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Home arrow Nutrition arrow Intermittent Fasting arrow Is Fasting While Pregnant Safe? Weighing the Risks and Benefits

Is Fasting While Pregnant Safe? Weighing the Risks and Benefits

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Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
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Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: October 21, 2023
3 min read 1411 Views 0 Comments
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For many pregnant women, weight gain soon becomes the topic of conversation. How do you plan to stay in shape while pregnant? Are you worried about losing weight once the baby is born?

fasting-while-pregnant

It is important to remember that your growing body is nurturing your unborn baby from the inside. For this reason, it is to be expected for women to put on a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy, and it’s important to know that there’s a wide range of what is considered healthy.

During your pregnancy, your body is going to grow and change. It may come as a shock to some women just how much their bodies may change over the nine months of pregnancy, especially towards the end of the third trimester.

But what happens if you want to keep a handle on your weight even when pregnant? Can you fast while pregnant? In this blog post, we look into intermittent fasting and its effects on fertility and your baby.

Can You Fast While Pregnant?

No, it is not recommended to fast during pregnancy.

Intermittent fasting is the process where you eat within certain time frames, putting your body into the fat-burning state of ketosis. While pregnant, you may keep an eye on what you are eating; however, reducing calorie intake generally is advised against.

A pregnant woman’s blood sugar has to be monitored regularly. Gestational diabetes is a common condition when the blood sugar level becomes high during pregnancy, but there is also a risk of low blood sugar. To keep the blood sugar steady, you have to eat frequently enough, therefore, IF while pregnant might not be the best idea.

Fasting means you are potentially starving the body of important nutrients that will affect your baby’s health and development in the womb. During pregnancy, your body provides nutrition to help your baby’s brain and body development.

Also, if you plan to breastfeed, your body uses pregnancy to build maternal fat stores for when the baby arrives. For this reason, you need to make sure you include nutritious and healthy foods in your diet.

If you were following a fasting diet prior to your pregnancy, consult your doctor for the best way to adjust your eating habits accordingly.

All pregnant women hope to have healthy pregnancies. If you can aid this in any way, the best place to start is by making sure you are eating the right foods, drinking plenty of water, and sticking to a normal eating schedule.

Risks of Fasting During Pregnancy

Possible risks of fasting include iron deficiency due to poor nutrition, low fetal movement, and low energy levels for the mother.

Fasting throughout pregnancy is not advised, and this is especially true during the second or third trimester of pregnancy when your body requires an increase of around 300 calories.

Fasting can make it hard to control your blood sugar levels, which can be particularly risky for women who have, or are prone to, gestational diabetes.

Can I Fast if I’m Trying to Get Pregnant?

You may be wondering, “does intermittent fasting affect fertility?” Yes, but usually in a positive way. It is even considered beneficial for overweight women to follow a diet if trying to conceive to increase their chances of a natural conception.

Because there are different variations of intermittent fasting, there is no clear yes or no answer. Fasting can affect your hormonal balance, so if you are planning to conceive and are already on a diet of intermittent fasting, it is best to speak with your doctor for further advice. It may be that you can still follow your diet plan but be less strict.

A Word From Our RD

Intermittent fasting is usually a very beneficial and effective way to lose weight.

There is no reason why you can’t return to a diet of intermittent fasting once the baby is born and you are no longer breastfeeding. It is best to combine a balanced diet with regular exercise to safely lose weight once you are postnatal.

For some women, fasting may be due to other contributing factors such as religion. During Ramadan, which involves a month of fasting, pregnant or breastfeeding women aren’t expected to take part.

It is, of course, up to the pregnant woman to decide if she is going to fast or not, but it is strongly advised they seek medical advice before doing so. Some women worry about missing out on fasting, and this can be especially hard if their family and friends are taking part.

A way around this could be that the pregnant women take part at a different time of year when they are no longer pregnant.

Conclusion

After reading this article, you hopefully now have a better understanding of why fasting is strongly advised against during pregnancy. There are many other ways you can stay in shape while pregnant, such as regular, gentle exercise. Stay away from high-intensity exercises, such as running, rowing, or tabata.

If you are concerned about your weight gain throughout your pregnancy, speak to your doctor or health professional, who will be able to advise you further.

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
HR_author_photo_Rosmy
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: October 21, 2023
3 min read 1411 Views 0 Comments
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