Ask Heidi Anything: Carb Cycling While Prego?


Ask Heidi Anything: Carb Cycling while Pregnant? - Learn more at http://HeidiPowell.net/2275

Q: Do you still follow carb cycling while pregnant and nursing? Or do you modify it and how? ( I just had baby# 3 this week)

A: First (and MOST importantly), congratulations! Baby #3 was a huge accomplishment for me, and it is for you too. Your body has been through a lot over the years, so be sure you aren’t too hard on it. It will take time to get back to your pre-baby body, or to your new fitness goals.

Let me preface my response by saying I am NOT a doctor, and you should ALWAYS run your diet and exercise program by your doc before beginning. But I am more than happy to tell you what worked for me.

While I do NOT carb cycle to lose weight while pregnant or nursing, I do follow some of the same criteria that is outlined in Chris’ carb cycling books.

  • 1. I eat within 30 minutes of waking up, ALWAYS.
  • 2. I eat 5 meals a day.
  • 3. I eat every 3 hours.
  • 4. I eat protein at EVERY meal (the only exception was 1st trimester this round, protein made me sick as a dog).
  • 5. I eat proper portions.

A couple things I do NOT follow from Chris’ program while nursing or pregnant:

  1. 1. I NEVER eat a meal without carbs. NO LOW CARB DAYS!!!!
  2. 2. I eat 300 MORE calories a day than my pre-pregnancy plan called for (after my first trimester) while pregnant, and about 300-500 calories a day more when I am nursing. Your body needs it! Listen to what it’s telling you. Dwindling milk supply? You may need to up the cals even a bit more!
  3. 3. I eat a portion of fat with at least 3 meals a day when pregnant and nursing. This is typically where my extra calories come from. And when I say “fat”, I mean healthy fats: avocados, nuts, and seeds to name a few.

I guess, in a nutshell, I kind of hybrid high and low carb days when pregnant or nursing. Enough calories is very important, and neither of these phases are a time to focus on losing weight. If you are eating real, whole, natural foods, in moderation (NOT binging because your nursing or “eating twice as much for two” because you have an almond-sized baby in your belly), the weight will come off naturally, when the time is right.

Don’t stress. Just put your focus on eating the foods you want your baby to eat! Essentially, this is what is happening – what you put in your mouth will eventually make it’s way to your baby, whether pregnant or nursing. Do you want your little one to be made of healthy fats, carbs, and proteins? Or processed foods and hydrogenated oils?

Choose wisely, because these foods will be developing your baby’s little brain, Its heart, and rest of its organs.

Happy baby making!

I have so many people asking some great questions! While I don’t have the answer to everything, I do have quite a bit of experience to share :). ASK HEIDI ANYTHING by sending an email or sharing on Facebook and I’ll do my best to answer and post for others to benefit from too!


54 Comments

  1. Jamie Wakem - November 14, 2016

    What would the macro percentages typically fall when doing your hybrid of low/high for breastfeeding? Thanks!

    • Team Powell - November 14, 2016

      Hi Jamie: The correct macro percentages, especially while breastfeeding, can be very different for each person based on body composition, how often you’re breastfeeding, and other factors, so it would be best to work with a macros coach while you’re breastfeeding who can help you figure out what will work best for you and tweak your plan as needed. 🙂

  2. Jackie - May 3, 2016

    Pregnant with #2 and trying to figure out diet. With #1 I was partly careless and partly ill-informed, and gained nearly 50 lbs!! 🙁 Since I was nearly 15 lbs still in the hole when I got pregnant with this one, I want to be more diligent about my diet to avoid having this happen again. When you added 300 calories to your diet, what did you use as your baseline? For instance, when I was working out/trying to lose weight, I was around 1500 calories. For maintenance, I’m be somewhere around 1700. To which did you add? Thanks for all the great posts!

    • Team Powell - May 3, 2016

      Hi Jackie: The calorie baseline can be different for each woman based on body composition and what your healthcare team recommends. Since you’re really not trying to lose weight while pregnant, it might be best to discuss this with your healthcare team and then follow their recommendations. We wish you the best!

  3. Kjirsten - February 8, 2016

    I was wondering can you still do the vemma bodē shakes while your pregnant?

    • Team Powell - February 8, 2016

      Hi Kjirsten: It’s best to discuss any supplements with your healthcare team while pregnant. And congratulations!

