A balanced diet during pregnancy is important and it needs to include carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are a primary source of energy and, therefore, most doctors would advise women not to go on a low-carb diet during pregnancy. The body breaks the carbohydrates into simple sugars and glucose, which readily cross the placenta and provide energy to support the baby’s growth. Since your ideal diet should include a balance of proteins, carbohydrates, healthy fat, vitamins and minerals, it is critical that you choose the right source of these nutrients.
Choosing between simple and complex carbs
While carbohydrates are your main source of energy, not all are the same. Some carbohydrates are known as “simple carbohydrates” since the body can convert them into sugar very quickly. During your pregnancy, you need the healthier “complex carbohydrates”. These are included in, for example, whole grain breads and brown rice. You should also eat fresh fruits. While fresh fruits do contain sugars (simple carbohydrates) they are also an excellent source of fiber and other vital nutrients.
Most simple carbohydrates offer a quick burst of energy and, after a while, you will be craving for more. Healthcare providers advise pregnant women to consume whole grains, which are a source of complex carbohydrates. The body takes longer to absorb complex carbs, which helps balance the blood sugar levels. Examples of foods containing complex carbohydrates are oatmeal, legumes, and starchy veggies. All these foods also offer a significant amount of dietary fiber.
Try to avoid processed and refined foods that are low on nutrition and quickly spike blood sugar levels, such as white rice, candy, processed meat products, ready-made meals, chips, and white bread.
How many carbohydrates do you need per day?
A pregnant woman should eat approximately 9 to 11 servings of carbohydrates per day. However, keep an eye on the serving size, which may vary in different places. An ounce of cereal counts as one serving. Remember: the carbohydrates of your diet should come mostly from whole grains. If you are overweight or have a history of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) before getting pregnant, you should talk to your doctor or nutritionist before deciding on a diet.
Do not attempt any weight loss method that changes your carbohydrate intake during pregnancy. Pregnancy is a natural anabolic state when blood sugars levels are often higher than usual due to the many hormones that resist insulin, such as the Human Placental Lactogen (HPL). The body does this naturally to allow enough glucose transfer needed for the normal growth of the baby. Talk to your doctor to plan the right diet plan for you during your pregnancy!