A pregnant athlete has a lower risk of gestational diabetes, prevents pre-eclampsia (chronic high pressure during pregnancy and loss of protein in the urine), helps control weight gain, helps improve the process of childbirth and subsequent recovery, improves well-being general psychological … Therefore, make sport before and during pregnancy it can be very beneficial in healthy women.
Why should you change exercise and diet during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, anatomical and physiological changes occur in the woman’s body, which allow the growth of the fetus and prepare the future mother for childbirth. Between the metabolic changes The most prominent are hyperinsulinemia, insulin resistance and hyperglycemia, which occur to ensure the supply of nutrients to the fetus and, as a consequence, the mother increases the risk of hypoglycemia. These changes, in turn, force must modify exercise adaptations so they must be taken into account to avoid possible injuries or complications.
What exercise and how often is recommended?
The recommended exercises, provided that the doctor does not contraindicate it, are the aerobic exercises combined with strength exercise of moderate intensity (40-60% of heart rate) and adjusted to each woman. Practice them three to four days a week for 45-60 minutes.
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But what about those pregnant athletes who practice sport of greater intensity?
Scientific evidence shows that moderate intensity workouts and even vigorous intensity spikes (60-84% heart rate) do not affect or harm the baby. We must bear in mind that, with current scientific information, exercise that exceeds these percentages (> 85% heart rate) is not recommended as it increases the risk of hyperthermia, dehydration or reduced uterine flow, which could compromise health of the baby.
Thus exercise in extreme temperatures should be avoided, carefully monitor the hydration and always be controlled by a specialist. It is also important to avoid contact sports, such as martial arts, or extreme sports, for example, those that may involve falls such as trails or mountain biking.https://www.youtube.com/embed/fP8HnwMByOI?feature=oembed
How should the diet be for a pregnant athlete?
A pregnancy involves an increase in energy expenditure, it is estimated that 250-300 additional Kcal are enough per day (they vary depending on the quarter you are in). For a pregnant athlete there is no clear recommendation regarding additional caloric intake, but the amount will depend on the type of physical activity, frequency and intensity with which it is practiced.
The best indicator, which allows evaluating whether the diet for pregnancy It is adequate, it is the rate of weight gain, increasing or decreasing the caloric intake depending on the weight of the pregnant woman. The same will happen with the nutrients, they will be increased depending on the requirements for pregnancy and for sports needs.
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Diet for pregnancy according to the necessary nutrients
The Spanish Federation of Nutrition Societies (FESNAD) indicates those nutrients to which more attention should be paid during pregnancy:
|NUTRITIOUS||ADULT WOMAN||PREGNANT WOMAN|
|Protein (g / day)||46||71|
|Folates (µg / day)||300-400||500-600|
|Vitamin C (mg / day)||60-75||80-85|
|Vitamin D (µg / day)||5-15||10-15|
|Calcium (mg / day)||1000||1200|
|Iron (mg / day)||18||25-27|
|Iodine (µg / day)||150||175-220|
|Zinc (mg / day)||7-8||10-11|
Let’s take an example: let’s suppose a sedentary woman has approximate caloric requirements of 1800 kcal. She is in the second trimester of pregnancy, with which we must add 250 more kcal, and she performs a one-hour training session that increases this requirement by approximately 400 kcal. This would increase the caloric needs of the pregnant woman who practices sports to 2450 kcal per day.
If it follows a balanced diet for pregnant women it is easy to meet the need for most nutrients such as complex carbohydrates. The muscle glycogen stores used during physical activity will be recovered and the amount of sugars that the fetus would need will be provided. Still, we must pay special attention to three nutrients that are increased both in pregnancy and in sportswomen:
- Protein: the daily protein requirements for an athlete have been estimated between 1.2-1.8 grams / kg of body weight, in addition to the needs increased by pregnancy. It is important that meat, fish or eggs are consumed daily in the daily diet to obtain the necessary amount of protein, or in the case of following a vegetarian diet, perform it properly to obtain high quality protein with vegetable proteins.
- Iron: In sportswomen, iron needs can even be doubled, this is due to the losses of this mineral through sweating, micro-injuries that are generated by physical exercise and the elimination of blood in the intestine, especially in long-distance women. Taking into account that a pregnant woman requires between 25-27 mg / day and that an athlete woman may need up to 30 mg / day, foods rich in iron they must be taken into account. They should incorporate legumes, red meat and fish on a regular basis and foods rich in vitamin C such as peppers, tomatoes, parsley, lemon, kiwi, orange, strawberries, Brussels sprouts … to increase their absorption. An iron supplement will most likely be prescribed by the medical team.
- Football: essential nutrient for growth, composition and bone mass and therefore its importance during pregnancy, in addition, athletes with high training loads and menstrual irregularities (they translate into low estrogen levels), should pay special attention to calcium intake due to the increased risk of “stress fractures”, due to bone wear. The requirements during pregnancy are 1200 mg / day and can be increased to 1500 mg / day in certain athletes. A good dietary measure is to include three to four servings of plain dairy daily such as whole milk, plain yogurt, kefir, cheese…
Y we must not forget about hydration. It is advisable to drink about two liters of water a day and during physical exercise it is necessary to drink regularly (every 15-20 minutes), 120-240 ml of water depending on the activity.
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Follow one complete and balanced diet for pregnant women That it provides the necessary amounts of nutrients and calories appropriate to the pregnancy and the type of training and that in turn maintains an adequate rate of weight gain is the key. For this it is important, if you practice semi-professional or professional exercise, consult with a specialist nutritionist dietitian that adapts the diet for pregnant women individually.