  4. Carrie - August 5, 2015

    This is so helpful! I’ve been stressing so much about losing the baby weight that my milk supply has definitely been impacted. Need to eat more often and increase cal intake. So weird to wrap my head around! I will need to show this to my husband, who is a former personal trainer and pushing that we need to get back to carb cycling and trimming up – but need to remind him our son and his needs come first! Any exercise recommendations? I haven’t worked out consistently in so long since I was put on bed rest at 18weeks (thanks, preeclampsia), and have so little time now I’m back to work.

    How do you make a meal plan that is flexible for the whole family (I have two older stepsons as well as my six month old)?

    • Team Powell - August 5, 2015

      So happy you can use this info! As far as exercising goes, Chris and Heidi’s exercise component of their carb cycling program is awesome and would be a great place to start. It sounds like you’re familiar with carb cycling? If so, you can find their program in their book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life,” and here are links to the basics: http://heidipowell.net/9045/9-minute-missions/ and http://heidipowell.net/9058/shredders/. And as far as meal planning goes, try and encourage your family to eat the same things – that not only makes it easier on you, but it teaches them to like many different foods too. There are lots of quick and yummy recipes in Chris and Heidi’s book, so check those out too. Another idea: Let each stepson choose what’s for dinner one night a week, and that way he get what he likes once a week as well.

  5. Emilee - August 1, 2015

    Hello! Thanks so much for this great info on carb cycling while preggo/nursing ? I just welcomed baby #4 six weeks ago and am starting to plan my postpartum workout/diet, which includes Chris’s program. I’m wondering if it’s possible to give an example of a low carb meal while nursing? I’m a little confused what you mean by “no low carb days”, while still cycling ?. Thanks so very much!

    • Team Powell - August 1, 2015

      In carb cycling, a low carb meal consists of a portion each of protein, fat, and veggies (the non-root/non-starchy type). Since you are nursing, you’ll definitely not want to do the low carb meals, but follow Heidi’s suggestions with your healthcare team’s okay. And congratulations! 🙂

  6. SarahBeth - November 6, 2014

    Just wondering about protein supplements what did you use while pregnant?

    • Team Powell - November 7, 2014

      Hi Sarah Beth: It’s best to discuss any dietary supplement with your healthcare team first while pregnant. And congratulations!

  7. Meagan - August 24, 2014

    Ah!! I’ve been carb cycling for like a month and just found this post. NO MORE LOW CARB DAYS!!! (Thank goodness because I love carbs…) And I had planned on switching my baby to formula because she seems uninterested in nursing lately. So maybe I’ll up my carbs, up my calories, and see if we can keep going. 🙂 Thanks for all your advice! I’m so glad to have another mom of little ones to look to!

  8. Jenna - August 15, 2014

    Heidi,

    Did you still drink the Bod-e Burn drinks while pregnant/nursing as a high protein snack or is there too much caffeine in them for that?

    Thank you!

    • Team Powell - August 15, 2014

      It’s best to discuss the use of any dietary supplement with your healthcare team if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. 🙂

  9. Heidi - August 14, 2014

    Do you have any advice for those of us that are starting a pregnancy 15-20 pounds overweight? I was slowly progressing to my goal weight of 130 when I was blessed! I am 37 YO. I’m 5’5 and 150 pounds and 10 weeks preggo! What can I do during my pregnancy to help make sure that I make it to my goal post pregnancy?
    Thanks!
    P.S. Love everything that you and Chris do and stand for! Much love!

    • Jocelyn - October 19, 2014

      I’m not Heidi, but I can offer some advice! I was 60+ pounds overweight with both pregnancies. (I lost a lot of weight and am now much healthier!) In my first pregnancy, I gained 17 lbs and was at my prepregnancy weight a few days after giving birth. I watched what I ate carefully, and kept a food log. Second pregnancy I gained about 10 additional pounds, but didn’t watch what I ate as well. It is easier to lose weight quickly when you are obese (and every body is different!) so you might experience things differently. But I can definitely say that eating right and watching your weight gain during pregnancy makes losing weight afterwards much easier. Also, nursing really helped me lose weight. That isn’t true for everyone, but most women find that it helps out! Good luck!!

    • Team Powell - October 19, 2014

      During pregnancy is not the time to diet – make sure you’re following your doctor’s recommendations as far as nutrition and exercise are concerned, and run Heidi’s pregnancy/breastfeeding nutrition plan by him/her to see if it will work for you. And congratulations! 🙂

  10. Megan - August 14, 2014

    Hey Heidi! I just had my third baby and I am trying so hard to eat right and exercise every day. I get my exercise done first thing in the morning while she naps and eat right all day. At night is when I struggle- My cravings get out of control and my sweet tooth is back with a vengeance. I had gestational diabetes so I really managed my sugars/carbs and was so happy I didn’t gain hardly any weight this pregnancy! Now I’m not sure if I’m not eating enough calories or what, and wondering what tips you have for night time, since you have had 4 of your own! We’re in AZ too by the way and I wish we could be bffs! 🙂 Love your blog!

