The Pregnant Athlete

Learning To Embrace My Changing Pregnant Body While Swimming, Biking, Running & Practicing Yoga

Proper pregnancy nutrition and weight gain: What is right for baby and me?

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23 Weeks | +18 lbs

I stepped on my scale for my weekly weigh-in last Thursday morning, and was flabbergasted to read that I had gained 5 pounds since the week prior, a total gain of 20 pounds! The scale MUST be wrong, I thought to myself, stepped off quickly, and tried it again. But, alas, the numbers didn’t change. I was especially surprised because I had made sure to return to both my usual habits of eating well all week, a focus of mine since we had just returned from loading up on breads and pastas in Italy for our babymoon as well as my usual marathon training schedule. I had even completed my longest long run of the pregnancy, 16 miles, five days prior!

16-mile long run 3/22/13

16-mile long run 3/22/14

The most important question loomed over my head: What is proper nutrition for me right now? I already knew that I was of normal weight, which means that I should gain a total of 25-35 pounds by the end of the pregnancy. By my last weigh-in, I was up 19 pounds, which translated to a 35-pound weight gain at 40 weeks if I were to gain one pound per week for the remainder of the pregnancy, but gaining any more than that in a week would put me over.

Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain Chart

Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain Chart

I thought that the best way to figure out the answer to this question was to analyze my meals and snacks for the week. Based on my calculations, I should be eating approximately 2200 calories per day at this point in my pregnancy, essentially 1850 calories pre-pregnancy to maintain my active lifestyle plus 350 additional calories recommended during the second trimester. I wanted to compare my numbers with my actual food intake:

Thu. 3/27:
Breakfast: 8 oz. coffee with soy milk, 1 bowl Chocolate Cheerios with unsweetened almond milk
Snack: 1 banana, 1/2 cup salted pistachios
Lunch: 2 egg whites with avocado and sliced tomatoes on 7-grain toast
Snack: 20 oz. kale, apple, lemon and ginger juice, 1 slice zucchini bread
Dinner: 4 oz. grilled chicken with mango peach salsa, 1 bowl quinoa with kidney beans, artichoke hearts and cherry tomatoes, 1 bowl fresh chicken soup
Snack: 1 cup pomelo with 1/2 cup purple sticky rice
Total: 2200 calories 

Fri 3/28:
Breakfast: 8 oz. coffee with unsweetened almond milk, 1 bowl oatmeal with flax seeds, 1 tsp natural peanut butter and 1 banana
Snack: 1 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
Lunch: 4 oz. grilled chicken with mango peach salsa, 1/2 bowl quinoa with kidney beans, artichoke hearts and cherry tomatoes, sauteed asparagus spears with onions
Snack: 6 oz. Choboani nonfat plain yogurt with dark chocolate, pistachios and orange chunks, 1 steamed vegetable bun
Dinner: 1 large bowl Taiwanese beef noodle soup
Snack: 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 cup pomelo, miniature chocolate chip cookies
Total: 2100 calories 

Choboani nonfat plain yogurt with dark chocolate, pistachios and orange chunks, a perfect post-prenatal yoga treat! 3/28/14

Chobani nonfat plain yogurt with dark chocolate, pistachios and orange chunks, a perfect post-prenatal yoga treat! 3/28/14

Sat 3/29:
Breakfast: 2 slices sprouted wheat toast with 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
Mid-run: EFS Vanilla Liquid Shot
Lunch: 8 oz. coffee with unsweetened almond milk, 4 oz. grilled chicken with pickled onions and green salsa on baguette
Snack: 8 oz. unsweetened almond milk, banana, 1 cheddar cheese stick
Dinner: 1 bowl brown rice, soy sauce chicken, tomato shrimp, roasted cauliflower, 1/2 bowl sweet funghi soup, 1/2 dough’ssant
Snack: 1 cup pomelo
Total: 2100 calories

Sun 3/30:
Breakfast: 2 slices sprouted wheat toast with 1 tbsp natural peanut butter and 1 tsp mixed berry jelly
Mid-run: 1 Honey Stinger’s Vanilla Waffle
Lunch: 8 oz. coffee with oat milk, 2 soft eggs with chicken apple sausage and kale pesto on wheat sourdough roll, 1/4 cup grits with avocado and jalapeno sauce
Snack: 1 apple, 1/4 cup salted mixed nuts
Dinner: 2 bowls chicken soup, 1/2 bowl white rice, 1 Peking pork chop, 4 oz. steamed fish in ginger sauce, sauteed spinach, 1/4 orange
Total: 2100 calories

