How to stop gaining too much weight during pregnancy? (7+ ways)
In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “How to stop gaining too much weight during pregnancy?”. We will elaborate on different ways to help you stop gaining too much weight during pregnancy.
How to stop gaining too much weight during pregnancy?
Excess body fat and physical inactivity have been associated with the development of hypertension, dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, osteoarthritis, respiratory and sleep problems, certain cancers including cancer of the breast, and all-cause mortality (1).
If you realize you have gained too much weight during pregnancy, do not worry, here we have discussed different ways to help you control your weight.
- Consult your doctor
- Cut empty calories
- Have enough nutrients
- Eat smartly
- Focus on smart fats
- Do physical exercise
- Keep in check late-night snacks
- Avoid juices and smoothies
Consult your doctor
Your doctor can guide you well on what and what not to eat. He may also advise you to carry on with a nutritionist to help you maintain a healthy diet throughout your pregnancy.
Weight gaining during pregnancy is a multifactorial condition and may be related to genetic, cultural and behavioral characteristics. Obese and overweight pregnant women might therefore benefit from regular visits to a dietician who is familiar with the dietary and physical activity recommendations for obese pregnant women (2). It is not recommended to diet without medical advice. Studies suggest that repeated cycles of dieting and overeating may distort one’s ability to perceive internal hunger and satiety clues and lead to overweight and obesity (1).
The baby needs a constant source of nutrients, particularly in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, so skipping meals for the purpose of losing weight is never a good idea when you are pregnant.
Furthermore, do not take drinks or any pills to suppress the appetite, they can be very harmful during pregnancy.
Cut extra calories
Eat sufficient amounts of the right sources of calories to help your baby develop. The purpose is not to lose weight but to delay the rate of weight gain. Effortless, healthy, calorie-reducing approaches can create a big impact.
Studies show that weight loss among overweight pregnant women could be achieved by a restricted energy intake between 1800 and 2000 kcal with an intake of carbohydrates between 150 and 180 g day-1 and higher consumption of vegetables and fruit, beef and dairy products, avoiding extra fat and increasing dietary fiber intake. Caffeine and alcohol must be avoided (2).
Make wise substitutions:
- Grilled white chicken without skin rather than fried dark chicken with skin.
- 1-2 percent milk rather than whole milk
- Baked potatoes or yams in place of French fries
- Fresh fruit in place of dried fruit
Have enough nutrients
Eat the right portions of good, nutrient-rich foods. Look for portion sizes, a serving of any provided food may be way too less than you assume. Studies show that in modern society there is particularly an inadequate intake of vitamin D, iron, zinc, calcium and folate and an excessive intake of fat, vitamin A and sodium (2).
Protein deficiency in pregnancy results in decreased birth weight, decreased heart weight, increased heart rate and increased systolic blood pressure. In general, animal protein is of higher quality than vegetable protein, suggesting that meat should be the main source of protein in pregnancy, but mixing different types of vegetables increases the quality of plant protein substantially (3).
Choose foods that make you feel full for longer but have actually low amounts of calories. The best options include:
- Fruits having high water content e.g., melon
- Fresh vegetables e.g., leafy greens
- Meat and fish
- Water (instead of soda or juice)
Focus on smart fats
Almost about 25-35 per cent of the daily calories should be from healthy fats to satisfy your hunger and help the baby develop. That being said, not all fats are the same.
Eat plant-derived monounsaturated fats (such as nut butter, avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, canola, peanut, and sesame oil) and polyunsaturated fats (such as walnuts, trout, salmon, flaxseed, tofu, soybeans, canola and sunflower oil).
Polyunsaturated fats are rich in omega-3’s, which support the development of the baby’s heart, immunity, brain and eyes. In many studies, maternal serum Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA or omega-3) concentration has been associated with neuronal development and plasticity, receptor-mediated signaling, membrane fluidity and the formation of second messengers. Vegetarian nutrition must be supplemented with DHA (3).
