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Energy and weight

Energy and weight

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You need extra energy:

Friday, November 24th, 2017

  • For the growth of the foetus and the placenta.
  • To add to your fat reserves.
  • To balance the energy used by a higher basal metabolic rate and the work you do carrying the baby.

You should increase your daily food intake by an additional 1 200 kilojoules.

Too little weight gain

Too little weight gain can lead to, or be the result of, complications. It may be associated with an increased risk of developing pregnancy hypertension or pre-eclampsia, and delivering a low birth weight baby. Pregnancy is not a time for starting a weight-loss diet, as it may lead to ketosis (burning of body fat). The by- product of ketosis can damage the foetus.

Too much weight gain

Too much weight gain increases the risk of complications during delivery. The overweight baby has a higher rate of complications soon after birth.

Increased weight distribution

Increased weight distribution

Weight gain over trimesters
Typically a mother gains 1- 2kg by the end of the first trimester, and thereafter about 0,5 kg each week. The recommended weight gain for a healthy woman during the 40 weeks of her pregnancy is approximately 12–14 kg.

Weight gain over trimesters

General guidelines

  • Foods should be carefully cooked. Grilling, steaming and stir-frying are preferable to roasting, frying and boiling. Try to cook lightly to preserve nutrient value.
  • Frequent small meals are better than large meals. They are easier to digest and you will feel less uncomfortable.
  • Eat a wide variety of foods.
  • Use normal amounts of iodised salt.
  • Drink at least eight glasses of water per day.
  • Take foods containing iron with foods containing vitamin C, as vitamin C helps absorb iron. Ideally, build up your iron supply before pregnancy.
  • It is useful to keep a record of what you eat over a 24–48 hour period.
  • If you are worried about your diet, consult your caregiver.

General gudelines


Fats, oils, sugarssparingly
Meat, poultry, fish, legumes2-3 servings
Milk, yoghurt, cheese2-3 servings
Vegetables Fruit3-5 servings
2-4 servings
Bread, cereal, rice, pasta4 or more servings

Nutrients you need

Food groups Main nutrientsAmount per
Servings per
day while
Servings per
day while
Cereals, grains  4 or more4 or more
Bread, whole
grain or
 Carbohydrate 1 slice  
Cooked cereal Thiamin 1/2 – 3/4 cup  
Pasta Iron 1/2 – 3/4 cup  
Rice Niacin 1/2 – 3/4 cup  
Dry cereal  30 g  
  4 or more4 or more
cooked or raw
 Vitamin A 1/2 cup  
 Fruits, fresh Vitamin C 1 med, 1/2
 1 vitamin C –
citrus juice
 1 vitamin C –
citrus juice
 Juices, fresh or
  1/2 cup  
 Potato Carbohydrate 1  
 Salad, green  bowl 1 deep-yellow/
dark green
 1 deep-yellow/
dark green
Dairy group  2–33-4
 Milk, low-fat Vitamin D 225 g (1 cup)  
 Yoghurt, plain Calcium 1 cup  
 Hard cheese Riboflavin 37 g  
 Protein 2 cups  
Meat, other
 Meat, lean Protein 60–90 g  
 Poultry Calcium 60–90 g  
 Fish Iron 60–90 g  
 Eggs Thiamin 2–3 per week  
 Dry beans and
 Riboflavin 1 – 11/2 cups  
 Nuts and seeds  1/2 – 3/4 cup  
 Peanut butter  4 tbs  
Fats and oil  Use sparinglyUse sparingly
 Butter or
 Fat 1–2 tbs  
Total kilojoules8 400–9 2409 240–10 500

Harmful substances



Avoid all harmful substances that may put you and your baby at risk, such as drugs, medication, alcohol, smoking and caffeine. You should be careful about taking any of these without consulting your caregiver.

  • Avoid diuretics.
  • Coffee, tea and bran reduce iron absorption.
  • Don’t take vitamin and mineral supplements on your own – ask your doctor as too many can lead to complications.

Click here for more information on hazards to your pregnancy.

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