Does the Gender of Baby Affect Your Appetite When Pregnant?

The gender of your baby can impact your appetite while you are pregnant.

Women carrying boys tend to consume roughly 10% more calories per day than those carrying girls, possibly due to testosterone secreted from the fetus or the greater amount of energy required by male fetuses.

Researchers from Harvard University found that:

“Women expecting a boy had an eight percent higher intake of protein, a nine percent higher intake of carbohydrates, an 11 percent higher intake of animal fats, and a 15 percent higher intake of vegetable fats than women who were carrying a female embryo.”

Although you might feel hungrier when carrying a boy, appetite alone is not a reliable method for determining your baby’s gender.

The same is true for the many gender-prediction “tests” and superstitions.

The only way to accurately determine your baby’s gender is by ultrasound or a blood test.

Baby Gender and Your Appetite While Pregnant

Though not every woman will experience these differences, many find that they eat different foods in different quantities depending on what gender they are carrying.

Are You Hungrier When Carrying a Boy?

According to research, you are hungrier when carrying a boy. Women carrying boys eat around 10% more.

The extra testosterone is often credited with making mom want more food when having a boy.

In some cases, women with a naturally large appetite before pregnancy may increase their chances of conceiving a boy.

One such study cited a higher probability of carrying a boy in mothers who ate breakfast cereals and increased their calorie intake!

How Carrying a Girl May Affect Your Appetite

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that carrying a girl during pregnancy leads to specific appetite changes that are different from carrying a boy.

Every pregnancy is unique, and appetite changes are highly individual.

A condition that can undoubtedly impact your appetite during pregnancy, regardless of gender, is extreme morning sickness, also known as hyperemesis gravidarum.

While further evidence is needed, some studies have found that this occurred in women who are pregnant with girls more often than those expecting boys. 

The extreme nausea and sickness brought on by hyperemesis gravidarum make it very hard to eat or hold down food, leading some women to be hospitalized.

Hyperemesis gravidarum is not limited to sickness in the morning. It can last all day for more than one trimester and requires medical attention.

Seek medical assistance immediately if:

  • You have been unable to keep food/fluids down for 24 hours
  • You have experienced noticeable weight loss
  • Are experiencing dizzy spells or fainting

Why Appetite Increases During Pregnancy

Your appetite increases when you’re pregnant because your baby is demanding nutrients to grow properly, so your body responds by making sure you want more food. 

You might feel an increase in appetite in those first few weeks of pregnancy. However, many women just feel nauseous. 

When morning sickness decreases and energy spikes, your hunger will likely increase.

This tends to happen when the second trimester starts, making it the favorite trimester for most moms!

How Pregnancy Hormones Affect Appetite

Growing new tissues and organs for your baby is hard work, leaving you feeling hungrier than normal due to ghrelin, dubbed the “hunger hormone,” surging during pregnancy!

Stress during pregnancy can also increase cravings and your appetite due to the release of the cortisol hormone.

Furthermore, hormones that would normally reign in your appetite can fluctuate during pregnancy.

Leptin, for example, usually signals a “full” feeling to the brain, but levels can be lower than usual during pregnancy, which may lead to overeating.

On the other hand, the main pregnancy hormone, progesterone, helps you feel full by relaxing the muscles in your digestive tract and slowing down the digestion process.

Dealing With Appetite Loss During Pregnancy

Managing appetite loss during pregnancy can be challenging and often scary, but there are several strategies that can help you maintain a balanced diet and ensure that you and your baby receive the necessary nutrients. 

Here are some handy tips to try:

  • Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals: Instead of three large meals, try eating several smaller meals throughout the day. This can help prevent feelings of fullness and discomfort, making it easier to consume necessary nutrients.
  • Focus on Nutrient-Dense Foods: Choose foods that are rich in nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and dairy products. These foods can provide essential vitamins and minerals even in small quantities.
  • Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can worsen nausea and appetite loss, so drink plenty of water throughout the day and with meals.
  • Ginger and Peppermint: These herbs may help alleviate nausea. I found that ginger tea and ginger candies really helped soothe my stomach.
  • Rest and Reduce Stress: Stress and fatigue can worsen nausea and appetite loss. Ensure you get plenty of rest, and try relaxation techniques like massage and deep breathing to manage stress.
  • Consider Prenatal Vitamins: If you’re unable to get all your nutrients from food, prenatal vitamins can help fill in the gaps. 
  • Try Cold/Room-Temperature Foods: Sometimes, cold or room-temperature foods are better tolerated than hot foods. Experiment with foods at different temperatures to see what works for you.
  • Seek Professional Help: If your appetite loss is severe, leading to significant weight loss or dehydration, or if you have concerns about your nutritional intake, consult with your healthcare provider.

