Low carbohydrate diets seem to be the talk of the town. Are they right for everyone? Are they a good idea while pregnant?
Carbohydrates have a bad reputation and perhaps rightfully so when generally referring to the type of carbohydrates consumed in the SAD (Standard American Diet). It is easy to label all carbs as bad and write them off but perhaps we should understand the role they play in the body, specifically while pregnant.
What exactly is a carbohydrate? Simply put, carbs are a source of energy used by the body and can either be simple or complex. The quality of carbs matters and should be considered when deciding what to eat whether pregnant or not.
Some studies show that low carbohydrate diets can lead to birth defects. With that said, pregnant women should fuel their body with high quality, healthy foods, regardless of what type of macronutrient (fat, carbs, or protein). A donut is loaded with carbs but doesn’t mean it is a healthy choice for anyone, including a pregnant woman. On the other hand, chickpeas are a carbohydrate rich food but provide folate and other vitamins and minerals.
The body easily absorbs nutrients from food so it is important to fuel with minimally processed, nutrient rich foods. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans contain carbs but are full of essential vitamins and minerals needed in pregnancy. What does a low carb diet mean to you? If it means limiting heavily processed, unnatural foods, while sticking to true foods and ingredients, then go for it!
General guidelines are sometimes vague and don’t always answer all of your questions. Pay attention to how your body feels after eating; choose foods that are minimally processed and are free of chemicals and additives and refer to your provider when in doubt.