Pregnancy no longer means stopping all exercise. Nowadays, with the okay of a doctor, women can keep exercising right up until they deliver. This is great, but also poses questions about eating. If you are pregnant and exercising, here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Without exercise, you need to add approximately 300 Kcal per day during the second trimester and 300-500 Kcal per day during the third trimester for proper growth of the baby. So, should you choose to keep exercising, be sure to increase intake too. Pregnancy is not a time to lose weight.
2. Consume adequate fluids to cover for the increased sweating and exertion that comes with exercise. Fluid needs are already increased during pregnancy, so you should increase intake above that. Use pee color and bowel regularity to assess how well you are hydrating.
3. Be sure to eat before you exercise. When pregnant, hunger comes on much more quickly. Major drops in blood sugar during exercise can be dangerous, so be sure to eat a snack before exercise - and preferably one with both carbohydrate and protein.
4. Eat regularly. Snacks are a good thing during pregnancy because of the increased metabolism. This is especially true of pregnant athletes, whose metabolism may remained elevated for several hours after exercise. Be sure to keep snacks close by for when hunger strikes.
4. Pregnant women have an increased need for calcium, iron, and folate. This is even more important if exercise is included due to the increased demand for recovery of muscles. Here are some good food sources of each:
Calcium - dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, calcium-fortified foods (such as tofu and orange juice), nuts and seeds
Iron - lean meat and poultry, fish, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole and enriched grains
Folate - legumes, fruits, vegetables, fortified grains (especially cereal)
Practice variety in eating to meet all nutrient needs with food as much as possible. If you are not gaining weight at the proper rate, it is time to either increase intake or decrease exercise. Finally, in addition to the above, make sure to take a prenatal vitamin.
Source: SCAN Nutrition Fact Sheet, Fueling the Pregnant Athlete