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If you’re anything like me, you’re excited to exercise—albeit maybe not run—throughout your pregnancy. Today we know that not only is it okay to exercise while pregnant, it’s also very good for both you and your baby. But you may also begin to notice that you’re feeling a bit hungrier pre- and post-workout than you used to, now that there’s a baby on board!
In addition to making sure you’re continuing to eat balanced meals and sensible snacks, there are some nutrients that you should pay close attention to. These nutrients are important for active women and women who are pregnant, so if you fall into both of these categories, you’ll want to give your eats a bit more consideration!
Here are the top four nutrients I recommend to best fuel you and your growing baby.
In addition to taking prenatal vitamins, you should make sure you’re getting enough iron in your diet. You need a continuous supply of dietary iron to create red blood cells in your body. When you’re pregnant, your baby is sharing that iron intake and storing the nutrients for when he/she comes into the world. This means that your daily requirements will increase.
Beyond supplements, some good sources of iron include red meats, molasses (which make an awesome addition to smoothies), dried fruits, dark leafy greens and dark chocolate!
Calcium is not only critical for preserving your bone health (if you don’t get enough of this mineral from your diet, your body will take it from the reserves in your bones); it’s also a vital building block for your baby’s bones and can help with the leg cramps you experience while pregnant.
The easiest sources of calcium come from the dairy aisle. I am a huge advocate of choosing organic dairy products, and my top source is organic whole milk plain yogurt. If you don’t do dairy, you can get calcium from fortified non-dairy milks (many almond milks on the market have more calcium than dairy!) or green vegetables.
It’s important to make sure you’re eating enough calories each day to support your running and your baby. Fats in particular provide a calorie-dense source of energy. You should focus on healthy fats, including omega-3s and monounsaturated fats, as well as select saturated fats.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids are one type of fat you should pay specific attention to. In addition to playing a role in a baby’s brain development, they also have heart-protecting benefits, are high in antioxidants that support healthy cells and fight inflammation and free radicals in mama. My top recommended sources of omega-3s from the wild are salmon, avocado, chia seeds and walnuts.
I know. It’s not technically a food. But drinking water when you’re active is critical and even more important when pregnant. Water helps your body deliver nutrients to you and baby, flushes toxins, helps with building new cells and so much more. You’re at a greater risk of dehydration when you exercise while pregnant, so it’s even more important to make sure you’re carrying a water bottle wherever you go. If you get sick of plain water, trying adding things like sliced lemon, cucumber or mint. You can also try flavored sparkling waters or herbal iced teas to change things up.
What are some of your favorite daily eats that incorporate these nutrients? Tweet @Womensrunning with your thoughts!