Eating organic, whole foods that are low on the glycemic index is a recipe for success on a ketogenic diet. Here at Konscious Keto, we spend a lot of time pondering our macros to fit our keto lifestyle.
Determining the ideal macronutrient composition, especially as it relates to capping carbohydrate intake, is paramount on keto.
There are some other vital considerations to take into account when pregnant and eating a low-carb, high-fat diet—much more on that below.
Both mom and baby enter metabolic ketosis, as do we all, during extended periods of fasting, while sleeping.
But in addition to that daily entering of ketosis, both mom and baby begin to enter ketosis more frequently, as both approach labor and delivery, with the unborn child starting to produce endogenous ketones.
Ketone bodies are produced at increased levels when we reduce or remove sugar and refined carbs from the diet, and this is particularly beneficial for the healthy development and function of the baby's brain and body.
Those expecting a baby and following a ketogenic lifestyle can relax the reigns a bit with their carb consumption, elevating the macro cap to between 100-150 grams per day to support the continually-increasing nutritional needs of mom and baby.
In addition to avoiding high-glycemic carbs, it's especially important to focus on consuming an adequate amount of micronutrients--vitamins, minerals and electrolytes
The following are some general best practices for eating a ketogenic diet during pregnancy.
Eat Nutrient-Dense Foods
Some take things a tad far when increasing their macros to accommodate the proper growth of the unborn baby.
While doubling caloric intake is not necessary, mom should increase her caloric intake approximately 300 calories per day, but nothing more extreme.
When increasing calories during pregnancy, think an extra side of sweet potato rather than a sugar-filled candy bar. Consuming nutritionally-dense foods is exceedingly paramount.
Eat to ensure you get your fill of the following vitamins and nutrients, which are vital to support the health of both during a modified ketogenic diet:
These protein-packed pods are perfect during pregnancy, or any time, for a quick meal on-the-go.
Most important for baby, eggs are rich in choline, a necessary component for proper brain development and function.
One egg contains about 25% of the daily recommended amount of choline for pregnant women, and this is important because adequate amounts of this essential element fortify neural tubular health and prevent specific congenital disabilities in an unborn fetus.
Add an omelet, gently cooked in salted grass-fed butter, to your breakfast to get many needed vitamins, nutrients and a much-needed dose of lean protein—essential in the building, support and repair of lean muscle in both mom and developing baby.
Grass-Fed and Organic Meats & Poultry
Pregnant women need more substantial amounts of iron, protein, and a host of B vitamins—all found in animal meats like grass-fed beef, lamb and organic chicken.
Protein aids in the development, function and repair of muscle tissue, and this is particularly true during pregnancy.
Add some rib-eye steak to your eggs or bake some chicken thighs to pair with a side of creamed spinach and half a small sweet potato for a nutrient-packed meal, perfect for the expecting mom.
Although many high-glycemic fruits are advised against on a ketogenic diet, berries are welcome.
Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are the best fruit options on a ketogenic diet—save avocado, of course—as they are packed with antioxidants and a multitude of phytonutrients, but have a much less significant impact on blood sugar levels than other fruit.
Coveted for its creamy texture and abundance of healthy fat, avocados are the ideal keto fruit and especially healthful during pregnancy.
This decadent single-seeded berry provides a plethora of needed nutrition, including folate (vital during pregnancy), fiber and vitamins C, K and E, in addition to copper and potassium.
This fatty fruit's rich folate and potassium content are especially beneficial to pregnant women because those elements help build the fetus' brain and muscle tissue along with skin cells—another nutritional tool to prevent neural tube defects.
Dark Leafy Greens and Cruciferous Vegetables
Load up on spinach, kale, collard greens, broccoli and cauliflower throughout the week, to add flair to your meal plan. This ensures that you and your baby benefit from these powerhouse, produce picks that are ideal for pregnancy as well as those minding their sugar intake.
Staying hydrated is vital during pregnancy as well as on a ketogenic diet—with dehydration possibly even presenting as false labor!
Furthermore, it's especially important to mind your water intake during pregnancy because of the loss of body fluid, vitamins and nutrients that can occur when we deplete our glycogen stores, to establish ketosis.
Be sure to drink water to remain hydrated and help to keep energy levels high as you nurture your growing fetus.
An essential staple on a ketogenic diet, salmon is an excellent food source for pregnant women because it provides an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids—most notably the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.
Salmon is also an excellent food-based source of vitamin D, needed for proper immune function, as well as body and bone health.
Pause Weight-Loss Efforts
Pregnancy is an exciting time filled with many new experiences as you transition into your new reality as a mom.
While aesthetics and weight management may generally be top-of-mind in your pre-pregnancy life, now is not the time to strictly count calories with the intention of losing body fat.
Reconnect with the real purpose of food, to fuel and sustain the body and optimize health.
Now is a time to loosen the limits on carbs a bit and focus on eating options that pack a potent nutritional punch to maximize your macro budget, getting the most nutritional bang for each low-carb bite you consume each day.
A few extra pounds are not only permissible but encouraged during pregnancy. Your body needs a little additional padding as it houses and nourishes your developing child.
It is possible to live a healthy, well-rounded ketogenic lifestyle before, during and post-pregnancy.
With some planning and consideration, it is easy to compose a nutrient-rich meal plan for both you and your loved one that is void of carbs and refined sugars, yet replete with all the essential nutrients required to thrive.
The Bottom Line
Pregnancy is a precious and unique period in a woman's life, rivaled by any other experience—it's entirely life-altering!
Listen to the hunger signals of your baby and your body and make the intake of high-quality fat, vitamins, nutrients, electrolytes and water your top priority, over attempting to limit calories.
Every bite you eat is an investment in the health of your developing fetus. Incorporate loads of calcium-rich foods like dark, leafy greens to your diet to support your fetus' bone health.
Take in a tasty wild-caught salmon fillet, along with a couple of servings of low-glycemic veggies, like butter-sauteéd mushrooms or broiled asparagus stalks, topped with coarse kosher salt—experiment based on your cravings (for two!).
No one version of a ketogenic diet is right for everyone, and we're fortunate that the lifestyle is flexible and can accommodate a broad spectrum of nutritional needs, including those of expecting moms.
Enjoy a wide range of organic meats, fatty fish, low-glycemic fruits and veggies, and nutrient-rich nuts and seeds to compose an eating plan that is as tasty as it is nutritious for both mom and baby.
Follow the general rule of increasing caloric intake about 300 calories a day and consult your doctor about making adjustments to that setpoint if you're very active or otherwise still feel unsatiated.
A modified ketogenic diet is an excellent eating approach that promotes fertility to facilitate pregnancy, adequately nourishes the development of the baby during pregnancy, and produces nutrient-dense breast milk to sustain the baby, and even maintain ketosis if exclusively breastfeeding after childbirth!
Remember to eat with the end-goal of optimal nutrition in mind. We can return to our regularly-scheduled aesthetic pursuits once our baby is well into eating solids and no longer dependent on us for their nutritional needs.
Enjoy this amazing period of your life and know that you can continue to keep it keto every step of the way. Keto is a lifestyle of options and can be easily altered to support the needs of an expecting mom and her growing baby.
Compose your diet of fresh, organic foods without labels (whenever possible) and be sure to eat intuitively, regularly, and just to the point of satiety.
Pregnancy is a journey of getting to know our body in new and surprising ways; trust your appetite and be mindful about making healthy food choices for both you and baby, and you're sure to be well on track to having a healthy, fat-fueled pregnancy on keto.