Fat Consumption During Your Pregnancy

By Consumer Dummies

Even though you may be nervous about the weight you’ll gain, pregnancy is not the time to go on a fat-free diet! Fat plays a key role in developing your baby’s brain and keeping your brain and nervous system running smoothly. It’s also an energy source for your body and helps keep you feeling fuller longer.

Aim to get 20 to 35 percent of your calories from fat. Fat is more calorically dense than carbs and protein; a single fat gram contains 9 calories. Multiply the grams of fat in a food by 9 to figure out how many fat calories a food contains.

An easier way to track how many of your daily calories come from fat is to look for the Calories from Fat info on the Nutrition Facts panel. Another alternative is to track grams of fat. If you’re eating a 2,000-calorie diet, you need to consume 45 to 78 g of fat per day.

Different fats have very different reactions in your body. So you need to be aware of what types of fats you’re eating. Research has shown that certain fats are better for you than others. For example, saturated fat (butter, whole-fat dairy, and fatty meats) and trans fat (hydrogenated oils) have been shown to raise “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, leading to clogging of arteries and increased risk of heart disease.

On the flip side, monounsaturated fats, like those found in olive oil and avocados, trigger less LDL cholesterol and more of the “good” HDL cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fats, like those found in vegetable oils and fish, are also beneficial. In fact, two specific types of polyunsaturated fats have a significant impact on brain development; for information on these fats, go to the later section “Omega-3 fatty acids.”

Limit your consumption of saturated fat to less than 22 g per day (that’s 10 percent if you’re consuming 2,000 calories a day) and try to avoid trans fat (like the kind found in hydrogenated oils and fried foods).

Not sure how to figure out how much fat you’re getting? Just look for the Total Fat listing on the food label. The amounts of saturated fat and trans fat appear underneath that listing. Sometimes you also find the amounts of monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat listed, but they don’t have to be there.