If You Are Pregnant And Wish To Do Intermittent Fasting While Pregnant, Here Are A Few Things You Should Know

    Intermittent Fasting While Pregnant

    Martin Alvarez

    Martin Alvarez
    Nutritionist/Dietitian Professional Guide

    Updated on 12/3/2022

    In the long run, you may find that the right amount of weight gain, not the right amount of weight loss, is the right thing for your health.

    When you're expecting a baby, or if you're thinking about adding to your family at some point shortly, you're probably already focusing on your baby's health and nutrition. In turn, this brings the conversation to your nutrition: What if you are looking to lose weight before getting pregnant and would like to try one of the diets of the moment, like intermittent fasting while pregnant (IF)? Perhaps you are interested in its purported longevity benefits or the benefits it is supposed to have on your blood sugar levels.

    Regardless of why you are interested in IF, you might be curious about how to maintain those eating patterns during your actual pregnancy to maintain those eating patterns during your pregnancy. If you are pregnant or have just discovered you are pregnant, you could be looking for advice on how to wean yourself off a fasting diet in the safest manner possible.

    intermittent fasting for pregnant women

     

    There is no doubt that these are the questions and concerns that doctors and prenatal nutritionists hear from expectant mothers, especially given that there is so much hype about fasting diets. In this article, we'll bring you the lowdown on intermittent fasting for pregnant women with input from Jennifer Wu, MD, an ob-gyn at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, and Nicole German Morgan, RDN, LD, CLT, a registered dietitian with a background in prenatal nutrition.

    As always, experts advise you to check in with your healthcare provider before making any dietary changes, mainly if you are newly pregnant or plan to become pregnant shortly.

    It is Time to Answer This Question, Shall we? Is it Safe for Pregnant Women to Fast Intermittently?

    Is Intermittent Fasting Safe For Pregnant Women?

     

    It is generally not recommended for pregnant women to fast during their pregnancy. A growing body of research shows that intermittent fasting can enhance metabolism, increase weight loss, and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Still, it can lower a pregnant woman's blood sugar levels. 

    A low blood sugar level combined with the natural drop in blood pressure that occurs in pregnant women could result in lightheadedness and fainting.
    Says Dr. Wu.

    movement was lower when mothers were fasting during pregnancy

     

    It was found that fetal movement was lower when mothers were fasting during pregnancy (with healthy pregnancies) in an older study that focused on intermittent religious fasting in pregnant women. It makes sense since a woman's glucose levels would be low, and the amount of glucose (aka an energy source for the body) that the fetus can get from the mother is directly tied to how much the fetus can move. Adding to this, Dr. Wu explains that most religious fasting laws exempt pregnant women from fasting.

    Intermittent Fasting While Pregnant

     

    Therefore, intense fasting is not a good idea for pregnant women (more on that later). However, it is essential to remember that for pregnant women who aren't too far along in their pregnancy, there is only one type of fasting that may be safe for their pregnancy: intermittent fasting. A 12-hour fast is a fast that takes place throughout an overnight period. Morgan points out, however, that even doing a 12-hour fast depends on the trimester of a woman's pregnancy.

    At the beginning of the first trimester, focusing on consuming enough of the crucial prenatal nutrients your body needs is essential. Still, it may not be necessary to consume more calories than you usually would during this stage of the pregnancy.

    During the third trimester of a woman's pregnancy, as well as in the latter stages of the first trimester of her pregnancy, intermittent fasting may not be the best choice. This is because most women will require an additional snack before going to bed, or they may need to fast once they wake up.
    Morgan explains.

    If you start your pregnancy underweight or even at your usual weight, you must ensure that you get enough nutrients and calories to meet the baby's needs. Therefore, restricting your diet may not be the best solution, especially if you start your pregnancy underweight or even at your usual weight, because you need to ensure that you obtain enough essential nutrients and calories.

    How Safe Are Certain Types Of Intermittent Fasting When Pregnant Compared To Others?

    Intermittent Fasting When Pregnant Compared To Others?

     

    In the early stages of gestation, a modified version of intermittent fasting, which consists of fasting overnight for about 12 hours (as mentioned above), would be your only moderately safe option if you are doing a modified version of intermittent fasting. Morgan believes this would require fasting from around 7 p.m., or at 8 p.m., for example, from approximately 7 p.m. until about 7 p.m. until about 7 a.m. until about 7 a.m. the following morning, which might be your regular eating schedule anyway.

    You won't want to stuff too many calories into a short period, as that isn't good for digestion, and you won't miss out on the calories necessary to nourish the baby by spacing out your eating too much, says the expert. The 16:8 diet allows you to eat within an eight-hour window, and the 5:2 method involves eating normally five days a week and reducing your calorie intake substantially two days a week. Alternate-day fasting is off-limits for pregnant women because it is far too extreme.

