The best method for determining appropriate caloric intake when pregnant is to track the health of the baby and expected weight gain.
This is best done with the assistance of your doctor and/or ob-gyn.
The suggestions or calculations on this page are a guide only – you should always consult with a physician or nutritionist in matters affecting the health of your baby.
The goal here is to ensure appropriate weight gain during pregnancy.
How Many Calories?
The mean weight gain during the 9 months of pregnancy is 26 pounds (12 kilograms).
The total energy cost of pregnancy has been estimated at 77,000 Calories . Over 9 months this averages out to 285 Calories per day.
UK recommendations call for an extra increase of 200 Calories per day – in the 3rd trimester only. However – this does not account for underweight women, or those who continue their physical activity during pregnancy.
Changes in Energy Requirements
Research shows that energy needs are different for each trimester; An increase of 5%, 10% and 25% of pre-pregnancy Basal Metabolic Rate is the agreed figure .
Given these findings it is best to increase calorie intake at each trimester. Based on the estimate of 285 Calories per day overall – this would equate to:
- First Trimester – 85 Extra Calories
- Second Trimester – 285 Extra Calories
- Third Trimester – 475 Extra Calories
The calculator above will take into account your pre-Pregnancy Calorie needs (based on age, height, and activity levels) and then add on the extra calories required for growing a healthy baby.
Fat Gain is Good
It is important to note that fat gain during pregnancy is important as it provides a buffer of energy stores that will be used during lactation after the birth. Mothers who fail to adequately gain weight, are at risk of premature births, and underweight babies.
This is not an excuse for poor nutrition, as a mother’s eating behaviors do impact child weight. This is more marked where the mother has a higher intake of high-sugar foods (such as soft drinks etc).
If you are breastfeeding, please use our calorie calculator for breastfeeding moms.
- C. S. Williamson, Nutrition in Pregnancy, Nutrition Bulletin, Vol 31 Issue 1 Page 28-59 March 2006
- FAO/WHO/UNU ( 2004) Report of a Joint FAO/WHO/UNU Expert Consultation. Human Energy Requirements. FAO Food and Nutrition Technical Paper Series, No. 1, 2004.
- Prentice AM, Spaaij CJ, Goldberg GR et al. ( 1996) Energy requirements of pregnant and lactating women. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 50 ( Suppl. 1): 82– 110.
- Phelan, S., Hart, C., Phipps, M., Abrams, B., Schaffner, A., Adams, A., Wing, R. (2011). Maternal behaviors during pregnancy impact offspring obesity risk. Experimental diabetes research, 2011. Link
- Vause, T., Martz, P., Richard, F., Gramlich, L. (2006). Nutrition for healthy pregnancy outcomes. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 31(1), 12-20. Link
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