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Is keto safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding? You will hear different kinds of stories when considering eating keto during pregnancy or when breastfeeding. Some will tell you it is ok to eat keto while others will discourage you.
It can be confusing to make a decision when you have conflicting information. We know how challenging it can be for you to make a decision and that why this article has all you need to know about ketogenic lifestyle during pregnancy.
Not to Reduce Weight
A keto diet is best recommended for people who are looking to cut weight. During pregnancy, the goal of eating keto is not about losing weight. In fact, don’t even think about eating keto during pregnancy to shed weight. It is dangerous.
During pregnancy, you are required to eat food that supplies adequate nutrients for both you and your child. Basically, as long as you have enough calories to support a healthy growing baby, you can eat keto.
Difference Between Ketosis and Ketoacidosis
Both ketosis and ketoacidosis involve the production of ketones in the body. However, it is good to note ketosis is safe and ketoacidosis can be life-threatening.
Nutritional ketosis results in the presence of ketones in the bloodstream. During this time, blood sugar levels are stable and controlled. When it comes to ketoacidosis, ketones are also produced, but in high levels. At the same time, blood sugar levels are extremely high, making ketoacidosis very dangerous.
Signs and Symptoms of Ketoacidosis
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Weakness or fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Fruity-scented breath
Now, healthy pregnant women (those with or without gestational diabetes, and women with type 2 diabetes) must know that blood ketone (in the range between 0.5 – 3mmol/L) and urine ketones (reflected as pink to purple color on urine strips) shows you are in nutritional ketosis.
- Dangerously high ketones levels occur during ketoacidosis when insulin is deficient.
- Hormones during pregnancy naturally drift towards higher insulin levels. That is during nutritional ketosis.
Advantages for Women Who are Considering Pregnancy
Below are some of the advantages of using a ketogenic diet:
- Consuming essential fats will support healthy fetal eye, nerve, and brain development and contribute to building healthy baby body fat stores.
- Can help restore menstruation in women with the polycystic ovarian syndrome and be used to support hormonal imbalance.
- Provides an excellent way to control blood sugar for gestational diabetes and pregnant women who have a long-standing history of diabetes.
Is It Safe for You to Eat Keto During Pregnancy?
Today, many pregnant women and physicians can attest to the safety and efficacy of the ketogenic diet during pregnancy. So, don’t feel alone if planning to follow keto during pregnancy.
In fact, even Dr. Michael Fox, a fertility specialist at the Jacksonville Center for Reproductive Medicine, says it is completely safe for pregnant women to be eating keto. Besides Dr. Fox and Dr. Robert Kiltz recommend a ketogenic diet to all of their patients.
Here are some of the reason why Dr. Fox recommends following a ketogenic diet during pregnancy.
- Alleviate morning sickness.
- Lower the risk for preeclampsia.
- Reduce the rates of miscarriage.
- Lower the risk for gestational diabetes.
- Help maintain blood sugar.
How Many Calories Should Pregnant Women Eat?
Different women have different nutritional needs during pregnancy. Some will need more calories and others less. Basically, calorie intake during pregnancy is between 2,200 and 2900 calories a day.
Now if eating healthy and within the right body weight range during the first trimester, no need to take more calories. But once you are in the second trimester, you can add 340 calories a day and 110 calories to total 450 calories by the third trimester.
Basically, you don’t need a lot of calories during pregnancy. What you need more are the nutrients that are critical for baby growth such as iron, calcium, vitamin D, folic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The best thing is that all these nutrients are easily found in the protein and vegetable foods that are consumed on a ketogenic diet.
Best Ketogenic Food That Supply Necessary Nutrients During Pregnancy
- Folic acid: avocado, spinach, nuts/seeds, asparagus, collard greens.
- Iron: spinach, red meat, liver, pistachios, sardines, dark chocolate, spirulina
- Vitamin D: beef liver, egg yolk, sardines, wild-caught salmon, cod liver oil.
- Iodine: cottage cheese, seafood, seaweed, , Greek yogurt, egg yolk Calcium: sardines, dairy (cheese, yogurt or kefir), kale, okra, almonds, broccoli, bok choy.
- DHA: fish (salmon, trout, sardines), seaweed, and other sea vegetables. Walnuts, chia, flax and pumpkin seeds contain omega-3, but their alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) must be converted to DHA. These veggies are fair sources of ALA: Brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower.
- Eating keto during pregnancy is safe and contribute greatly toward the health of both mother and baby.
- Selecting nutrient-rich foods on a ketogenic diet that contain key nutrients for your unborn child will support healthy fetal growth.