JAN 02, 2016 12:15 PM PST

The Calorie Cost of Building a Little Human

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Gaining weight during pregnancy is an inevitability that's vital to the health of both baby and mother. The average weight gain for a normal pregnancy is between 25 to 35 pounds, which contributes to growing the baby and prepping the mother's body for delivery and nursing. While this weight gain is normal, should pregnant women be eating for two?

Maybe not entirely. Scientists say that pregnancy costs about 75,000 extra calories total. While this number sounds huge, it only amounts to about an extra 200 to 300 calories per day -- the equivalent of one or two snacks -- during pregnancy. There is no consensus on the distribution of caloric cost during the different trimesters, but on average the third trimester requires more calories than the first trimester.

Of course this doesn't mean pregnant women should ignore cravings and be on strict regimented diets. After all, some people consider that one of the perks of pregnancy is the guilt-free weight gain. But pregnant or not, it's probably best to stick to a healthy nutrition plan and indulge in moderation.
About the Author
I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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