Lose Weight, Get Pregnant: Practical Steps
Part one of this series looked at losing weight while trying to conceive from a beginning standpoint. I talked about the challenges that it's typical to face when considering losing weight for TTC, as well as some things that help to overcome those.
This page is going to talk about a practical plan for losing weight.
The first thing I want to repeat is that losing weight while trying to get pregnant (or any other time) means lifestyle change. In addition, it's probably change that needs to become your new lifestyle — you can't lose the pounds and then go back to your old way of eating. If you do that, you'll gain the weight back. Make a healthy diet your new way of life.
Step One: Protein
Protein is an important part of your diet. It helps your body continue to build and rebuild on a daily basis. When you get pregnant, protein will form the building blocks of your baby.
Get plenty of protein every day. Shoot for 75 to 80 grams of protein, at least. You can safely eat more protein if you're also eating healthy fats (more on this shortly). If you're planning on IVF, using Clomid, or other assisted technologies, get more protein. These can tax your body — they also increase your chances of multiples (which means higher nutritional needs).
Protein should form the centerpiece of your meals, and more importantly, you should choose animal proteins. Plant proteins come packed with carbohydrates, which make your body more likely to pack on fat! These carbohydrates convert to sugars in your body, which your body then stores away as fat cells. Choose animal proteins like eggs, meat, and poultry.
Step Two: Veggies
You know that vegetables are good for you. They're packed with vitamins and minerals. Overall, they boost your nutrient intake and can help keep energy levels high.
Be careful which vegetables you pick, however. Don't choose starchy vegetables like beets, carrots, or potatoes. If you're hoping to lose weight, they're not your friend! Like plant-based protein sources, starchy vegetables have a lot of carbohydrates that convert into fat in your body.
Choose leafy green vegtables as your primary veggie. Foods like cucumbers, beets, summer squashes, mushrooms, etc. can also be enjoyed. If you eat these liberally you will get high levels of vitamins and minerals while reducing the excess carbohydrate levels in your diet.
Step Three: Fats
Are you thinking of dry roasts and flavorless salads now? Maybe you're thinking of the boneless, skinless chicken breasts and plain broccoli that should be on a “healthy” plate.
Luckily, that's not what you need to eat! Step three to losing weight is getting in good fats. I'm not just talking about eating fish once a week. I'm talking about enjoying butter, rich reduction sauces made with drippings from your meat, and luscious egg sauces (or cream sauces).
Fats from animal sources are good for you! It's hard to believe, but it's true. Your body uses fat differently than it does carbohydrates – it uses fat for energy, but it doesn't store it as fat cells in the same way it will store excess carbohydrate. Some vegetable fats, like olive oil and coconut oil are good for you, but you should skip processed oils like soy, corn, and canola oils.
These fats help bring otherwise boring meats and vegetables to life in delicious dishes that you can truly enjoy.
In the first section of this article I talked about how changing your lifestyle can be hard because you have to give up comfort foods. Fats make that better. Giving up pasta was hard for me. I do still miss white pasta. But creamy sauces spread over mushrooms, shrimp, and scallops are delicious. Creamy sauce over steak is satisfying. I miss chicken nuggets (yes, chicken nuggets, a childhood comfort food!). But chicken “breaded” in egg and Parmesan cheese then fried in coconut oil can really satisfy, especially if I'm dipping my nuggets into a homemade sauce.
Foods to Minimize
What should you avoid or minimize to lose weight for trying to conceive?
You already know the basics — drop the candy, the white bread, the junk food. Avoid processed foods.
Even if you're a busy working woman, a student, or chasing around your older children, you can find the time to prepare tasty, homemade meals. Making larger meals on the weekend to carry with you to work or school can work well – or something you can pull out and prepare quickly for lunch at home.
Fresh fruits are good every once in awhile, but vegetables should form the bulk of your “fruit and vegetables.” Skip fruit juices altogether.
I'm a huge fan of high quality milk (whole, unprocessed milk), but minimize milk while you're trying to lose weight. 16oz or so is the upper limit, and when you get pregnant you can gradually increase it to 32oz. Yogurt (full-fat Greek-style yogurt is absolutely delicious!) and cheeses are lower-carb dairy products that still have plenty of protein.
Avoid grains and starchy vegetables like potatoes. Huge salads, broccoli with sauces, etc. can fill out your plate and be enjoyable stand-ins for the corn, wheat, oats, rice, and potatoes that just thwart your fat loss.
- Animal Proteins (beef, lamb, bison, chicken, turkey, duck, bacon, sausage, eggs, cheese, full-fat yogurt)
- Vegetables (salad greens, cooked spinach, broccoli, asparagus, peppers, mushrooms, summer squash varieties, tomatoes in moderation
- Fruits in moderation (choose less sugary fruits like berries and skip fruit juice)
- Nuts and seeds make easy snacks and can be enjoyed in moderation, too.
- Grains (wheat, oats, corn, barley, spelt, rice, etc.)
- Sweets or candies (danishes, sweet rolls, Twinkies, candy bars, ice cream, hard candies, etc.)
- Fruits – a fruit here and there is OK, but remember fruits are full of sugar
- A treat here and there (a favorite snack food or sweet once every week or so… don't binge. Snack on foods form the “Eat” list)
Remember to beware of “health food” that's really just glorified sugar. It doesn't matter if it says “organic cane sugar” or “pure honey” or “local maple syrup” – it's still just sugar 🙂 Also watch out for traditional “diet food” full of grains. Choose a protein/fat snack instead!