Last Updated on July 21, 2023 by Jada Glover
As soon as you have a baby, the first thought clouding your mind could be ‘how do I get rid of the baby weight, and fast’ With so many diets, exercises, and weight loss training programs to choose from, how do you settle on one that will work for your postpartum body? While breastfeeding, many moms look for ways to shed their baby weight to fit back into those pre-pregnancy clothes, many moms are curious about doing the keto diet and breastfeeding because of the mainstream buzz about it in the health and fitness space.
You might have heard from your friend about how it worked magic for their weight loss and now you want to make it a part of your routine. But maybe you are left wondering should you do it while breastfeeding? How will it impact you and your baby?
Embarking on a weight loss journey is easier said than done, especially when you need to juggle time between breastfeeding your baby and catching up on lost sleep. This is why doing keto while breastfeeding is a great option. You can do it from the comfort of your own home all while continuing to breastfeed and losing that unwanted weight simultaneously.
As the saying goes, “abs start in the kitchen.” And my clients are proof!
When they follow my keto while breastfeeding formula, they lose weight while breastfeeding without spending hours in the gym. If you feel you are a breastfeeding mom on a mission to shed your stubborn fat, why not give keto a try? Read on to unravel how this weight loss diet will help you discover a new you.
What Is the Ketogenic Diet?
The Keto diet is a high fat, low carbohydrate diet that, along with boosting weight loss, has several health benefits for the body. It involves consuming meals rich in fats, having a moderate protein amount, and a low carb count. To give you a better idea, look at it this way, you get 75% of your calorie intake from fat, 20% protein, and less than 5% from carbs.
By having such an intake, your body enters a metabolic state known as ketosis, where your body burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. The fat present in the liver is turned into ketones, which help in providing the brain with energy.
A ketogenic diet is a good way to lose weight while eating moderate carbohydrates and high-fat foods. People have been using it to treat or lessen the symptoms of many health-related issues for years but now it’s gaining popularity among moms who want to lose weight and gain a healthy body shape back.
So, is it the right diet for breastfeeding mothers to lose weight? Let’s look at the details.
Does Science Support Keto And Breastfeeding for Nursing Moms?
To date, there’s not a lot of research about the keto diet while breastfeeding, but there are a few publications. Let’s see what one of these says…
In one study, researchers compared the effect of two types of diets on the mother’s energy level, breast milk quantity, and quality. One of the diets was a low-carbohydrate, high fat (LCHF) diet while the other one was a high-carbohydrate, low fat (HCLF) diet.
During this research, mothers were given both kinds of diets on different occasions. The effects of the diet were studied for 8 days that were separated by 7 to 14 days. After completion, the researchers concluded that none of the diets affected the quantity of milk in any mother.
Milk lactose and protein concentrations also stayed the same in mothers having both kinds of foods. However, fat concentration and energy content in the milk was higher in the milk of moms who ate the LCHF diet, and their bodies adapted well to this low carb diet.
These results offer proof that eating a low to moderate carb diet does not negatively affect milk production in any way. Moms can still provide their babies with essential nutrients that they need to grow a healthy body and mind. So, mommies who want to lose weight while breastfeeding may use a keto diet to lose body fat early.
There are a few more studies that report almost the same results. There is no doubt that all bodies are unique and may react to a change in the body in a different way. It’s best to start a keto diet while breastfeeding by following a program specifically designed for breastfeeding like my Keto and Breastfeeding Program.
Can You Do Keto And Breastfeeding At The Same Time?
This question was essentially answered above, but YES, you can do keto while breastfeeding! It’s important to keep in mind that there are some things that need to be discussed in order to do it successfully.
Getting rid of unwanted weight after you have had your baby is a goal that many mothers wish to achieve. For that, several mommies may opt for different diets and exercise, all in the hopes of going back to their pre-pregnancy weight.
Among them, the keto diet is becoming quite the hit owing to the fast results it promises. However, many have concerns have been raised about keto being a healthy option when breastfeeding.
There are two most commonly raised concerns when it comes to keto and breastfeeding are hydration and adequate milk supply and whether the baby gets sufficient nutrition. Let’s find out if they really are as big of a concern as they are posed to be.
Will Keto Hurt My Milk Supply? Can I Stay Hydrated Doing Keto And Breastfeeding?
Many anti-keto people have concerns that a ketogenic diet reduces milk supply and causes excessive dehydration. However, as discussed above, studies show that your milk supply should not be massively affected whether you are on a high carb diet or a low carb one. Instead, many breastfeeding mothers who were doing keto had a denser milk supply in nutrients and energy.
Along with the above, hydration is also a common concern as it has a significant role to play in the adequate production of breast milk. For many newbies who enter the world of keto, dehydration is usually a big issue.
As carbohydrate levels are drastically reduced, more electrolytes and water are excreted by the body. This results in dehydration along with the infamous ‘keto flu‘, which many experience at the beginning of the diet.
