The perfect diet for active pregnant women

Here are a few tips to help pregnant women choose better foods to perform and have enough energy during exercise.

Being pregnant is a great opportunity to review your lifestyle and introduce daily exercise in your life. Choosing the right food before, during and after physical activity helps you avoid hunger, nausea and acid reflux.

Before exercising

What you will choose before training depends on several factors: the duration of your activity, time between meals or snacks and your activity, your digestion, foods that you like or despise and your propensity to glycemic drops.

It is estimated that the stomach digests foods that contain carbohydrates in less than an hour while proteins take two to four hours, and fats take 4 to 6 hours. If your meal or snack is just before your physical activity, your meal must be light, lean in fats and proteins but rich in sugars.

Suggested training foods *

Less than 30 minutes before**

• Fruit juice + crackers

• Fruit purée + almonds

• Dried fruits + pumpkins seeds

• Dried fruits bar

• Fig cookies

• ½ bagel + jam

• Homemade carrot muffin


30 minutes to 2 hours before

• Milkshake with fruits

• Chocolate milk and oatmeal cookies

• Bowl of cereals

• Crackers, cheese and grapes

• Apple sauce and cereal bar

• Greek yogurt, blueberries and almonds

• Peanut butter toasts and ½ banana

• Vegetable juice, crackers and cheese


2 hours and more before

• Fruit juice, nut butter toast (depends on your tolerance) and yogurt

• Scrambled egg, toast and fresh fruits

• Tuna tortilla, veggies, fruit and yogurt

• Chicken pasta salad, vegetable juice and rice pudding

• Vegetable soup, turkey sandwich and fresh fruits

• Bolognese pasta and green salad

* If you suffer from hypoglycaemia or diabetes, choose from the second column instead.

** Although it is recommended to eat foods that are high in complex sugars before effort, if your activity is brief, if you have a bit of time, or if you can drink or take a snack while exercising, you can eat one that contains simple sugars like a fruit.

While exercising

During your physical exercise, your diet must promote nutrients exchanges with your baby and help you avoid dehydration, stay focused, maintain a good level of energy and recuperate faster. Athletes should eat 0,7 g of carbohydrates per kilogram of weight per hour of effort (about 30 à 60 g/h), in a liquid or solid form. It is also recommended to drink about 10 millilitres of liquid per kilogram of weight per hour. Rely on your sensations and on your thirst but keep in mind that exercises and nausea can hide these signals. Stay alert and always keep liquids nearby.

After exercising

Too many athletes underestimate the importance of eating after training, which is crucial to rehydrate and refill your energy. The recuperation comes in two times and depends on the type of effort, intensity, water loss and other activities that follow your exercise.

To recuperate effectively, remember to rehydrate. Often neglected, hydrating allows bringing nutrients to your muscles and evacuating waste: it is essential! Afterwards, remember to absorb carbohydrates to rebuild your energy: fruit juices, fruits, dried fruits, cookies, granola bars, bread, cereals, yogurt, chocolate milk, etc. Then, combine carbohydrates with proteins to rebuild your muscles. Studies have shown that 10 grams of proteins are enough to begin the process of recuperation and that rebuilding muscle fibres and regenerating energy reserves must ideally happen at the same time.

Therefore, you should not only take a glass of juice, granola bar or banana after intense efforts. You must add a few nuts, a piece of cheese or drink a glass of chocolate milk to maximize recuperation. The ideal moment to take a snack and ensure effective recuperation is in the 15 or 30 minutes following your training.

By Melanie Olivier and Elise Hofer

Elise Hofer

Mother of two, Elise Hofer is an accomplished sportswoman in alpine skiing, cycling and running. She holds a Bachelor of Management Degree and promotes an active lifestyle by getting involved with top athletes in the organization of corporate hiking and in various foundations.

Mélanie Olivier

Sports dietician-nutritionist, Melanie Olivier is a former elite skier. Her work with many athletes led her to accompany the Canadian delegation at the Olympic games in 2006, 2008 an 2010. In addition to leading her own nutrition team of experts, Melanie is an experienced lecturer and trainer as well as an appreciated media collaborator.

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