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Why am I craving carbs during pregnancy?

Why Am I Craving Carbs During Pregnancy

Why am I craving carbs during pregnancy? According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), It is recommended to consume  ≥175 g/d of carbohydrates during pregnancy. However, many women consume lower carbohydrate (LC) diets (<175 g/d or <40% of EI) during pregnancy and the periconceptual period to improve glycemic control and pregnancy outcomes.

Pregnancy is a transformative journey for women, marked by numerous physical and hormonal changes. One common aspect of pregnancy that many women experience is cravings , often centered around specific types of foods. Among these cravings, carbohydrates tend to be a frequent and notable choice. 

There are some reasons behind the prevalence of carb cravings during pregnancy. Keep reading!

1. Hormonal Fluctuations:

One of the primary factors contributing to carb cravings during pregnancy is hormonal fluctuations. Hormones such as progesterone and estrogen rise significantly during pregnancy, impacting neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate mood and appetite. These hormonal changes can lead to an increased desire for comfort foods, with carbohydrates being known for their mood-enhancing properties.

2. Energy Demands:

Pregnancy is an energy-intensive process, as the body works tirelessly to support the growth and development of the fetus. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy, providing a quick and easily accessible fuel source. As the energy demands during pregnancy increase, the body signals a desire for carbohydrates to meet these heightened requirements.

3. Nutrient Requirements:

Carbohydrates play a crucial role in providing essential nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals. During pregnancy, the body requires an increased intake of certain nutrients to support fetal development. Carbohydrate-rich foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables become appealing due to their nutrient content, serving both the mother and the growing baby’s nutritional needs.

4. Blood Sugar Regulation:

Pregnant women often experience fluctuations in blood sugar levels, leading to feelings of fatigue and cravings for quick energy fixes. Carbohydrates, especially those with a low glycemic index, can help stabilize blood sugar levels, providing a sustained release of energy. The body’s natural response to these fluctuations is a heightened desire for foods that can help maintain blood sugar balance.

5. Cultural and Emotional Factors:

Cravings during pregnancy are not solely dictated by physiological changes; cultural and emotional factors also play a significant role. Social and cultural influences, as well as personal preferences, can contribute to the types of foods a pregnant woman craves. Carbohydrate-rich comfort foods may offer a sense of familiarity and satisfaction during a time of significant change.

Read also: Pregnancy Cravings: What They Mean And When Did They Start

Is it normal craving carbs during pregnancy?

Craving carbohydrates while pregnant is frequent and completely acceptable.

It is commonly ascribed to a mix of hormonal changes, increased energy needs, blood sugar management, and dietary requirements. Significant hormonal variations, such as higher levels of estrogen and progesterone, can impact taste preferences, causing cravings for specific foods, particularly carbohydrate-rich ones. With the body’s increased energy requirements to support fetal growth, carbohydrates become the predominant source of fuel. The efficient use of glucose, as well as the need to keep blood sugar levels stable, contribute to our natural preference for carbohydrate-rich diets. 

Additionally, morning sickness and emotional factors, such as mood swings and stress, can also influence cravings. While it’s normal to indulge in cravings, it’s essential for pregnant women to maintain a balanced and nutrient-dense diet, opting for whole grains, fruits, and vegetables as sources of carbohydrates. Seeking guidance from healthcare providers ensures that nutritional needs are met for a healthy pregnancy.

According to American Pregnancy Organization,  It is advised to include 6-11 servings (6-11 oz) of bread/grains, 2-4 servings of fruit and 4 or more servings of vegetables daily and ensure a minimum of 3 servings of protein and dairy products each day for a balanced and nutritious diet.

Why do carbs make you feel better when pregnant?

Consuming carbohydrates during pregnancy can contribute to an improved mood for several reasons. 

  1. Carbohydrates play a vital role in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of well-being.
  2. Carbs provide a quick and accessible source of energy, addressing the increased energy demands of pregnancy. Stable blood sugar levels, regulated by the consumption of complex carbohydrates, help prevent mood swings associated with low blood sugar.
  3. Moreover, the emotional and psychological comfort derived from carb-rich foods can act as a form of stress relief, offering a sense of familiarity and support during the emotional rollercoaster of pregnancy. 

Is it OK to Avoid Carbs During Pregnancy?

While it’s generally not advisable to completely avoid carbohydrates during pregnancy, it’s crucial to make informed and healthy choices. Carbohydrates are a primary source of energy and essential nutrients, vital for both the mother and the developing baby. 

Instead of eliminating carbs, focus on choosing complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, which provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrient-dense options contribute to a balanced diet, supporting the increased energy demands and nutritional requirements of pregnancy. 

Consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian to create a personalized meal plan that meets your specific needs and ensures a healthy pregnancy without compromising essential nutrients.

But what about serving size when it comes to those carbs you’re craving?

Monitoring serving sizes is crucial, especially when indulging in carbohydrate-rich foods during pregnancy. While it’s normal to experience cravings, maintaining portion control is essential for a balanced and healthy diet. Opt for smaller, well-portioned servings of complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables to ensure you get the necessary nutrients without excessive caloric intake. 

As a rule of thumb, pregnant women should eat about nine to 11 servings of carbohydrates per day.

Be mindful of added sugars and refined carbohydrates, as they can contribute to unnecessary weight gain and may lead to fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Consulting with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian can help you determine appropriate serving sizes based on your individual nutritional needs and ensure a healthy pregnancy while satisfying those cravings in moderation.

Why the heck am I craving meat?

Craving meat can be influenced by various factors, and understanding the reasons behind this desire can provide insights into your body’s needs. 

