Nothing wipes you out like a good dose of pregnancy. Growing a baby is tiring work—but Mother Nature took pity on us and provided some all-star options for boosting energy levels naturally. Read on to learn about five foods that’ll help you win the fight against pregnancy fatigue.
Making sure to hydrate is one of the best ways to boost your energy levels. Water is the main component of blood and helps carry key nutrients to your cells, and fatigue is one of the first signs your body is low on fluids. Very few women actually drink six to eight glasses of water per day, and when you're pregnant you’re supposed to have even more, since your body’s busy making baby’s amniotic fluid. (The water you drink helps constantly replenish the fluid supply.) Dehydration can also up your risk of urinary tract infections and preterm labor. Sick of plain water? Frances Largeman-Roth, registered dietician and author of Feed the Belly: The Pregnant Mom’s Healthy Eating Guide, suggests drinking coconut water, or adding mint, lemon, lime or cucumber slices to your H2O for a subtle kick of flavor. However you like your water, the key is carrying an 8-ounce bottle with you all day and sipping from it often.
Snacking throughout the day can help keep your energy up—and nuts are convenient (and healthy) option to carry with you. They offer protein and fiber to keep you fuller longer, plus healthy fats (including brain-boosting omega-3s) and magnesium (which you should be getting 350 milligrams of a day). Trying not to go too crazy with calories? Shell-on pistachios take longer to eat, giving your body more time to register that it’s full.
Most pregnant women are mildly anemic, especially during the final stages of pregnancy when the body is prepping for birth and producing a ton of extra blood. And—you guessed it—anemia makes you tired. Your lifesaver? Mangoes, Largeman-Roth says. “The natural fruit sugars in mangoes lift energy levels. Plus, fresh mango is an excellent source of folate, which can help prevent birth defects.” Mango also has vitamin C, which helps your body absorb the energy-boosting effects of iron-rich foods, like lean red meat and beans.
Did we mention spinach? That’s another example of an iron-rich food. Iron helps transport oxygen throughout your body, and a lack of iron can leave you feeling exhausted. One cup of boiled spinach offers 6.4 milligrams of iron. Keep a bag of it on hand for salads and sautés, and even sneak it into your Sunday lasagna. Note that while spinach is high in iron for a veggie, you need a whopping total of 27 milligrams of iron each day during pregnancy. So keep taking your prenatal vitamin too.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Here’s another food to help you reach your iron quota—one medium sweet potato offers 0.8 milligrams. Plus, the vitamin C and copper help your body absorp the iron. Bonus: Your body uses a sweet potato’s beta-carotene to make vitamin A, which helps baby’s eye, bone and skin development.
If you’re eating well and still feel super-sluggish, see your OB, who may want to test for anemia or check your thyroid.
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