Fertility and diets: do I need to lose weight?María Arellano
Fertility and WHY we diet
So you want to lose weight? But WHY do you want to lose weight? Our reasons for wanting to lose weight are not always healthy.
If you have low self-esteem or you consider that your eating habits are not the most favorable, please stop a moment before reading this post. Diets are a tool we can use to build a life of health, well-being and happiness based on the knowledge and appreciation of our bodies.
If you consider that you are having problems eating, either because you eat in very few quantities – even expelling after eating – or if you eat too much driven by impulses that you can not stop, keep in mind that you may have an eating disorder.
Here at hiMama we invite you to accompany us in building a healthy love relationship with food! Did you know that if you want to get pregnant you should be eating whole grains, healthy fats, high quality protein and even ice cream?!
Overweight versus obese: what does your BMI say?
You don’t decide if you are overweight. Your BMI does. Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is used to determine how much of your weight is proportioned by body fat in relation to your height and age.
The difference between being obese and being overweight is explained as follows by the Torrence Memorial Medical Center:
Although the terms “overweight” and “obese” are similar, the difference between the two arises with Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is a measure of body fat based on an individual’s weight in relation to his or her height and age. In general, a person with a BMI of 25-29.9 is considered overweight, while a person with a BMI over 30 is considered obese.
If you have a BMI of 25 or over and are using the hiMama fertility monitor in the hope of getting pregnant, please consider taking a closer look at the advantages of losing weight as well as looking into your current diet to see if it meets with the criteria established by the Nurse’s Health Study.
Nurse’s Health Study and ovulatory infertility
The Nurse’s Health Study is among the largest and most comprehensive studies to date on women’s health, specifically on major chronic diseases, and has contributed to our knowledge of the dietary recommendations for fertility.
The study counted with the good-will and participation of more than 18,000 women over a period of 8 years. This work on diet and fertility concluded with 10 recommendations aimed at preventing and reversing ovulatory infertility (not physical impediments like blocked fallopian tubes).
This is important because ovulatory infertility accounts for one quarter or more of all cases of infertility. (Take a look at the article by the Harvard Medical Center on the subject, here).
Fertility diets, recommendations and easy steps
The following are the 10 recommendations based on the Nurse’s Health Study as they have been expressed by the Harvard Medical Center. If recommendations is a scary term, you can think of them more as 10 steps for improving fertility through changes in diet, weight and activity, as Alia E. Dastagir puts it.
Turn to vegetable protein. Replacing a serving of meat each day with beans, peas, soybeans or tofu, or nuts can improve fertility.
Choose slow carbs, not no carbs. Choosing slowly digested carbohydrates that are rich in fiber, like whole grains, vegetables, whole fruits, and beans, instead of rapidly digested carbs can improve fertility by controlling blood sugar and insulin levels.
Make it whole milk. Skim milk appears to promote infertility. If you drink milk, choose whole milk while trying to get pregnant, or have a small dish of ice cream or full-fat yogurt every day.
Take a multi-vitamin. Getting extra folic acid (400 micrograms a day) before you get pregnant could actually help you start eating for two.
Get plenty of iron from plants. Extra iron from plants, including whole-grain cereals, spinach, beans, pumpkin, tomatoes, and beets, appears to promote fertility.
Drink to your health. The best beverage for keeping your body hydrated is water. Coffee, tea, and alcohol are okay in moderation. But skip sugared sodas—they appear to promote ovulatory infertility.
Head toward the fertility zone for weight. Weighing too much or too little can interrupt normal menstrual cycles, throw off ovulation or stop it altogether. The best range for fertility is a body-mass index (BMI) of 20 to 24. Working to move your BMI in that direction by gaining or losing some weight is almost as good.
Move to the fertility zone for activity. If you don’t get much physical activity and are above the fertility zone for weight, daily exercise can help improve fertility. But don’t overdo it: too much exercise, especially if you are quite lean, can interfere with ovulation.
Overweight and getting pregnant
If you are overweight (BMI overweight, not just critical of your body because it has an extra roll or two “overweight”) and you want to get pregnant, it turns out wanting to lose weight means you are on the right track.
Studies show clear correlation between obesity, weight problems, and the most common causes of infertility in both men and women. Obesity and anorexia have been associated with infertility due to their negative impact on the production of sex hormones. Make sure to ask your physician if your fertility problems are related to your current weight and just how friendly you can get with your favorite ice cream brand!