If you are considering a low carbohydrate diet, pregnancy is not the time to do it. Carbohydrates provide your body with energy, fiber and other necessary nutrients. According to Family Education, while you are pregnant you should be getting about half of your calories from carbohydrates alone.
Some Carbs to Avoid
While carbs are an important part of a pregnancy diet, it is crucial to remember that they are not all created equal. Simple carbs are converted into glucose very quickly, causing the blood sugar levels to spike and therefore drop. The quick energy that these carbs provide is not long-lasting, leaving you needing more food sooner rather than later.
However, complex carbs including whole-grains like bulgur and oatmeal, starchy vegetables and legumes, break down slowly in the body, only slowly increasing blood sugar levels. This provides long lasting energy over time and these carbs also often include fiber, which is very important in a pregnant woman’s diet.
Processed and refined foods are often simple carbs, so these foods should be avoided. These foods are also often void of other nutrition such as vitamins and minerals. Common simple carbohydrates include white bread, chips, white rice and candy.
Beneficial Carbs for Pregnancy
Whole grain bread, baked potatoes with the skin, brown rice and fresh fruit are examples of healthy carbs for pregnant women. While fresh fruit does contain simple carbs due to its natural sugar, it also has important vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are beneficial to pregnant women.
The more complex a carb is, the longer it will help sustain a healthy blood sugar level. It is important to not let blood sugar spike and drop throughout the day, and maintain a relatively steady amount throughout the day. Complex carbs will help this by preventing spikes in glucose levels.
Related Content: The Role of Protein During Pregnancy
Most women recognize that the foods they eat play a huge part in helping their child to grow in the uterus. The quality and composition of foods eaten during pregnancy is just as important as the amount of food eaten. Protein is particularly useful because it helps to form new cells and build the body of the fetus.
Importance of Carbohydrates for a Developing Baby
According to the National Institutes for Health, the growth and development of a fetus is mainly dependent on the nutritional, metabolic and hormonal that is provided to the unborn child by the mother. The regulation of blood sugar in the mother can be affected by several factors such as insulin resistance, gestational diabetes mellitus and the nutrition of the mother. Maternal blood sugar levels are substantially influenced by her carbohydrate intake, due to its effect on glycemia.
The glycemic index measures the rate at which a carbohydrate raises blood glucose levels. The types of carbohydrates and the glycemic index of a diet increase or decline the abnormal hyperglycemic levels during pregnancy that are caused by pathological or physiological conditions. A low glycemic index diet of a mother carrying a baby has been shown to be beneficial to the baby’s metabolic profile.
How Much Carbohydrates is Necessary?
Women who are pregnant should consume nine to 11 servings of complex carbs during pregnancy each day. A serving size of rice, for example, is about 1/3 of a cup, so it is important to measure out any food. Preferably, half of your carbohydrate intake come from whole grains.
It is clear that there is a direct link between the health of a fetus and the maternal nutrition provided. Not only is the mother’s nutrition the only way for a fetus to get their nutrients, but nutrition also affects the mother’s metabolism of the hormones that are secreted by the placenta, affecting the metabolism of every nutrient that is consumed.
Proper nutrition and carbs during pregnancy is vital during the early development of a fetus. This is associated with proper growth, body composition, organ development and body functions. Proper nutrition also applies to long-term effects on morbidity and mortality rates and health in adulthood.