Do not take more than 6 percent saturated fats (like low-fat beef and high-fat dairies including butter and hard cheeses) per day.
Avoid consuming trans fats (cookies, packed baked products, frozen pizza, crackers and fried products), as they are not really healthy for you and also for the baby.
Do physical exercise
If your doctor allows, do routine exercise to keep yourself and the baby healthy. It is recommended to indulge yourself in a 30 mins session of physical exercise every day. You can also join a yoga class just as you like.
Activities with a high risk of falling or abdominal trauma should be avoided during pregnancy, as well as physical activities at high altitude. Because of the benefits, overweight or obese women should be motivated to exercise, starting with light activities such as walking and slowly building up the duration. Three times 10 min a day is suggested to be as effective as 30 min at once. Regular exercise, vigorous as well as light-to-moderate physical activity may reduce the risk for pre-eclampsia, abnormal glucose tolerance and gestational diabetes (2).
Keep in check late-night snacks
Stay away from fulfilling your midnight cravings since it can be the main cause for weight gain. Rather, try to eat more healthy small snacks during the day. If you desire to snack afterwards in the night, keep it healthy and minimal.
Avoid juices and smoothies
Carbohydrates are an essential component of a healthy diet. However, increased caloric intake associated with increased fat and carbohydrate consumption with adequate protein has been associated with neonatal adiposity, which is obviously unfavorable. Smoothies and juices with added sugar are unnecessary carbohydrate sources (3).
It should be made clear that juices and smoothies are not something nutritious to have, but they are often loaded with sugar and calories.
Restrict consuming juices and smoothies during pregnancy and make sure to read descriptions in ready-made drinks first so that you know about the ingredients.
The side effects of gaining too much weight during pregnancy
Gaining too much weight during pregnancy poses the mother and the baby at risk
For instance, it can increase the risk of delivering a large baby. If the baby is 5 kilograms or more, the mother may be more prone to experience (3):
- Prolonged labor and delivery
- An injury to the mother or baby while giving birth
- An inadequate supply of oxygen for the baby during labor.
Furthermore, a baby who is 5 kilograms or more may become overweight later in life, leading to an increased chance of type-2 diabetes.
There is a linear trend between maternal prepregnancy BMI and risk for both elective and unplanned cesarean section. Performing a caesarean delivery on obese women is technically more difficult as it results in an increased risk for anaesthetical complications and operative complications such as excessive bleeding and post-partum infections (2).
Gaining excessive weight during pregnancy can also make it difficult to lose that weight afterwards.
In case the mother is obese, she will be at higher risks for:
- Increased blood pressure
- Gestational diabetes
- Heart defects or neural tube defects in the baby
The right amount of calories
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) guidelines suggests that underweight women (BMI 19.8) were advised to gain 12.5 to 18 kg and normal weight women (BMI 19.8–25.9) 11.5 to 16.0 kg, whereas overweight women (BMI 26–29) were advised to gain between 7 and 11 kg and obese women (BMI 30) to gain approximately 7 kg with no upper limit proposed (1).
For most pregnant women, the right amount of calories in each trimester is:
- 1800 calories in a single day in the first trimester
- 2200 calories in a single day in the second trimester
- 2400 calories in a single day in the third trimester
In this brief guide, we have provided an answer to the question, “How to stop gaining too much weight during pregnancy?”. We have elaborated on different ways to help you stop gaining too much weight during pregnancy.
- Siega-Riz, Anna Maria, Kelly R. Evenson, and Nancy Dole. Pregnancy-related weight gain—a link to obesity? Nutr rev, 2004, 62, S105-S111.
- Guelinckx, Isabelle, et al. Maternal obesity: pregnancy complications, gestational weight gain and nutrition. Obes rev, 2008, 9, 140-150.
- Danielewicz, H., Myszczyszyn, G., Dębińska, A. et al. Diet in pregnancy—more than food. Eur J Pediatr, 2017, 176, 1573–1579.