Energy foods during pregnancy

Energy foods during pregnancy

Boosting your energy levels the old-fashioned way. Too pooped to pop these days (or meet friends for dinner, or make it halfway down that to-do list, or actually stay up for a prime time special — never mind the late show)?  Of course you are…you’re pregnant! And while there may not yet be any evidence on the outside that you’re busily building a baby, there’s plenty going on inside at 9 weeks pregnant — and it’s all hard work, the hardest work your body has ever done. To fuel the baby-making factory that’s in operation 24/7, you’re producing more blood, your heart rate is up, your metabolism is burning energy overtime (even when you’re lying down), and you’re using up more nutrients and water. What’s more, your body’s still in the process of manufacturing your baby’s placenta (which won’t be complete until the fourth month). It’s not surprising that you’re always fighting fatigue — and feeling like you’re fighting a losing battle.

So what’s an exhausted mom-to-be to do (other than crawl into bed at the first opportunity)? Thinking of reaching for a candy bar, a grande caramel frappuccino, or one of those jolt-in-a-can energy drinks to get your engine revved up again (at least revved up enough so you can make it through the afternoon)? You might want to think again…before you get caught Red-Bull-handed. While these popular energy boosters work, they work only briefly — and at a high cost to your energy. The sugar and caffeine combo they contain causes a sharp rise in blood sugar — followed by a quick, deep plummet, leaving you even more tired than when you first undid the wrapper or took a sip. Riding such a blood-sugar roller coaster is never a great idea (the highs and lows can be dizzying), but it’s a particularly poor strategy now that you have someone else along for the ride. For the baby’s sake and yours (and for the sake of all the work you have to get done), you need an energy boost that lasts — and one that, preferably, adds nutritional value to your day. You won’t find that in sugary and/or caffeinated snacks. (Excessive caffeine can be harmful to your baby for a number of other reasons — see Taming the Caffeine Habit for details.) But you will find it in high-quality energy-boosting foods. Here’s the lowdown on which foods will give you a lift that lasts:

Pro-energy protein. Protein is nature’s ultimate pick-me-up. It provides you with the kind of energy that keeps you going — instead of leaving you flat (and flat on your back) in the middle of the day. Better still, the amino acids in protein-rich foods will also aid in the development of your baby’s rapidly reproducing cells. You need 75 grams of it per day when you’re expecting — and luckily, most people get that much protein each day without even trying (especially if they picked up the high-protein habit while doing low-carb diets). You can pack it all in (and more) by eating just one 24-ounce steak, but that’s not the best way to get your protein high during pregnancy. First, it’s tough to chew your way through so much meat when you’re exhausted (and nauseated). Second, digesting a large amount of food (especially when it’s high in fat) takes energy you don’t have and can make you more fatigued. Third, it’s best to get your protein fixes (and all your nutrient fixes) in small bites, literally — grazing on five or six small meals a day is a much more efficient way of keeping your energy on an even keel. Happily, steak’s not the only game in town. You can find lower-fat sources of protein in:

  • milk
  • cheese
  • eggs
  • lean meat
  • poultry
  • fish and seafood
  • tofu and soy products (soy pasta, edamame)
  • beans, lentils, split peas
  • quinoa
  • nuts and seeds


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