Low Carb and Pregnancy
The questions about Low Carb and Pregnancy are actually quite regular
ones. It's common for people to say they were unable to find an answer
about "the safety of low carbing while pregnant" online or anywhere
My opinion about the lack of such answers is probably a pretty simple
one. No one wants to advise anyone to follow a specific path when
there's no finite research study, or generally accepted rule to save
them from liability if they are perceived as giving medical advice.
Therefore, I begin, as I have to, by saying that these
are simply my opinions, and what I would do were it me, and do not
purport to offer advice or counseling of a medical nature.
It's my belief that no one — pregnant or not — needs a diet filled
with refined flours (or things made with them including standard
commercial pastas) or refined sugars. Nor do they need hydrogenated
oils (trans fats.)
Those are just a given.
But to keep your weight in line and still feel comfortable about the
issue of ketosis, I would do the following:
Stay low(er) carb in all your menu choices taking care to get enough
carbs just to keep you out of ketosis — for most people about 65 to
75 carbs a day are guaranteed to stay out of ketosis but also avoid
weight gain (and often still lose just a little at a slow safe rate.)
Once you've had the baby, you can feel free to lower carbs, get into
ketosis, and lose additional weight. (If you plan to nurse, you might
consider waiting on returning to a ketogenic diet until nursing stops.)
However, where those 65-75 carbs come from is really important during
pregnancy. You could get that result by eating all fat and protein most
of the day and then just splurge on a milkshake or pastry containing
70 grams of sugar, but that would be stupid and dangerous. So use your
common sense and try and follow these guidelines:
- Eat numerous times throughout the day and spread your carbohydrate
grams out pretty evenly through those small meals.
- Wherever possible, make your carbs come 60% from vegetables (and
don't count potatoes or rice among them!); 15% from low sugar fruits
(berries, melons, peaches, plums, etc.); and 25% from WHOLE grains —
oat, buckwheat, rye, and some wheat.
- While pregnant, I'd avoid the low carb "specialty" products that
contain polyols (sugar alcohols) such as maltitol, sorbitol, lactitol,
- Include salmon or other fish (salmon's best, though) several times
a month in your diet. If you like salmon, have it once a week.
Including flaxseed is also a great idea. You want to get those healthy
Omega-3 fatty acids!
NOTE: Don't over-do fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, etc.) Note that we said
several times a month, not several times a week. The healthful benefits of
fish and fish oils must be weighed against the worry of possible mercury hazards
in such fish, and the risk of damage to the fetus because of it. Mercury is a
metal believed harmful to the growing brains of fetuses
and young children. Typically, the largest fish contain the most
mercury. Paradoxically, fish also contains fats very important for fetal
And don't assume this means switching to fresh fish, rather
than canned, is safer.
In fact, women could absorb far more mercury if they also eat freshwater fish
that friends or family catch in local lakes or rivers. Some state waters are
heavily polluted with mercury, and the FDA doesn't regulate recreationally
Most experts agree that the safest course is to eat fish a few
times per month for the health benefits, but not more than once a week when
pregnant to avoid mercury contamination.
Keep up an adequate intake of water each day... I know, when you're
pregnant you already feel you have to pee every five seconds, so you'll
be tempted to skip the extra fluid, but don't. It's ever so important.
Make nuts — especially almonds — a regular snack. They're high in
satiety value, filled with vitamins and minerals, and also high in
Take your supplements. Always take calcium along WITH magnesium so
it can be properly absorbed. Take a multivitamin without iron. Take
Acetyl L-Carnitine. Take CoEnzyme Q-10 (about 100 mg daily.) OR
whatever is recommended to you by your doctor.
Stay active. Maintain whatever exercise regime you and your
doctor are comfortable with, but staying active keeps your metabolic
rate steady and prevents after-pregnancy weight gain.
Wherever possible, get the refined sugars and starches out of
the house. Ditto for trans fats like margarine and shortening.
Stay prepared. Keep acceptable and healthy foods as discussed
above on-hand, so when hunger strikes and time is short, you won't
be tempted to grab something convenient, but destructive. I find
that keeping things pre-made in the fridge like sliced roast beef,
sliced cheeses, tuna, chicken, or egg salads, or other protein
snacks is a lifesaver.
I hope these suggestions help, and they are precisely the plan I'd do
if I were pregnant, and what I'd recommend to a friend or relative.
Best of luck and Have a Happy Healthy Baby!!
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