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Diabetes and Pregnancy - Diet and Exercise in Gestational Diabetes

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Diet and Exercise in Gestational Diabetes

By Nina Nazor


You should make sure that you are providing you and your baby with an adequate nutrition and enough calories for the appropriate weight gain during your pregnancy, for maintaining normal blood glucose levels, and for helping you avoid ketosis (the presence of ketones in your urine).

Usually, it is recommended that you get an additional 300-500 calories per day in the second and third trimester if you have a normal weight. However, it is suggested that you consult your doctor before changing your calorie consumption.

The presence of ketones in urine while pregnant has been associated with lower IQ levels and psychomotor problems in the baby. So, monitoring your glucose levels before breakfast is a must.

In order to avoid ketosis, you must eat three small-to-moderate-sized meals and three snacks throughout the day, including a bed time snack. This is because ketones are produced when your body does not have enough glucose to produce energy and instead, starts burning fats, therefore you must consume glucose and other nutrients throughout the day, and especially at night, since at that time your body needs more fuel because your baby is growing.

Limiting carbohydrates to 40% of your total daily caloric intake might help you control your blood glucose levels after meals. You should also go for carbs with a low glycemic index.

In case you haven't seen a dietitian yet, I invite you to design your own meal plan taking these recommendations into account.


The role of exercise in women with gestational diabetes has been controversial, because while it can help decrease glucose levels, it has en effect on uterine activity. The stationary recumbent bicycle (a bike with the pedals in front of you instead of below you) seems to be the best option.

However, exercise has its benefits on glycemic control. Researchers report that women with gestational diabetes who follow diet and exercise have lower glycated hemoglobin levels and glucose levels compared to women who just follow the diet.

The American Diabetes Association recommends starting or continuing a program of moderate exercise in women who don't have any medical or obstetrical contraindications. You must be aware, however, of uterine contractions.

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