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The risks of fasting during pregnancy

Intermittent fasting is one of the trendiest diet protocols. However, starting during pregnancy is not optimal. Here is why.

The dangers of fasting during pregnancy

Intermittent fasting is one of the trendiest diet protocols in nutrition. This helps to stimulate weight loss and improve many parameters related to health. However, it is not recommended during pregnancy or lactation as it can be dangerous.

The first thing to be clear is that fasting is a restrictive protocol. It cannot compare to a conventional miracle or low-calorie diet, but it most often cuts down on your intake. This is limited in certain circumstances.

Fasting during pregnancy increases the risk of deficiency

Reducing the number of meals throughout the day can generate certain nutritional deficits that would affect both the mother and the development of the baby.

Nutritional requirements increase during pregnancy. It must meet the mother’s energy requirements and those that develop inside the fetus. For this reason, applying mechanisms that aim to create a low-calorie environment makes no sense. Failure to do so may restrict fetal growth. Not meeting the requirements is harmful, but the effects worsen during pregnancy.

An insufficient supply of certain micronutrients can negatively affect the fetus’s health and increase the likelihood of illness in the medium term. For example, an optimal daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids is crucial for limiting the risk of autism and other neurological pathologies. This is proven by a study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

The principal risks of fasting during pregnancy

The principal risks of starting a fasting protocol during pregnancy include the following:

Low birth weight: This is related to an insufficient supply of energy and nutrients that affect the development of vital organs.

Cognitive impairment: Dietary restrictions during pregnancy can alter the hormonal balance and promote cognitive impairment or other problems with neurological function in children.

Fasting and Gestational Diabetes

Intermittent fasting positively improves the management of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Therefore, it is conceivable that women with gestational diabetes also have an application context. However, the truth is that no studies have evaluated its effectiveness or safety.

In these cases, it is best to consider a diet with few simple sugars. It is best to include carbohydrates through complex sugars and fibrous foods. Refraining from trans fatty acids and various industrially processed ultra-processed foods is also good. Conversely, the consumption of fresh products should be prioritized.

It is also recommended to engage in regular physical activity that fits the limitations of the expectant mother whenever possible. These strategies ensure effective blood sugar control and prevent the fetus from suffering or experiencing changes in health.

Fasting in overweight pregnant women

In the case of overweight pregnant women, fasting is not recommended either. 
It is best to include 3 or 5 meals a day and perform physical activity.

Fasting is also not recommended for overweight pregnant women. Including 3 to 5 meals daily and physical activity is best. Women who were overweight before pregnancy tend to experience less weight gain during pregnancy. In this case, energy demand may stay the same during the first month because there is a stockpile to cover the demand.

However, even in this case, it is not convenient to suggest a fasting protocol. From an energy point of view, there is no significant deficit, but it is necessary to meet the requirements of essential micronutrients. It is best to start with a 3 to 5-meal plan because your body does not have a reservoir for this.

Additionally, your requirements for specific vitamins and minerals increase during pregnancy. In the case of folic acid, for example, a deficiency can cause problems with the neurodevelopment of the fetus.

Avoid fasting during pregnancy

Intermittent fasting is one of the best dietary protocols for improving health. However, it should not be used during pregnancy. At this time, ensuring a continuous supply of nutrients is essential, so any mechanism that restricts them should be avoided.

The best thing about pregnancy is to suggest a varied and well-balanced diet that focuses on fresh foods rather than industrially processed foods. In this way, complications can be prevented, as in the case of gestational diabetes. In addition, specific nutrients, such as folic acid, must be supplemented to avoid health problems for the fetus.

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