    • Team Powell - August 14, 2014

      First of all, make sure you’re eating enough calories. If you still have sweet tooth cravings, make sure you’re drinking enough water because sometimes hunger/cravings actually mean you’re thirsty. If you just have to have something sweet, try a piece of fruit, or here’s a Powell Pack favorite that might do the trick: http://heidipowell.net/853/peanut-butter-power-fudge/. And congratulations on the new baby!

  11. alicia - July 26, 2014

    This is great advice Heidi, thanks:)

  12. Rachel S. - December 5, 2013

    This is great! Thank you! Congratulations on your new little girl. I had my second boy in September and have lost that weight it’s the weight from my first I’m trying to loose now. It’s thought while breast feeding because I feel like there are days where I’m starving and then days where I can eat less.

    I definitely notice with my supply when I don’t get enough water or protein.

    Thanks for the help 🙂

  13. Victoria Herring - October 31, 2013

    Thank you so much for this! My son is 10 weeks old and my milk supply began to dwindle significantly, not surprisingly after I began to cut calories.

    Thanks for your advice on eating a healthy diet, not just less.

  14. Erin Lanza - October 30, 2013

    THANK YOU so much for posting about this!! I just had my first child, a sweet little girl, almost five weeks ago and I was looking at your carb cycling principles wondering if or how that would work while nursing! I was also curious about intaking the extra calories for nursing and if I am working out again if I should intake additionally what I burn?!?

    Thanks for all your great posts!

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  17. Julia Cremer - September 21, 2013

    I´m a regular blood plasma donor. I went for the donation on Friday after being back in the RTN program for only 5 days. I was shocked at how different my blood plasma looks after only 5 days of a healthy high protein diet! It is ususally yellowish as if the fat was still attached to it (if it`s there is too much fat in your blood plasma they even stop the donation). Mine was pale and clear and the doctor said that this is a very good and healthy looking color and that the color of the blood plasma actually depends on what you eat.
    It was a moment of clarity for me. It showed that the saying “you are what you eat” is true.
    I also saw it as proof of what Heidi says in her article: “Choose wisely, because these foods will be developing your baby’s little brain, Its heart, and rest of its organs.”
    Thanks Heidi, you are an inspiration!

  18. Alexa Valle - September 9, 2013

    I found the answer to my question on a previous post!!! Definitely good information for pregnancy, I look forward to jumping into carb cycling after baby, but want to make sure he us here and healthy first and foremost!

  19. ABS - August 28, 2013

    I just ask the question about how I can go to know what high carb food is, or im allow to eat?

    I like everything specific, sorry

    • Admin1 - August 28, 2013

      If you go to http://www.ChrisPowell.com and click on “Join the Transformation” you’ll get a link to our food list and it will give you a specific list of all the foods you can eat and a portion guide. 🙂

  20. Christina - August 20, 2013

    Heidi, thank you for this! I’ve been carb cycling for several months now and my hubby and I are addicted to the program (first Choose to Lose and now Choose More to Lose More) and have made so much progress! My question is, would you still apply the same rules if you were nursing an older baby? My 16 month old still nurses frequently. I have adjusted my cals and my body feels much happier, but am still doing low carb days… I’m close to my goal but can’t seem to lose the last 10lbs

  21. Kate - August 18, 2013

    Hi! What protein powders are recommended during pregnancy? (I’m also not a huge fan of Greek yogurt or tofu and I don’t n like to eat too much meat.)
    Are there any safe unflavored kinds of protein powders I can just mix into my foods?

  22. Kiera Moog - August 9, 2013

    I love this post!! I am currently 6 months pregnant and this post is really helpful! You look amazing so to know what you are doing is great. 🙂

  23. Shannon Cardona - August 9, 2013

    This was so helpful, thank you!! I just had baby #2 in January and am nursing, so I’m glad you included that!

  24. rebecca - August 8, 2013

    Never knew that sturr and would be good to know when I am at my healthy weight and trying to get pregnant again but that wont be for a few years

  25. Sara Kingsley - August 8, 2013

    This is awesome info cause we are trying to get pregnant and start our family! Crossing my fingers it is soon!

  26. Lindsey Lail - August 8, 2013

    Love this post!! In the next year, my husband and I will likely start trying for a family and I love knowing exactly what healthy moms go through and what types of diets are appropriate. Thank you for sharing!!!

