Eating for two – Kilojoules whilst pregnant

Eating for two? That doesn’t mean that you need to eat double your portion size. The saying ‘eating for two’ means that you need to increase the quality of your diet as opposed to the quantity.


It is important for you and your baby to eat healthily during your pregnancy to ensure that you both receive the nutrients that you need and also gain the appropriate amount of weight. On average women who are a healthy weight should expect to gain between 11.5 and 16 kg. This reference range changes if you are underweight or overweight at the point of conception. Eating too much can put you at risk of gaining excess weight, gestational diabetes and having a higher birth weight baby. However, pregnancy is not a time to diet as too little nutrition can increase the risk of miscarriage, nutritional deficiencies and impair your baby’s growth.

So how many kilojoules do you need? That depends on your starting weight, stage of pregnancy and your levels of physical activity.

First trimester

During the first trimester, the changes that are occurring are mainly chemical and so your weight and kilojoule intake should remain roughly the same as it was prior to pregnancy. This means that no extra food is required; however you need to ensure that your diet is as nutritious as it can be. It is recommended that women aim to increase their low starch vegetable intake (which will cause a very minor increase to their total kJ intake) as this will provide extra essential vitamins and minerals needed for the developing baby.
For women who experience morning sickness during the first 12 weeks and find it difficult to keep food down, it is important that they try to eat well when their symptoms are most manageable. When their symptoms improve later in the pregnancy, they will be able to catch up provided they maintain a nutritious diet.

Second trimester

During the second trimester your energy needs increase as your baby starts to grow. On average, you will need an extra 1400kJ a day. This might seem a lot, but it really equates to two slices of wholegrain bread and a few nuts. Keep in mind that although you may need some additional kilojoules, these should come from the core food groups of wholegrain cereals, fruit, vegetables, lean proteins or dairy to provide extra energy and nutrition.

Third trimester

As with the previous trimester, this time is all about growth. Women generally require an additional 500kJ a day which is equivalent to a slice of bread or 30g nuts. As your baby grows and puts pressure on your internal organs, you may find it harder to eat a substantial meal. Therefore it is best to space out your kilojoule intake throughout the day by reducing your portions at main meals and bulking up nutritious snacks.
It is important to talk to your healthcare provider who will be able to advise you of your pregnancy weight goal and to tailor a diet plan that is appropriate for you or grab your copy of The Pregnancy Weight Plan.