“You’re eating for two now!” While you may hear this from people in your life once they know you’re pregnant, that logic is a bit flawed. Find out how many calories you should actually consume while pregnant and what foods to eat to support your baby's healthy development.
While the idea of eating for two—or more, if you’re pregnant with multiples—sounds like a vacation from watching what you eat, it’s not exactly what your body needs while you’re pregnant. What kind of calorie intake should you aim for, then?
Eating for Two Means Increased Calories—Not Double
Experts recommend that a woman pregnant with one baby should get around 2,200 calories daily, beginning in the second trimester. A woman pregnant with twins may need to consume 3,000 or more calories per day to meet heightened nutritional and energy requirements. This nets out to about 340 additional calories a day for each little one you’re expecting in the second trimester,1 around 452 in the third trimester.2
Pregnant woman – especially when it comes to multiples! – have additional nutritional needs beyond calories, including increased iron and folic acid intake. In addition to eating more, Health Canada recommends taking a multivitamin containing 400 µg (0.4 mg) of folic acid and 16 to 20 mg of iron throughout pregnancy. Speak to your doctor or dietitian to ensure you are meeting your increased nutritional needs.
Eating for Two & Weight Gain
Weight gain is a natural part of pregnancy, of course, but how much weight you can expect to gain isn’t a mystery—it’s based on your pre-pregnancy BMI and whether or not you’re pregnant with multiples or a single baby:3
Pregnancy Weight Gain Recommendations for Single Pregnancies
- Underweight: 28 to 40 lbs.
- Healthy Weight: 25 to 35 lbs.
- Overweight: 15 to 25 lbs.
- Obese: 11 to 20 lbs.
Pregnancy Weight Gain Recommendations for Twin/Multiples Pregnancies
- Underweight: 50 to 62 lbs.
- Healthy Weight: 37 to 54 lbs.
- Overweight: 31 to 50 lbs.
- Obese: 25 to 42 lbs.
Consult with your doctor about how much weight gain is healthy for both you and your growing belly.
Tips for Healthy Eating for Two (or More)
While you may have some very strong pregnancy cravings for tasty treats, here are some tips for healthy eating for two while you’re trying to reach your pregnancy calorie goals and gain weight at a healthy rate:
- Balance your diet by following Canada's Food Guide4 when pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Eat a variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables; healthy fats from foods like seeds and nuts; and iron-rich staples like whole grains, beans, eggs, and lean meat.
- Set up a schedule for meals and snacks—and try to stick to it—eating mini meals and snacks throughout the day to stay sated.
- Carry snacks like dried fruits, nuts, and whole grain crackers in your purse.
- Stay hydrated—it’s easy to confuse thirst and hunger, so make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day and with snacks and meals.Women pregnant with one baby have increased nutritional needs, but women with a twin pregnancy may need even more iron and folic acid. Health Canada recommends taking a multivitamin containing 400 µg (0.4 mg) of folic acid and 16-20 mg of iron throughout pregnancy. Speak to your doctor or dietitian to ensure you are meeting your increased nutritional needs.
- Make sure you get the correct, most beneficial amounts of DHA (an omega-3 fat)—DHA
- supports your babies' normal brain and eye development.