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Low Carb Diets During Pregnancy
by Jennifer J. Francis, MPH, RD/LD
Q. I have gained 37 pounds, and I am only 6 months pregnant. I have been trying to eat much much less sugar and less carbs and some more protein. Are low carb diets safe during pregnancy? I am not going crazy with it--just trying to eat less sugar and less carbs like bread, pasta, etc.
A. Low carb/high protein diets should be avoided during pregnancy. Glucose is the main source of fuel for the developing baby, and glucose comes from carbohydrates. Eating a high protein/low carb diet can cause you to become dehydrated, another thing that is not good during pregnancy. Dehydration can cause premature labor contractions. Low carb/high protein diets are notoriously low in *folic acid* which we know is essential during pregnancy.
However, cutting back on sugar is not a bad idea, because it gives you more room for healthy foods in your diet. As far as complex carbs are concerned like bread, rice, cereal, pasta, etc you need at least 6 portions a day to get all the nutrients you need. That may sound like a lot, but the portion sizes are small--just half a cup of pasta or 1 slice of bread. If you eat more than this each day, it's ok to cut back a little, but you should not eat less than this.
StorkNet's "Nutrition for You, Nutrition for Two" has a great guide with portion sizes for pregnancy and lactation.
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