Food is twice as important

This article on diet in pregnancy is courtesy of Nativized Menéndez Caso, Dietitian and Nutritionist who runs her private nutrition practice in the center of Gijón and online diets at He is also part of the team of dietitians in the Department of Collective Catering at Hospital de Jove.

When you are pregnant you do not have to eat for two but yes, food is twice as important at this stage of your life.

Eating a balanced diet is a concern that intensifies during pregnancy, since at this stage eating healthy has a positive influence on the health of both the mother and the baby. It is common to hear “you have to eat for two”, but that is not true. The correct phrase would be ” Food is twice as important “, because the diet must adapt to new needs, providing all the nutrients in the right amount.

Tips for a good diet in pregnancy

It is important to always have a healthy diet, but it is crucial that you undergo an adaptation to the new situation of a pregnant woman since it will perform different objectives. Food during pregnancy should cover the nutritional needs in the gestation trimesters, avoiding a deficiency of vitamins and minerals and fiber. On the other hand, you must ensure the energy reserve in the form of fat for lactation, avoid constipation, fluid retention, minimize nausea, fatigue, etc.

It is true that during pregnancy, in addition to caloric needs, the demand on your body for certain components, especially vitamins and minerals, also increases. If you adapt your nutritional plan well, what food provides will be enough, although to ensure that these requirements, gynecologists already prescribe supplementation.

How many calories to consume in pregnancy

In the first trimester of pregnancy, it is not necessary to consume additional calories, but to monitor the order of intakes and nutrients to ensure reserves and prevent complications.

In the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, the diet should be increased between 300 and 500 kcal per day, which should come mainly from slow-absorbing carbohydrates such as legumes, pasta, rice or potatoes.

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In the third trimester of gestation , this increase in calories is maintained, but ensuring foods with a high protein content because they are necessary for the structural development of the fetus (fish, eggs or meat).

Weight gain in pregnancy

In relation to weight gain, it is advisable for the woman to have an adequate weight before pregnancy. If this is the case, during the 9 months of gestation you should increase on average between 9 and 12 kg, but it depends a lot on each situation and each person.

In the first trimester, the average weight gain is between 1-3 kg, due to the increase in reserves. Although there are women who even lose weight due to the nausea and vomiting that appear. During the second and third trimesters is when the greatest weight gain occurs, due to the greater growth of the fetus and tissues, as well as fat deposits for breastfeeding.

Modifications and recommendations in the diet for pregnant women

Next, I list recommendations in the diet that every future mother should know.


Cells in the body are largely made up of proteins. Changes in the mother’s body, particularly in the placenta, also require proteins of 1 g / kg of weight / day. Foods rich in protein are: lean meats, red meat, fish, shellfish, dairy and especially eggs, as it contains a protein of high biological value.

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As the fetus needs a continuous supply of energy, since it is growing every minute for 280 days, carbohydrates must constitute the main source of energy supply since they are quickly and efficiently transformed into energy. During pregnancy, 50-55% of total daily calories should come from slow-absorbing carbohydrates, such as legumes, cereals, pasta, rice, potatoes, peas, sweet potatoes.

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They must cover 25-30% of the total calories, monounsaturated fatty acids should predominate, compared to polyunsaturated and saturated ones. Omega 3 is recommended, especially important for the manufacture of DHA, so you should eat more than 3 servings of fish a week. It is recommended to use raw extra virgin olive oil, blue fish and eat about 50 g of nuts a day.

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A supplement of 30 mg of ferrous iron is recommended during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, which should be taken without meals and never with milk, tea or coffee, as they can interfere with its absorption. In case of anemia, the dose should be increased to 60-120 mg, divided into three doses and return to the usual doses when corrected.

Foods rich in iron are chickpeas, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, lentils, clams, cockles, beef liver, horse meat, beef.


Calcium needs increase in pregnancy, while its absorption doubles. One liter of milk contains around 1250 mg of calcium, these being the estimated requirements per day, making it easy to meet calcium needs with a balanced diet.

Calcium supplementation can interfere with the absorption of iron in the intestine.

Today there are many calcium-enriched dairy products on the market, such as Danone Densia yogurt, cheeses in general, dairy products in general, also raw almonds and small blue fish that can be eaten from the thorn such as parrochas.


The RDAs estimate a zinc requirement during pregnancy of 20 mg / day. The oral administration of iron hinders the absorption of zinc, whose plasma levels fall throughout pregnancy, so it is necessary to increase its intake based on oysters, enriched cereals, legumes, prawns, prawns and red meat.


The use of iodized salt is recommended in all pregnant women, to meet the demands and alleviate possible losses from the maternal kidney. Its deficiency can cause cretinism just as excessive consumption can depress thyroid function. Iodine can be found in algae, seaweed, mussels, or spinach.

It may interest you: nutritional properties and food sources of minerals

  • Selenium, copper, chromium, boron, molybdenum, manganese
  • Magnesium, sulfur, iron, iodine, fluorine, zinc
  • Calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chlorine
The importance of vitamins in the diet

Vitamin A

During pregnancy, daily contributions of this vitamin are necessary to carry out hepatic storage, hormonal synthesis and contribute to fetal development. The requirements for women are 100-200 micrograms / day as Retinol or equivalent.

The food with the highest concentration of vitamin A is veal liver.

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Vitamin D

Deficiencies in maternal levels of vitamin D can contribute to the cause of dental hypoplasia or neonatal hypocalcemia in premature infants.

The diet may not be sufficient as the sole source of vitamin D since the requirements are greatly increased. 10 micrograms daily is recommended, which represents an increase of 5 micrograms daily. The highest concentration of this vitamin is in dairy.

Vitamin E

Plasma levels of vitamin E experience an increase of up to 50% over those prior to pregnancy. This increase parallels that of serum lipid concentration.

Vitamin E needs during pregnancy are 7 to 13 mg / day, but may be higher in people with diets rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. It is hoped that a balanced diet can meet the needs that arise.

Vitamin C

Low levels of vitamin C have been associated with premature rupture of membranes or eclampsia. A balanced diet will provide the necessary amounts of vitamin C, which are estimated at 50 mg / day. Ascorbic acid is found mainly in fruits, especially citrus fruits, and in some vegetables such as potatoes and tomatoes.

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Folic acid

Its deficiency has been related to premature deliveries, low birth weight and neural tube defects. The increase in demands as a consequence of the rapid growth and cell differentiation and the increase in urinary losses make supplementation advisable to guarantee the contributions. The needs increase from 400-800 micrograms / day during the same.

Women who smoke, consume alcohol, drugs, oral contraceptives or antiepileptic medication have lower levels of folates in the blood, so a supplement of 300 micrograms is also recommended in this group, which should be given before pregnancy. Foods that contain it are mainly green leafy vegetables (envy, lettuce, cabbage, collard greens, watercress, etc.).

B12 vitamin

During pregnancy, the levels of this vitamin progressively decrease in a physiological way. The daily recommendations are 3 micrograms / day. Serum levels are lower in anemic pregnant women, smokers, and carriers of low-weight fetuses. The foods that contain this vitamin are directly related to the consumption of foods rich in iron.

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