Why Do Pregnant Women Need Carbohydrates?

Why Do Pregnant Women Need Carbohydrates?
July 1, 2017 Sophie Wishart

How many carbs should you include in your diet for a healthy pregnancy? Read here to see what a pregnant woman should eat every day!

tips for adding carbohydrates to your healthy pregnancy dietCarbohydrates are an essential part of your healthy pregnancy diet, providing a primary source of critical nutrients for your growing baby.

Carbs are rapidly broken down into glucose to reach your body cells (hence the quick energy boost when you eat them) and pass easily through your placenta to your baby.

A sensible choice of carbohydrate sources can protect you from excessive weight gain in pregnancy and also help protect your baby from health problems later in life.

Simple carbs are most readily found in refined sugars such as those find in cakes, biscuits, fast foods, pizza and sweet cereals – they’ll give you a lot of calories and a quick energy spike but not a lot by way of pregnancy nutrition. Too many ‘empty’ calories will encourage you to pile on the pregnancy pounds and put your baby at risk of obesity too.

When you need a quick energy boost, simple carbs can also be found in healthier foods like milk or fruit, which contain the valuable minerals, prenatal vitamins and calcium required for your pregnancy nutrition.

Complex carbohydrates (these are good ones!) are the starches you’ll get from grain products such as bread, root vegetables, rice and pasta. Use wholegrain pasta and cereals, wholemeal bread and brown rice wherever possible – wholegrains are broken down more slowly, giving you a slower and more sustained release of energy, helping you to avoid spikes in your blood sugar levels. You’ll also get the benefit of additional nutrients and the extra fibre.

Around 45 – 65% of your daily calories should come from carbohydrate sources. Don’t be tempted to cut out carbs to manage your pregnancy weight, your baby needs the glucose, protein and healthy fats they provide, just go easy on pizza, doughnuts and white bread!

If you are suffering from gestational diabetes make sure you check your carbohydrate intake with your doctor or midwife.

Tips for adding healthy carbohydrates to your diet:

  • Start the day with old-fashioned porridge oats (try our power porridge)
  • Choose whole grain breads for lunch or snacks. Serve wholegrain bread with soups for lunch
  • Bananas are a good easy source of complex carbohydrates – use them in smoothies too
  • Beans and legumes such as chick peas provide plenty of protein as well as essential carbs
  • Opt for wholegrain pasta, cereal and brown rice
  • Ring the changes by swapping potatoes for root vegetables, yams or lentils
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