Many women suffer from excess weight gain after they have a baby. To lose those extra pounds, many new moms opt for a low carb diet while breastfeeding.
Evidence suggests that a low carb diet helps mothers lose excess weight while fulfilling their nutritional needs and the needs of her child. However, an extremely low carb diet can be potentially dangerous during breastfeeding. To learn more, read on to know all about losing weight on a low carb diet while breastfeeding.
What’s The Minimum Requirement of Carbohydrate for a Nursing Mother?
A diet must be chosen wisely to provide nourishment for herself and to fulfill her baby’s milk requirements. If a mom does regular exercises, it is recommended that she should intake more carbs.
To fulfill the carbohydrates requirement, a mother could incorporate whole grains, brown rice, and oatmeal in her daily diet. It is imperative to avoid food items such as refined sugar, white grains such as white rice, bread, baked items, and soft drinks.
You can also consume healthy carbs from starchy vegetables, seeds, nuts, and some dairy products.
Diet Plans Best For Breastfeeding Mother
Most moms want to get their pre-pregnancy body back. However, breastfeeding mothers must choose a diet plan that helps lose fat while also providing the baby with proper nourishment.
Here are some low carb diet plans that breastfeeding mothers can adopt with modifications without disturbing the baby’s milk supply.
- Ketogenic Diet
- South Beach Diet
- Atkins Diet
This is a low-carb diet often recommended for rapid weight loss. Proponents of this diet claim that a person can eat as much protein and fats as they like, as long as they keep the carb intake low.
The diet was introduced in 1972 and received backlash from mainstream health specialists. This was due to its high saturated sugar content, but new studies suggest otherwise. Though it is high in fat, it does not add bad LDL cholesterol. Sticking to whole, real foods that are minimally processed are key. Healthy animal proteins that are pasture-raised or wild-caught are equally important.
There are 4 phases to this diet plan.
- Phase 1: This is the first step to weight loss. You can use less than 20 grams of carbs per day for about two weeks, while high-fat and high-protein food is recommended. Combine this with low-carb vegetables, especially those with green leaves.
THIS PHASE IS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR BREASTFEEDING MOMS because such a low-carb profile will cause a mother’s body to lose ketones which can be damaging for the baby.
- Phase 2: Gradually add a few more nuts, low-carb vegetables, and a small number of fruits to your diet. It is an ongoing weight loss phase to keep carbohydrate intake low (at around 25 grams per day). The fat continues to burn.
THIS PHASE IS ALSO NOT RECOMMENDED FOR BREASTFEEDING MOTHERS due to its low carb composition, which may be unhealthy for the baby.
- Phase 3: As you start getting close to your goal, start adding carbs to your diet. This ensures a slower weight loss journey.
Breastfeeding woman can start their diet plan directly from this phase and get a well-rounded diet. Keeping your calories at least at 1,800 calories and 50-75 carbs is important.
- Phase 4: Eat a healthy diet with lots of vegetables, proteins, healthy fats, and low sugar fruits. Eat as many healthy carbs as your body needs, preferably non-starchy vegetables.
THE KETO DIET
The ketogenic diet is an improved version of Atkin’s diet. The diet is based on a low-carb and high intake of fat with low protein, which naturally makes the body go into ketosis. The diet cuts down your sugar intake, which forces the body to undergo ketosis, and stored fats start to burn.
Some of the recommended foods to eat in a ketogenic diet are non-starchy vegetables, meat, fatty fish, cheese, butter, and eggs. All these things are excellent food sources for breastfeeding women. Things to avoid include alcohol, sugar, grains, high sugar fruit, and unhealthy fats made with vegetable oils.
Can Keto And Breastfeeding Co-Exist?
When a mother breastfeeds her child, she starts to burn a lot of energy and hence needs more calories than usual. A mother may need needs– 500 extra calories a day depending on her maternal stores and maternal history.