To avoid this when doing keto while breastfeeding, make sure you drink huge amounts of electrolyte-based drinks and water. You can buy powdered electrolyte mixes that you simply add to your water. You can also try making your own with Himalayan salt and freshly squeezed lemon juice in your water. Also be sure you are slowly tapering your carb intake, eating plenty of calories, not cutting calories or carbs drastically (you want/need to avoid ketoacidosis).
Will a Breastfed Baby Receive Adequate Nutrients From Moms on a Ketogenic Diet?
A common concern regarding keto and breastfeeding is whether your baby will receive adequate nutrition. Honestly, whatever you consume has a significant impact on ensuring that your little one’s nutritional needs are met. So naturally, there are concerns that your baby might not have adequate nutrition if you entirely skip carb-based meals.
The good news is that you can opt for different food options loaded with minerals and vitamins essential for your baby’s growth. Also, did you know that your baby is naturally born in a state of ketosis? Yep, that’s right!
Which in turn, makes this a perfectly safe option while breastfeeding, when done correctly while monitoring your baby for adequate milk intake and growth along the way. You can also increase your carb intake with excellent options like whole grains and fruits low in sugar.
For example, you can increase your carbs to 50 or 60 grams daily when breastfeeding. However, if you are someone who is super active, you can increase this to 80 or 90 grams. Then, you can go back to a stricter keto carb level once you stop breastfeeding.
Next let’s discuss how to go keto when breastfeeding to lose weight.
Keto Diet And Breastfeeding Tips For Success
Now that you understand the basics, make sure to incorporate the following expert tips to enhance your keto experience on your weight loss journey. Let’s review the things that you must avoid and the things that you must do on a keto diet while breastfeeding.
Get A Quick Start
Just like with any new routine, a ketogenic diet also takes some getting used to. During this period, when your body is adjusting to this new lifestyle, you may experience symptoms of ‘keto flu.’ It causes brain fog, stomach ache, and trouble with concentrating.
This is something you obviously don’t want to go through when postpartum and breastfeeding. The best way to go about this is to start early, sometime before your pregnancy if possible.
This way, your body will have already gotten used to burning fat instead of carbohydrates for fuel. If that’s not possible, start the process slow by first switching the types of foods you’re eating to more whole, real foods and gradually reduce carbohydrates.
Minerals And Vitamins Are Crucial
When you embark on your keto diet and breastfeeding journey, it is essential to remember that you will be losing a massive amount of water weight. Along with water, electrolytes will also be excreted from the body.
This is why it is vital to replace calcium, sodium, magnesium, and potassium. Along with these, you must also take vitamins A and D and omega-3s.
Adequate Calorie Intake
Make sure you eat plenty of calories and healthy fats. A new mom with a little baby already has so much on her plate, and it is crucial to consume adequate calories to feel energetic.
When you start keto while breastfeeding, you must have a sufficient intake of healthy fats to make sure that you produce enough breast milk for your little one. As you are lowering the intake of carbs, your body is adapting to using fats as your source of energy (stored and/or what you eat).
This is why nuts, seeds, eggs, wild salmon, full-fat dairy, and similar foods are excellent options loaded with nutrients and help make you feel fuller. You can also munch on strawberries and string cheese if you feel cravings or make a smoothie that has nuts and healthy seeds in it.
These foods will provide enough fat and fiber to keep you and your baby healthy and active. Make sure your calorie intake does not go below 1,800 calories per day.
Try Moderate Carb Intake
Cutting down on your carbs to such an extremely low level may seem difficult for many breastfeeding mommies. This strict reduction may even cause many to drop the keto diet once and for all.
If you also find it hard to continue, try switching from a low carb intake to a moderate carb intake. You can do this by slowly decreasing your carbohydrate intake and keeping a close look at your milk production.
If at any point you feel that your milk supply is getting affected, simply increase your carb intake. However, it’s important to use healthy sources such as berries, nuts, seeds, and veggies for your carbs.
Make Water Your Best Friend
Your breast milk is 90% water so if you do not drink enough water daily then you may see a decrease in your breast milk supply or start getting cramps or headaches. Eating low carbs makes a few changes in the body and one of them is that your body excretes more and more water.
On top of this, breastfeeding mommies need to drink lots and lots of water to ensure a sufficient supply of milk. This means that when you are on a keto diet, it is a whole new story.
As you are already losing lots of water when in ketosis, your water intake needs to be increased way more than usual. To ensure that you are always fully hydrated, you can drink water with added electrolytes.
Not only will it help with hydration, but it will also replace your lost electrolytes. Ensuring you are hydrated will keep your milk supply adequate and help beat any symptoms of keto flu. If you do not drink plenty of water, your electrolytes may get imbalanced, you can become dehydrated, feel dizzy, and become less active than usual.
