You do not need to eat any extra food in the first two trimesters of pregnancy. In the third trimester you may need to eat around 200 calories extra.
It's likely you'll be encouraged to have extra food or indulge in extra snacks because ‘you’re eating for two now’. Much as this might be tempting, it's simply not true.
Eating lots of extra food now that you're pregnant will not help your baby, and will leave you with extra weight that you may struggle to lose when your baby is born. This is especially true if the extra food you eat is high in empty calories, fat and sugar.
Your baby takes everything they need from you for the first six months without you needing any extra calories at all. Once you get to the last trimester, you may need to eat a bit more.
200 extra calories a day is around half a sandwich.
Although you do not need to eat more in pregnancy, you may need to eat more healthily if you don't already. Research has shown that what you eat now could affect your child's health in later years.
Our film shows exactly how many calories are in some common foods
How much to eat in pregnancy depending on level of activity
Here's a estimated guide from the First Steps Nutrition Trust on how much calories you need based on the level of exercise you are doing.
If you are less active
That means: normal daily activities but no strenuous exercise on most days and less than an hour a day of walking, swimming, cycling or other moderate activity.
First two trimesters: 1,980 kcal
Third trimester: 2,180 kcal
That means: Normal daily activities and an hour per day of moderately strenuous activity such as walking, swimming or cycling.
First two trimesters: 2,150 kcal
Third trimester: 2,350 kcal
That means: Normal daily activities and 1-2 hours or more of moderately strenuous activity a day such as walking, swimming, cycling, or a job where the woman is active most of the day.
First two trimesters: 2,365kcal
Third trimester: 2,565kcal
Instead of eating extra food in pregnancy concentrate on eating a balanced diet with lots of healthy foods.
How much should you eat in pregnancy? During most of your pregnancy you do not need to take in extra calories (over the recommended 2,000 a day for women).
Now that you’re pregnant, it’s important to eat well. Good nutrition will keep you healthy and help your baby grow and develop.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help you have a healthier pregnancy and manage your weight gain.
Common questions about diet in pregnancy answered.
After the recent report by the Food Standards Agency into the Campylobacter bug in supermarket chicken we’ve had lots of people asking us whether it’s OK to eat chicken in pregnancy.
Food hygiene is important for everyone but it’s particularly good to be careful how you prepare, handle and store food now you're pregnant.
- First Steps Nutrition Trust (2017) Eating well for a healthy pregnancy: A practical guide, London, UK http://www.firststepsnutrition.org/newpages/Pregnancy/pregnancy_practica...)?
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2010) ‘Weight Management Before, During and After Pregnancy’, NICE Public Health Guidelines 27: http://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ph27
- Stout SA, Espel EV, Sandman C A et al (2015). Fetal Programming of Children’s Obesity Risk. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 53, 29–39. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.12.009
ℹLast reviewed on August 1st, 2016. Next review date August 1st, 2019.