Is low carb and keto safe during pregnancy?


Whether ketosis is safe and beneficial for pregnant women is a very important thought to consider. Because lots of people ask is keto safe during pregnancy. In this article, we’ll cover this important question in more detail, so you can make informed decisions when considering ketosis during pregnancy.

Pregnancy and keto

When a woman is pregnant, the body goes through many changes. Even when a couple is trying to conceive, they are likely to be more aware of the decisions they make regarding food. Let’s see how ketosis fits into the life of a woman trying to get pregnant and during pregnancy.

Getting pregnant with ketosis

Ketosis can actually help you get pregnant. For example, it has been recommended for women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) who have had trouble getting pregnant (a common symptom of PCOS). In a pilot study on PCOS, two of the women in the study became pregnant despite having previously dealt with infertility [1].

Also, just as a well-planned ketogenic diet is safe for the average person. It is also safe for women trying to get pregnant, especially if they were eating high-carb foods or the standard American diet before switching to low-carb keto. carbohydrates. and improving your health.

So with that, the next question is, “is it safe to continue ketosis during pregnancy?” While ketosis can be helpful for getting pregnant, the rules are a bit different during pregnancy.

keto safe during pregnancy

Before we get into ketosis during pregnancy, let’s examine some of the common beliefs about ketosis during this stage of life. Because there is a lot of misinformation out there. Pros and Cons of Keto Diet Are Also Explained in the Article.

Misconceptions About Ketosis During Pregnancy

When someone talks about ketosis being unsafe during pregnancy. They are probably referring to studies on diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Which is actually very harmful and completely different from nutritional ketosis.

Let’s see the differences:

CAD is a very dangerous metabolic state seen in people with diabetes in whom insulin or diet is not adequately controlled. CAD includes ketone levels that are abnormally high and blood sugar levels three or more times higher than normal. This creates a dangerous acid-base balance in the body. All pregnant women (and anyone in general) should avoid ketoacidosis.
Nutritional ketosis is a natural metabolic state in which the body primarily uses fat for energy rather than carbohydrates. It includes very low levels of ketones and normal blood sugar, as well as a healthy acid-base balance in the body.
When there is confusion about the difference, practitioners may assume that nutritional ketosis has the same effect as CAD, especially since studies have suggested that CAD is harmful to fetal brain development [2]. This has led to a widely accepted belief that ketosis during pregnancy is harmful to the baby; however, this is misinformation.

Let’s look at some of the facts.

Natural cases of ketosis in pregnant women

Most pregnant women experience morning sickness, at least early in their pregnancy. Between that, nausea, poor appetite, and aversion to food, it’s not uncommon for eating to be sporadic and often in small amounts, at least during the early stages of pregnancy. This will occur naturally by temporarily getting pregnant women in and out of ketosis.

We should note here that ketosis is a natural part of being human. For example, between the time we eat dinner and wake up to our first meal, the body is in a state of fasting (think about it: our first traditional meal of the day is literally called breakfast). This is true for everyone, including pregnant women.

In addition, the state of pregnancy can even promote ketosis. This is because blood ketone levels in healthy pregnant women after an overnight fast are approximately three times higher than in non-pregnant women. Pros and Cons of Keto Diet Are Also Explained in the Article.

Ketosis in late-stage pregnancies

It seems that ketosis occurs naturally quite frequently in pregnant women, especially in the latter stages of pregnancy. The fetus uses ketones before and immediately after birth to produce essential fats in the brain during growth [5]. In fact, researchers believe that fetuses could even make their own ketones. This could be why ketosis is more common in pregnant women during the third trimester.

During the last stage of pregnancy, a woman’s metabolism also changes to a catabolic state (the breakdown of molecules). This means that ketosis occurs more frequently [2]. Be aware of the frequent occurrence of food aversion and nausea that many pregnant women experience. This alone will naturally reduce the frequency and amount of food intake, which will put you more easily into ketosis.

Low carb and pregnancy

As registered dietitian Lily Nichols says in this article, it seems safe for women to consume less carbohydrates during pregnancy as long as they continue to eat certain foods for proper nutrition.

Fetuses need glucose and ketones to grow, so balance is key. The important thing is to make sure the mother has normal blood sugar levels and is getting enough calories.