    Everyone's indeed eating schedule is different

     

    Everyone's indeed eating schedule is different from one another. The general recommendation of Dr. Wu is to consume small meals about every two to three hours when you're pregnant rather than eating larger meals at one time. Especially during the first trimester of the pregnancy, when morning sickness is prevalent, you may not be in the mood to consume a large meal simultaneously.

    This also helps to maintain a steady blood sugar level during the second and third trimesters.
    Prof. Wu says.

    It is recommended that women who experience heartburn during pregnancy should stop eating about four hours before going to bed, as this will give the stomach more time to digest food since heartburn may worsen once you lie down in bed. This is somewhat similar as it prevents you from eating until breakfast when you wake up, similar to an IF schedule if you follow those guidelines.

    What Should I Do if I Practiced Intermittent Fasting Before Pregnancy? Should I Simply Stop and Resume my Regular Eating Schedule?

    Would It Be Better For Me To Stop Intermittent Fasting

     

    It's true, and you want to eat more frequently, so your body doesn't go a long time without nutrients. Here are some reasons why eating more regularly may help you maintain a healthy blood sugar level and blood pressure, as well as your baby.

    If you are looking for a way to promote more [weight] maintenance and less weight loss, then it may be a good idea to widen your eating window so you can consume a more balanced diet.
    Morgan says.

    How Does Intermittent Fasting Affect The Fertility Of A Woman?

    How Does Intermittent Fasting Affect The Fertility Of A Woman

     

    It may surprise you that there are some circumstances in which IF can be helpful if you are trying for a baby. There have been reports that overweight or obese patients may have irregular cycles and have trouble ovulating, making it very difficult for them to become pregnant. As a result, it is possible that following an IF diet (which typically means restricting your calorie intake to achieve weight loss) could result in improved fertility as well as weight loss.

    PCOS

    As an example, let us take a look at the following: Women with polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, may experience fertility challenges as a result of disrupted metabolisms, menstrual cycles, and ovulation cycles. In this study, however, it was demonstrated that losing weight (by reducing total calorie intake generally by 500 to 1,000 calories per day) may help overweight women with PCOS produce luteinizing hormone and, as a result, ovulate more regularly (making it easier to conceive). The Induction Program is fine for weight loss, but according to Dr. Wu, you should stop dieting once you discover that you are pregnant if you are trying to lose weight.

    It is essential to keep in mind that, on the other hand, if you are underweight, restricting your eating habits and calorie intake can be detrimental to your fertility. In extreme cases, some research reports have indicated that intermittent fasting and weight loss may adversely affect fertility over the long run since patients may stop menstruating and ovulating due to these practices, according to Dr. Wu. According to Morgan, eating less frequently while practicing intermittent fasting can put the body under high stress, which is not healthy when it comes to getting pregnant, especially if you're trying to get pregnant.

    I believe that one of the most important things for a woman's fertility is to nourish her body in a balanced manner and not to let her feel as if she is under stress.
    Says Dr. Morgan.

    Is It Ever Safe To Lose Weight During Pregnancy Through A Fasting Diet Or Any Other Type Of Diet At All?

    LOSS

     

    Undoubtedly, eating more frequently can help keep your blood sugar and blood pressure at a healthy level, as well as the babies.

    Fasting, however, is still not the best solution, regardless of whether the patient is overweight, or develops gestational diabetes during pregnancy, for instance, since it might interfere with any blood sugar-regulating medications the patient is taking, she says.

    Is It Ever Safe To Lose Weight During Pregnancy

     

    Various factors influence women's weight during pregnancy, and it also depends on the trimester in which a woman is in, so many factors can affect how much a woman weighs during a pregnancy. During the first trimester, for instance, it's normal for a woman to lose a few pounds due to morning sickness, nausea, or hyperemesis gravidarum. This illness makes her constantly sick. During the second or third trimester, Morgan suggests it would not be a good idea to do intermittent fasting while pregnant and lose weight. In the end, however, the recommended amount of weight gain during pregnancy depends on the patient. You should discuss it in depth with your doctor so that you feel comfortable and informed about the amount of weight gain you should expect during pregnancy.

    Bottom line: A woman's nutrition during pregnancy is highly individualized, depending on the type of pregnancy they are having, how high the risk is, and what kind of health conditions she has had in the past—after all, no one's body or metabolism is the same. When trying a new diet or changing your eating habits during pregnancy, it is essential to check in with your healthcare provider to ensure that it is safe and sustainable for you to follow throughout your pregnancy.