Not getting enough electrolytes is one of the biggest mistakes I see moms make when trying to follow a keto way of eating while breastfeeding to lose weight. I recommend drinking at least 10 glasses of water daily, even more, if you can.
One watch out is to not drink too much right before bed as frequent bathroom visits at night may disturb your sleep quality.
Include Lots Of Veggies and Fiber
When breastfeeding, whatever you eat, will determine the nutrition that your baby will get. This is why it is essential to shift your focus to healthy meal options when on a keto diet. Make sure that you get plenty of fiber and veggies in your meals. By eating large portions of vegetables, your body will get the necessary antioxidants and phytonutrients.
You can replace potatoes and rice with mushrooms, broccoli, asparagus, and cucumbers. If you have trouble getting a sufficient amount of vegetables, you can always give green supplements a try.
Do Not Overburden Your Body With a Strict Keto Diet While Breastfeeding
Don’t follow a really low/super restrictive carb plan, especially if you notice that a sudden decrease in carbs is affecting your milk supply, then follow a slow and steady strategy. Initially, take 50 to 70g of carbs a day. If you aren’t seeing results after tracking calories and carbs for a few weeks, then reduce carbs by 5 to 10g gradually.
Keep an eye on your little one’s behavior, moods, and weight gain too and avoid carbohydrate-rich foods like bread and pasta and eat more vegetables and nuts.
Expect Symptoms When Beginning the Keto Diet
A keto diet plan may bring a few changes to your body. Many people experience discomfort when they start this diet plan for the first time as your body detoxes and starts using fat for fuel – this is often called the “keto flu”.
Keep Track of Your Diet, Your Baby\’s Mood, & See How You Feel
What is the use of feeding your body a low carb diet constantly when you do not see any change in the weight? Initially, it may benefit you to keep track of what you’re eating so you don’t over-consume calories.
Even though you’re eating lower carbs, you can still eat too many calories. There are many apps available that can assist you in this weight loss journey.
Pay attention to how your body feels while trying keto and breastfeeding. You may find that you need to increase or decrease your carbs based on how you feel. Always listen to your body (and baby).
Moms who reduce their calorie intake, may notice a decrease in their milk quantity. So, make sure you pay attention to your milk quantity through your baby’s diaper count or pumping output. I discuss this in much more detail inside my Keto While Breastfeeding Program Quickstart Guide & Video Workshop.
Keto Diet Meal Plan Recommendations for Breastfeeding Mamas
A healthy keto diet that makes sure you still get enough energy to keep moving and performing daily activities has 60-65% fats, 20% protein, and 15-20% carbohydrates in it. If we keep this division in mind, here are some keto diet meals you can use and still provide your body with enough nutrients to continue nursing your baby.
Keto Breastfeeding Breakfast
Try a 3 egg frittata that has mushrooms and peppers sprinkled on it. Cook it in coconut oil or ghee, and have a side of avocado and blueberries as well.
It will not only give your body good fats, but eggs will give enough proteins to keep you fit and healthy. Another diet plan you can use for breakfast is drinking a fresh smoothie that has berries like strawberries and nuts in it. It will not only boost your energy level, but will also make you fresh.
Keto Breastfeeding Lunch
You can try making a salad with your favorite leafy vegetables, some fruits, nuts, wild salmon, and cheese. You can add olive oil or any other healthy oil and a few teaspoons of lemon juice as well.
Keto Breastfeeding Dinner
One of the low carb meals that you can enjoy is grilled steak with a side of broccoli that is marinated in olive oil and salt. Eat this with ¼ of a sweet potato if you need a few extra carbs. If you still want to eat more, then you can try eating a handful of nuts/seeds, celery with almond or peanut butter (no sugar added) a cheese stick, boiled eggs, or beef jerky as a snack.
Losing the baby weight isn’t easy for most moms. Doing keto and breastfeeding is a quick, effective, and safe way of losing weight when breastfeeding if done correctly.
Nothing comes easy in life, especially when you are trying to lose the baby weight. Although keto and breastfeeding is a quick, effective, and safe way of losing weight when breastfeeding, there are quite a few aspects that need to be considered before you begin.
Always be sure to watch your baby for signs of sufficient milk transfer- such as the baby’s demeanor, diaper output, and weight gain. These can help tell you if you’re producing enough milk for your baby while dieting.
Is the keto diet safe for breastfeeding mothers? The bottom line is, if done with proper knowledge, care, and modifications, it should work great for many breastfeeding women. Just as with anything else, make sure you consult with your doctor before you start.
A keto diet while breastfeeding is a great way to have more energy, and feel more confident in your body. I’ve used it for myself, and my clients that need to move past a weight stall especially when paired with intermittent fasting.
Before you go, if you want to jump right into a Keto Workshop with a quick start guide, check out my mini-course here Keto and Breastfeeding Video Workshop + QuickStart Guide.