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PLAYING: Why fatherhood begins before conception

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Why fatherhood begins before conception

Did you know? Your partner’s diet and lifestyle can play a vital role in conceiving your future baby.

2 mins to read Dec 31, 2021

When talking about eating for a healthy pregnancy, moms tend to get all the attention. But there’s growing evidence that dads’ lifestyle and weight might also be a factor in fertility.

The dads-to-be diet

Men who are overweight are more likely to have a lower sperm count than men who maintain a healthy weight. Emerging research also indicates that losing weight may have a positive effect on a man’s sperm. The quality of dad’s diet matters too. We used to think some nutrients, such as folic acid, were only important for moms. However, scientists have discovered that men may need vitamins and minerals to help conception as well. “A diet rich in fruit and vegetables, which provides fibre, vitamins, and antioxidants, may be beneficial for both mom’s and dad’s fertility,” says Dr. Robert DiGregorio, D.O., Head of Global Regulatory Affairs at Nestlé Nutrition.

Eating to prepare for pregnancy

Of course, it’s not all about dad. What you eat and your overall health may also influence your chances of becoming pregnant. Research indicates that would-be moms may influence their fertility by maintaining a healthy weight and diet. Eating foods rich in vegetable protein, such as beans, and healthy fats, such as olive oil, can play a part. Choosing complex carbohydrates, instead of refined or high-sugar foods, may help keep blood sugar levels stable, which can also be a factor in fertility.

Eating a nutritious diet can also help ensure that when you do conceive, your developing baby has all the nutrients needed to grow healthily even before you know you are pregnant. “When thinking about starting a family, ensuring both parents-to-be have a healthy diet and weight is a very good place to start,” advises Dr. DiGregorio.


  • Braga D, Halpern G, Figueira R et al. Food intake and social habits in male patients and its relationship to intracytoplasmic sperm injection outcomes. Fertil Steril 2012; 97:53-9.

  • Chavarro JE, Rich-Edwards JW, Rosner BA et al. Diet and lifestyle in the prevention of ovulatory disorder infertility. Obstet Gynecol 2007; 110:1050-8.

  • Chavarro JE, Rich-Edwards JW, Rosner BA et al. Dietary fatty acid intakes and the risk of ovulatory infertility. Am J Clin Nutr 2007; 85:231-7.


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