Although ketosis is natural and safe if done effectively, major changes occur in a woman’s body and additional precautions must be taken during this life cycle. Here are some things to keep in mind for pregnant women, whether in ketosis or not:

Don’t aim for weight loss. We know that the ketogenic diet is effective for weight loss, but for most pregnant women. Pregnancy is not the time to follow it. Regardless of how you eat, the most important thing is getting enough calories and proper nutrition.

Eat whole foods. Speaking of nutrition, it is especially vital when a baby is growing. That said, there are some carbohydrate foods that pregnant women should include in their diets: vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, and sometimes dairy.


keto safe during pregnancy

Avoid refined grains, added sugars, and processed foods. Carbohydrate quality is important to ensure that the diet is rich in nutrients and that both mom and baby get the good things they need to thrive.

Don’t do intermittent fasts. While intermittent fasting has a variety of benefits for the average person. It is not appropriate during pregnancy when it is most important to listen to your own hunger cues and ensure that mother and baby are getting enough nutrients for growth.

Takeaway message

While additional diet considerations should definitely be taken during pregnancy. Don’t let fear convince you that a healthy ketogenic diet is harmful. Especially compared to the standard diet that most people are eating.

What if I am pregnant and I am overweight?

Unless your doctor specifically tells you otherwise, you should not attempt to lose weight during pregnancy. While weight gain recommendations vary based on your starting weight, having a healthy baby is your body’s first priority, so that should be your primary focus during pregnancy, not diet, says Dr. Ruiz.

However, two-thirds of women start their pregnancies already overweight or obese, so losing weight during pregnancy is a question Dr. Ruiz says he hears frequently. While he discourages the active attempt to lose weight, he also points out the importance of not gaining too much weight during those nine months. Almost half of the pregnant women gain more than the recommended amount, which can increase their risk of pre-eclampsia, heart disease, diabetes, and macrosomia (having a very large baby). So how do you find that sweet spot of enough but not too much?

Normal BMI Range

\If you’re in the normal BMI range (18.5-24), then you should aim to gain 25 to 40 pounds during your pregnancy, he says. Underweight women (BMI <18.5) should gain at least 40 pounds, overweight women (BMI 25-30) should gain 10-20 pounds, and obese women (BMI> 30) should maintain their weight or gain less 15 pounds, So keto is safe during pregnancy

If you are obese, your doctor may want to do more regular ultrasounds to monitor your baby, making sure that the baby is not growing too large (as can be the case with gestational diabetes) or too slow (as can happen if you are cutting too many calories to lose weight), Dr. Ruiz adds.

Rather than relying solely on your weight as an indicator of your health, Nichols says that pregnancy is the perfect time to focus your attention on improving the quality of your diet.

“I don’t think overweight or obese pregnant women should see it as ‘I need to lose weight. But if you focus on eating a diet of real foods, rich in nutrients, that is not excessive in refined sugars. You will automatically gain weight that will settle in the correct range for their body. I advise patients to choose better quality foods and to be aware of their hunger and satiety cues. “

What is the ideal diet for pregnancy?

Now that you know the ketogenic diet might be off the table, what diet should you stick to? First of all, you need to make sure you are getting enough calories. Calorie needs vary quite a bit depending on your starting weight, height, age and activity level, but in the second and third trimesters it is generally recommended that you eat between 2,200 and 2,600 calories a day, Nichols says. (Wondering about your first trimester? and keto safe during pregnancy) . If you are having multiples, your caloric needs will be even higher. she adds.

When it comes to how those calories come in, Dr. Ruiz recommends the Mediterranean diet as a balanced way to get all the necessary nutrients. Lots of fish, beans, olive oil, and vegetables will keep you full and your baby healthy.

“If you eat an omnivorous diet and eat real foods, you won’t have to worry about your weight or your nutrient intake,” says Nichols. Here are her favorite foods for pregnancy:

Eggs: Choline is good for the development of the baby’s brain and the placenta.

Fatty seafood – Low-mercury fish like salmon and sardines are particularly good choices

Red meat for iron

Non-starchy vegetables: Spinach, kale, green beans, and zucchini are good choices. As the folic acid will help your baby’s nervous system and the fiber will keep it regular.

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