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Nutrition and pregnancy: energy, proteins and fats

  1. When you are pregnant you eat for two. That's what a lot of people think. But if you do this, chances are that not only your baby will grow, but you will too! Eating for two is a bit too much, but dietary changes during pregnancy are highly recommended.


  1. Energy is contained in all foods and is the fuel we live on. During pregnancy, the energy requirement is increased by about 15%. However, this increase in energy requirement differs in the different stages of pregnancy. In the first trimester of pregnancy, the energy requirement is the same as for pregnancy. In the second trimester, the energy requirement increased by approximately 340 to 360 kcal. This equals three sandwiches. In the last trimester, the energy requirement is increased by another 110 kcal. Yet it is not true that you should always eat more when you are pregnant. Many pregnant women are less physically active when they gain weight, so they use less energy to exercise. The total energy requirement will therefore not be much greater than before the pregnancy.


  1. Much of human tissue is made of protein. Your skin, your organs and your muscles are all made of protein. So it makes sense that you need more protein when you are pregnant to make your baby's tissue. Proteins are mainly in animal products, such as meat, fish, cheese, milk and eggs. Vegetable products also contain a small amount of protein. Just like the energy requirement, the protein requirement increases as the pregnancy progresses. A non-pregnant woman needs about 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight per day. In a pregnant woman this is about 1.1 grams of protein per kg of body weight per day. If you weighed 60 kg before your pregnancy, you therefore needed 48 grams of protein. During your pregnancy, you may weigh 65 kg, which means that you need 71.5 grams of protein. So you need 23.5 grams more protein. This equates to 2 cups of milk and an extra slice of meat products. However, you have to consider how much protein you normally eat. Many Dutch people already use more protein than they need. 100 grams of meat contains approx. 25 grams of protein, 1 cup of milk approx. 8 grams and 1 slice of cheese approx. 6 grams. If you are used to eating a large piece of meat, you do not have to eat more protein during your pregnancy! If you eat very little protein, remember that these are the building blocks for your baby to grow. It is therefore very important to use enough protein.


  1. Carbohydrates are the main energy suppliers of our body. Without enough carbohydrates it is difficult to meet our energy needs. Carbohydrates are broken down in our body into glucose (sugar) which provides the energy. Carbohydrates are mainly in bread, rice, potatoes and pasta. Fiber is also carbohydrates. Fiber cannot be broken down in our body, so it ensures a good bowel movement. Pregnant women can suffer from constipation, making it important to use extra fiber. Fiber-rich products are brown bread, vegetables and (dried) fruit. These products also contain many vitamins and minerals that are important during pregnancy. It is recommended for pregnant women to consume 28 grams of fiber per day. If you eat brown bread and enough fruit and vegetables, you can easily get this recommendation.


  1. There are no indications that it is necessary to use more fats during pregnancy. However, it is recommended that you consume enough omega fatty acids. These fatty acids are mainly in fish. This recommendation is achieved by eating fish 2-3 times a week, of which at least once oily fish. If this fails, there is also low-fat margarine with added omega-3 fatty acids to meet the need.

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