Keto and Pregnancy: Is Ketosis Safe During Pregnancy?

Keto and Pregnancy

Keto and Pregnancy: The Keto Diet has been popular for a while now and its effectiveness in helping people lose weight has been demonstrated time and time again.

The Keto diet restricts the intake of carbs but encourages a high-fat diet. Is the Keto diet safe during pregnancy? As an adjunct treatment for epilepsy or seizures disorders, keto diets have been used since the 1920s.

Is a Keto Diet Good for Gestational Diabetes?

Keto is proving to be an effective treatment for regular diabetes. According to this study, Gestational diabetes can be managed and treated with the keto diet. Approximately 10% of pregnant women suffer from gestational diabetes, which is a dangerous medical condition and as a consequence, mom and baby may also develop type 2 diabetes in later life. Healthcare providers are beginning to recommend keto for gestational diabetes management, however, further research is needed to determine its effectiveness.

It is important to note that there is a difference between being on a full blown Keto diet and a low card diet. Doctors are more likely to recommend a low card diet than a full blown Keto diet as it may not be good for the baby.

What Happens if You do Keto While Pregnant?

The safety of the keto diet during pregnancy can not be guaranteed as there isn’t much research on keto and pregnancy, to know for sure if it’s safe. One of the biggest concerns with the keto diet is the nutrient deficiencies that it can cause.

What Nutrients do you Lack on Keto?

The keto diet is associated with deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals like Magnesium and vitamin A-D.

The keto diet requires nutritional supplements to prevent deficiencies, and pregnant women have even greater nutrient needs than regular people, making it a risky endeavor if not properly supplemented.

Does Keto Cause Birth Defects?

It is true that most women take a prenatal vitamin daily throughout their pregnancy, however, humans are meant to absorb nutrients from food, making it necessary to address some of these nutrients via their diet.

For the healthy development of your baby, you need adequate amounts of vitamin D for muscle and blood health, vitamin B12 for a healthy spinal cord and nerves, vitamin D for strong bones, and folic acid for a healthy brain.

Some sources of these vitamins must be consumed to prevent spinal Bifida and limiting or eliminating them while following the keto diet works against preventing it.

Another concern with Keto’s goal of using fat as energy is that during the first trimester of pregnancy the body stores extra fat to be used later for energy during pregnancy. Early fat loss may adversely affect the later growth and development of the baby.

Can Ketones Affect Pregnancy?

Ketones can cross the placenta regularly to the baby when eating other diets, but it is not known what impact they may have when eating the keto diet.

Due to the possibility of causing harm to the unborn child, most research studies are not conducted with pregnant women. Studies conducted on animals may or may not be applicable to humans.

A study conducted by BMC Pregnancy Childbirth in 2013 demonstrated that pregnant mice on a keto diet had babies with a larger heart and a smaller brain than typical babies.

Another study done on mice in 2015 found that their offspring had a higher risk of developing depression and anxiety as adults if their mothers were on the keto diet while pregnant.

These single studies, while they produced a lot of valuable data, are not sufficient to determine whether they are valid because they must be repeated and results must be replicated, which still needs to be done.

Can You be Low-Carb While Pregnant?

Dietitians and healthcare providers are increasingly endorsing a modified keto diet during pregnancy. This is often called the dirty keto diet in the keto community.

In dirty keto, many keto principles are adopted without the focus on staying in ketosis. While a lower-carb diet is safe for pregnancy and the production of ketones is a normal sign of pregnancy, dirty keto encourages mostly fat in the diet followed by

protein and carbohydrates, however, the ratios vary depending on your provider.

How do you Cut Carbs When Pregnant?

In order to maintain a low-carb lifestyle, keto also encourages the elimination of or restriction of many fruits and vegetables.

In dirty keto, berries such as strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries are normally allowed but highly restricted on keto, but a pregnant woman following “dirty keto” might allow a significant amount of the foods in her diet, which would increase her carbohydrate intake and provide important nutrients to her and her unborn child.

RELATED: 8 Pregnancy Fears: How to Overcome Them

Can you Change your Diet while Pregnant?

Keto and Pregnancy

Whenever you start a new diet or lifestyle change, you should speak to your healthcare provider so they can perform a thorough review of your health history and medications to determine what is healthy for you and your baby.

If you decide to practice keto with the approval of your healthcare provider, here are some important things to remember;

  • Keep hydrated

 During pregnancy, it supports your overall health and well-being

  • Avoid intermittent fasting

This is not suitable for pregnant women. Pay attention to hunger cues and even cravings.

  • Keto during pregnancy shouldn’t be about losing weight, but about eating healthy and avoiding toxins.
  • Don’t consume refined foods, processed sugars, or added sugars. Such foods are not beneficial to expectant mothers. It is important for pregnant women to consume whole foods, even if the diet is not keto-friendly.

Final Thought

Many people who are trying to lose weight or treat conditions like diabetes turn to a keto diet for weight loss and medical improvement.

If your healthcare provider approves, you and your baby may benefit from a balanced ketogenic diet focusing on whole foods and nutrition instead of weight loss.

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