Pregnancy Nutrition: 9 Food Groups That Will Have You Bursting With Energy

Plus, 1 Day of Recipes to Kick-Start Your Way to Energy

We know how tempting it is to give into cravings, especially when your energy is low. But, we’re here to tell you eating right can be just as easy! Plus, these energy bursting foods will give important nutrients for the baby and help keep you feeling good during (and after) pregnancy.  This list is delicious, and makes grocery shopping a breeze.

(1) Protein

It is advised for the average pregnant women to generally get 18-20 extra grams of protein a day1 and it is a great way to stay alert. Protein is made of amino acids which aid in the development of your baby’s cells. Try:

  • Eggs
  • Beans or Lentils
  • Nuts
  • Salmon (not raw)
  • Chicken
  • Hummus
  • Quinoa
  • Milk, cheese and yogurt (for those who tolerate dairy)

(2) Complex Carbohydrates

These can fuel and nourish your baby and lower cholesterol levels, with the side perk of keeping you satisfied longer. Choose these instead of refined, processed carbohydrates.  Try:

  • Oatmeal
  • Fresh fruit
  • Fresh veggies
  • Whole grain bread, crackers and low sugar cereal
  • Baked potato with skin
  • Beans and peas

(3) Calcium

Not to be overlooked during pregnancy to build a healthy heart, nerves, muscles, teeth and bones. Women often have a low calcium intake as it is, but now you need calcium for 2! Try:

  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Kale
  • Turnip Greens
  • Bok Choy
  • Green beans
  • Fish
  • Broccoli
  • Almonds

(4) Iron

This is a crucial mineral for your blood and your baby’s cell development. Iron helps prevent anemia, which can cause fatigue and be a problem during pregnancy. Try:

  • Spinach
  • Fortified cereal
  • Chickpeas
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Lean red meat
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Raisins and dried apricots
  • Pasta
  • Poultry

(5) Vitamins

It’s an important part of nutrition, so don’t forget to take your vitamins – or these yummy vitamin rich foods! Some vitamins will protect your immune system and help you battle fatigue during the day. You need an entire spectrum to keep you and your baby healthy. Try:

  • Pumpkins
  • Yogurt
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries
  • Hummus
  • Salmon (not raw)
  • Oatmeal
  • Mangoes

(6) Potassium

It helps regulate your fluids and electrolyte balance in you and your baby’s cells. Potassium is important with nerve impulses and will help reduce leg cramps. Try:

  • Bananas
  • Pumpkin
  • Peaches
  • Kiwis
  • Potatoes
  • Leafy greens
  • Baked potato
  • Sweet potato
  • Spinach

(7) Magnesium

This helps break down sugars into usable energy and prevents leg cramps by helping build and repair your body’s tissues. This is an important one for baby’s growth! Try:

  • Almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, pecans
  • Bran cereal or whole grains
  • Fish avoid types with high levels of mercury
  • Soybean
  • Avocado
  • Bananas
  • Yogurt

(8) Folate or Folic Acid

An essential nutrient for fetal development, the spine and brain. Plus, it will help you feel strong and energized. Try:

  • Lentils
  • White navy bean
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Mangoes
  • Hummus
  • Fortified cereal
  • Enriched pasta
  • Eggs
  • Cantaloupe

(9) Fiber

Fiber may be beneficial to those with glucose intolerance, a condition that can sometimes lead to gestational diabetes (and it will be your savior when you feel constipated, just be sure to drink lots of water too). Try:

  • Whole grain bread
  • Oatmeal
  • Almonds
  • Cereal
  • Beans: kidney, pinto, lima, chickpeas
  • Hummus
  • Lentils
  • Broccoli
  • Collard greens
  • Prunes
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Pumpkins
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Blackberries

Here is 1 day of recipes to get you started feeling energized right now:

Breakfast: Broccoli Breakfast Burritos

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of broccoli
  • 2-3 eggs
  • 1 cup or can of pinto beans
  • Milk
  • Butter or olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 whole grain tortillas
  • Salsa or favorite sauce

Cooking:

  • Melt butter or pour olive oil into skillet over medium heat and cook broccoli until tender (about 5 minutes). Add beaten eggs with a dash of milk and cook, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top.
  • In separate pan, cook pinto beans on low heat to medium heat.
  • Heat whole-wheat tortillas on the stovetop in a skillet for 30 seconds on each side or in the oven at 350 degrees in a packet of aluminum foil for about 15 minutes.
  • Place tortilla down, put pinto beans on top, then transfer eggs and broccoli and cheese on top of that. Sprinkle salsa or your favorite sauce in, wrap and enjoy!

Lunch: Kale salad with roasted pumpkin, almond slices, and lean chicken

Ingredients:

  • Grilled Chicken breast
  • 1 pumpkin pealed, roasted and seeded
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic cloves
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Almond slices
  • Dijon mustard
  • Lemon juice
  • Pure maple syrup
  • Finely chopped shallot
  • 1 ½ pounds of Tuscan Kale (about 2 large bunches) stemmed, leaves thinly sliced

Cooking:

  • (The pumpkin and chicken can be prepared ahead of time.)
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees and on a large rimmed baking sheet toss pumpkin with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic chopped, sprinkle salt and pepper on top and roast tossing occasionally until the pumpkin is tender (about 25-30 minutes).
  • Grill or cook chicken in the oven with light seasoning like olive oil and salt and pepper.
  • Mix dressing: 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, 2 garlic cloves pressed, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of finely chopped shallot, add lemon juice about ¼ cup and add kosher salt and pepper to taste, whisk together and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine chopped kale then add roasted pumpkin, chopped chicken, almond slices and toss with mixed dressing. Enjoy!

Dinner: Grilled salmon, sautéed spinach and lentils

Ingredients:

  • 2 8-oz. skinless salmon fillets
  • Olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 9-oz. bag of baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup of lentils
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Cooking:

  • In a saucepan add lentils and water, bring mixture to a boil, cover and lower heat. Simmer for about 35 minutes.
  • Preheat over to 400 degrees. Place salmon in ovenproof baking dish or wrap in aluminum foil and season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Heat garlic, shallots and oil in skillet on low to medium heat, add rinsed spinach and toss and cook until spinach is wilted, stir in lemon juice.
  • Transfer Spinach and lentils on a plate and place salmon on top. Drizzle a little oil, lemon juice, garlic and shallots on top. Enjoy!

Snacks

  • Apples, banana slices dipped in almond butter
  • Cup of low fat yogurt, berries or mangoes on top
  • Hummus and carrots

Reference:

  1. Dietary reference intakes: The essential guide to nutrient requirements. National Academies Press; Washington, DC 2006.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only. Please consult your healthcare provider directly for medical advice, diagnoses, and treatments. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health or the health of your baby, consult your physician.

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