Pregnancy-related changes in activity energy expenditure and resting metabolic rate in Switzerland

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Oct;63(10):1185-91. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2009.49. Epub 2009 Jun 24.


Background/objectives: To measure resting metabolic rate (RMR), activity energy expenditure (AEE), total energy expenditure (TEE) and physical activity pattern, that is, duration and intensity (in metabolic equivalents, METs) of activities performed in late pregnancy compared with postpartum in healthy, well-nourished women living in Switzerland.

Subjects/methods: Weight, height, RMR, AEE, TEE and physical activity patterns were measured longitudinally in 27 healthy women aged 23-40 years at 38.2+/-1.5 weeks of gestation and 40.0+/-7.2 weeks postpartum.

Results: The RMR during late pregnancy was 7480 kJ per day, that is, 1320+/-760 kJ per day (21.4%) higher than the postpartum RMR (P<0.001). Absolute changes in RMR were positively correlated with the corresponding changes in body weight (r=0.61, P<0.001). RMR per kg body weight was similar in late pregnancy vs postpartum (P=0.28). AEE per kg during pregnancy and postpartum was 40+/-13 and 50+/-20 kJ/kg, respectively (P=0.001). There were significant differences in daily time spent at METs<1.5 (1067 vs 998 min, P=0.045), at 2.5< or =METs <3.0 (58 vs 82 min, P=0.002) and METs> or =6 (1 vs 6 min, P=0.014) during pregnancy and postpartum, respectively.

Conclusions: Energy expenditure in healthy women living in Switzerland increases in pregnancy compared with the postpartum state. Additional energy expenditure is primarily attributed to an increase in RMR, which is partly compensated by a decrease in AEE. The decrease in physical activity-related energy costs is achieved by selecting less demanding activities and should be taken into account when defining extra energy requirements for late pregnancy in Switzerland.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Basal Metabolism / physiology*
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Postpartum Period / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy / metabolism*
  • Switzerland
  • Weight Gain / physiology
  • Young Adult