you with our meal plans.

The Victorian Government recommends[7] you run yourself through the pre-screening exercise tool to give you an indication on your bodies ability to cope and maintain an exercise routine. After you get the go ahead, they suggest:

There you have it! It can be safe to exercise and see some physical changes while you’re pregnant. Ensure you eat enough of the right foods, and that your intake while you’re pregnant is up by around 300 calories.


  1. Pregnancy and diet - Better Health Channel. (n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2020, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/pregnancy-and-diet
  2. Healthy eating during your pregnancy. (n.d.). Retrieved April 30, 2020, from www.eatforhealth.gov.au.
  3. Saint Louis University. “It’s Safe For Obese Moms-to-be To Lose Weight During Pregnancy, New Research Finds.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 June 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070605185550.htm>.
  4. Bish, C. L., Chu, S. Y., Shapiro-Mendoza, C. K., Sharma, A. J., & Blanck, H. M. (2009). Trying to lose or maintain weight during pregnancy - United States, 2003. Maternal and Child Health Journal. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995–008–0349-x
  5. Polman, R., Kaiseler, M., & Borkoles, E. (2007). Effect of a single bout of exercise on the mood of pregnant women. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness.
  6. Potter, T. (2020, February 6). A Pregnant Woman’s Guide To The Gym. Fitness First. https://www.fitnessfirst.com.au/getthere/wellness/pregnancy/a-pregnant-womans-guide-to-the-gym
  7. Pregnancy and exercise - Better Health Channel. (2017, April). Better Health Channel. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/pregnancy-and-exercise
  8. Kallmyer, T. (2020, April 22). TDEE and Macro Calculations for Pregnant or BreastFeeding Women. HealthyEater. https://healthyeater.com/pregnancy-breastfeeding-flexible-dieting-iifym
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