  • One common explanation is that your body may be signaling a need for specific nutrients found in meat, such as iron and protein. During pregnancy, the demand for these nutrients increases to support the developing baby and maintain the mother’s health. 
  • If you’re experiencing intense meat cravings, it might be beneficial to incorporate lean and well-cooked meats into your diet to ensure you’re meeting your nutritional requirements.

However, if your cravings are causing discomfort or concern, it’s advisable to consult with your healthcare provider for personalized guidance and dietary recommendations during this transformative time.

Related: The Safety Of Consuming Red Meat During Pregnancy (A Comprehensive Guide)

Will I be able to return to being a vegetarian/once-a-month pescatarian on a low-carb, plant-based diet once again? Maybe even in the second trimester?

Returning to a vegetarian or pescatarian diet, especially one that is low-carb and plant-based, is generally feasible during pregnancy, and the second trimester might be a suitable time for such dietary adjustments. However, it’s crucial to approach any dietary changes with careful consideration and consultation with your healthcare provider.

In the second trimester, many women experience a reduction in nausea and an increase in energy, making it a more optimal time to modify their diet. If you decide to reintroduce vegetarian or pescatarian elements, ensure that you are meeting your increased nutritional needs during pregnancy. Pay attention to sources of essential nutrients like protein, iron, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin B12.

It’s recommended to consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian before making significant dietary changes during pregnancy.

Certainly! If you want to start eating less meat and more plant-based or fish-based foods during your pregnancy, it’s generally okay. The second trimester might be a good time to do this because many women feel better during this period. However, it’s really important to talk to your doctor before making any big changes in your diet. They can help you make sure you’re still getting all the nutrients you and your baby need. It’s like getting a green light from your doctor to make sure everything is safe and healthy for you and your baby.


In conclusion, cravings, particularly for carbohydrates, are a common and normal aspect of this experience. Hormonal fluctuations, increased energy demands, nutrient requirements, blood sugar regulation, and emotional factors all contribute to the prevalence of carb cravings during pregnancy. While indulging in cravings is natural, maintaining a balanced and nutrient-dense diet is essential for the well-being of both the mother and the growing baby. The decision to return to a vegetarian or pescatarian diet, particularly during the second trimester, is possible but should be approached with caution and guidance from healthcare providers to ensure that nutritional needs are met. Ultimately, understanding the reasons behind cravings empowers expectant mothers to make informed and health-conscious choices, fostering a healthy and fulfilling pregnancy journey.


Q1. Are carb cravings harmful during pregnancy?

While carb cravings are common and generally not harmful, it’s crucial to make mindful choices and ensure a balanced diet to meet nutritional needs. Extreme or unhealthy indulgence in carb-rich foods may lead to unnecessary weight gain or impact blood sugar levels.

Q2. Do carb cravings indicate a nutritional deficiency?

Yes, cravings, including those for carbohydrates, can sometimes signal a nutritional need. In the case of pregnancy, it may indicate a demand for specific nutrients like iron, which is commonly found in red meat.

Q3. Can I satisfy carb cravings with sugary snacks?

While it’s normal to crave sweets, it’s advisable to choose complex carbohydrates over sugary snacks. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables provide essential nutrients and contribute to a more balanced and sustained release of energy.

Q4. How can I manage carb cravings without overeating?

Portion control is key. Opt for smaller servings of nutrient-dense carbohydrates and incorporate a mix of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. This helps in meeting cravings while maintaining a balanced diet.

Q5. Are there healthier alternatives to satisfy carb cravings?

Yes, incorporating healthy carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, quinoa, and legumes can be nutritious alternatives to traditional comfort foods. These options provide essential nutrients without excessive refined sugars.

Q7. Is it normal to experience aversions to certain carbs during pregnancy?

Yes, it’s normal for pregnant women to experience food aversions, including carbs. Hormonal changes and sensitivities may lead to preferences for certain types of carbohydrates over others.

Q8. Can carb cravings be a sign of gestational diabetes?

While cravings alone are not a definitive sign of gestational diabetes, it’s essential to monitor overall dietary choices and consult with healthcare providers for proper screening and guidance if there are concerns about blood sugar levels.

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Rose Smith
Rose Smith Writer, Pregnancy guide specialist Expertise Rose Smith is a dedicated and experienced writer, specializing in the field of Nursing and pregnancy guidelines. With a strong educational foundation, extensive experience, and a passion for supporting expectant parents, Rose has become a go-to source for reliable pregnancy advice and information. Experience Rose Smith's professional journey is marked by a wealth of experience: Authorship: Rose has authored numerous articles, essays, and books on pregnancy guidelines, all backed by her academic knowledge and practical insights. Pregnancy Workshops: She has conducted workshops and seminars, both online and in-person, providing expectant parents with practical tools and advice. Consulting: Rose has worked as a pregnancy consultant, offering personalized guidance to expectant mothers and couples. Media Contributions: Her expertise has been featured in various publications, including parenting magazines and health websites. Education Rose Smith holds a Master's degree in Nursing from Oxford University, where she laid the foundation for her expertise in maternal health, prenatal care, and pregnancy-related topics. Additional Certifications Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) Doula Certification: Doulas, who provide emotional and physical support during pregnancy and childbirth, often seek certification through organizations like DONA International. Childbirth Educator Certification. University Specialties As a proud alumna of Oxford University, Rose's areas of specialization include: Maternal Health: Her academic background has equipped her with a deep understanding of the physical and emotional aspects of pregnancy and maternal well-being. Prenatal Care: Rose's education focused on the importance of proper prenatal care and its impact on a healthy pregnancy. Nutrition and Pregnancy: She has in-depth knowledge of nutrition during pregnancy and its role in fetal development.

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