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Fueling During Pregnancy

By Brooke Schohl, 04/25/17, 6:15PM MDT


BY BROOKE SCHOHL | APRIL 25, 2017, 6:15 P.M. (ET)

pregnant athlete 

Baby is coming, and it's time to eat for two! An eating free-for-all. Well, not exactly. 


Fueling during pregnancy is different for every woman as we all experience it differently. Women that have severe "morning" sickness lasting all day for 9 months may have to force food, water and saltines, while others have no nausea and can eat anything and everything. So while it's so important for baby to be getting a variety of nutrients when possible, pregos must also listen to their bodies and consume what they can tolerate. 


I’m currently pregnant with my second baby, and I've experienced mild to moderate morning sickness with both of my pregnancies — up until week 13 with my first babe and week 17 with my second. Luckily, when those feelings would strike, eating actually made me feel better. On that note, here are some tips for maternity fueling.


Start a Prenatal Right Away

My personal favorite prenatal vitamins are New Chapter Prenatal as they are a whole food vitamin and do not contain synthetic nutrients. Keep in mind that depending on your age and doctor’s advice, you may require extra nutrients such as folate, calcium and DHA. The New Chapter brand is on the lower side when it comes to iron, so keep that in mind and strive to get extra iron from foods like meat and leafy greens. A good prenatal provides an insurance policy in case the mama-to-be isn’t meeting all of she and her baby’s needs through good old food.


Eat for One, Not Two

Caloric needs during pregnancy do not increase at all until the second trimester, and even then it's only a 300 calorie increase. This translates to an additional snack — think a serving of almond butter (2 tablespoons) and an apple. That’s it! Even though you pregnant mamas are growing a human being and do need a bit extra fuel later in pregnancy, it’s easy to overdo calories and make losing that baby weight harder once the little one arrives.


Eat a Variety of Foods, Lots of Color

Whether you are pregnant or not, the old adage “eat the rainbow” holds true. Baby is pulling lots of nutrients from you, so keep both of you healthy by including as many fruits and vegetables in your diet as possible. They are anti-inflammatory as well. Variety is key when it comes to food consumption. 


Pay Attention to Cravings, but Don’t Let Them Decide All Food Decisions

While the nightly Dairy Queen craving shouldn’t be catered to every night, keep in mind that our bodies are pretty darn in tune with what we need and cravings can be an indicator of what your body is missing. If you are craving fruit, you probably need more fluids. If you crave meat, your body needs protein. However, if you’re craving daily cupcakes, this doesn’t mean your body needs more sugar. So keep it all in balance. 


In a Nutshell

Don’t succumb to the “I’m pregnant and must eat everything in sight mentality.” It will be difficult to get the extra weight off and you probably won’t feel very good. Do listen to your body and allow yourself a few extra treats from time to time. And visit as a reference throughout pregnancy. Bask in it, ladies; it’s over all too soon.


Brooke Schohl, MS, RD, CSSD, METS Level II is a registered sports dietitian and the owner of Fuel to the Finish Endurance Nutrition Coaching in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is an avid triathlete, having completed many triathlons of all distances including multiple Ironman races. She integrates that personal experience and knowledge into developing customized, sport-specific, metabolically efficient fueling plans for her clients. For more information on services and offerings, visit her website at


The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.