(Read: Health at Every Size). I see too many women in semi-starvation mode, trying to disguise weight loss as “health”.
The number one reason I see women struggling to get pregnant is because they’re not eating enough.
Not only is this always-trying-eat-less approach a total drag, it’s also counterproductive. When trying to conceive (TTC), you need to get enough total calories, as well as enough of each macro and micronutrient.
Your weight, your plate and your fertility
No matter what the number on the scale, BMI high or low, if you’re not eating enough to meet your daily energy needs, or if you’re not getting enough of the needed nutrients it puts your body in a state of stress.
In response to under-eating, cortisol (a.k.a. the stress hormone) shoots up. Cortisol turns down the dial on your thyroid (i.e. your metabolic engine) to conserve energy. Weight sticks to your sides like glute (ugh) and reproduction falls to the wayside (double ugh).
How do you know if you’re eating enough? Let’s dive in.
How much should I eat when trying to get pregnant?
Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of energy (a.k.a. calories) that your body needs while at rest. This is the minimum calorie intake for basic life things – brushing your teeth, flipping through Netflix, etc.
The more active you are, the more fuel you need. If you’re getting out of bed each day, getting in any exercise and you’re TTC, then you could need anywhere from 500-1000 calories per day above your BMR.
Too many women, in attempt to be healthy or lose weight, cut calories too low and fail to meet their energy needs. The result? Impaired fertility.
Want help figuring out how much you should be eating to get pregnant? I can help you make sure you’re eating the right amount so you can get pregnant more quickly and easily.
How much protein, fat and carb should I eat to get pregnant?
The next step is to get your macronutrients – your protein, fat and carbohydrates in balance for fertility.
Every body is different, and needs vary based on height, weight, age, activity level, etc. That said, there are helpful guidelines.
I recommend aiming for ~20-30% of your calories from protein, 30%-50% from healthy fat, and the rest from complex, fiber-full carbs.
If you struggle with PCOS, you’ll want to keep your fat:carb ratio higher. There is robust research suggesting that carb intake less than 45% of overall calories can improve fertility. Further, fertility diet research out of Harvard found that women eating low or nonfat dairy had an 85% increased risk of infertility compared to those eating full-fat dairy.
(Of course, quality matters just as much as quantity. Unfortunately, I cannot cram everything you need to know into this blog, but if you want more, the FERTILE IN FIVE™ method breaks down how to choose the highest quality foods for fertility.)
Am I recommending you whip out your calorie counter to start calculating percentages? Definitely not.
The takeaway is that optimal reproductive function requires eating enough of each macronutrient.
NOT that you have to become an insane person adding grams of each morsel that hits your lips.
Take Home: Low-fat diets and juice cleanses are not your friend when preparing for pregnancy. Swap your non-fat yogurt for full-fat and order your salads with the dressing.
What vitamins do I need for ovulation, egg quality and a healthy pregnancy?
Last, but definitely not least, you need to eat enough quantity and variety for fertility. Even if you’re eating enough calories, you still need the right nutrients- vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
There are a number of nutrient deficiencies, often subclinical, common among women in the U.S. trying to conceive.
These include vitamin B12, vitamin D and vitamin A, as well as folate, choline and omega-3 fatty acids.
Each of these nutrients has a long list of essential functions. To avoid getting lost in the weeds, let’s focus on the best fertility superfoods that offer the biggest bang for your nutrition buck. Favorites include beets, avocado, salmon, eggs and kefir.
Thankfully, addressing deficiencies to improve your fertility has a delicious solution; eating good food. Hopefully you’re convinced at this point that if you’re hungry, you deserve permission to eat… for yourself and your baby-to-be.
Here for you,
PS I offer micronutrient testing and can provide you with an in-depth look at your personal nutrient status. Contact me to learn more.