Understanding and Managing Your Pregnancy Weight: A Nutritional Approach

November 14, 2023

Written by Gia Eapen, MD

Medically reviewed by

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Key Points

  • The amount of food needed during pregnancy varies based on factors like pre-pregnancy BMI, weight gain rate, age, and appetite.
  • Keeping weight gain within a healthy range can lower the risk of complications.
  • Calorie needs change during each trimester, with a gradual increase as the baby grows.
  • Physical activity can aid in managing weight during pregnancy.

Pregnancy can be a beautiful and transformative phase. During this time, your body goes through numerous changes to support the growth of your baby. One of these changes involves how your body uses food for energy. Let's delve into understanding the importance of maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy and how the right diet can make all the difference.

Fueling Your Body: Caloric Intake During Pregnancy

Generally, people who were at a healthy weight before becoming pregnant need between 2,200 and 2,900 calories a day. This gradually increases as your baby grows. Here is a rough overview of how calorie needs change during each trimester:

  • First trimester: No extra calories typically required.
  • Second trimester: Around an extra 340 calories per day.
  • Third trimester: Around an extra 450 calories per day.

Please note that these are general guidelines, and individual needs may vary. It's not just about quantity; the quality of these calories matters significantly too. They should ideally come from nutrient-dense foods including:

  • Lean protein
  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits

To tailor your calorie intake to your specific needs, consider booking a consultation with a Registered Dietitian at Fay.

The Scale and You: Understanding BMI and Weight Gain

Maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy is crucial. The guidelines for weight gain are based on your BMI before pregnancy:

  • Underweight (BMI below 18.5): Gain 28 to 40 pounds
  • Normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9): Gain 25 to 35 pounds
  • Overweight (BMI 25.0 to 29.9): Gain 15 to 25 pounds
  • Obese (BMI 30.0 and above): Weight gain recommendations vary, so it's important to discuss with your healthcare provider.

If you're expecting twins, the weight gain naturally increases. For advice tailored to your specific circumstances, especially if you're underweight, consider scheduling a session with a Registered Dietitian at Fay.

Breaking a Sweat: Physical Activity During Pregnancy

Regular physical activity can help manage weight gain during pregnancy. The recommended target is 150 minutes each week, which can be achieved by aiming for 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most, if not all, days of the week. Be sure to consult with your doctor before starting or continuing any exercise routine while pregnant.

Your journey through pregnancy is a deeply personal one, and everyone’s experience is unique. However, keeping weight gain within a healthy range, consuming nutrient-dense foods, and staying active can significantly contribute to a healthier pregnancy. For more personalized guidance on maintaining a healthy weight and diet during your pregnancy, schedule an appointment with a Registered Dietitian at Fay.

The views expressed by authors and contributors of such content are not endorsed or approved by Fay and are intended for informational purposes only. The content is reviewed by Fay only to confirm educational value and audience interest. You are encouraged to discuss any questions that you may have about your health with a healthcare provider.


Fay Nutrition has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.

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Gia Eapen, MD

Written by Gia Eapen, MD

Dr. Gia Eapen is a skilled Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) physician at Case Western/MetroHealth. A Northwestern University alumna, she pursued her medical degree at the University of Vermont, fostering a deep understanding of women's health and reproductive medicine. She combines her comprehensive knowledge with a dedication to patient-centered care, embodying a commitment to enhancing healthcare standards in her field.


Medically Reviewed by