How much is too much weight gain during pregnancy? And, does it matter?  In this blog, we’re going to answer these questions and more! 

Weight gain during pregnancy

Your ideal pregnancy weight goals depend upon your pre-conception weight.  If you were overweight when you conceived, you actually need to gain less weight during your pregnancy.

Gaining the right amount of weight during pregnancy is super important, because, did you know that the amount of weight you gain during pregnancy can impact whether or not your baby struggles with his or her weight?!  Even if you’ve struggled with weight all your life, eating well and avoiding too much weight gain during pregnancy can reduce your little one’s risks of going through the same struggles?  And vice versa, if you’ve never struggled with your weight, but gain too much during pregnancy, you could be programming your baby’s genes to gain weight more easily…. 

Many of you may not know that I worked in a weight management clinic, one day per week, for over a decade. My average client in the clinic weighed 200kg (440 pounds).  Working in this clinic was actually one of the reasons that I started specialising in fertility and pregnancy.  You see, although I had plenty of clients who were overweight because they ate an unhealthy diet, I also had MANY clients who ate generally healthy diets, but still struggled with their weight. 

I’m sure you know someone who gains weight as soon as they look at a slice of chocolate cake…. and someone else who eats rubbish all the time, but never gains any weight. Research shows that people who struggle with their weight have different levels of appetite hormones than people who don’t…. which is why, once you’ve gained it, it’s so hard to lose it and keep it off. 

There’s a famous Dr Oz quote that states “Our genes load the gun, and our environment pulls the trigger”.  What this means is that people who are most likely to be overweight are those who have the genetic pre-disposition for weight gain, and who live in an environment where there’s plenty of food. 

I’m sure you’ve heard people say something like “If weight gain is genetic, why was there no overweight people in POW camps?”.  Well, the answer is that you need a combination of  both genetics and environment. 

So, which gene causes weight gain????

Once scientists realised that weight gain had a genetic component they looked to see which gene caused the problem. They thought if they could just fix this gene, it would solve the problem of obesity!  Unfortunately, what they discovered was that there wasn’t just one gene involved in weight gain, but lots of them all doing different jobs. For example, some cause increased hunger levels, others cause more fat storage and still others impact how quickly you feel full. 

And, these genes are programmed as to how they’re going to behave early on in life. It’s kind of like an alarm on your phone…. You may have it set for 6am, but unless you flick the ‘on’ button, it’s not going to wake you up at 6. 

What does the research say?

There’s a famous study called the Agouti Mouse study.  Now it’s very complex research, but I’m going to simplify it to get my point across. Essentially the researchers, Dr Waterland and Dr Jirtle, took overweight mice and got them pregnant with overweight male mice.  As you’d expect, most of the baby mice were also overweight. 

In the second part of the study, they repeated the experiment but with one key difference. They fed the pregnant mice a diet really rich in nutrition and low in calories. What they found, was that even though both parent mice were obese, this time, their baby mice were not.  Research has gone on to discover that this is true in humans too.  A nutritious diet, and healthy weight gain during pregnancy, impacts your baby’s genetic programming so that he or she is less likely to struggle with weight gain. 

Fascinating, isn’t it?!

And, this is just one example of how what you eat during pregnancy, helps to program your baby’s genes to influence his future.

The problem is that current stats show that one in every two women are overweight or obese before they even become pregnant, and over 50% of women gain too much weight during pregnancy….. therefore increasing the risk of our children spending a lifetime battling with their weight. Some people have gone so far as to say that they believe that the next generation will have a shorter lifespan than ours because of the amount of weight women are gaining during pregnancy at the moment. 

Unfortunately, to make things even more complicated, gaining too little weight during pregnancy can be a problem too.  So, just like baby bear in the Goldilocks story, we need you to gain just enough.

Now, having worked with thousands of women during pregnancy, I know how hard it is to eat well and achieve healthy weight gain during pregnancy. Between craving nothing but hot chips due to morning sickness and overwhelming exhaustion, it’s not easy…. but it’s not impossible either…. And, I know that with the right guidance and support, YOU CAN DO THIS!!

I know that this is a sensitive topic, and I’m not here to blame or point fingers, only to help and encourage…. So please, don’t worry if you’ve gained too much weight during pregnancy.  We can’t change the past. So, let’s just focus on the future. 

What can you do to make sure you’re gaining the right amount of weight during pregnancy?

I have three steps for you to take….

Step 1

I want you to click the ‘subscribe’ button so that you receive my weekly videos to help keep you motivated,

Step 2

I want you to type “I’m in” in the chat box below.  Putting your commitment in writing helps you to commit to change, then, finally,

Step 3

I want you to rate yourself from one to ten, on how well you ate last week.  Be honest! 

So, now you’re all set to help your little one avoid a lifetime of struggling with his or her weight.



Melanie McGrice in the kitchen

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