Eating Carbs During Pregnancy

Ah, carbs—the the devil of so many diets. Should you avoid them when you're pregnant? Here's the deal.  
Save article
ByDebra Goldman, MD
OB-GYN
Updated
Apr 2017
Hero Image

Pregnancy is not the time to go low-carb. Carbohydrates give you energy and can be an important source of  fiber (you need all you can get right now!) and other nutrients. In fact, about half your calories should come from carbs.

Carbs to avoid

But all carbs are not created equal. Some carbs, called simple carbs, are quickly converted to sugar in the body. They provide a quick burst of energy, with not much in the way of sticking power. Complex carbs, which include whole-grains such as oatmeal and bulgur, legumes (such as dried beans) and starchy vegetables, take longer to break down in the body and provide energy over time. They also include fiber.

To avoid simple carbs, stay away from processed and refined foods, since they contain more of them and offer less nutrition. This includes white bread, white rice, chips and candy.

Carbs to choose

Instead, go for whole grain bread, brown rice, baked potatoes (skin on) and fresh fruit. (Note: Fresh fruit contains a lot of simple carbs, in the form of naturally occurring sugar, but it also contains a lot of fiber and essential nutrients.)

As a rule of thumb, “the more complex and whole grain the carbohydrate is, the better,” says Deborah Goldman, MD, an ob-gyn at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island. “The more complex the carbohydrate, the more whole grain it is, the slower your body absorbs it. That will help your blood sugar levels remain consistent, instead of bumping up and down.”

How many carbs to eat

Pregnant women should eat 9 to 11 servings of carbohydrates per day. (A serving size of carbs is smaller than you probably think: 1/3 cup of rice counts as a serving. So does 1/2 of an English muffin or 1 ounce of cereal.) Ideally, about half of your carb intake should be whole grains.

Plus, More from The Bump:

 

Related Video
Save article

So Long Seafood? Debunking Myths About Eating Fish During Pregnancy

Allison Webster, PhD, RD
International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation

6 Holiday Food Rules to Follow When Pregnant

Erin van Vuuren and Lauren A. Greene

7 Natural Pregnancy Energy Boosters

Meredith Franco Meyers
Contributing Writer

Eating This Food During Pregnancy Can Boost Your Kid’s Attention Span

Laurie Ulster
Contributing Writer
Published
10/03/2019

Yet Another Reason to Take Folic Acid: It’s Good for Your Baby’s Mental Health

Ashley Edwards Walker
Contributing Writer
Published
07/05/2018

The Important Reason to Lay Off Sugar (but Not Fruit!) During Pregnancy

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
04/20/2018

Treat Yourself! Joanna Gaines Celebrates 40th Birthday During Pregnancy

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
04/19/2018

Eat More Fish During Pregnancy?

Ashley Roman, MD
OB-GYN
Article removed.