June 6, 2023

Carbohydrate Needs in Pregnancy

It is advisable to always strike a balance in both quantity and quality of carbohydrates intake during pregnancy. Well-balanced carbohydrates and a healthy maternal diet in pregnant women can prevent the chances of getting Gestational Diabetes (GD).

According to the European Food Safety Authority Scientific Committee, carbohydrates are basic components in the maternal diet and should represent between 45% to 65% of the calories in a healthy diet during pregnancy. On the other hand, the Spanish Society of Community Nutrition suggests an intake of 4-5 portions of carbohydrates per day during pregnancy.

Currently, it is recommended that pregnant women should get 50-55% of calories from carbohydrates. As much a low-carb diet is not safe during pregnancy as it affects the weight and development of the unborn baby because the baby may be Calcium or Folic acid deficiency.

  • Calcium: needs double during pre-pregnancy requirements. Inadequacies will result to bone resorption. The unborn baby also needs about 300mg of calcium.
  • Folic acid: impacts cell development in the embryo and fetus. Low levels are associated with Macrocytic anemia and neural tube defects since it is involved in hemoglobin, cell growth, and division.

About 300-400 micrograms/day is required during pregnancy. Diets which have low carbs are usually high in fat which can lead to unnecessary weight gain and Ketosis ( a metabolic process that occurs when the body begins to burn fat for energy because it does not have enough carbohydrates to burn) during pregnancy.


Every cell in the human body contains protein and basic material for all living cells.  It is composed of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen atom, some little phosphorus and sulphur atoms. It is essential for growth and development. They are made up of a chain of about 20 amino acids (A.A). 9 out of the 20 A.As are essential- the body cannot function without them neither can it synthesize them. This must come from our diets.

Essential Amino Acids (E.A.A)





– Trypotophan





Non-Essential Amino Acids (E.A.A)




-Aspatic acid






-Glutamic acid


Types of Protein Food Sources

  • Animal Protein Foods/Complete: These contain all E.A.As with higher protein quality.

Sources are milk, eggs, meat, fish, poultry, snail, etc.

Animal Protein

  • Plant Protein Foods/Incomplete: These do not contain all E.A.As.

Sources are legumes/beans, grains, nuts, seeds, cheese, etc.

Sources of Plant Protein
Sources of Plant Protein

What Are The Important of Protein In The Body?

Protein plays an important role in the development and growth of the body and does the following:

-needed for growth

-repairs worn-out tissues

– used to make enzymes hormones

-gives energy

-used to make white blood cells (WBC) and antibodies

-helps in blood clotting

-fluid balance

-response to immune system

How Much Protein Do I Need?

The current protein recommended for adults is 0.8g kg body weight, and 65 to 70g recommended for pregnant and lactating women. While its requirements are higher for growing children, the minimum daily protein requirements for healthy adult men and women’s average intake is 50-65g/day.

Why Should I Eat More Protein?

-Lowers your appetite and hunger

-Helps in weight loss or belly fat

-Building of bones

-Lowers your blood pressure

-Repairs the body after injury

Is High Protein Intake Good for Me?

Intake of protein is common among adults and it is not healthy for the body when taken too much. It causes:

– High calcium loss in adults, resulting in Osteoporosis.

– Renal dysfunction in old age

– Production of toxic effects in premature infants

– Bad breath

– Constipation

– Increased cancer risk

– Weight Loss or Belly fat

Is Meat Good For Me?

Meat is one of the sources of animal protein. Eating meats has a low health rating and has received hormone treatment. Also, eating too many meats has been linked to chronic diseases such as heart diseases, cancers (stomach and colon cancer), and digestive diseases e.g appendicitis.

Inadequate protein in our food can lead to ill health in adults and retarded growth, weak muscles, distended stomach, swollen legs, loss of weight, and change of hair color from dark to red in growing children. The disease of protein deficiency in children is called Kwashiorkor.

Protein Needs In Pregnancy

Protein deficiency during pregnancy leads to toxemia of pregnancy. Therefore, during preconception, protein should account for 12 to 20% of daily calories then stick to 0.8g of protein per kilogram of your body weight for a total of 30-60g of protein per day- almost 20-25% of calories intake.

Protein Needs in Pre-Term Babies

Some of the amino acids like Cysteine must be supplied in the diet since pre-term infants have problems converting Methionine to Cysteine. 2.5-5g/kg body weight/day is ideal for pre-term babies.

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