Pregnancy And The Ketogenic Diet: Benefits, Precautions, & Timing

Today’s article is about the ketogenic diet and pregnancy. It is safe for women to follow a ketogenic diet during pregnancy.  

When a woman is pregnant, the body goes through many changes. Let’s take a look at how ketosis fits into the life of a pregnant woman.

The ketogenic diet for women trying to get pregnant

The ketogenic diet is safe for the average person and for women trying to get pregnant.

Ketosis is not a strange state for the body. You can achieve it by fasting or restating the carbohydrate intake by a low carb or ketogenic diet. 

In this state, the brain uses ketones instead of carbs for energy. Ketones are not harmful to the fetus, and carbohydrates aren’t an essential nutrient. So you don’t worry about the health of your precious baby. 

Ketosis can help you get pregnant. For example, doctors recommend the ketogenic diet for women with PCOS who have had difficulty getting pregnant (a common PCOS symptom). 

In a PCOS pilot study, two of the women in the study became pregnant even though they had previously dealt with infertility.

The benefits of the ketogenic diet during pregnancy: 

The ketogenic diet lowers the likelihood of miscarriage, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and morning sickness.

Nausea is a reactive hypoglycemic response to the dramatically increased insulin resistance caused by pregnancy hormones.

Pregnancy And keto – Step by Step

Fats are an essential component of every human cell and the preferred fuel source of mitochondria.

There is an increase in body fat associated with hyperphagia and increased lipogenesis in the early stages of pregnancy.

In the later stages of pregnancy, there is an accelerated breakdown of fat deposits, which plays a vital role in fetal development. The baby uses ketones before and immediately after birth to make essential fats in the brain during growth. 

In the late pregnancy stages, a woman’s metabolism changes to a catabolic state (breaking down molecules), which means that ketosis occurs more frequently. 

Note the frequent occurrence of nausea in many pregnant women. It is a natural way to reduce the frequency and amount of food intake, making it easier for you to enter ketosis.

So ketosis is a natural state for pregnant women and the fetus. The ketogenic diet is consistent and beneficial for a healthy pregnancy.

Besides, researchers believe that fetuses can even make their ketones. And that’s why third-trimester ketosis is more common in pregnant women.

The best time to start the ketogenic diet

We recommend that women start the diet two to three months before the pregnancy so that the mother has exercised ketosis before entering pregnancy. 

Mothers should achieve ketosis by low-carb, high-fat foods during pregnancy and avoid fasting during pregnancy stages.  

Here are some of the best meals and snacks you can eat when you’re pregnant

  • Unsweetened nut butter
  • Cream cheese
  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumber
  • Eggs in all forms
  • Nuts
  • Neat
  • Canned and fresh fish
  • Avocado
  • Cheese
  • Butter

Ketogenic Diet During Breastfeeding

Breast milk is very high in fat than baby food, which is high in carbohydrates and sugars, making babies “addicted” early in life. 

When a newborn is breastfed, they spend a lot of time in ketosis and are therefore ketogenically adapted. 

Ketogenic-adapted babies can efficiently convert ketone bodies into other essential substances which help develop and build their brains. 

So it’s good to keep consuming those “fat bombs” you ate during pregnancy.

Coconut oil helps the baby because coconut oil has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties that keep the mother and baby healthy. The extra coconut oil helps with breastfeeding, but more importantly, coconut oil increases lauric acid in breast milk and supports a healthy metabolism.

Precautionary Measures

Although ketosis is natural and safe when done effectively, significant changes happen in a woman’s body. So it would be best if you took extra precautions during this life cycle.

Here are some things to keep in mind for pregnant women, with or without a ketogenic diet:

  • Do not, under any circumstances, try to lose weight. We know that the ketogenic diet is effective for weight loss, but pregnancy is not the time to start for most pregnant women. The best thing is to have started the ketogenic diet 2-3 months before pregnancy.
  • Eat whole foods or complete the ketogenic diet with supplements. Nutrition is especially important when you’re pregnant! However, some foods with carbohydrates need to be replaced in the ketogenic diet: Vegetables and fruits, and sometimes dairy.
  • Do not fast intermittently. While intermittent fasting has several benefits for the average person, it is not appropriate during pregnancy when it is most important to listen to your hunger cues and ensure that you and your baby are getting enough nutrients for growth. It would help if you ate a small meal or snack every 2 hours, as described previously.

Bottom Line

Eat for you and your fetus’s health. And the ketogenic diet is best for both pregnancy and breastfeeding.

During pregnancy, there are additional dietary considerations to keep in mind. The ketogenic diet is not harmful, quite the opposite – especially compared to the standard diet that most people eat.