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Second Trimester Nutrition

By on April 13, 2016

Pregnancy nutrition might seen overwhelming at first but if you break in down, prioritize the big picture goals, and don’t over-think the minutia it can actually be quite simple. This blog is an additional resource to THIS VIDEO about my nutrition during the second trimester. I suggest watching the video first then referencing the takeaway points and links provided below.

Pregnancy Weight Gain

I think its safe to say that all women experience anxiety about pregnancy weight gain. I’ve had a lot of women ask me how they can limit their weight gain as much as possible. Aiming to gain as little weight as possible is not an approach I’d recommend. It’s important to establish (with your Doctor/Midwife/OB) how much weight gain is appropriate for YOU! Yes, that’s right, YOU! Everyone is different. Appropriate pregnancy weight gain is determined by BMI (Body Mass Index) prior to pregnancy or in the very early stages of pregnancy.

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It’s Not All FAT Gain

It important to understand that NOT all pregnancy weigh gain is body fat. In fact, body fat should only make up approximately 23% of total maternal weight gain. To put that into perspective; if you gain 30 pounds total only about 7 pounds should be body fat. Try to keep this in mind if panic sets in as you watch your body change week to week.

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Helpful resources:

Healthy Weight Gain in Pregnancy – pdf. 

Mayo Clinic’s BMI Calculator

Pregnancy Weight Gain Calculator

Focus on These Things!

During your pregnancy there is a lot of things to potentially worry about. Nutrition tends to be at the top of the list for most expecting moms. Let’s break down what is important so you can focus on that and not worry about the other stuff.


Your goal is to nourish the baby and your own body with nutrient dense foods. This can become tricky when juggling food aversions and nausea. Sometimes supplements are necessary. Bottom line; try to eat the most nutrient dense unprocessed food whenever possible. Discuss supplements with your Doctor/Midwife/OB. Once in a while treat yourself to food that you want/crave whether it be a bowl of ice cream or a burger and don’t beat yourself up about it. Many women tend to feel guilty when they indulge in a treat her or there. I’m a fan of the 80-20 rule, pregnant or not. Balance is the key to a sustainable healthy lifestyle.

Eating the Appropriate Amount of Calories

Once you and your Doctor/Midwife/OB have established the appropriate amount of weight gain for you, you need to eat accordingly. The consensus is that second trimester energy demands are typically  200-300 calories more, per day, than your regular maintenance calories. When you think about it, that’s not a great deal of food. It’s basically a snack. And it’s definitely not “eating for two”.

While some of you may not want to track your pregnancy weight gain, I believe tracking to be a useful tool. As in any case, pregnant or not, if you are gaining weight too rapidly you may need to cut back your calorie intake. If you are not gaining enough you likely need to increase it. Your Doctor/Midwife/OB should be helping you monitor your weight throughout your pregnancy and discuss if you are too far off track from what is appropriate for you. Adjust your eating accordingly.

Listen to Your Body – It’s Different Than it was Before.

I repeat…listen to your body! You might be accustomed to eating a certain way before you were pregnant. I know I was. But you have to be open to the fact that your body is constantly changing now and what worked for you before might not be ideal for you now. In fact when you’re pregnant what worked for you two weeks ago might not work right now. Whether it be the macronutrient composition of your diet, or simple things like meal timing, it is most likely going to need some tweaking. Get in tune with things like; energy levels, blood sugar regulation, headaches, indigestion, and hunger signals to help you determine what is or isn’t working for you.

DO NOT worry about…

Baby Bumps Comparisons

Don’t compare the size of your baby to other baby bumps! If you’re in the range of  healthy weight gain, the baby and your uterus are measuring up properly, and you’re not having blood sugar regulation issues then you’re on track. Once again your Doctor/Midwife/OB should be monitoring this for you and these things are you most important indicators of healthy progress. Small bump or big bump, don’t let people or mass media shame you into thinking there is anything wrong with your bump – only listen to your health professionals!

Micro Managing Your Nutrition 

I’m a diet coach so not only am I familiar with just about every meticulous diet strategy out there I’ve tried them all at point in time. What I really want you to take away from this post and THIS VIDEO is that pregnancy is NOT the time to be worried about micro managing your body composition or diet strategy.

Unless you have to follow a specific nutrition protocol for medical reasons (which your Doctor/Midwife/OB has approved), then do yourself a favour and don’t worry about the minutia. Things like fasting, low carb, keto, carb cycling, refeeds, training supplements, any overly structured approach or strict limited diet is going to likely cause you more stress (and possibly harm) than success. Save the “diet” mentality for when you a ready to embrace your postpartum journey, not during your pregnancy when you need to be eating in a caloric surplus.

Pregnancy is a time to focus on what I have outlined above;

  • Nourishing the baby and yourself!
  • Eating the appropriate amount of food; your health professionals will help you determine what is appropriate for you and measure that progress based on your weight gain, and the measurements of the fetus and uterus.

Happy Pregnancy!

Stay tuned for my next blog about weight training during my second trimester.