Most mothers lose weight while breastfeeding, so a well-balanced diet won’t add any extra pounds to her body. But if the calorie levels go too low, the milk supply may get affected, and the baby may be deprived of the nutrients it needs.
So, the ketogenic diet minimizes carb intake and emphasizes eating foods with high fats for more energy. Research proves that breastfeeding a low carb diet does not affect the milk supply and is therefore not harmful to the baby. According to research, a Keto diet plan is good for breastfeeding weight loss as breastmilk is 50 to 60% fat, so babies get to have a rich supply of fats from their mothers on keto.
SOUTH BEACH DIET
It’s a three-step diet plan to lose weight. Breastfeeding women must skip phase 1 and start directly with phase 2 before moving to phase 3.
- Phase 1:Not Recommended For Breastfeeding Women.
It’s a two-week-long phase and aims to help a person overcome cravings. The insulin levels are brought under control, and the person starts losing weight.
- Phase 2:
Breastfeeding women can jump-start from this phase. They are encouraged to take a well-balanced diet. The phase slowly increases the intake of carbohydrates and can last until the desired goal is achieved.
- Phase 3:
Breastfeeding women can take part in this phase. It aims to maintain your weight and keep your body in a proper shape.
Risks Of Doing A Low Carb Diet While Breastfeeding
In some cases, there may be negative effects of using a low-carb diet while breastfeeding. These risks may not be widespread, but the threat is still there. Risks associated with low carb diet for breastfeeding mothers include the following:
Milk Quality May Decline
Taking a hardline and going on an extreme diet will cause your body fat to burn rapidly. This may cause the toxins stored in the body to get released into breast milk. Hence, it is recommended to maintain a moderate level, especially while doing ketogenic diets while breastfeeding.
Milk Supply May Decline
Consuming a diet low in carbohydrates can cause rapid weight loss, but quick weight loss is definitely not recommended for a breastfeeding mother. A constant milk supply comes from the consistent energy provided by calories. Following a low-carb diet may lower the amount of milk produced by the body, which is not suitable for a newborn baby. You also want to avoid flooding your body with toxins, which can end up in your milk if you lose weight too quickly.
Increased Use Of Artificial Sweeteners
Cutting down on carbs means a person is also cutting down on carb-based natural sweeteners such as honey and sugar. This may cause a person to switch to artificial sweeteners. Good alternatives are monk fruit extract and stevia leaf (without dextrose). Avoid Splenda and sucralose.
What Should Moms Do Who Want To Follow A Low Carb Diet?
Listed below are some tips that will help you follow a low-carb diet without compromising your baby’s milk supply.
- As long as a mother is breastfeeding, she should consume around 50 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per day.
- A breastfeeding mother must stay hydrated. Drink about 8 to 10 glasses of water every day.
- The daily intake of calories must be at least 1,800 per day. Anything less than that can be damaging for mom’s supply.
- Don’t be too harsh on yourself. Start gradually with your diet and slowly pick up the phase. If you start feeling weak, stop right there, drink electrolytes and start again with a higher carb count.
- Keep a close eye on milk supplied to the baby. If the quantity starts to drop, that’s an indication that you must reevaluate.
- The best time to start your diet is when the baby is about 3 to 5 months old. This will allow your body enough time to regulate your milk supply.
- Closely observe your baby’s weight gains. If he starts to lose weight or shows signs of dehydration, stop dieting.
- While changing your baby’s diaper, observe if there is any change in stool production or dark-colored urine- this can indicate dehydration.
Final Thoughts on How to Start a Low Carb Diet While Breastfeeding
New moms are obsessed with losing fat, and as we all know, reducing the intake of carbohydrates can help you lose weight, which is why a low carb diet while breastfeeding seems like a good idea. However, inadequate carb intake can also reduce the quality and quantity of breast milk. So, there must be a balance between weight loss and a proper diet.
Eating unhealthy carbs may give a short-term benefit, and you may lose weight, but it can lead to long-term complications. So, always make sure you get a balanced diet with a little bit of everything, including carbs.