Pregnancy and Fad Diets: Is This Safe?

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Pregnancy and Fad Diets

If you are overweight prior to getting pregnant try to alter your eating habits and achieve an ideal body weight before getting pregnant. If you are surprised by your pregnancy and feel uncomfortable with the weight that you are carrying your pregnancy is not the time to focus on weight loss.

Fad diets like South Beach, Atkins, and Weight Watchers do not teach an individual how to eat right. They usually encourage very low calorie intake, improper balancing of meals, or use of heavily processed foods. All of these behaviors can be detrimental to you and the health of your baby.

Pregnant or not these types of diets will promote instant gratification due to the drastic dietary changes, but most likely you will gain the weight back. Most people gain even more weight than when they originally started their diet because this type of lifestyle can not be sustained forever. The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to create realistic goals for yourself and tackle them slowly to ensure long term success.

During your pregnancy you should be eating better than you ever did before. The myth of eating for two is a fallacy that causes women to gain a lot of unnecessary weight. Ideally, you should only increase your intake by 300 calories per day. This is equivalent to 1/2 a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with 8 oz. of skim milk.

Normal weight gain during pregnancy is about 25-35 lbs over the course of the 9 months if your pre-pregnancy weight is within normal ranges. For those who are overweight, 20-25 lbs would be appropriate. For those who are obese only 15 lbs should be gained. It is important to remember that the baby acts like a parasite and will get everything that it needs from the mother. Make sure to take in all the adequate nutrients to support the health of you and your baby. A pre-natal vitamin will be of great benefit to both of you and should be prescribed by your physician.

Gain the Appropriate Amount of Weight

It is very simple to manage your weight during your pregnancy to avoid all the excess pounds. Realistically, 1-2 lbs is expected to be gained in the first trimester. Then expect about 1 lb a week for the last two trimesters if you are expecting to gain about 30 lbs during your whole pregnancy. If you are overweight, realistically about 1/2 lb a week in the last two trimesters would be appropriate. The guidelines below will help you have a healthy and safe pregnancy.

  • Be conscious of your food choices
  • Eat a diet rich in fiber
    • Fiber is important during your pregnancy due to increased constipation from hormonal changes. It is also good to walk or do pre-natal yoga to keep your GI tract moving.
  • Consume lean proteins
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid the drive thru
  • Satisfy cravings with small portions
  • Eat small, well balanced meals every 3-4 hours

Fad diets during pregnancy are not the way to go. Follow these simple rules and you will be so glad that you did. Worry about losing the weight after the baby.


This information is based on my education and experience working at SHS Nutrition, LLC in New Jersey.