Bodybuilding during Pregnancy

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If a bodybuilder finds out she is pregnant, I would suggest that she tone down her training to using light weights only, at low intensity. It is important to seek advice from your doctor, health visitor or midwife concerning exercise. If the pregnancy is planned and you are actively trying for a baby, I would also reduce training intensity, as intense exercise can raise natural testosterone levels in women affecting the reproductive hormone balance.

Remember, it is crucial to heed the nutritional guidelines for pregnancy, including the following:

• Eat a wide variety of foods

• Eat regularly

• Don't eat too many fatty and sugary foods

• Consume plenty of fibre

• Don't drink too much alcohol

• Avoid too much vitamin A

• Consume sufficient folic acid for a healthy baby

You also need to consider iron and calcium intake, as there is a high demand for these micronutrients. Weight gain is also important to consider. The ideal weight gain is 9 -13kg (1.5 - 2 stones) during pregnancy. Very little weight gain is expected in the early months. Too much excess body fat is difficult to lose afterwards, so it is wise to control it. If you are overweight prior to becoming pregnant, then eat sensibly during the pregnancy to minimise any further weight gain.

If you use any bodybuilding supplements, I would suggest stopping them during pregnancy and lactation. Also, do not follow a too high protein diet, as this may adversely affect the foetus's kidneys.

After giving birth, remember that your body has been severely stressed. Rest well, and leave weight training until you are certain yourself that you are completely ready. Do not revert back to a bodybuilding diet and intense training until you are fully recovered, and then break back into the routine gently. If you are anaemic, then iron rich foods and supplementation may need to be considered.

If you have any issues about getting back into bodybuilding following pregnancy, discuss them with your health visitor or a dietitian.

Breast-feeding has been shown to be the most effective way of burning fat held around the thigh and gluteus region, even more so than exercise and dietary manipulation. Therefore, if you can breast-feed, do so, especially if you have gained more weight than desired during the pregnancy. Mother's milk is extremely high in whey protein and other important growth factors like IGF-1. Why not give the little chap a head start? - he / she may be a bodybuilding star of the future.

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