You might think that losing weight while trying to get pregnant seems contradictory or futile, but in reality, the two goals are quite compatible. According to BabyCentre UK, being overweight not only makes it harder to get pregnant, but also may be linked to more complications during pregnancy, such as preeclampsia and diabetes, and more difficulties during delivery. Moreover, many of the guidelines for a healthy conception are similar to those for healthy weight loss. As long as you follow a balanced, healthy diet, you can safely lose weight while trying to conceive.
Exercise for at least 30 minutes per day. The Today Show website cites part of a Nurses Health Study II, which studied the diet and exercise habits of 17,544 married women who were trying to become pregnant. The researchers found that the women who exercised for at least 30 minutes a day had the lowest incidence of ovulation-related fertility problems. Exercising for 30 minutes a day will also likely help in your weight loss goals.
Minimize trans fats. According to Newsweek, data from Nurses Health Study II reported that the higher the trans-fat intake among the study population, the higher the risk of ovulation-related infertility. The researchers reported that trans-fat consumption of as little as 4 grams per day, which is less than the average daily intake for Americans, significantly increased the risk of infertility. The researchers instead recommended monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, which appear to improve fertility.
Focus on vegetable protein over animal protein. According to data from the Nurses Health Study II cited in Newsweek, eating more plant-derived protein and less animal protein may guard against infertility. The study found that the women with the highest intake of animal protein were 39 percent more likely to be infertile than those with the lowest intake. Conversely, women with the highest daily consumption of plant protein were significantly less likely to suffer from ovulatory infertility than those with the lowest intake of plant protein.
Eat folate-rich foods. Folic acid is especially important for pregnancy, since it reduces the risk of your baby developing certain birth defects, such as spina bifida. Baby Center U.S. recommends that women who might become pregnant get 400 micrograms of folic acid per day. You can find this in the form of prenatal vitamins and by eating foods rich in folate. These foods include dark green vegetables like spinach and kale, whole grains, nuts and citrus fruits. These foods, most of which are low in calories and high in fiber, are frequent staples of weight loss diets as well. However, you should be mindful of your portions when eating nuts, as they are calorie-dense.
Go for "slow carbs." According to reports from the Nurses Health Study II in Newsweek, the consumption of "fast" or "simple" carbs like white bread, potatoes and sugary soft drinks increase the likelihood of ovulation-related infertility. Slow-digesting, or complex, carbohydrates that are high in fiber appear to improve fertility, the researchers report. Some examples of complex carbohydrates include whole grains, vegetables, whole fruits and beans.
Avoid certain fish. While fish are usually a benefit to any weight loss diet, certain fish may be harmful to a pregnancy due to their mercury levels, Baby Center U.S. reports. These fish include shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. Kids Health reports that you can safely eat up to 12 ounces per week of low-mercury fish such as salmon, shrimp, clams, pollock, catfish and tilapia.
- BabyCentre UK: Preconception: Dieting While Trying to Conceive
- Baby Center: Trying To Conceive? Five Changes to Make To Your Diet Right Now
- Today Show: Trying to Conceive? Time for A Fertility Diet
- Newsweek: Fat, Carbs and the Science of Conception
- Kids Health.org: Eating During Pregnancy
- BabyZone: Eating Right to Get Pregnant and Have a Healthy Baby