  27. Kristi - August 8, 2013

    Thanks Heidi. Found this so helpful as I am pregnant myself. It makes total sense to NOT eliminate carbs while PG/breastfeeding, and to get the minimal added calories from healthy fats. 🙂

  28. Claudia - July 16, 2013

    This is my favorite post since I just recently found out I am expecting my second baby, sooo for now, I am doing as you say: Listening to my body, of course no overeating or anything but not limiting myself in the things I may get cravings for… After the nursing period, back to carb-cycling!! In three months of carb-cycling and exercise I lost 15 pound to get from 145 to 130 which was my goal… Oh and now I have been having trouble working out just because I get toooo tired, but trying to get back on the game ASAP!!!

  29. Anna - June 29, 2013

    Hello!

    I am writing from far, far away from Scandinavia.. I have been so inspired by Chris´s show, and watched every episode of it! I hope some day his books will be available in my language as well!

    I know you can´t give me any guarantees, but I want to ask about your and Chris´s opinion on big weight loss. I am heading for a dramatic weight loss, about 150 lbs, and I am only 28 years old. So what are the odds for my skin to tighten itself? Or should I prepare for surgery? Any tips how can I help my skin to keep up with the weight loss, especially on my belly and thighs? It wouldn´t be nice to lose all that weight and then end up with all the extra-skin.. :/

    • admin - July 11, 2013

      Congratulations on your weight loss. Definitely work with your local doctor to help get tips on your skin. Many use the creams that pregnant women use to help prevent stretchmarks to keep the skin moist and as firming as possible but each person is so different.

  30. Jude - June 27, 2013

    I wish I had known about this cycle of eating years ago when I had my nine children then maybe today my battle would not be so had.. I love you arms is there a way to work out at home and one can build their arms?

  31. Katie Martinez - June 19, 2013

    Hi Heidi! I was referred to this plan by my chiroprator and have been on it since January. I was told it was safe to use all the products even though I am nursing. I just found a link to the vemma website that says not to use the products while nursing. What are your thoughts on this? Are the products not safe while nursing? I have been using the Bode shakes and Bode burns, and occasionaly I will drink and Orange verve, or the sugar free verve. Thanks!

    • Admin1 - June 28, 2013

      I will defer to your doctor on this one. If you have shared the contents of the Vemma products with him/her and they approve then that’s who you should listen to. 🙂

  32. Emily Parks - June 15, 2013

    What workout DVD or website do you recommend while being pregnant? I need to lose weight but now prego.. I am 40lbs over weight and don’t really do a workout routine now however I don’t want to be unhealthy in my pregnancy! Can u give me some advice on healthy workout routine for baby and me??

  33. Melissa Barrera - June 15, 2013

    Thank you Heidi for your input on carb cycling while pregnant. Just reached 2 months and trying to eat healthy while I am still allowed to. Can you share safe exercise that worked for you such as your upper body and arms. I want my arms to look just like yours!

    Sincerley,

    Melissa Barrera

  34. Tracey Williams - June 15, 2013

    I workout 6 days a week with EMWETW and have gotten down to a size 6. Now my problem is I am afraid to change my workout or add to it. I don’t know how. I do all three levels and even challenged myself with the advanced moves but I just watched your nine min workout with Dr. Oz and it overwhelming to me. Should I change up my workout, add to it, or …I don’t know. Congrats on the new baby! You are an inspirational mother!

  35. Shelby Caracciolo - June 14, 2013

    Vemma brand partner. Doing the BOD e program and nursing this is my first week. Thank you for this!!!!! I was just looking for the answer yesterday! We even started a facebook page for the Bode transformation group and this will be so hopeful!!! Thank you congrats on you little bun in the oven. Question how much do you workout while breastfeeding??

  36. Casey - June 14, 2013

    “Choose wisely, because these foods will be developing your baby’s little brain, Its heart, and rest of its organs.” Love this! While it’s common sense stuff, a reminder like this is always important; the stuff that goes in is what’s fueling your baby’s developing body. Great post! Maybe when my husband and I get pregnant I need to print out this quote and hang it right on the front of my fridge!!!!! 😉

  37. Steph Gagne - June 14, 2013

    I love reading your tips! Especially these ones. I’m nursing my 10 month old daughter so this was perfect timing! Thanks for sharing your wisdom and insight and for all that you and Chris do. You both have inspired me with Chris’s first book (can’t wait to get the second!), the show, blog and FB! You guys are awesome!!

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