Dr. Nashat Latib

FREE RESOURCES Download our free transformational guides


Optimize Your Fertility and Pregnancy with Prenatal Nutrition

By Dr. Nashat Latib • Feb 28, 2023

A Guide on What to Eat Before and During Your Pregnancy

Eating an overall nutritious, balanced, and adequate diet is one of the most important ways to care for yourself pre-conception and once you are pregnant.  

This isn’t a female or male-specific strategy. Good nutrition contributes directly to both egg and sperm health. This means you and your partner can work on this together!

Keep reading to get our top recommendations for your nutrition so you can upgrade your diet to include key nutrients that will set you up for a healthy conception and baby.

Healthy Diet and Supplements Before Pregnancy

Before pregnancy, a nutrient-dense diet not only meets your needs but also lays down stores essential for a future baby’s development, including the development of body systems and physiological processes like metabolism.

In addition to eating healthy foods, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends taking a daily prenatal vitamin with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid starting at least 1 month before pregnancy. We love and recommend this prenatal supplement to our clients.

Key Nutrients in the Prenatal Diet


While your entire eating pattern is relevant before and during pregnancy, there are a few key nutrients to focus on, the first being protein.

Protein is a building block for your baby’s  muscles, skin, blood, and other key cells.

We recommend shooting for 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For example, if you weigh 150lbs, that is ~69kg, and your ideal protein intake would be 103g.

To meet protein needs in the prenatal period, eat a variety of protein sources such as fish, meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, beans, lentils, tofu, edamame, nuts, and seeds.

Favorite Protein Sources


  • Seafood (we love Seatopia)
  • Grass-Fed Bone Broth
  • Grass-Fed Meat
  • Pasture-Raised Poultry
  • Pasture-Raised Pork



If you are a vegetarian or vegan, it is still possible to meet your protein needs during pregnancy with a carefully planned diet. We’ve put some of our favorite non-meat protein sources in the table above, and we give more recommendations inside our programs.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Next up, we’re talking about omega-3 fatty acids. 

Omega-3s support the development of your baby’s brain and are associated with reduced allergies and asthma in children.

Consuming adequate omega-3s is great for the mom too! It’s associated with reduced maternal depression and a decrease in the incidence of preterm birth.

There are three main types of omega-3s: 

  1. Alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), found primarily in nuts and seeds
  2. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), found in oily fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines
  3. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), also found in oily fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines

DHA and EPA are more important than ALA during the prenatal period. We recommend getting these omega-3s from eating fish directly, but if you do not eat fish or prefer fish, then a supplement can be a great option. Other great non-fish sources of essential fatty acids are avocados, extra virgin olive oil, seed butters, and nut butters.


The prenatal nutrition conversation wouldn’t be complete without discussing key micronutrients. A mother’s deficiency of folate, iron, calcium, and vitamin D can affect fetal development and have long-term health consequences for both mother and baby.


In addition to omega-3s, a developing baby’s brain requires folate, a B vitamin. Folate is also involved in cell division, which occurs at a rapid pace during pregnancy.

Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate found in supplements and fortified foods. The body can absorb folic acid better than folate found in whole foods. 

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for folate in women of childbearing age is 400 micrograms per day, increasing to 600 micrograms per day during pregnancy. Some studies recommend getting 400 micrograms of folic acid in a prenatal supplement and eating foods rich in folate like leafy greens, peas, beans, and lentils. Click here to get our recommended prenatal supplement.


Iron is a mineral that makes up hemoglobin, which transports oxygen to body cells. Without proper iron stores before pregnancy, it is unlikely that the mother and baby will meet iron needs during pregnancy. 

Unfortunately, iron deficiency is a widespread problem, affecting over 30% of pregnant women in developed countries and up to 50% of pregnant women worldwide. 

Iron deficiency can have significant health consequences. For mothers, iron deficiency during pregnancy is associated with decreased immune function and a future increased risk of heart disease. For babies, iron deficiency is associated with an increased risk for preterm birth, low birth weight, and abnormal development and cognitive function. 

In the prenatal period, the RDA for iron increases by 50% from 18 mg to 27 mg per day. Choose a variety of foods with iron such as fish, meat, dark leafy greens, beans, lentils, and fortified foods. Iron in animal foods is more easily absorbed than iron in plant foods; to improve iron absorption in plant foods, add sources of vitamin C like citrus, peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower.

We always include a lab test for iron when we onboard new clients. Click here to learn more about the lab tests we recommend.

Calcium and Vitamin D

Calcium supports bone, teeth, heart, nervous system, and muscle development in your baby. 

Mothers not consuming enough calcium are at higher risk for hypertension and osteopenia, a weakening of the bones, as well as muscle conditions. Their babies may be at a higher risk for delayed growth, low birth weight, and poor bone mineralization.

For pregnant women, the RDA for calcium is between 1,000 and 1,300 mg daily, depending on age. The need for calcium is paramount during the third trimester when bone mineralization occurs at the most rapid pace.

Calcium is found in dairy products, plant foods including leafy green vegetables and nuts, and fortified foods such as some soy milks. Diet alone can usually meet increased calcium needs, though supplementation may be recommended for some.

The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. For women of childbearing age and pregnant women, the RDA for vitamin D is 15 micrograms per day. You can get vitamin D from sunlight, foods, and supplements. Fatty fish such as salmon and fortified products are the best sources of vitamin D. However, it can be difficult to reach needs through sunlight and food alone. Talk to your practitioner about whether a vitamin D supplement is right for you.

