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Carbohydrates in pregnancy

02 May 2024 - Written by  Rosie Letts

Carbs during Pregnancy

In this article we will explore how eating the best types of carbohydrates can support your health throughout pregnancy.

During pregnancy carbohydrates provide a vital source of energy for you and your growing baby. Whilst carbohydrates are an essential part of any healthy pregnancy diet, not all carbohydrates are created equal. In this article we will explore how eating the best types of carbohydrates can support your health throughout pregnancy.

Carbohydrates in pregnancy:

It’s vital to eat enough carbohydrates during pregnancy as they’re an important source of energy and a key part of a healthy pregnancy diet. Carbohydrates should make up approximately one third of the food that you eat, and are the main source of a number of important nutrients, including iron, calcium, fibre and B vitamins.

The NHS recommends that during pregnancy you should be eating three meals per day, which should each include 30-45g carbohydrates. Despite the old ‘eating for two ’myth, pregnant women don’t need to consume extra calories until their third trimester, when an extra 200 calories per day are required.

Choosing healthy carbohydrates in pregnancy:

Whilst eating carbohydrates is vital for you and your baby’s health, some carbohydrates have more benefits than others. During pregnancy, it is essential to ensure that your blood glucose levels remain nice and stable. The Glycaemic Index (GI) tells us whether a carbohydrate containing food raises blood sugar quickly, moderately or slowly. Eating mostly low GI foods during pregnancy can prevent excess weight gain, reduce your chance of developing gestational diabetes.

Healthy, low GI carbohydrates to eat during pregnancy include new potatoes in their skins, pasta cooked until al dente, porridge oats and multigrain, granary or seeded bread. Basmati rice has the lowest glycaemic index of all rice types, which means once digested it releases its energy slowly, keeping your blood sugar stable. Having stable blood sugar levels throughout the day will give you sustained energy and can help to prevent pregnancy associated nausea and cravings.

Fibre is an important part of any diet, and that includes a healthy pregnancy diet. However many of us simply aren’t getting enough and we should be aiming to get more fibre from the foods that we eat. The NHS recommends that pregnant women should consume at least 30g of fibre every day. The health benefits of eating enough fibre include lowering the risk of constipation, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. A healthy way to use the glycaemic index principles during pregnancy is to incorporate a range of lower GI foods which are also rich in fibre. Both wholegrain and white Basmati rice are rich in fibre as well as resistant starch, which supports the digestive system and helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer. This means that including basmati rice with your meals can help to regulate your appetite, reduce cravings between meals, and help you to maintain a healthy weight during your pregnancy.

Benefits of rice during pregnancy:

Rice is a great source of nutrition for pregnant women. It provides essential nutrients such as carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals, which are important for the overall health of the mother and the baby. Including rice in your diet can help meet the increased energy and nutrient requirements during pregnancy. Here are some lesser known benefits of including rice as part of your healthy pregnancy diet:

Helps to strengthen teeth and bones:

Rice is a good source of calcium and other essential nutrients which are important for the development of your baby’s teeth and bones, and also for maintaining your own bone health during pregnancy.

Supports restful sleep:

Rice contains melatonin which is your natural sleep hormone. Melatonin is used to support healthy sleep cycles and can also boost eye health and brain health. This helps to ensure that mum’s get sufficient rest during pregnancy.