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Dieting during pregnancy: First trimester!

Kshitij roy
Kshitij roy
There is no denying the fact that pregnancy is going to be the most challenging work done by a woman’s body. Also, most conditions that occur in adulthood originates at foetal life. Therefore, extra care is a must when it comes to taking care of nutrition during this period. Proper nutrition can prevent conditions like too much weight gain, gestational diabetes or asthma, poor healing, Anemia, early birth of the baby, a low weight baby or the chances of a C section. YOU MUSTN'T FOCUS ON FAT LOSS DURING THIS PERIOD. But that does not mean that you go on binging on food that is low on nutritional value and high on calories.

So, in the context of nurturing a life, the following is a set of general ideas about nutrition that you can consider during pregnancy.  

First trimester:

Calories: For the first trimester, maintenance calories (calories required to maintain current weight) is good enough. On an average women’s BMR revolve around 1200-1400 kcals. So, the daily maintenance intake can be1.3 times the BMR. If we look at a ballpark figure, 1800 calories are good enough for an average-weight person (whose BMI lies between 18.5 to 24.5). You can also take an average of BMR and TEE (Total energy expenditure in a day) to decide the calorie intake for the day. 

Protein: Quantity and quality- both of them matter a lot here. Low protein intake might result in decreased birth weight, reduced heart weight or increased systolic blood pressure. 
Quantity – 20- 30 % of the total diet structure should consist of protein. (E.g. If you eat 1800 kcals in a day, then, 30% of 1800 kcals is 540 kcals. And 1 g of protein is 4 kcals. Therefore, 540 kcals divided by 4 equals 135g protein in a day). That’s one example to see you can calculate the intake of a particular macronutrient. ( 1g carbs- 4 kcals, and 1g fat- 9 kcals)

Or if you want to go more generic about this, at least 1.1g/kilo of the body-weight/ day should be consumed. E.g., If you weigh 70 kilos, you should eat 70-80g of protein in a day. 

Quality – You should know that animal protein is of higher quality as compared to vegetable sources of protein. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t consider veg protein sources. Just make sure, when you are consuming veg protein, mix different types of sources and INCREASE THE QUANTITY OF PROTEIN INTAKE. Look out for Vit B12, DHA, Zinc or Iron deficiency. Supplement it externally, if veg sources do not provide them.

Carbohydrate: An essential component of a healthy diet. 
Quantity: 40-50% of the total diet structure should consist of carb.
Quality: Include sources like whole-grain cereals, rice, oats, pasta, bread etc. Whole grain and fortified products have folic acid and iron.

Fat: Fatty acid composition matters a lot here (say Omega 3 group) DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) & EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid). Omega 3 fatty acids contribute a lot in developing the brain and are responsible for the functioning of the retina.
Quantity: 20-30% of the total diet structure. EPA- 250mg a day, DHA- 100/200 mg a day.

Quality: Consider polyunsaturated fats which are rich in omega 3. Also, for cooking purposes, vegetable/olive/sunflower oil can be considered. Including mixed nuts (almonds/walnut, etc.) is a good idea.

Fibre: It is good for the gut microbiome. In a mouse model, diet same in protein, fat, carb but differing in fibre led to the development of allergic airway syndrome ( AAD- a form of human asthma.
Quantity & Quality: Green leafy vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce, spinach, kale etc. are good sources of fibre. 200-300g of such veggies is fine.
Else, ‘Isabgol’ (psyllium husk) will also work ( 10-15g ).


Iron: Very important as it’s deficiency can risk cardiovascular health. Recommended dosage- 30 mg a day.

Iodine: Deficiency can lead to hyperthyroidism or prenatal mortality. Natural food sources could be fish, milk, eggs, fruits, vegetables. Recommended daily dosage- 100-150 mcg a day.

Folate: These are extremely important for preventing neural tube defect. Daily dose allowance increases by 50% during pregnancy. Recommended dosage varies between 400 to 800 mcg a day.

Calcium: It is crucial for bone metabolism, birth weight, preterm labour and appropriate blood pressure. Recommended daily dosage is 1-1.3 g a day. Sources are milk, milk products, cereals & vegetables. Additional supplementation can be used too.

Vit D: Deficiency is associated with preeclampsia, abnormal foetal growth, preterm birth or reproductive failure. Primary dietary sources are cod liver oil or fish. Additional supplementation is okay as well. Recommended daily dosage is 5 mcg a day or 200 IU a day.

Above mentioned data is the consideration for the first trimester. Will soon share the information for 2nd and 3rd trimester as well.