What to eat if you’re trying to conceive
If you are trying to conceive (TTC), it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the abundance of information out there. This is a dense topic (and an important one!) with tons of different factors to consider. Today, we will try and simplify things by focusing on foods, nutrients, and supplements when TTC.
Our favorite foods to eat if you’re trying to conceive
I find that people may often overlook their diet when TTC, but the truth is it is super important that you fuel your body with high-quality, nutrient-dense foods. Now is NOT the time to cut out entire food groups and go on a low-calorie diet, but now is the time to nourish your body.
If you’re not eating enough, your body is going to prioritize the necessary processes to keep you healthy, leaving pregnancy on the bottom of the list. If you cut out an entire food group, it is likely that your hormones will be affected (the last thing you want to happen right now). It makes sense if you think about it; eating too little or not getting enough nutrients will stress your body out, and since your body is smart, the last thing it is going to want to do is nurture a baby.
I always tell my clients to focus on high-quality, nutrient-dense foods. A good rule of thumb is making sure to eat a variety of bright and colorful food daily – that way, you can be sure they contain lots of nutrients!
My favorite foods to eat if you’re trying to conceive:
- Free-range eggs (healthy fats, Choline, Vitamin E, Iodine)
- Avocado (healthy fats, B vitamins, Vitamins C, E, K, Potassium. Magnesium, and Folate)
- Nuts/Seeds (healthy fats and a variety of minerals depending on the type)
- Wild Salmon (healthy fats, Vitamin D, Choline, B Vitamins, Selenium, and protein)
- Greek yogurt (probiotics, protein, healthy fats, Calcium, Vitamin D + K2, and Iodine)
- Blueberries (high in antioxidants, Vitamin C, fiber, and folate)
- Pomegranate (rich in antioxidants, Vitamin C, K, and folate, can help reduce inflammation and energize your cells)
- Honey (lots of antioxidants, great for your healthy gut bacteria)
- Asparagus (rich in prebiotics, Vitamins A, B, C, K, and folate)
- Cinnamon (anti-inflammatory and helps manage blood sugar which can be key in hormone imbalance)
Key nutrients if you’re planning on trying to conceive
I may sound like a broken record by now, but your body needs extra nutrients when TTC! I always tell my clients to focus on food first and supplementation second to fill in the gaps when necessary – it’s not easy to get all the nutrients in your diet, especially if you have dietary restrictions.
Folate is a nutrient important in red blood cell formation and overall cell growth, function, and health. In pregnancy, folate is critical in protecting your baby from neural tube defects, which is why you should consume adequate levels of folate two to three months before you conceive so that your body can build up and store appropriate levels. Folate is found in foods like broccoli, brussel sprouts, spinach, asparagus, peas, and chickpeas. However, getting enough folate from diet alone is hard, which is why prenatals contain folate.
Omega 3 fatty acids are healthy fats that contain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA is involved in a baby’s brain growth and eye development. Additionally, DHA is great at lowering inflammation, which helps prevent complications during pregnancy. The good news is that DHA is not hard to get in the diet and is found in foods such as avocados, egg yolks, salmon (try for wild-caught), walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds. In most cases, I recommended adding in a high-quality Omega-3 supplement or making sure it is in your prenatal in addition to your diet to ensure you are getting adequate amounts!
Protein is essential in so many of your body’s metabolic processes. I recommended choosing high-quality and well-sourced animal proteins, when possible, like wild-caught salmon, free-range eggs, and organic meats. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, plant-based protein sources are ok too, just a bit more tricky! In this case, I would try incorporating tofu, tempeh, lentils, hemp seeds, and less-processed (occasionally) meat free options like Beyond Burger is OK too… and make sure you are having complete sources of protein on a regular basis as well.
Minerals are needed in small amounts for our body to develop and function normally. Specific minerals to focus on when TTC are zinc, magnesium, and calcium. These nutrients are best absorbed through food rather than supplements.
Vitamin C is a hot topic these days and for a good reason! Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and has an important role in our immune function and health. Vitamin C is best absorbed when eaten through food, so make sure to get in lots of raw fruits and veggies like bell peppers, broccoli, kale, tomatoes, strawberries, oranges, and other citrus fruits.
What to look for in a prenatal
When TTC, you may be tempted to take every vitamin out there, or the opposite, where you’re finding yourself too scared to take anything. Dietary supplements in the USA are unregulated by the FDA, which means finding a good quality prenatal is imperative.
When looking for a prenatal make sure it has no fillers, no binders, is gluten-free, and from a company you trust. My favorite prenatal brands are: (in no particular order!)
- Thorne Research: Basic Prenatal
- NOW Foods: Prenatal + DHA
- Garden of Life Prenatal
- Douglas Labs Prenatal
- Pure Encapsulations Prenatal
In general, here’s what I look for in a prenatal (it’s not always possible but take a peek!):
- Folate: 400-800 mcg (closer to 800 ideally)
- Vitamin B12: 500+ mcg (preferably methylcobalamin form)
- Vitamin B6: In P5P form (this is key if you’ve ever been on birth control)
- Vitamin D3: At least 1,000 IU ( I like closer to 2,000 IU)
- Iron: 18-27 mg (consider if you are vegetarian, vegan, or know you are iron deficient)
- Vitamin A: around 5,000 IU (from beta-carotene)
- Magnesium: around 300-400mg is ideal
- Iodine: around 150 mcg
- Extras: DHA (for brain development), extra antioxidants (some prenatal have some added pulverized veggies etc)
Trying to conceive is a complex topic and one that can be very frustrating too! Your diet directly influences your health and fertility. Focusing on nutrient-dense, high-quality foods is key, but supplementation is often needed to ensure you are getting all the nutrients recommended.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, or are struggling with TTC click here to work with me! We’re here and work with plenty of clients who are TTC so please reach out!