When To Be Concerned

You should consult with your doctor regarding your appetite if you experience the following:

  1. Severe and Prolonged Loss of Appetite: If you are consistently unable to eat an adequate amount of food over an extended period of time, it may lead to inadequate nutrition for both you and your developing baby. 
  2. Significant Weight Loss: If you are losing weight during pregnancy due to a diminished appetite, it’s important to consult a healthcare provider. This can be a sign of a potential problem and requires medical attention.
  3. Persistent Nausea and Vomiting: While morning sickness is common in early pregnancy, severe and persistent nausea and vomiting, a condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum, can lead to reduced appetite and significant weight loss. 
  4. Dramatic Changes in Eating Habits: If there are drastic changes in your eating habits, such as avoiding entire food groups or displaying disordered eating patterns, it’s important to seek professional help.
  5. Excessive or Unhealthy Cravings: While cravings are normal, if you consistently crave non-nutritious or potentially harmful foods (such as non-food items), it could be a sign of a nutritional deficiency or another underlying issue that requires attention.
  6. Concerns About Nutritional Intake: If you are unsure if you’re getting the right nutrients for yourself and your baby due to appetite changes or dietary restrictions (e.g., vegetarian or vegan diets), it’s important to consult a healthcare provider for guidance and potentially consider dietary supplements.
  7. Pre-existing Medical Conditions: If you have pre-existing medical conditions that may impact your appetite or nutritional intake (e.g., diabetes, eating disorders, gastrointestinal disorders), it’s important to work closely with your healthcare provider to ensure appropriate management during pregnancy.
  8. Lack of Energy or Feeling Weak: If you experience fatigue, weakness, or a lack of energy that significantly impacts daily functioning, it could be a sign of inadequate nutrition.
A pregnant woman sitting on a couch eating sliced fruit from a bowl.

How Cravings Relate to Baby Gender

While there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that cravings help predict gender, there is no scientific proof.

There are no truly definitive ways to know the gender of your baby outside of actual testing and sonograms.

Cravings When Pregnant With a Boy

Besides wanting to eat more, you might also have some specific cravings when you are pregnant with a boy. 

Sour food tends to be appealing, and high-protein snacks also hit the spot. I’ve also heard from fellow moms that salty treats like chips and pretzels were their go-to snacks when expecting boys.

Cravings When Pregnant With a Girl

The old wives tale says sweet cravings hint at a girl, and sure enough, the first time I was pregnant with a girl, I could not get enough ice cream!

Though my tastes tended to lean toward straight processed sugar, craving the natural sugar in fruit could also be an indicator that you are having a girl.

How Food Aversions Might Be Linked to Gender

Although the idea that food aversions in pregnant women are linked to the gender of the baby isn’t widely accepted, one study found that: 

“Women bearing sons had relatively high disgust sensitivity persisting in the first and in the second trimester. 

The elevation in disgust sensitivity during the second trimester for mothers bearing male fetus can be explained by the necessity to protect for a longer time, a more ecologically sensitive fetus, and also herself when bearing a more energetically costly sex.”

It’s common to develop aversions to certain foods or smells while pregnant, but these aversions can be highly subjective.

Food aversions during pregnancy are more likely to be influenced by hormonal changes and individual preferences.

