It seems like everyone and their mother is on a ketogenic diet. But should expectant mothers be following the high-fat low-carb eating regime? Or is it unsafe for mom and baby?
Many women wonder if they can continue or start a ketogenic diet while pregnant, but they aren’t too sure how to correctly follow a ketogenic diet or whether it’s completely safe for the baby.
That’s where we come in to help. We’re here to answer all your questions on keto and pregnancy in our guide, so you can make the right decisions when it comes to your pregnancy diet.
IS THE KETOGENIC DIET SAFE FOR PREGNANCY?
When thinking of the keto diet and pregnancy, the first question you may be wondering is – ‘is it safe for my baby?’.
The answer is yes, as long as you plan and monitor your pregnancy diet plan properly. According to registered dietitian Lily Nichols, it’s safe for pregnant women to consume fewer carbs. But, this is only if they’re eating enough of the right foods for healthy nutrition.
Fetuses need glucose and ketones to grow healthily, so a balanced diet is crucial. It’s extremely important for an expectant mother to maintain normal blood sugar levels and to consume enough calories.
According to fertility specialist Dr. Michael Fox from the Jacksonville Center for Reproductive Medicine, it’s completely safe for pregnant women to consume a ketogenic diet throughout pregnancy.
Dr. Michael Fox has been recommending a ketogenic eating regime for over 17 years to both patients struggling with fertility and those who became pregnant. Those women who followed a keto diet throughout pregnancy were healthy and did not suffer from any unwanted side effects.
As mentioned, careful planning and analysis of the diet are key. Just as a healthy and varied ketogenic diet is safe for a regular person, it’s also safe for women who are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant.
HOW SHOULD I FOLLOW A KETOGENIC DIET WHILE PREGNANT OR TRYING TO CONCEIVE?
Women aiming to conceive should start a ketogenic diet around two to three months before trying for a baby. This is so that you’ve adapted to the diet when entering the pregnancy cycle.
Once pregnant, mom should consume low-carb, high-fat foods every two hours or so from waking up to going to bed. Appropriate snacking foods include cream cheese or unsweetened nut butter with vegetables such as celery, cucumber, or cauliflowers. Nuts, eggs, meats, cheeses, avocado, and canned and fresh fish are also great foods to incorporate into a keto pregnancy diet.
Remember to consume plenty of whole foods. And while you can follow a low-carb diet there are some foods with carbohydrates that are recommended for pregnant women to include in their pregnancy diet.
So, don’t completely rule out all carbs. These recommended carbs include vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, and dairy. The types of carbohydrates you consume are important so you can make sure your diet is packed full of nutrients that benefit both you and baby.
Avoid refined grains, extra sugars, and processed foods. And there should be absolutely no fasting on the ketogenic diet while pregnancy.
By following a healthy and balanced keto diet including the foods listed above, the rates of miscarriage, preeclampsia, morning sickness, and gestational diabetes are reduced.
IS A KETOGENIC DIET POSITIVE FOR PREGNANCY?
This leads us on to the ideology that a ketogenic diet is actually positive for women trying to conceive.
A ketogenic diet, for example, is advised for women suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) who struggle to conceive. This is a common symptom of PCOS. Often, following a ketogenic can help such women conceive naturally.
WHAT PRECAUTIONS SHOULD I TAKE?
Although the ketogenic diet is safe for pregnant women, there are some precautions to take when following a high-fat low-carb diet. After all, pregnancy prompts big changes in a woman’s body and extra safety measures must be taken during this cycle of life whether eating keto or not.
The first is that a pregnant woman following a keto diet should never strive for weight loss. While the ketogenic diet is known for its weight loss benefits, it’s important for expectant mothers to consume enough calories and proper nutrition to support a child.
Pregnancy is never an appropriate time to try to lose weight. If that’s the main reason you’d like to follow a ketogenic diet, it’s worth waiting until those nine months are up. Then, if you still feel strongly about losing weight following giving birth to your baby, you can do so without having to worry about affecting your child.
As mentioned, fasting during pregnancy is an absolute no-go. While intermittent fasting offers a plethora of benefits for the regular keto dieter, it’s not necessary during pregnancy. Remember that’s you’re eating for two!
Listen to your grumbling stomach and eat when you’re hungry so you can make sure the both of you are receiving enough of the right nutrients.
YOUR KETO AND PREGNANCY GUIDE
While extra precautions must be taken when it comes to keto and pregnancy, don’t be put off from continuing or starting a ketogenic diet during those nine months. A healthy and balanced ketogenic diet is far from dangerous, especially compared to the regular diet that many people consume.
If you have any more questions or concerns regarding a ketogenic diet during pregnancy, be sure to speak to your doctor.
Want to learn more about how to follow a ketogenic diet? Here’s how to kickstart your keto diet and be successful at it.