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View All Posts - Ketogenic diet The Ketogenic Diet During Pregnancy: Get The Facts

*This Article is not for medical advice, and states the viewpoints of our 310 Nutritionist.

Although research shows that the ketogenic diet may offer a number of health benefits – especially in supporting weight loss – the topic of keto during pregnancy is quite controversial.* Though many people have successfully been able to follow a low-carb diet during pregnancy, the current science strongly advises against going keto while pregnant.   

Read on to discover what is currently recommended when it comes to a healthy diet while pregnant, and how keto and low-carb plans can fit into the equation.

So, what do you need to know about keto during pregnancy? And what does the research show? Read on to discover what is currently recommended when it comes to a healthy diet while pregnant, and how keto and low-carb plans can fit into the equation.

Understanding Keto and Ketosis 

Before you can wrap your head around keto during pregnancy, you first need to understand what the keto diet is in the first place. The best place to start is this Beginner’s Guide to Keto. But we’ll also give you a synopsis of the main facts…

While on the keto diet, you greatly reduce the amount of carbs you eat each day to only 5-10% of your daily calories. You also increase the amount of fat you eat to a whopping 70-75% of daily calories. And finally, you have around 20-25% of protein each day. Keto dieters can keep track of your macronutrients and calories with the help of a keto calculator.

By changing your diet to fit into those guidelines, your body switches from a state of burning glucose (carbs) for fuel, to burning ketones – which are created by your liver in response to a very low-carb diet. In this state, called ketosis, your body burns fat faster, and many people experience increased energy and mental focus.

 Because the body naturally does not store as much fat while in ketosis, it’s a popular dietary plan for people who want to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. Therefore, those who have been successful with weight loss on keto may wonder if they can continue the diet during pregnancy. Let’s look at that next…

Can You Follow a Keto Diet During Pregnancy? 

Understandably, there haven’t been any human studies on the potential effects of the keto diet on a fetus in utero, for ethical reasons. However, there have been studies on mice – and the results aren’t favorable.

In one study, pregnant mice were put on a ketogenic diet – and their offspring experienced problems in development. They had slower overall growth, smaller hearts and brains, and an enlarged spine. The study therefore found that the keto diet during pregnancy may result in organ dysfunction and may also lead to behavioral changes later in life. 

In line with the results of this study, many health professionals believe that a body running on glucose (not ketones) is the ideal state for a pregnant women, because it fosters proper growth in babies. Therefore, switching over into ketosis could be risky.

Many health professionals believe that a body running on glucose (not ketones) is the ideal state for a pregnant women, because it fosters proper growth in babies. 

The other concern with keto while pregnant is that it could potentially result in nutrient deficiencies if it’s not done correctly – creating problems for the mom and baby. This is because the keto diet greatly restricts certain food groups including most fruits, lots of veggies including starchy ones, beans, large amounts of nuts, and whole grains.

A Case for Low-Carb During Pregnancy

But while keto may not be recommended for pregnant women, going low carb – without going as strict as keto – may be okay for some. It all depends on the type of carbs, because they aren’t created equal.

For instance, health experts agree that cutting out refined, sugary and processed carbs like cookies, chips, ice cream, sugary cereals and soft drinks is highly-recommended during pregnancy. But healthier carbs like berries, apples, beans, sweet potatoes and squash are beneficial to a growing embryo. 

Health experts agree that cutting out refined, sugary and processed carbs like cookies, chips, ice cream, sugary cereals and soft drinks is highly-recommended during pregnancy. But healthier carbs like berries, apples, beans, sweet potatoes and squash are beneficial to a growing embryo. 

In addition, for women who get gestational diabetes during pregnancy, (which now effects about 8 percent of pregnant women), going low-carb (but not full keto) may help keep blood sugar levels balanced. In fact, a common recommendation for pregnant women with gestational diabetes is to lower their daily carbs, while increasing the amount of protein and vegetables they consume. They may also be told to eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.

 The key is to eat a healthy, nourishing diet that includes healthy fats but also doesn’t cut out any food groups. This is because a well-balanced diet is vital to ensuring you and your baby get enough nutrients – and your baby develops properly.

Top Foods To Eat During Pregnancy

There are plenty of high-fat foods that are staples on the keto diet while also being some of the best foods to eat during pregnancy. 

That being said, there are plenty of high-fat foods that are staples on the keto diet while also being some of the best foods to eat during pregnancy. This is because of how high in nutrients they are. Here’s a list of some of the top recommended foods to eat while you’re pregnant, which includes many keto favorites… 

  • Eggs for abundant nutrients, including choline for brain development
  • Salmon for essential omega-3 fatty acids
  • Avocado for healthy monounsaturated fats, folate and potassium
  • Dark Leafy Greens (kale, spinach, etc.) for rich antioxidants
  • Broccoli for fiber and essential vitamins
  • Meat (beef, pork, chicken) for iron
  • Dairy products including Greek yogurt for calcium plus probiotics for gut health
    Legumes (lentils, chickpeas, peanuts, peas, beans) for high amounts of folate
  • Sweet Potatoes for beta-carotene and vitamin A
  • Berries for high vitamin C supporting proper immune function
  • Whole grains for fiber and essential vitamins

Although you may not be able to maintain a full keto diet during pregnancy, you can definitely include lots of healthy, high-fat foods – which will support complete wellness for you and your growing baby. 

Now that you know some of the best foods to eat during pregnancy, you can adjust your current diet accordingly, in close coordination with your physician. Although you may not be able to maintain a full keto diet during pregnancy, you can definitely include lots of healthy, high-fat foods – which will support complete wellness for you and your growing baby. 

Read more about Keto dieting here.

 

Sources:


https://www.whattoexpect.com/news/pregnancy/keto-diet-pregnancy
https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/pregnancy 
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-foods-to-eat-when-pregnant
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3685567/
 

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