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Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Weight LOSS During Pregnancy?

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The guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy are pretty straightforward:

Underweight (BMI less than 18.5) 28-40 pounds
Normal weight (BMI 18.5-24.9): 25-35 pounds
Overweight (BMI 25-29.9): 15-25 pounds
Obese (BMI over 30): no more than 15 pounds

A new study found that obese pregnant women who had gestational diabetes had better pregnancy outcomes if they exercised moderately and did not gain weight, or even lost a few pounds, during their pregnancy. This news is quite different than what we have heard in the past. We often hear that pregnancy is not a time to start an exercise program and that pregnant women should “take it easy.” Many women “eat for two” which promotes a significant weight gain above the recommended amounts listed above. The women in this study who exercised and did not gain weight had normal weight babies compared to other women who did not exercise, gained more weight, had larger babies, and also increased their odds of having a C-section.

The author of this study suggests that women who are obese pre-pregnancy can indeed exercise and can actually start exercising when becoming pregnant. He recommends 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 5-6 days per week at a moderate (comfortable) pace.

The long term benefits of not gaining too much weight, especially for someone who starts pregnancy already obese, include reduced risk of hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and other potential health risks to the baby. A healthy diet, along with the exercise, is key to preventing significant weight gain. Visit a Registered Dietitian to learn how to eat during pregnancy, especially if you have diabetes.

Bottom line
It is always best to lose weight and start exercising well before considering pregnancy. However, if you do find yourself pregnant, obese, and not a regular exerciser, talk to your doctor about starting an exercise program. Make sure that you visit your doctor regularly when pregnant so he or she can monitor your progress. The health of the mother and the health of the baby are obviously very important. Moderate exercise appears to be beneficial to both mom and baby, but always check with your physician before starting an exercise program.

To view the entire article in the Journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, click here.


Photo courtesy of istockphoto.com
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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