How To Lose Weight While Pregnant – 10 Ways To Try & Safety Tips In 2024

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Reviewed by Dr. Michael DiLeo, MD
how to lose weight while pregnant
Sustainable ways to manage weight while pregnant. Photo: Inside Creative House/Shutterstock

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Managing your weight during pregnancy is possible. However, it is crucial for pregnant women  to approach this with care and caution. 

Pregnancy is a time when the body goes through an immense number of changes in  physiology that support the growth and development of the baby. Although during this time, gaining weight is expected, it is important not to gain excess weight.

With this knowledge in mind, we raise an important question.  What is a safe way to manage weight while pregnant in a way that is healthy and supports the pregnancy? There are some essential considerations that you should follow. Continue reading below to learn ten methods to ensure that body weight during pregnancy is maintained healthily. 

How To Manage Weight During Pregnancy

10 Ways to manage weight while pregnant: 

  • Ensure adequate intake of all key food groups.
  • Reduce or limit consumption of ultra-processed foods.
  • Follow the physical activity recommendations.
  • Stay well hydrated.
  • Aim for ample sleep.
  • Minimize stress levels.
  • Keep tabs on weight.
  • Practice mindful eating.
  • Seek proper guidance.
  • Schedule regular checkups with your healthcare provider.

10 Best Ways To Manage Your Weight While Pregnant

Managing your weight during pregnancy can be overwhelming if you are unsure how to approach it. Ensuring that you seek proper guidance and support is essential for not only your health but your baby’s health, too. 

Ensure Adequate Intake Of All Key Food Groups

Eating a healthy diet is important for everyone. However, ensuring that key food groups are met during pregnancy can be critical. This will ensure that all essential nutrients are met to avoid further developing a nutritional deficiency. It will also support optimal growth and development of the baby. 

Adequate nutrition during pregnancy is paramount for a healthy baby and can help support a healthy body weight. At this time, nutritional requirements[1] are adjusted, with some nutrients being required in higher amounts to stay healthy. 

A diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fat supports optimal health. It will best support weight management throughout pregnancy. Ensuring recommended serving sizes are met for all food groups will also ensure the adequate intake of essential nutrients.

Reduce Or Limit Consumption Of Ultra-Processed Foods

Ultra-processed foods are typically low in nutritional value and dietary fiber. Instead, their energy density incorporates high fat, sodium, and sugar levels. These foods are typically designed to be tasty and are easy to eat in excess.[2] 

Their energy density means the amount of calories consumed can also add up easily. Consuming ultra-processed foods can contribute to weight gain. Making sure to limit these foods can help prevent excess weight gain.

Follow The Physical Activity Recommendations

how to lose weight while pregnant
Follow the activity recommendations to support a healthy body weight. Photo: Photoroyalty/Shutterstock

Regular physical activity can help support overall health.[3] However, it’s important to follow recommended guidelines and take care if starting exercise for the first time. An appropriate exercise program can help maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy and contribute to your overall health.

Before commencing an exercise routine, consult your doctor to advise what is appropriate for your circumstances. Following that, general physical activity recommendations[4] include aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity weekly exercise. This amount can be divided into smaller, achievable sessions over many days throughout the week. 

Stay Well Hydrated

Maintaining hydration levels is another factor contributing to overall health while further helping to support a healthy body weight. Water plays a crucial role in an array of functions[5] in the body.

Choosing water over other sugary drinks can be an easy method to prevent excess calories[6] and sugar from being consumed. This can further play a part in preventing excess body weight gain. 

The recommended water intake during pregnancy is between 8 to 12 cups[7] of water per day.

Aim For Ample Sleep

Sleep is another vital component of overall health. Adequate sleep is essential during pregnancy for many reasons. It helps prevent pregnancy-related[8] complications such as gestational diabetes. Research has also linked an association between inadequate levels of sleep and weight gain.[9]

Sleep is a key player in weight regulation.[10] Inadequate quality or amount of sleep can have a negative influence on hormones that are involved in appetite regulation.

Aim to meet the minimum amount of sleep recommended per night to support a healthy body weight and overall health. Typically, this is 7 hours.[11]

Minimize Stress Levels

High-stress levels have been linked to weight gain, and chronic stress over time can elicit various unfavorable conditions. 

The impact that stress[12] can have on body weight regulation and maintenance is multifaceted. Yet, this is true for losing excess weight outside of pregnancy or simply maintaining a healthy body weight during pregnancy.

Stress can negatively influence sleep quality and duration, eating habits, physical activity levels, and even your gut. Furthermore, high-stress levels can affect the release of cortisol in the body. This hormone can further influence food intake and has been associated with fat storage,[13] particularly around the abdomen. 

Incorporating effective stress management techniques regularly into your day or week is helpful. They could help ensure stress levels do not become heightened for too long. Some simple stress management techniques include[14] breathing, mindfulness, physical exercise, and body scanning. 

Keep Tabs On Weight

Monitoring your body weight while pregnant can help you stay aware of body composition changes. It indicates whether or not you are losing weight, gaining too much weight, or maintaining an optimal weight gain. 

