Pregnancy Articles

Eat Plenty of Complex Carbohydrates

Myths and Truths About the Power of Carbs

A common question that we get is: "How do carbs fit into a healthy pregnancy diet routine?" In this age of low-carb diets, there's a lot of confusion and misleading information about the benefits and drawbacks of carbohydrates. Let's clear the confusion up once and for all. When it comes down to it, your body needs a little bit of everything, so cutting out one food group means possibly removing great sources of nutrients that you need and your baby needs to grow.

The FDA suggests that 55% of our daily calorie intake should come from carbohydrates. But here's the confusion that many low-carb diets don't spell out: what the FDA does not quantify is how much of that 55% should come from complex carbohydrates as opposed to simple carbohydrates. We'll try to clarify it for you as much as possible!

There is a very real difference between simple and complex carbohydrates. Let's look at them. Simple carbohydrates, found in rice, pasta, white potatoes, and some dairy products, contain sugars that are broken down quickly by your body. This will provide your body with a quick burst of energy, but if the carbohydrates are not used quickly, the sugar will turn to fat. That's why low-carb diets cut them out. But those diets often lump all carbs together. You will gain weight during pregnancy, and limiting carbs is not a safe way to try to avoid this. Instead, substitute complex carbs. Your baby needs the extra supplies!

Complex carbohydrates also contain sugars, but ones with longer, more complex chains. Because of this, the human body takes longer to break them down. This allows the body more time to use the carbohydrates, and as a result fewer of the carbs turn to fat. Vegetables, whole grain pastas and breads, and beans all contain complex carbohydrates.

This means you can get the fueling benefits of carbohydrates and gain weight the healthy way throughout your pregnancy.

Another key advantage of complex carbohydrates is the fiber content. Fibrous foods have more bulk than low fiber foods, warding off hunger and keeping you satisfied. A fiber rich diet is also beneficial in alleviating and preventing constipation, an unpleasant side effect of pregnancy that plagues many women. And the best foods to get fiber from are complex carbohydrates.

BabyFit recommends that you get 6-11 daily servings of carbs. Of course, we recommend that most of them are complex carb servings like whole grains. Try to get 4-6 servings to start with and build from there. It might not be as hard as you think; a whole wheat bagel, for example, is actually two servings.
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