Guide to achieve and maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy

Pregnancy Guide

Guide to achieve and maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy

It’s possible for a pregnant mum who’s never had a diabetic history to develop gestational diabetes. During early assessments by the doctor in a mum’s early pregnancy stages, the doctor will identify several risk factors or characteristics that might raise a red flag for gestational diabetes1. They include the following2:

  • Being overweight or obese before pregnancy
  • Having family members (first degree) with diabetes
  • A laboratory finding of sugar (AKA glucose) in the urine
  • Having a previous pregnancy complicated by gestational diabetes

That’s why starting at a healthy weight during your pregnancy is important.

Below is a table which shows recommended weight gains during the pregnancy. 3, 4

*These target goals are averages to provide an idea of how much weight you should gain. Your healthcare provider is the best person to advise you on your specific weight goals. 3

Keep in mind that the weight you gain has an immediate and future impact on your health, as well your little one’s. 4

So, how can I achieve and maintain healthy weight during pregnancy?

1. Eat a well-balanced diet.

There’s no secret formula, or any single food that can offer you all nutrients. 5, 6 Your meals must be varied and well-balanced, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and foods with less fat. 5, 6 It’s essential that your meals contain food from all food groups that provide you the highest quality nutrients.

2. Watch portion sizes.

Eating for two does not mean eating a lot more than you did before. 3, 6 While the increased energy (calorie) requirement is attributed to your changing body to support the pregnancy and the nutritional needs of your growing little one, an excess in calories can lead to gaining too much weight which can increase your risk for gestational diabetes. For most normal-weight pregnant women, the number of calories needed per day per trimester is as follows: 7
To help you decide what and how much to put on your plate, you may use the following plate illustration as a guide. In addition to a well-portioned meal, include regular physical activity to maintain a healthy weight. 8

3. Choose your carbs with care.

Carbohydrates are the main sources of energy for you and your little one. However, if consumed in excess, it will put you at risk of gaining too much weight and possibly risk of developing gestational diabetes. Of all the nutrients, carbohydrates particularly simple carbohydrates like refined sugars have the most immediate impact on blood glucose level. When digested, carbohydrates are broken down into smaller glucose units which are absorbed in the bloodstream. 9 Therefore, the type and amount of carbohydrate including presence of other substances such as fibre (also known as complex carbohydrates) can impact the rate of absorption of glucose by the body. 10, 11

1. American Diabetes Association. What is gestational diabetes? Available at: Accessed December, 2015.

2. American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care 2003;26(Suppl 1):S103-S105.

3. American Diabetes Association. Prenatal care for women with diabetes. Available at: Accessed June 16, 2016.

4. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Weight gain during pregnancy. Available at: Accessed June 16, 2016.

5. Mayo Clinic. Pregnancy diet: focus on these essential nutrients. Available at: Accessed July 16, 2016.

6.American Diabetes Association. Diabetes meal plans and a healthy diet. Available at: Accessed July 16, 2016.

7. MedlinePlus. Eating right during pregnancy. Available at: Accessed July 16, 2016.

8. My healthy plate. Available at: Accessed December, 2015.

9. Health Promotion Board. Diet and diabetes. Available at: Accessed December, 2015. Simple vs complex carbs. Available at: Accessed July 16, 2016.

11. NutritionMD. Making sense of foods. Available at: Accessed July 16, 2016.

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