If you haven’t already tried the keto diet, you probably know someone who has, or you’ve read about celebrities who swear by it. But is it safe to follow to when you’re pregnant?
The keto diet is high in fat, which switches your body from burning glucose (from carbs) to burning ketones (which fat produces) in order to produce energy. So instead of storing fat, you burn it off. The diet goes against every weight-loss tip we’ve been told to follow.
Pros and cons
Although the keto diet is especially popular, it’s also controversial. Fans of the regimen praise its successes as a remedy for metabolic disorders like diabetes and other ailments from PCOS to epilepsy, as well as fat loss. But the keto diet also has plenty of critics. They point out that the diet relies on foods that are high in saturated fat, and lacks of fruits, starchy vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Also, they claim that the diet’s appearance of success is deceptive.
Physician and plant-based diet advocate Shivam Joshi remarked on the shortage of long-term studies on this diet. He says, “The keto diet may not be worth pursuing, even for diabetics or the obese, if we are mortgaging those diseases for higher rates of heart disease or colon cancer, a possibility given the low amounts of fiber consumed on these diets.”
Jillian Michaels, the celebrity fitness trainer, has also weighed in, releasing a video criticizing keto. She points out that the diet is high in animal fats and proteins, which she believes to increase inflammation and cause oxidative stress. “We’re stripping our body of a ton of fruits which have a ton of antioxidants and polyphenols,” Michaels says.
Is it safe to be on the keto diet during pregnancy?
Despite the naysayers, controversy, and well-known side effects, the keto diet remains a widespread answer for weight loss. But, it’s a whole different story if you’re thinking about starting the keto diet or continuing the diet while pregnant. That’s of course because you’re not just eating for yourself; you’re eating for two. Even though Halle Berry has shared that she remained on the keto diet throughout pregnancy, she did it under the constant supervision of her doctor.
But for the majority of us, doctors say the keto diet is not safe while you’re pregnant. That’s because it doesn’t provide the proper nutrients to help you and your baby thrive. “The keto diet is simply not safe for pregnant women,” Dr. G. Thomas Ruiz, lead of obstetrics at Memorial Care Orange Coast Medical Center, told WhatToExpect.com. He went on to explain that the lack of glucose in the keto diet can be harmful to your developing baby.
In the Mayo Clinic’s guidelines for healthy eating during pregnancy, they state that “eating a healthy diet during pregnancy is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby. After all, the food you eat is your baby’s main source of nutrition.” Doctors at the clinic recommend a variety of foods that are banned on the keto diet, including fruits, whole grains, and beans.
Dr. Sherry Ross, OB-GYN, has said on Cafe.Mom, “Eating a healthy, colorful, and well-balanced diet helps control your waistline and ensures you are getting important vitamins and minerals during pregnancy. Best foods to eat during pregnancy include foods high in protein such as salmon, calcium-rich foods such as low-fat yogurt and milk, enriched whole-grain breads and cereals, high iron-containing foods, eggs, beans, brown rice, and green leafy vegetables.”
If you’re worried about gaining too much weight gain during your pregnancy, make sure to share your concern with your doctor. He or she can create a nutritional plan that is safe for both you and your baby. One of the most important things that you can do for your health and your baby’s development is eating well. Ask your doctor or a nutritionist to find out what’s safe to eat during pregnancy.