Expectant Moms: How to Keep Weight Gains Healthy

Pregnant Woman and Stethoscope (Image credit: Pregnancy photo via Shutterstock)

Avoiding foods that can send blood sugar levels spiking may help women reduce their risks of gaining too much weight during pregnancy, a new study from Ireland suggests.

In the study, 48 percent of women who maintained their usual diet during pregnancy gained more weight than recommended, whereas only 38 percent of women who switched to a diet of low-glycemic index (GI) foods gained too much weight. The Institute of Medicine recommends that women of normal weight gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy.

Foods that have a low glycemic index release sugar slowly into the bloodstream. Whole grains, brown bread and brown rice have lower glycemic indexes than white rice, white bread and cornflakes.

"Excessive weight gain in pregnancy is associated with an increased need for delivery by Caesarean section, a higher likelihood of post-pregnancy weight retention and a higher predisposition to obesity in later life,” the researchers said.

The study included more than 800 women treated at National Maternity Hospital in Dublin. About 400 were advised to switch to a low GI diet — these women were not encouraged to reduce their calorie intake, only to avoid refined carbohydrates.

The women who switched diets were 20 percent less likely to have excessive weight gain compared with women who did not switch.

The average weight gain among women who remained on their usual diet was 30 pounds (13.7 kilograms); among women who changed to a low GI diet, it was 27 pounds (12.2 kg).

The study was published in the September issue of the British Medical Journal.

Pass it on: A low-glycemic diet may help women avoid excessive weight gain in pregnancy.

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Live Science Staff
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