Eating low carb or keto when breastfeeding
- July 23, 2021
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Do you want to eat a low-carb diet while breastfeeding? It can be an excellent way to lose excess weight, while still eating all the nutritious foods that you and your baby need.1However, you shouldnoteat a strict low-carb diet, as it can – in extremely rare cases – be potentially dangerous when breastfeeding. To be safe, you may want to consider instead aliberal low-carb diet, with at least 50 grams of carbs per day.2Keep reading for more details.
Strict low carb and breastfeeding
Most people can eat as few carbs as they want because they’ll quickly go into nutritional ketosis, a normal and healthy metabolic state in which the body uses fat and ketones as its main energy source.
But when breastfeeding, extremely low carb intake can possibly lead to a dangerous condition called ketoacidosis, in rare cases. For reasons that aren’t entirely understood, it seems to be related to the metabolic changes and increased nutritional demands of producing milk.3
To our knowledge, there have been fewer than 10 published cases of ketoacidosis specifically connected to breastfeeding on a low-carb diet.4 So the risk is likely quite low, and apparently each case ended happily.
But it’s also possible that they could have ended in tragedy:
Ketoacidosis while breastfeeding can be triggered by other things besides following a low-carb diet. For example, it can happen if you fast or have a hard time eating during illness or after surgery, no matter what type of diet you follow.5
It’s simply important to get enough nutrients while breastfeeding. Severe reduction by any means can place the mother at risk.
How to eat low carb if breastfeeding
If you’re breastfeeding you should not do a strict low-carb diet. You likely need to add more carbs, at least 50 grams per day, to be safe.6
Remember that it’s also important to eat adequate calories in general, and the metabolic demands of breastfeeding will likely require more than your usual amount of calories.7
One way to make sure you get enough carbs is to add three fruits per day or extra servings of root veggies, to an otherwise strict low-carb or keto menu. But you can choose whichever way you prefer to get the extra carbs, like selecting moderate and liberal low-carb recipes (using the advanced recipe search).