Since getting into running and fitness a few years back, I began to realise that eating properly is just as important as doing exercise. For baby-shaped reasons (and a torn Achilles) I had to defer my London Marathon place this year, but I am planning to take part next year, and with a baby on the way, I thought now was the perfect time to learn more about nutrition and what I should be eating to give my body and Banana-sized baby all the help it can get both pre- and post-natal.
Kirsty Ledger is the owner and nutritional coach at Yummy Mummy Nutrition, which specialises in pre- and post-natal nutrition, as well as offering outdoor group sessions and nutritional coaching in SW and SE London. I thought Kirsty would be a great person to speak to about what I should be eating in pregnancy, plus it gave me a chance to find out some new tasty and nutritious recipes, which I really wanted to share 🙂
Where did it all start? What inspired you to become a nutritionist?
Coming from a lifestyle that involved no exercise and numerous takeaways, about 4 years ago I started working out and developed a passion for strength training. Over the last 2.5 years I developed a strong interest in nutrition and after listening to numerous podcasts, reading as many blogs, books and articles as I could and boring all my friends with constant talk about insulin and carbohydrates, I began studying with Body Type Nutrition Academy. This led to me becoming a certified nutritional coach. Since then, I have gone on to study Primal Nutrition with Mark Sisson and the Primal Blueprint Certification.
What do you find helps motivate and encourage people to eat better?
It’s different for everyone, some people need external motivation, others have an internal drive. I find it helps if they have a solid goal, a particular weight they want to reach or an event they want to prepare for. Some find encouragement in sticking old photos on their fridges, I have one client who has a bet with a friend. Others want to be healthier for their kids and the energy increase they have in eating better spurs them on.
What’s the best thing to eat before and after a workout?
If I’m doing a morning workout, I tend to do it fasted, just have a black coffee before heading out. For evening training, have a snack such as oats and full fat yoghurt or a handful of raspberries 90 minutes before working out.
60 minutes after a workout, have a normal meal. Make sure this meal has a good source of protein and a handful of good carbs and green veg.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
When my clients get results. The feeling that you’ve helped to change someone’s outlook on life, and changing their views. For example, when a client comes in and they’ve been rationing themselves on low-fat stuff, and I tell them that they can eat whenever they’re hungry, so long as it’s right, and then they lose weight, being able to provide that education is so rewarding. My clients interact with each other and form a supportive group, watching that community and support is really enjoyable.
What food you recommend during pregnancy?
Paleo is one of the most nutrient dense “diets” you can eat and hopefully all those super nutrients you missed out on in previous weeks are now sounding appealing again. During your second trimester is the point where you can focus on eating a diet rich in good quality meat, fish, a variety of vegetables and fruits and moderate amounts of nuts and seeds. If you find that your gut tolerates dairy then some high fat yoghurt, milk, and cheese is great for you too!
Some important micronutrients for this stage of pregnancy are –
Choline (found in egg yolks)
Omega 3 DHA (found in krill oil, fish)
Calcium (found in grass fed dairy, sardines, kale, rainbow chard, nuts)
Vitamin K (found in grassed butter, egg yolks and fermented foods)
Vitamin A (found in sweet potatoes, butternut squash, apricots)
But what about your macro nutrients – protein, fats and carbs? The ideal ratio of macronutrients during this middle part of pregnancy is 20% protein, 30% carbs and 50% fat.
This ratio is recommended by ‘The Modern Paleo Midwife’ due to your bodies increasing resistance to insulin as the babies glucose demand steadily rises which helps the nervous systems develop. Carbohydrates for the mother are an essential part of a healthy pregnancy and I wouldn’t advise less than 100/150g of carbs per day. You can get your carbs in with plenty of root vegetables, white rice, potatoes (sweet and white) and oats.
I’m running the London Marathon next year – what’s the best way to prepare for it food-wise?
During training for it, eat carbs the night before – oats, rice, potatoes, pasta if you’ve got a really long run planned the next day. 90 minutes before you head out for a training run, have a banana with nut butter, or a small portion of porridge or make an oat smoothie with banana and almond milk.
The night before the marathon, same as above – and up your carb intake the week before to about 150g a day. Morning of the marathon, again, banana and nut butter, small porridge or an oat smoothie. Take energy gels or a handful of Haribo for during the race, and Haribo is great for when you finish to replenish your glycogen store.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Anything with chocolate!
What’s your favourite dish to make?
Cauliflower pizza, lettuce wraps or paleo banana bread.
For more information and recipe ideas, have a browse of Kirsty’s pages above.