12 Quick & Healthy Snacks To Satisfy Hunger During Pregnancy

  1. Fresh Fruit: Fruits like apples, bananas, berries, and citrus fruits are rich in vitamins and fiber. 
  2. Greek Yogurt: This is high in protein and calcium, and you can dress it up with honey, nuts, or fresh fruit for extra nutrients and flavor!
  3. Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, and chia seeds are excellent sources of healthy fats, protein, and fiber, and they help you feel fuller for longer. 
  4. Whole Grain Crackers with Hummus: The fiber in the crackers and the protein in hummus make a great combo.
  5. Cottage Cheese: This is a good source of protein and calcium. Top it with fresh fruit or a drizzle of honey.
  6. Vegetable Sticks With Peanut Butter: Sliced cucumbers, bell peppers, and carrot sticks served with peanut or almond butter are tasty and super easy to prepare.
  7. Oatmeal: A bowl of oatmeal with a sprinkle of cinnamon and some chopped nuts or dried fruit is a hearty, wholesome treat.
  8. Smoothies: Blend up a smoothie with spinach, banana, yogurt, and a splash of milk or a milk alternative. You can also add protein powder for an extra boost.
  9. Hard-Boiled Eggs: Eggs are an excellent source of protein and important nutrients like choline. Hard-boiled eggs make for a portable and relatively mess-free snack!
  10. Avocado Toast: Whole-grain toast topped with mashed avocado, a sprinkle of salt, and a dash of lemon juice is a classic, satisfying choice.
  11. Dried Fruit and Nut Mix: A mix of dried fruits (e.g., raisins, apricots) and nuts (e.g., almonds, cashews) provides a balance of sweetness and crunch!
  12. Cheese and Whole Wheat Crackers: A small serving of cheese with whole wheat or whole grain crackers is simple snacking at its finest.

Signs You Are Pregnant With a Boy

Only an ultrasound or genetic testing can accurately tell if you’re having a boy or a girl, but there are numerous “signs” and “methods” that supposedly tell you the gender of the baby you are carrying.

  • Carrying Low: It is believed that if a woman is carrying low, she may be more likely to be carrying a boy.
  • Less Morning Sickness: Some people believe that experiencing less severe morning sickness may be a sign of carrying a boy.
  • Increased Appetite for Salty or Savory Foods: According to folklore, if a woman craves salty or savory foods, she might be carrying a boy.
  • Slower Heartbeat: Some believe that if the baby’s heartbeat is consistently below 140, this may indicate a boy. 
  • Glowing Skin: Some people think that carrying a boy can lead to clearer skin and a “pregnancy glow.”
  • Less Weight Gain: There is a belief that if a woman gains less weight during pregnancy, she may be carrying a boy.
  • More Active Baby: Some believe that if the baby is more active in the womb, it may indicate a boy.
  • Changes in Urine Color: Some old wives’ tales suggest that if a woman’s urine is darker, it may be a sign of carrying a boy.

Signs You Are Pregnant With a Girl

Similar to the signs associated with carrying a boy, there are also old wives’ tales and cultural beliefs about signs that may indicate a woman is carrying a girl. 

We must emphasize that these signs are not scientifically supported, and the only reliable way to determine a baby’s sex is through medical tests.

That said, some of the common beliefs include:

  • Carrying High: It is believed that if a woman is carrying high, she may be more likely to be carrying a girl.
  • More Morning Sickness: Some people believe that experiencing more severe morning sickness may be a sign of carrying a girl.
  • Craving Sweets or Fruits: According to folklore, if a woman craves sweets or fruits, she might be carrying a girl.
  • Faster Heartbeat: It’s believed that if the baby’s heartbeat is consistently above 140 beats per minute, it may be a girl. 
  • Dull or Acne-Prone Skin: Some believe that carrying a girl can lead to duller skin or even acne.
  • More Weight Gain: There is a belief that if a woman gains more weight during pregnancy, she may be carrying a girl.
  • Less Active Baby: Some believe that if the baby is less active in the womb, it may indicate a girl.
  • No Changes in Urine Color: Some old wives’ tales suggest that if a woman’s urine color remains the same, it may be a sign of carrying a girl.

Are You Hungrier When Pregnant With Twins?

Answering from personal experience, yes! Once I got past the morning sickness of the first trimester, all I wanted to do was eat.

Pregnant women expecting twins are also supposed to take in more calories because they are growing two babies, not just one. 

Does What I Eat Affect My Baby While Pregnant?

Yes, what you eat while pregnant can affect your baby.

Studies show that unhealthy eating can lead to mental and physical health problems for your baby later in life.

Poor diet choices can also affect your pregnancy and your baby’s growth in utero.