How to Calculate Calories Needed during Pregnancy

fruit salad on gray bowls

Eating for Two

The phrase “eating for two” causes a lot of confusion for pregnant women interested in watching their weight gain while getting the calories needed. Let’s take a look at how many calories women actually need during pregnancy.

The calories recommended for the non-pregnant woman ages 23-50 is 2,000 per day. The increased amount the mother needs is roughly 300 calories more in her second and third trimesters. There is actually no recommended increase in calories for the first trimester. Believe it or not, 300 calories is not that much food. It would be the equivalent of a cup of yogurt and a small sliced apple.

If you would like to compute your own caloric needs, here is a formula:

36kcal per kilogram of pregnant body weight

(or as much as 50kcal for adolescents)

If you weigh 150 pounds, your weight converted to kilograms is 68.18 kg. Multiply 68.18 by 36 kcal and you come up with 2454 kcal. This woman would need about 2400 calories during her pregnancy each day in the last two trimesters. We can finally put the phrase “eating for two” to rest!

Keep in mind that other factors such as your height, activity level and whether or not you are over or under your ideal weight should also be factored in when considering the calories you need during pregnancy. For information about calculating weight gain based on Body Mass Index (BMI) read Pregnancy Weight Gain.

Should you have any questions about your specific caloric needs, be sure to seek advice from your Primary Care Provider or Licensed Nutritionist.

Remember it’s not just about how many calories you need. Eating healthy foods and the right balance of nutrients are even more crucial. Find nutrition-related articles on this site on the topic of cravings, special diets (lactose intolerance, vegan), organic foods, and what foods to avoid during pregnancy.

Did you keep track of calories? Why or why not? Share more.