Mon 3/31:
Breakfast: 8 oz. coffee with soy milk, 3 egg whites with spinach and mushroom on whole wheat wrap
Snack: 1 banana
Lunch: 2 cups Kale and sesame salad with sweet and sour seitan, chickpeas and butternut squash
Snack: 20 oz. smoothie with almond milk, almond butter, banana and cacao nibs, 6 large crackers
Dinner: 1 large bowl Taiwanese beef noodle soup, 2 oz. salmon, 1 cup roasted cauliflower
Snack: 1 cup pomelo, 2 cups caramel popcorn
Total: 2200 calories

Tue 4/1:

Breakfast: 8 oz. coffee with almond milk, 1 banana, 2 tsp. almond butter
Snack: 1 carrot cake doughnut from Doughnut Plant
Lunch: 1 bowl cauliflower soup, 1/2 tofu panini
Snack: 20 oz. smoothie with almond milk, almond butter, banana and cacao nibs, 1 kale and spirulina muffin
Dinner: 4 oz. grilled salmon, 1 bowl quinoa with kidney beans, artichoke hearts and cherry tomatoes, 1 cup snap peas with razor clams
Snack: 1 cup grapes
Total: 2200 calories

Wed 4/2: 

Breakfast: 8 oz. coffee with almond milk, 3 egg whites with spinach and mushrooms on whole wheat wrap
Snack: 1 banana
Lunch: 2 cups mixed greens salad with sprouts, shredded carrots, tomatoes, marinated and baked tempeh and ground peanuts in sesame dressing
Snack: 1 cheddar cheese stick, 20 oz. kale, apple, lemon and ginger juice
Dinner: 1 bowl brown rice, 4 oz. pork chops, 1 cup baby bok choy, 1 bowl corn soup
Total: 2200 calories

What is my conclusion upon analyzing my food log? I believe that I am eating a well-balanced diet, chock full of a variety of fruits and vegetables in addition to healthy fats and  protein. Additionally, I am not overeating–on the contrary, I sometimes wonder if I am eating enough, given my active pursuits.

I actually lost 2 pounds from the last weigh-in a week ago, which leads me to believe that the sudden weight gain may have been attributed to the following:

  1. Water retention. I recall that I did have fresh ramen noodle soup the night before that weigh-in, which is often loaded with too much salt, I’ll admit.
  2. Overall weight fluctuation. According to Frances Largeman-Roth, RD, author of Feed the Belly: A Pregnant Mom’s Healthy Eating Guide, weight gain isn’t always steady and some women gain more than others early on, but even out in later trimesters. Some of us mamas have also noted that weight gain comes in spurts throughout pregnancy; so don’t put too much stock in that pound-a-week hooplah. “Work with your doctor and take good care of yourself,” says Dr. Roth. “It doesn’t matter when you’re gaining, just that you stay within the guidelines.”


There are two common pregnancy ailments related to weight gain that I do worry about:

  1. Preeclampsia.  Preeclampsia is a pregnancy-related illness that can become life-threatening for both mother and baby, involving high blood pressure (hypertension) in particular. Preeclampsia can limit the baby’s growth and make the mother very ill, including the risk of having fits (convulsions).
  2. Gestational diabetes.  Higher weight gain puts women at risk of developing gestational diabetes, or it can be a sign that they have developed it. This is a condition in pregnancy where a woman who did not have diabetes before starts to have high levels of a type of sugar (glucose) in her blood. This can cause excessive weight gain in her baby.


Nevertheless, considering I visit my OB every three weeks, she will certainly tell me if my weight is a concern.
 It is much more important to focus on being healthy–and my health is more than my pounds and ounces. A pregnant woman’s job as a baby-grower is to create a nice environment for baby to develop in. So, with that said, eat nutritious foods, skip the junk, and make time to exercise regularly.

Beautiful morning for an 18-mile run this morning! Can you see the Statue of Liberty in the background? 4/5/14

Beautiful morning for an 18-mile run this morning! Can you see the Statue of Liberty in the background? 4/5/14

Week 22 (3/23-29) training: 17 miles 

Sunday: 2 miles
Monday: Spin
Tuesday: Yoga
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: Yoga
Saturday: 10 miles

Author: pregnantathlete

My name is Stephanie, and I was born and still live in New York City. I'm an avid distance runner, cyclist, snowboarder, swimmer and yogini (though I'm taking a break from some of these activities right now). It just so happens my active interests feed my love of food and traveling too! Oh! And did I mention that I'm pregnant...again? I also own a yoga studio, Sacred Sounds Yoga, in lower Manhattan. We offer classes in array of styles, including vinyasa, yin, Mysore ashtanga and Unnata Aerial Yoga. We also have prenatal, postnatal and kids yoga classes too!

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