Doctors will tell you that the best time to begin a healthy pregnancy, is before you conceive. It’s vital that a woman’s body be ready to go through the many changes it will encounter while the baby grows in her womb. Lisa understood this and by eating low carb months before prepared her body adequately.
Lisa Pantoja, the winner of our Fit By The Holiday Challenge is now 12 weeks pregnant! The Pantoja’s already have two adorable children, Leyla who is six and Anthony five. The news of her pregnancy brought so much joy, including those of us in the Fittoserve Community.
However, now that she is pregnant, obvious questions came up if she should continue eating low carb throughout her pregnancy. Let me make it clear that I am not a medical professional and this is a decision that needs to be made with your doctor’s approval. I wanted Lisa to have the necessary research to help her make an informed decision with her doctor.
Let’s start by understanding what a growing baby needs from it’s mother during the gestational period. A pregnant women needs at least 80 or more grams of protein every day, this is something easily accomplished on a low carb plan, where a serving of protein is recommended at with every meal.
When women eat the appropriate amount of protein while pregnant, they have a lower risk of preeclampsia. It can even help with that dreaded morning sickness so many women are plagued with. Can I tell you I wish I would have had this knowledge with my pregnancies? I fought with morning sickness for the majority of my pregnancy. This knowledge would have been invaluable to me.
When a woman is expecting she also needs to have adequate amounts of fat in her diet. This ensures that the baby’s organs and brain are developing properly. On a low carb plan you are encouraged to eat meats, dairy, lots of non-starchy vegetables and healthy fats such as olive, and coconut oil.
Keep in mind that a low carb diet emphasizes eating as natural as possible. You are encouraged to avoiding overly processed and refined foods. You can see that it becomes easier to understand how eating this way can be a good option for women who are pregnant. By reducing your carbs you’ll also be sidestepping blood sugar spikes and maintaining a steady insulin level. All this is great for the mother and her growing baby.
Let’s be clear no one is advocating weight loss during pregnancy. But it is also important to eat as clean as possible, because you are now eating for two. Eliminating empty carbs that are void of nutrition is simply wise. Carbohydrates, excluding those that come from fruits and vegetables are bulking agents. When we consume pasta, bread, and rice we are filling a space that would be better occupied with more nutritionally dense foods. A diet full of lots of sugar and chemicals is not ideal for anyone, especially for someone expecting a child.
Do keep in mind that when you are pregnant your net carbs should never go below 60 grams a day. Note that this is more than double the recommended carbs suggested when a person is trying to lose weight. The healthiest way to include carbs is to ensure they are coming from fruits and vegetables, not donuts and bagels. This way a pregnant mom does not lose weight.
Eating a low carb diet will also prevent her from gaining excessive weight that can put her in danger of gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs when your body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. Without enough insulin, glucose cannot leave the blood and be changed to energy. When you eat, your digestive system breaks down most of your food into glucose. The glucose enters your bloodstream with the help of insulin, which is actually a hormone created in your pancreas. Your cells use the glucose as fuel. However, if your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or your cells do not respond to the insulin, we end up being insulin resistant, with too much glucose in our bloodstream.
A study published in the March 2010 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology found a connection between excessive weight gain during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester and the risk of gestational diabetes. Researchers found the risk highest in women who were overweight.
When a pregnant mom’s insulin levels are too high, what do you think her doctor tells her? He immediately stresses the importance of getting rid of the number one offender, sugar in all its forms. This includes carbs that are void of any real nutrition.
Why not avoid this risk to begin with by keeping an eye on your carb intake? Grains and sugars are not high level nutritional choices. In fact, they could actually cause health issues. Which is why choosing meats, fats, vegetables and fruits over grains, sugars and overly processed foods makes perfect sense. With all this in mind, a pregnant woman can make an informed decision.