Energy Boosting Meal Plan
Pregnancy and breastfeeding can be exhausting. It is hard work to grow a baby and then to nourish her. Sleep can be disrupted, and mom can be left feeling tired. Instead of looking for a quick boost from caffeine or sugar (which will be inevitably followed by an energy low), try some of these strategies. Make sure to eat three meals and two snacks throughout the day to get adequate nutrients and calories and to help keep your energy levels up. Going for long periods of time without eating or eating huge meals can leave you feeling tired.
Make sure to pay attention to the extra nutrients and calories you need. In the first trimester, although you do not need extra calories, you do need extra nutrients, so make sure you choose high quality whole foods that provide vitamins and minerals and help keep your energy throughout the day.
If you were at a healthy weight before pregnancy, you need an extra 340 calories per day in the second trimester, an extra 450 calories per day in the third trimester, and while breastfeeding, you need 450-500 extra calories per day. Choosing healthy foods for your extra calories is critical to supporting a healthy pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
Make sure you are getting enough protein at each stage as it is critical to your baby’s development. Choose lean sources of protein like poultry, low mercury seafood (salmon, cod, shrimp), beans, and tofu.
Getting enough vitamin B6 among other B vitamins is also important. B vitamins are involved in producing energy, so make sure to include foods rich in B vitamins (whole grains, lean meats, fortified breakfast cereal, milk).
Whole grains (which include the entire grain) contain fiber and bran, which can help you feel satiated and energized longer as they help to keep blood sugar stable.
Including healthy fats – such as olive and canola oils, avocados, nuts, seeds, and low mercury fatty fish – can contribute to satiety. Eating healthy unsaturated fats in place of sugar and refined carbohydrates can improve lipid profiles and decrease risk of heart disease as well.
Finally, if your healthcare provider gives you the ‘okay’, choosing pregnancy safe exercise can actually boost energy and leave you feeling invigorated.
Staying well-nourished while pregnant and breastfeeding is vital because your body will prioritize the baby. This means that if you are not taking in enough nutrients, your baby will use up what she needs and you, momma, will be left depleted. So don’t be afraid to up your calorie count. Increased caloric intake (as much as an additional mini meal of whole foods per day) is key in maintaining your and your baby’s health and a healthy milk supply for your little one when exclusively breastfeeding.
Selecting meals and snacks from the below listed options will help you choose foods that will ensure you are getting enough to keep your energy levels at their best, while fueling you and your baby.
- Option 1: Fortified whole grain breakfast cereal with milk or dairy milk alternative, nuts and fruit
- Option 2: Banana pancakes: Mash 1 ripe banana, combine with 1 egg and 2 tablespoons whole grain flour. Cook 3 portions over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes per side. Top with a dollop of plain yogurt
- Option 3: Egg muffins: combine 6 beaten eggs, chopped veggies (like peppers, onions, mushrooms) with spinach and cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees in a greased 12-muffin pan for 20-22 minutes
- Option 4: Oatmeal with dried fruit, nuts or seeds, and cinnamon
- Option 5: Scrambled eggs with salsa and avocado in whole grain wrap
- Option 1: Baked sweet potato with cottage cheese, chopped broccoli, and chives. Sprinkle of crushed red pepper
- Option 2: Leafy greens topped with chickpeas, slivered almonds, sliced pears, and dried cranberries. Top with drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar
- Option 3: Quesadilla: top corn tortilla with sprinkle of cheddar cheese, sliced peppers, and leftover grilled chicken. Heat in pan until cheese is melted
- Option 4: Tuna sandwich (chunk light tuna*) on whole grain bread, topped with lettuce and tomato. Side of sliced cucumbers
- Option 5: Rice bowl: brown rice topped with grilled chicken, roasted carrots, and broccoli
- Option 1: Black bean burgers or patties on whole grain bun topped with sliced avocado, tomato, and onion. Side of oven baked carrot “fries”
- Option 2: Whole grain pasta mixed with your favorite veggies like peppers, carrots, tomato, and garbanzo beans, tossed with olive oil, vinegar and dried herbs
- Option 3: Spaghetti squash with turkey bolognese
- Option 4: Grilled or baked salmon, steamed broccoli, sweet potato
- Option 5: Chicken roasted with garlic, onion, carrots, and butternut squash. Place all ingredients on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees until
- Option 1: Hummus with veggies
- Option 2: String cheese and grapes
- Option 3: Baked apple (bake cored apple at 350 degrees for 15 minutes), top with toasted oats and yogurt
- Option 4: Popcorn, dried fruit, and nuts mixed together to create a unique trail mix
- Option 5: Guacamole with sliced peppers
*Pregnant women should eat no more than 6 ounces of high mercury fish per week
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