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What Are the Caloric Requirements for the First Trimester of Pregnancy?

The first trimester of pregnancy can bring a sense of excitement as you contemplate a new life growing inside you and begin to make plans for the arrival of your newborn. Efforts to eat a healthy diet probably tops your list of priorities. An appropriate calorie intake during the first trimester helps maintain your energy level and meet the needs of your growing baby. Maintaining a healthy rate of weight gain throughout pregnancy helps reduce the risk of complications occurring during pregnancy and delivery. As a bonus, a healthy amount of weight gain means you will soon regain a slender silhouette once your baby is born.

Basic Caloric Need

The daily amount of calories required to maintain your body weight is called your basic caloric need. During the first trimester of pregnancy, your calorie intake should match your basic caloric need, and there is no need to increase your calorie intake above that, advises the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a nonprofit organization. Basic caloric need is determined by body size and the amount of exercise you take. For example, if you are sedentary, you require 13 calories for each pound body weight to keep your weight stable. If you are moderately active, you require 16 calories per pound.

First Trimester Weight Gain

A calorie intake that meets your basic caloric need throughout the first trimester of pregnancy should enable you to gain an appropriate amount of weight. Pregnancy weight gain is a result of an increase in blood volume and the production of amniotic fluid, along with growth of the fetus, uterus, placenta and breast tissue. If your weight is normal at the start of your pregnancy, you should gain 4 pounds during the first trimester. If you are underweight at the beginning of pregnancy, you should gain 5 pounds during that period, and if you are overweight at the start of pregnancy, your weight gain during the first trimester should total 3 pounds.

Optimum Nutrition

A balanced diet provides sufficient calories and nutrients to support your health and energy needs and enable healthy fetal growth. You should avoid foods that contain "empty calories" and those that are high in sugar and fat and which contain few important nutrients such as protein, vitamins and minerals. Your daily calorie intake during pregnancy, advises the National Institutes of Health, should come from between nine and 11 servings of carbohydrates, such as bread and pasta; three servings of protein, such as meat and beans; and three servings of dairy foods, such as milk and yogurt, along with four or five servings of vegetables and three or four servings of fruit.

Coping With Morning Sickness

Unpleasant symptoms like nausea and morning sickness are common at the start of pregnancy, and they can undermine your attempt to eat a sufficient number of calories each day. If you experience morning sickness, it's a good idea to eat a small portion of bland, starchy food like dry crackers or dry cereal before you get out of bed in the morning. Give spicy foods and those that emit a strong smell a pass; also avoid taking a nap after a meal because it can worsen feelings of nausea. You can also help prevent an over-full stomach by drinking fluids half an hour before or half an hour after each meal rather than at the same time as your meal.

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