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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Breastfeeding and the KETO Diet TIPS

When I began researching the ketogenic diet, I found very little information regarding being a breastfeeding woman while cutting carbs. I decided I would try to put out my experience for others to take into account when deciding how to lose weight and/or feel better.

If you are the mother of a young baby, under 4 months old, I recommend not yet experimenting with diets. If you can hold off, maybe even wait until their are six months old. At such a young age, the breastfeeding relationship is still iffy, and some women might struggle even without doing some dieting that may affect their supply.

If you cannot bear to wait any longer, and want to start being healthier NOW, then I highly recommend you start with "maintenance mode" of the ketogenic diet. Rather than limiting yourself to 25 grams of carbohydrates in a day, increase that to 100 grams in a day to lessen how drastic of a change it will be. From there, slowly decrease your carbs over time.

In any case, here are some tips.

Tips for Breastfeeding Women on the Ketogenic Diet


1) Keep an eye on your breast milk supply. This is the most important. Because everyone is different, things affect people in different way. To be on the safe side, make sure to keep watch over your output, especially the first couple weeks getting into ketosis.

In my experience, because of my crazy carb-laden (junk food) diet prior, I had a near-constant over supply. This went away when I began having a regular, steady diet of low carb foods. I still produced enough for the little guy, but no longer would have crazy letdowns soaking through my shirts at a moments' notice.

If you DO start to notice a dwindling supply, or if you are nervous about it at all, I recommend maintenance mode: 100 grams/day of carbs rather than 25(see above).

2) Drink TONS of water. Really, this is just as important as number one in many ways. It is important to keep hydrated as a breastfeeding mother, and even more important with the ketogenic diet. This is because carbohydrates, when consumed, grab hold of water molecules within the body. By getting rid of carbs, you are losing this water weight and will have to drink possibly twice the amount of water you drank before.

3) Eat enough (of the right type of) calories. I know, you're thinking to the numerous times you've heard "calories in, calories out" and thought that by eating fewer calories, you will lose weight more quickly. However, the body doesn't always work like that. After a few days of under-consumption, especially as a breastfeeding woman, your body may react by trying to prevent weight loss. Think of all the people you know who tried to consume 1200 calories per day and still couldn't manage to lose weight.

How to know how many calories you need? Here is a handy online tool:
KETO CALCULATOR

This also tells you how much of what types of calories you should consume in order to hit your macros! Really helpful, especially in the first few weeks.

4) Keep track of ALL your foods and drinks. I highly recommend MyFitnessPal (and their free Android app) to keep track of your intakes. They have an EXTENSIVE database of foods and drinks, and if you can't find your food there, you can grab the nutrition label and add it yourself. They even have a huge number of restaurant nutrition information! Really very helpful. If possibly, invest in a food scale. This will make it much easier to figure out how much of a food you are truly eating.

5/24/15 Update: Newer post here!

14 comments:

  1. I stumbled across your blog when I googled breastfeeding and keto and I am curious as to how it went for you. I'm due to have my baby in about 2-3 weeks and I really want to go back on Keto but I am def breastfeeding. Thoughts?

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    1. Sorry, forgot a couple of details. Rather than full-on keto, I would recommend going into maintenance until you have a confident breastfeeding relationship with the little one. Congratulations by the way! :-) Let me know if you'd like any clarification or if you have any other questions!

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    2. I would try to avoid full-on keto for the first three months, as there is some time of transition where your milk supply may dwindle (in my experience it did, anyway). For the first bit, there are so many factors affecting your supply, especially if it's your first time breastfeeding.

      Either way, when I first went into ketosis my milk supply lessened to what it had been before. However, I always had a bit of an oversupply and would constantly leak milk. I believe I had a poor, uneven diet before starting keto. I think that while it did end up having less milk produced, it did actually even out to what my son needed, and not more than that. It really helped to regulate the output to where I rarely had any leaking problems any more! I have a couple other posts documenting some of my experiences as well, and some low-carb recipes! Here is the link to those posts with the keto tag: http://kittiestokiddos.blogspot.com/search/label/Keto

      :-)

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  2. When using the keto calculator, how do you account for your breastfeeding? Is it "exercise?"

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    1. I did consider it a form of exercise, just for its calorie-burning. :-)

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  3. Curious to hear about your experience with your second child :)

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    1. Here is the link to my recent post! Forgot to update this one :-)
      http://kittiestokiddos.blogspot.com/2015/05/low-carb-while-breastfeeding.html?m=1

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  4. Awesome blog! I'm 9months pp and have been aiming for 2000k 200C 67F 125P I've been at a weigh loss Plateau for about 3 months but have been building muscle. BF is extremely important to me which is why I haven't adjusted my goals. I was thinking about doing keto once he turns 1 and starting with the maintenance amount. But you're saying I could start sooner? Or do you think it's best to wait til he's 1 when I'm not his main source of nutrience? Thanks!!

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  5. You could absolutely start now if you wanted to! My main recommendation is that the baby is at least 4 months old to help ensure a strong breastfeeding relationship beforehand.I would say start with maintenance (~100 net carbs/day) and subtract about 5 carbs each following day until you notice any type of change in your breastmilk supply, then you can re-add 5 or stay there, or more slowly decrease. Whichever you're more comfortable with. For myself, I waited until my second was 4 months and started around 100, and over some weeks I got down to 60. By the time my second was 6 months I felt comfortable staying below 40 carbs, as low as 10 depending on the day.

    The times I got a noticeable dip in supply happened when I cut my carbs drastically, or cut calories quickly. In both cases, I stuck it out and nursed on demand (try to do on a weekend if you work away from home) and was back in action within 2 days!

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  6. My situation is a little different.I have been mostly keto since November but I decided a couple of days ago that I want to relactate. I am pumping like crazy and doing supplements plus tons of water. I even found primal lactation cookies. I am worried however that I can't stay keto and still relactate. Any thoughts?

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    1. In that case I would probably relactacte for at least a couple of months before delving anywhere below 100 carbs per day, just in case! But I have no experience in re-lactating. Good luck!

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    2. That's kind of what I figured. Thank you so much!

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  7. My situation is a little different.I have been mostly keto since November but I decided a couple of days ago that I want to relactate. I am pumping like crazy and doing supplements plus tons of water. I even found primal lactation cookies. I am worried however that I can't stay keto and still relactate. Any thoughts?

    ReplyDelete