A not-so-favorable image surrounds the keto diet and pregnancy as a tandem. There are those who believe that the keto diet puts the mother and baby in danger as it is at odds with a healthy pregnancy diet. According to Christine Greves M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn at the Winnie Palmer Hospital from Women and Babies; “Constantly being in ketosis is a concern, since ketosis is not a normal body state, and doctors really have no idea how that might affect a fetus.”
She also added, “there just isn’t scientific data to say that it is okay to be on the keto diet while you’re pregnant, pregnancy is usually not a great time to try to lose weight”. Pregnancy is indeed a very crucial time as there is another life that is developing inside a woman’s body. Therefore, focusing on an overall well-rounded diet is a good objective in making the body and the baby healthy during pregnancy.
Let us look at how Keto Diet and Pregnancy be a perfect match for each other. Looking at the safe condition of a pregnant woman under a ketosis metabolic state could be a very interesting case. We’ll try to check and go in-depth if the ketogenic diet is a good and recommendable diet for pregnant women.
Maintaining a Healthy Pregnancy
Nutrition is important during pregnancy because it ensures the healthy growth of the baby. Eating well during pregnancy is linked to good fetal brain development and better birth weight. It also prevents the risk of birth defects.
Proper nutrition increases specific micronutrient requirements that the mother and her baby need. Examples of which are protein, vitamin C, calcium, iron, folic acid, healthy fat, and many more.
Keto’s Role in Pregnancy
Ketosis is the target phase of every person doing a ketogenic diet, that is to use fat or ketones as the primary source of energy being burned by the body in activities and being used by the brain instead of carbs. How ketosis fits in pregnant women is confusing so let’s discuss the two major part of complication:
Diabetic Ketoacidosis or DKA
With an insufficient amount of insulin from the body, the cells can’t utilize sugar in the blood to be used as energy; instead, it breaks down fat cells and creates ketones. The liver, on the other hand, releases glucose but the body can’t use it because there is no insulin so it builds up together with the acidic ketones on the bloodstream, which is called ketoacidosis and is a life-threatening condition. Simply put, it as a buildup of acids in the blood. This happens to people with diabetes;
- Type 1 Diabetes: people who have type 1 diabetes has their body malfunctions by not producing insulin. Insulin is a substance that moves glucose into the body’s tissue as fuel. As glucose doesn’t move into the cells because of the absence of insulin it builds up in the bloodstream causing high blood sugar.
- Type 2 Diabetes: people who have type 2 diabetes resist insulin or do not produce enough of it because the pancreas malfunctioned. Glucose then builds up in the blood instead of going to cells. This eventually makes cells hungry for energy because they aren’t fed with enough glucose. High blood glucose levels, in turn, may hurt the kidneys, nerves, and heart, and gets worse over time.
This is the metabolic state that turns your body to use fats and ketones as the primary fuel for energy. Mainly focusing on the fundamental of increasing the intake of healthy fats, moderate consumption of protein, and reduce carbohydrate eating; simply putting it as converting from sugar burner to a fat burner.
Fetus, or babies, develops brains inside a woman and these brains are made of cholesterol and fat with some protein. In pregnancy, the heart and brain from very early in this process so being healthy is important especially supplying a woman with healthy fats. There are four vitamins that are considered fat soluble, and healthy for a pregnant woman these are:
- Vitamin A is essential to proper development and operation of our body particularly the eyes, immune system, and skin.
- Vitamin D helps builld strong and capable bones.
- Vitamin E is an antioxidant and provides the proper functioning of many organs in the body. It improves muscle strength and reduces muscle damage.
- Vitamin K prevents excessive bleeding problems, especially important for newborns.
Although there are still very limited information and research about ketogenic diet and pregnancy, especially in the case of humans. The majority of these research is being based on the test of animals particularly mice and pigs. It is safe to say that talking with a medical professional on how a healthy diet should be and working things out if keto diet would be a good option in maintaining a healthy body condition for the mom and for the baby that is coming out. According to Lily Nichols, a registered dietitian that, “it is safe for women to eat low carbs during pregnancy as long as they are still eating certain foods for proper nutrition.”
It is important to understand that “diet” does not necessarily equate to weight loss during pregnancy. The restriction of so much food types is potentially dangerous to both the woman and her baby. It hampers access to quality nutrients that are essential to the baby’s progress.
There are claims, both positive and negative, about going through the keto diet during pregnancy. If you want to try this, it is very important you talk to your doctor first. Make sure that your chosen diet supports you and your child well.