Understanding and talking about calories can be difficult and overwhelming, especially when you are trying to conceive (TTC). It can be hard to know exactly how to think about calories in your day-to-day life. While everyone and every body is different, below are some key points to keep in mind.
Where did the 2,000 calorie recommendation come from?
When the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began regulating food labels, it recommended a range for average daily calories requirements. Health professionals and consumers were allowed to vote on a couple of options. 2,000 was the most popular number. Your individual calorie needs may vary from this and even on a day to day basis!
For most people there is no need to calculate calories. In order to have healthy food intake and develop healthy habits, your go-to guide for how much you should eat in a day can be based on your feelings of hunger and satisfaction. Calorie ranges are a tool to help us quantify energy and overall nutrient intake, but there are risks associated with counting calories, including mental and emotional stress and disordered eating due to fixation on food and/or calorie intake.
Other factors to consider
As is the case with health indicators like the number of hours you sleep and move each week, what works for some people might not work for you — that’s just how it goes! When you think about the amount and types of food that will nourish you, try to focus on factors beyond nutrition labels. Some examples may include:
- How much you’re moving throughout the day
- Your energy levels
- Feelings of satisfaction/fullness after eating
- Feelings about your body
- Feeling of hunger or sense that you’re eating restrictively
Is my diet restrictive?
There are many risks associated with a low calorie diet (<1600), including not able to meet nutrient needs to support fertility and pregnancy. If you’re worried you might be eating restrictively, reach out to your provider or a therapist.
The bottom line
Finding a diet that nourishes you and leaves you feeling satisfied can be complicated for some, but you don’t have to do it alone. Seek out a registered dietitian and/or healthcare provider who can direct you to one. They will help you understand how to best support your specific needs as you are TTC and beyond!
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team
- “Estimated Calorie Needs per Day by Age, Gender, and Physical Activity Level.” Usda.gov. United States Department of Agriculture Center for Policy and Nutrition, n.d. Web. Accessed 10/26/17. Available at https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/usda_food_patterns/EstimatedCalorieNeedsPerDayTable.pdf.
- “How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label.” FDA. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Feb 2017. Web. Accessed 10/26/17. https://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm274593.htm.
- “Metabolism and weight loss: How you burn calories.” MayoClinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Aug 2013. Web. Accessed 10/26/17. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/metabolism/art-20046508.