The rising concerns for health and fitness globally are responsible for numerous new trends. Ketogenic (Keto) diet, with its rising acclaim, is also one such concept. Popular for its liberal, yet effective approach towards diet, Keto carries its fair share of skepticism too.
A major hesitance is among those fitness conscious ladies who are trying to conceive or are pregnant already. Their concern, a pertinent one, is mainly about their health and its effects on the developing baby inside. Thus, we discuss in detail here whether Keto is safe for such expectant moms? And if yes, how can they go about it? But before we dive into details, it is essential that we understand the program and its effects on the human body.
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What Is Ketogenic Diet
Ketogenic diet or Keto, for short, derives its name from Ketones. This is a by-product that our body produces when burning fat for energy. The process happens when a person’s carbohydrate intake (the primary source of energy for a body) is low, and it has to rely on alternative sources of body fuel.
Keto, thus, is a low-carb diet having only a moderate protein intake. When practiced, the body almost entirely shifts its energy production to a fat base, as opposed to glucose (sugar) based normally. With the body’s excess fat consumed for its energy usage, there is less to contribute towards weight gain. This makes it an ideal weight-loss or weight maintaining strategy.
Now that you understand the term and its functionality, let’s see if Keto is safe during pregnancy?
The short answer is, yes, it is safe. Except for a few medical exceptions that we discuss as we progress down the article, Keto should not worry you. The key, however, is maintaining balance. A child in the womb has numerous requirements and all should be met for its healthy growth. This is manageable, and we’ll tell you how, but you have to be smart too.
Keto during Pregnancy
Ketosis (a body under keto diet) is a natural phenomenon, and all human bodies go through it regularly, including those of pregnant ladies’. It happens when our bodies are going through periods of fast. For example, every night when we are asleep, or even in between meals of the day. This is more common for ladies going through gestation, initially especially, as they experience morning sickness most days. That, coupled with nausea, low appetite, and other similar conditions cause the body to be constantly in and out of ketosis.
Ketosis in Later Stages Of Pregnancy
Ketones are even more important during the later stages of child development. This is because a fetus requires essential fats during and even after pregnancy for the development and growth of the brain. Moreover, a woman’s metabolism also shifts to a catabolic state in this stage. Food aversions and nausea reduce the food intake and put the body under a keto state naturally.
A lenient Keto diet, thus, naturally makes sense for the body of a pregnant mom. However, care must be taken to keep the food intake moderate. A fetus needs both, carbs and fat, to grow and so both the requirements are important.
Exceptions: What to Avoid during Pregnancy
Keto is harmless and even helpful in most medical conditions. There are, however, certain conditions during pregnancy, and otherwise, where such a diet is a big NO! And must be avoided in favor of more suitable options. Such conditions include:
- With blood pressure or diabetes medication: Keto naturally controls both, sugar levels in your blood and sudden drops in blood pressure. But if you are already taking medicines for both, you should avoid it. The combination can affect your condition for worse and cause untoward reactions.
- Under psychiatric treatment or medication: While it is a caution when under most such conditions, it is especially dangerous if you are taking antidepressants. A keto diet targets the excess water in the body, and taking antidepressants like Lithium and others in the absence of water can cause the medicine to concentrate in blood. This concentration can rise to toxic levels in the body, which can be extremely dangerous for self-health and that of the child.
- When breastfeeding: This is an additional point here, for it doesn’t strictly concern pregnant women. However, since today’s pregnant women will be tomorrow’s moms, it is a pertinent point. Keto is only bad while breastfeeding when you are practicing a very low-carb diet. This is because, as a breastfeeding mother, you are already losing about 30 grams of sugar per day in the milk. Thus, a very low-carb diet will strain your body off of good sugar, which can lead to health issues. Maintain carb moderation.
Good Practices for Keto during Pregnancy
A healthy practice otherwise, there are certain things you need to be extra cautious about when practicing Keto under pregnancy.
The most important thing to remember is to not do Keto with the aim of losing weight. Do it instead to remain healthy and fit. Don’t strip your body off of most healthy foods, instead, keep your dietary intake balanced. Remember, your child needs all; vitamins, carbs, fats and other important stuff. Thus, you as a mother have to meet all those requirements, and you can do that by eating whole foods. Vegetables, fruits, nuts and even dairy in moderation under Keto won’t harm your plan much.
Secondly, take good carbohydrates and avoid most grains and added sugars as much as you can.
Keto is excellent for health maintenance! But while excess fat can harm your body, Keto too can cause more damage than good to your health. With balance, you can maintain both, your own health and your child’s.