Weight gain during pregnancy is normal. However, it will differ within an optimal weight gain range, depending on an individual’s body weight. For example, consider if you begin your pregnancy already in a healthy weight range. If so, the amount of weight gained during pregnancy[15] should be between 25 to 35 pounds. Even if you are overweight pre-pregnancy, however, you should still follow the recommended diet during pregnancy. 

Overweight women, when following a supervised pregnancy diet, may likely gain less than 25 to 35 pounds. If overweight, the range can be 15 to 25 pounds. If obese, this range can shrink to 11 to 20 pounds.

Practice Mindful Eating

how to lose weight while pregnant
Practice mindful eating to support healthy eating habits. Photo: LightField Studios/Shutterstock

Mindful eating is deliberately paying attention to your food during meal times. This includes consciously focusing on the flavor, sensation, and hunger cues. It encourages individuals to take their time when eating and to chew each mouthful slowly and adequately to support proper digestion. It also allows fullness cues to be better addressed. 

Mindful eating can have a positive impact on eating habits and behaviors. It helps shift your mindset or outlook associated with food intake, which can support a healthy relationship with food. 

Mindful eating can also help to prevent overeating and support a healthy body weight. 

Seek Proper Guidance

Seeking proper guidance about your weight during pregnancy will be an important step in ensuring any weight issues remain safe. Pregnancy weight gain is normal, but partnering with your healthcare professional is crucial. Learning how to manage worrisome weight gain when pregnant in a safe way is paramount for health. 

Schedule Regular Check-Ups

Scheduling regular checkups with your health care professional will ensure that your health is supported throughout your pregnancy. Regular checkups throughout pregnancy will ensure that key metrics are being met. These include making sure you are not gaining weight beyond the recommended ranges.

Can You Safely Lose Weight While Pregnant?

No. Yet, a recommended diet may see an overweight woman gain less than the usual customary pregnancy-related weight gain. Being overweight or obese while pregnant can pose additional health risks.[16] Therefore, losing weight before pregnancy is a positive solution for the reduction of health risks while simultaneously fostering improved health.

Incorporating a healthy diet and regular physical activity appropriate to the individual can be productive for weight management. It can further help reduce the risk of complications.

It is important to remember that your weight during pregnancy should be monitored under close supervision. A qualified healthcare provider can provide personalized guidance and monitor the health of both the mother and the developing baby. They can make any necessary adjustments to ensure safe and healthy progress.

Risks And Safety Tips

Common risks during pregnancy can be attributed to various health conditions. However, health conditions or complications can also arise due to the pregnancy itself. Some common complications[17] are high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, certain infections, depression, anxiety, miscarriage, and stillbirth. 

Tips[18] for decreasing risks of complications throughout pregnancy include maintaining a healthy body weight. They also include following healthy eating habits, engaging in appropriate regular physical activity, and striving for adequate sleep.  

Healthy Lifestyle During Pregnancy

A healthy lifestyle during pregnancy is paramount for the well-being of the mother and the growing baby. This promotes optimal conditions for their healthy development. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be straightforward when following basic guidelines specific to pregnancy.

Eating a nutritionally adequate diet by recommended servings of key food groups during this time is essential. Reducing or limiting your consumption of ultra-processed foods will help support an optimal body weight and overall health.

Moreover, adhering to and meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines will further contribute to this goal.

Additional factors are staying well-hydrated, minimizing stress levels, and ensuring adequate sleep quantity and quality. These all are crucial in supporting and promoting optimal health during this critical time.

The Bottom Line

Losing weight while pregnant is inadvisable, and weight loss during pregnancy must be addressed by your health care professional. 

It’s essential to understand the nutritional requirements needed during pregnancy. If overweight before pregnancy, this can complicate pregnancy in ways only a professional provider can address. 

Following healthy eating patterns, ensuring all essential nutrients are met, and maintaining some regular physical activity all help. They support a healthy body weight and a healthy pregnancy. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you lose weight while pregnant?

Anyone can lose weight. However, weight loss during pregnancy is abnormal and dangerous.
Weight management during pregnancy requires careful supervision, so you should consult with healthcare professionals to ensure a safe, healthy journey.

What trimester do you gain the most weight?

Typically, little or no weight is gained during the first trimester. If beginning pregnancy with a healthy body weight, the average weight gain[15] per week will rise after this. 

Can I work out while pregnant?

You can work out while pregnant. However, it’s advised to not start new or intense activities. The general recommendation is 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly. It’s essential to consult your doctor before starting an exercise program, regardless of fitness level. 

Does pregnancy speed up metabolism?

Metabolic changes[19] occur during pregnancy, and additional energy is required to support increasing demands and requirements for the pregnancy. Even though thyroid activity increases during pregnancy, not all processes are affected the same.

+ 19 Sources

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Giulia is a seasoned professional with a multifaceted background in nutrition, fitness, and wellness. With extensive qualifications, including a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutrition and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Human Nutrition, she has further honed… See More