I am often asked …
How many calories should I eat during pregnancy?
How many calories should I eat to lose baby weight ?
Did you know… CALORIE counts are just estimates. The actual calories your body receives from foods varies – depending on so many factors. So trying to chase the “right amount” of calories is futile.
My own journey with calories
Years ago, I was consumed by the concept of tracking my macros and calorie counting. I followed a strict calorie limit and trained very hard in the gym (twice a day) as I competed in Figure and Fitness competitions. I simply viewed food as numbers and a breakdown of macro-nutrients. When I looked at an item of food, a piece of watermelon for example… it was a pink piece of carbs and sugar. At this point in my life, I neglected the importance of nutrients in food and failed to acknowledge a beautiful fresh ‘watermelon’ as fibre, potassium, zinc or energy necessary for my daily activities.
I lived through my food tracking apps and often avoid eating out at cafes or restaurants because I couldn’t accurately weigh my foods or know “exactly” what was in my meals. Food was constantly on my mind and I felt guilty if I didn’t stick to my calorie/macronutrient goals. I was also concerned about fats due to their high calorie content, and I began snacking on low calorie food, that I found in the health food aisle at the supermarket. It was exhausting and I didn’t feel healthy, happy or energised.
If you choose, low calorie / 100 calorie packs of junk food…guess what they are still JUNK food ! And yeah they might be diet sodas or protein bars but they are still full of chemicals. For a while I continued tracking calories and trained extremely hard in the gym. But I was exhausted both physically and mentally, every day.. as it was a constant mind game to count calories and measure every morsel that passed my lips. Plus my body wasn’t not receiving enough fuel to train effectively. Food also gave me zero enjoyment and eventually end my body started to cling to fat as my cortisol and stress levels were so high (more on that here)…and even worse when I decided to first try and fall pregnant it took a long time. My body was so depleted of nutrients so my fertility was affected !
Focus on nutrients not calories
A sole focus on calories ignores the quality factor of food. Plenty of high-calorie foods are incredibly nutrient-dense and absolutely worth eating (like nuts, avocados, or salmon), but from a calorie perspective, many processed foods appear better simply because they are “low calorie.” But as already mentioned they are normally processed junk !
It’s a fact…
– Less processed or “real foods” generally take more energy to digest and because of this ultimately have fewer calories.
– Intensely focusing on calories often disconnects people from WHY they are eating (and nearly always results under or overeating).
I recently discussed this in a Facebook Live.
Change your mindset – start thinking NUTRIENTS not calories your body will look and feel better because of it plus your babies both during & after pregnancy will be better nourished Not sure where to start, grab my #freebie pregnancy and postpartum nutrition guide (and you guessed it…it is NOT a diet plan).
Still worried about pregnancy weight gain ?
I get it..it took me over 12 months to switch up my calorie counting mindset and also ditch the scale in my house (that’s right I now rarely weigh myself ) You can also request your medical practitioner stops weighing you at your prenatal appointments (unless they have concerns that you are over or underweight). It is also so challenging as the media bombards you with “new body” and ‘weight loss” promises – constantly. Solution – stop following those accounts !
Instead of joining a fad diet or restricting how you eat during and after pregnancy, please ask yourself is what is going to be sustainable around your life – what can you be CONSISTENT with for your lifetime. Sure calorie counting might initially work to drop some kg/pounds but it is not sustainable as most women just don’t have the time to do it, plus most people who restrict their nutrient intake end up hungry, exhausted and overeating. Just like I did !
1. Create a sustainable lifestyle approach that suits you and your family. I follow the 80 /20 rule …80% wholesome food and 20% I live a little and indulge in the occasional glass of wine, chocolate, eating out etc.
2. Remove any stress (how stressful is calorie counting hey !!) to reduce emotional eating.
3. Go for easy nutritious meals that the whole family can eat.
4. Choose food that is delicious and filling – aim for 15% more protein in your meals during and after pregnancy.
5. Try to move every day – energize yourself (start with 10 mins) trust me, you will then want to eat better.
6. Get support – you can’t do this alone. Join my Facebook Community where myself and some other fabulous women are here to share the load.
A simple goal starts NOW
Removing the word “diet” from your nutrition approach is going to be your best option… WHY ? Because anyone that goes on a diet or counts calories fails because you are going on or off something – it’s not sustainable.
Simply start making healthy habits each day and be consistent – simple and consistent action means results.
p.s Don’t forget to grab my complimentary nutrition guide and let me know how you take action with simple, sustainable healthy habits in your life.
Dahlas Fletcher is one of Australia’s most respected and successful certified and experienced Pregnancy and Female Fitness Trainers. Her goal is to help you be the happiest, most fabulous version of yourself, inside and out.