An Australian study has found that women do not necessarily need to ‘eat for two’ whilst pregnant.
Researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) discovered that expectant mothers boost fat stores and extra lean mass, while increasing energy output, all without needing to eat large amounts of food.
The study followed the weight gain, energy spent (metabolised) and food consumption of 26 pregnant women. On average, the women gained 10.8kg whilst carrying; 7 kg’s of the gained weight was additional fat mass.
The weight gain occurred even though the women had to use eight per cent more energy each day whilst pregnant and there was no significant change to what they were eating.
Scientists believe that the women gained weight due to a metabolic change which allows pregnant women to save more energy as fat and to get more calories from food.
The study was led by UNSW Professor Tony O’Sullivan who said the findings indicated pregnant women may be receiving the wrong advice when it comes to eating.
“These findings suggest the need for reassessment of nutritional advice given to pregnant women, as current advice to increase energy intake may be increasing the risk of excessive gestational weight gain,” Professor O’Sullivan said.
Women need to gain weight during pregnancy to help carry their baby safely. Too much weight gain can however lead to issues such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia.
The study has been published in the latest edition of The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
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