Our Recommendation

One way to get a great variety of micronutrients is to eat the rainbow. Meaning, don’t eat the same veggies and fruits day in and day out. Make sure you get veggies and fruits that come in a variety of colors in your diet.

Foods to Limit or Avoid in the Prenatal Diet

Fish High in Mercury 

Fish is a great source of protein and many species of fish have omega-3s that are essential for fetal development. However, some species of fish are high in mercury, a harmful toxin found in high levels in swordfish, tilefish, bigeye tuna, and more. Select 2-3 servings per week of fish lowest in mercury, such as salmon, sardines, canned light tuna, shrimp, cod, and haddock.

We recommend Seatopia as a great source for thoughtful sources of fish(https://seatopia.fish)

Foods Linked to Listeriosis

Listeria is a bacterium found in soil, water, and some animals that cause listeriosis, a foodborne infection that can be detrimental and potentially fatal to a growing baby. To prevent listeriosis, avoid eating unpasteurized milk and cheese, pate and meat spreads, and smoked seafood. Cook hot dogs and deli meats to steaming hot just before serving. Wash fruits and vegetables before eating in addition to other food safety practices.

Foods High in Added Sugars, Refined Grains, and Saturated Fat

Fill your diet with nutrient-dense foods, including vegetables, fruit, lean proteins, whole grains, nuts, legumes, seeds, and low-fat or nonfat dairy products. Tea and coffee can also be part of a prenatal diet. It is recommended to consume under 200 milligrams of caffeine daily during pregnancy.

Even simple sugars and simple carbs should be limited. This includes white rice, white potatoes,  and white bread.

Other foods and drinks high in refined carbohydrates and saturated fat, like candy, soda, energy drinks, snack foods, butter, red meat, and full-fat dairy products, should be limited in a prenatal diet.

Prenatal Weight

Practicing healthy lifestyle habits before pregnancy will help achieve the recommended weight gain. Your doctor will advise on a pregnancy weight gain goal as determined by your pre-pregnancy Body Mass Index (BMI). Excess weight gain is a predictor of pregnancy complications and a child’s future health risks, including the risk of obesity. 

Early in pregnancy, your body does not need extra calories. Energy requirements only increase once the second trimester begins. For the most part, satisfy physical hunger with nutrient-dense foods rich in key nutrients.

Foods to Limit or Avoid in the Prenatal Diet

You can’t supplement a poor lifestyle. So we do recommend that everybody has the diet components in place first before adding in supplements. That said, here are some of our favorite supplements to recommend to clients:

Prenatal Vitamin

Look for one with a methylated form of folate that can be better utilized in the body.

Fish Oil

To supplement your omega-3. Especially helpful if you don’t eat much seafood.


To support your gut health and digestion.

Final thoughts on Nutrition to Get Pregnant and Have the Healthiest Baby Possible

If you are trying to have a baby or if you are pregnant, there is so much that can feel out of your control. However, you can choose what you eat. A balanced prenatal way of eating can suit all cuisines, preferences, and budgets.

And remember, take it one meal at a time. Each meal is an opportunity to nourish yourself and your growing baby. At the same time, you do not have to be perfect. Focus on incremental improvement each day.

If you want our help to implement these nutrition requirements into your lifestyle, we work with clients inside our group program to do just that.


  1. Alwan NA and Hamamy H. Maternal Iron Status in Pregnancy and Long-Term Health Outcomes in the Offspring. J Pediatr Genet 2015;4:111-123.
  2. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Committee Opinion: Weight Gain During Pregnancy. 2018. Available from: https://www.acog.org/Clinical-Guidance-and-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/Weight-Gain-During-Pregnancy?IsMobileSet=false
  3. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Listeria and Pregnancy. 2018. Available from: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/listeria-and-pregnancy
  4. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. How much coffee can I drink while I’m pregnant? 2020. Available from: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/experts-and-stories/ask-acog/how-much-coffee-can-i-drink-while-pregnant
  5. Cetin I et al. Impact of Micronutrient Status during Pregnancy on Early Nutrition Programming. Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism 2019;74:269-278.
  6. Craemer KA et al. Nutrition and Exercise Strategies to Prevent Excessive Pregnancy Weight Gain: A Meta-analysis. Am J Perinatol Rep 2019;9:e92-e120.
  7. Danielewicz H et al. Diet in pregnancy – more than food. Eur J Pediatr 2017;176:1573-1579.
  8. FDA. Eating Fish: What Pregnant Women and Parents Should Know. 2018. Available from: https://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm393070.htm
  9. Gammone MA et al. Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: Benefits and Endpoints in Sport. Nutrients 2019;11(1):46.
  10. Klemm S. Eating Right During Pregnancy. Eat Right: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2019. Available from: https://www.eatright.org/health/pregnancy/what-to-eat-when-expecting/eating-right-during-pregnancy
  11. Mousa A, Naqash A and Lim S. Macronutrient and Micronutrient Intake during Pregnancy: An Overview of Recent Evidence. Nutrients 2019;11:443.
  12. Nordgren T et al. Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake of Pregnant Women and Women of Childbearing Age in the United States: Potential for Deficiency? Nutrients 2017;9(3):197.
  13. Tahir M et al. Higher Maternal Diet Quality during Pregnancy and Lactation is Associated with Lower Infant Weight-For-Length, Body Fat Percent, and Fat Mass in Early Postnatal Life. Nutrients 2019;11:632.
  14. USDA Agricultural Research Service. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release. April 2018. Available from: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/