Keto While Pregnant: Is It Safe for You & Baby?

Keto While Pregnant: Is It Safe for You & Baby?

By now, we probably all know that eating a healthy diet while pregnant is really important, both for your own health and the health of your growing baby. We know what foods to avoid, and we’re learning how to eat well during pregnancy.
Generally speaking, pregnancy isn’t a time to lose weight.

A healthy pregnancy diet is often considered to be as varied as possible, which usually means eating from all the food groups, including carbs.

So, how does a ketogenic diet fit into all this? Is it a good idea to go keto while pregnant? Let’s take a look.

In this article: 📝

  • What is the keto diet?
  • Can you do keto while pregnant?
  • Keto diet while pregnant research
  • Why is ketosis bad in pregnancy?
  • Can you lose weight on keto while pregnant?
  • Can I stop eating carbs while pregnant?
  • How do I stop ketosis during pregnancy?

What is the keto diet?

Keto (short for ketogenic) is a super popular diet that is based on the idea of eating low-carb, high-fat foods.

Other well-known diets like Atkins and Paleo are similar to keto and fall under the same umbrella of restricting carbohydrates, but ketogenic diets are slightly different due to the higher recommended percentage of daily fat intake.

At least 75% of the daily keto diet comes from sources of fat, like avocado and dairy products, with 5-10% coming from carbohydrates, and the rest made up of proteins.

Limiting your intake of carbohydrates (your body’s preferred energy source) means your body starts to burn fat stores.

Your liver turns the stored fat into ketones, which can then be used as energy in your body instead of glucose, putting you in a state called ketosis.

Fans of the keto diet claim it encourages fast weight loss while maintaining energy levels. But is it safe to start a keto diet while pregnant?

Can you do keto while pregnant?

The short answer is no, but there are some exceptions, and not all ketosis is bad during pregnancy.

Pregnancy is generally not a good time to start a strict and unbalanced diet, like a keto diet. But why?

Well, for one thing, your growing baby relies on glucose (from the carbohydrates you eat) for energy.

For another, it’s not generally advised to start a diet that promotes weight loss while pregnant.

Your immune system takes a big hit during pregnancy, so it’s important to try to eat as healthily as possible to give your body the best chance to stave off any illnesses.

Your body is working extra hard to support the growing baby inside, so getting the calories you need from a nutrient-dense diet is important.

For most, this means a varied diet that includes all food groups.

But what if you’re already on a keto diet and then get pregnant? Keep reading, mama-to-be.

Keto diet while pregnant research

Human research on keto and pregnancy is limited due to the safety of conducting such studies.

An animal-based study on mice did show a link between a high-fat, low-carb diet and abnormal organ growth in the baby, meaning this diet can potentially cause birth differences and growth restrictions.

But of course, humans are different from mice.

Why is ketosis bad in pregnancy?

Almost everyone regularly enters states of natural ketosis, which isn’t dangerous or unhealthy.

For example, when you don’t eat overnight for 12 hours, you may begin to use energy from your body fat stores.

This kind of ketosis is normal, even during pregnancy, and nothing to worry about.

Additionally, some women in their third trimester naturally enter ketosis more regularly than the non-pregnant female population due to changes in metabolism and the fetus’s growing requirements for fat to help build their brain.

When people caution against ketosis during pregnancy, they are usually talking about one of two things.

The first is diabetic ketoacidosis (known as DKA), which can be particularly harmful to pregnant women, but is caused by insulin mismanagement in diabetic people.

So, this is not something to worry about unless you have been diagnosed with diabetes.

The second reason to not do a ketogenic diet during pregnancy is that you want to avoid weight loss at this time unless under strict supervision of a doctor.

Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule, and many mamas, health professionals, and dieticians recommend keto diets during pregnancy.

In these cases, it’s unlikely the keto diet was followed to lose weight while pregnant. Instead, it’s simply a choice based on overall health and lifestyle preferences.

Still, just because some people do fine on keto during pregnancy, that doesn’t mean it is a wise option for everyone.

Can you lose weight on keto while pregnant?

For the general population, it’s usually not recommended to lose weight while pregnant.

If you are significantly overweight, you might have been advised by your doctor to lose weight to help establish a healthier pregnancy.

But remember, your weight is only one indicator of your overall health.

But most doctors don’t consider a ketogenic diet to be pregnancy-safe.

While they may suggest reducing the amount of unhealthy carbohydrates you eat — like sugary snacks, processed grains, and cereals — severely limiting certain food groups and reducing daily calories usually isn’t the way to go.

Can I stop eating carbs while pregnant?

No, probably not.

Cutting down on processed carbohydrates — like white bread, pasta, and sugary cereals — might be a good idea, but stopping eating carbs altogether isn’t easy — or generally advised.

All carbohydrates are not created equal, and the carbs found in fruit and veggies all contribute to the goal of “eating the rainbow” of nutritional foods while pregnant.

You wouldn’t think to say no to green peas, corn, squash, apples, bananas, or pears, but they’re all high in carbohydrates.

How do I stop ketosis during pregnancy?

Natural ketosis — like from not eating overnight — is nothing to worry about.

But to make sure your body is getting the energy it needs to fuel you and your growing baby, focus on eating plenty of whole foods, and eating as regularly as you need to.

As always, talking to your doctor about your diet and any concerns you may have over your nutrition or weight is a good place to start before making any big changes. You got this!

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