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Yes. Your chances of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy are greater if you're close to your ideal weight. Being overweight can cause abnormal menstrual cycles, which can lead to infertility. Overweight women are also more likely to have pregnancy complications such as hypertension and diabetes and more difficult deliveries.
It's best to stay away from popular diet plans that eliminate certain foods or food groups (like carbohydrates). Low-carb diets work for many people, but diets that cut out milk products, fruit, and vegetables can rob your body of many important vitamins and nutrients that you need to sustain a healthy pregnancy.
A better diet would be one that concentrates on "good" carbs such as whole-grain breads, pastas, and brown rice. Also include plenty of lean protein (such as fish, chicken, and lean cuts of meat), as well as fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products such as milk, yogurt, or cheese. The whole grains in your diet can make you feel full, as will drinking plenty of water.
A registered dietitian can help you design a diet that's right for you. (Check the American Dietetic Association's Web site for help finding a dietitian in your area.)
Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind as you try to reach a healthy body weight before you get pregnant:
- Pay attention to what you eat. Your daily diet should include: five or more servings of grains/starches (including at least three whole grains), 2 cups of fruit and 2 and a half cups of vegetables (be sure to include a variety, such as dark green and starchy vegetables, orange and vitamin C-rich fruits, as well as dried beans and legumes), 5 to 6 ounces of lean protein from a variety of sources (fish, beans, poultry, meat, pork, eggs, nuts), three or more servings of dairy or calcium-rich foods (milk, cheese, yogurt), 6 teaspoons of added vegetable fat from canola oil or olive oil, or products made with these oils. (Try to avoid trans fat, the "bad" fat found in many fried and fast foods.)
- Be active! Exercising tones your muscles, builds strength, and helps your body burn more calories – even when you're sleeping. Exercise also promotes strong bones and helps ensure that your weight loss isn't from the loss of muscle tissue.
Aim for 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity on most days of the week, even if you have to split that time into several sessions. Pick activities you like – hiking, bicycling, swimming, gardening, dancing, or weight training. Remember that once you lose the weight, exercise is still important for keeping the weight off.
- Aim to lose about 1 to 2 pounds a week. This will help guarantee that you're losing fat. Losing much more than a couple of pounds a week can mean you're losing fluid and burning muscle mass instead of fat.
- Remember that if a diet sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Stick with a sensible eating plan and regular exercise to achieve a healthy body weight.