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Your diet while breastfeeding is so important, it’s no wonder thousands and thousands of people have read this post I wrote. I talk a lot about health and wellness for breastfeeding mamas because I am one! I am slowly weaning my third baby now, and I’ve breastfed all three of my boys for about a year with a plentiful supply thanks to my best tricks. The keto diet is so popular right now, I’m sure many breastfeeding mamas are looking into it to help lose the baby weight. Well, I am here to look into it with you and discuss why it may or may not be a good idea while breastfeeding. Remember I’m not a doctor, just another breastfeeding mama on sharing all I know about being healthy and losing the baby weight from my experience.
First, let’s go over the basics of a keto diet. The idea is that you are eating lots of healthy fats, protein and minimal carbs to stay in ketosis. That means basically that your brain is functioning off ketones, rather than gluclose. Ketones are made from fat, so essentially you are burning and using fat as fuel, not carbs. If you are using fat as fuel, then your fat stores will be used to fuel your brain. This is super basic, but I feel confident you probably have a good idea of what the diet is. I talk about this as a weight loss method for 2018 in detail in another post.
The foods you focus on are ones like butter, cheese, ground beef, bacon, eggs, avocados, nuts and other high-fat foods. The carbs consist of vegetables like broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, lettuce, green beans etc. Not much fruit is eaten except for berries and low-sugar fruits.
As a breastfeeding mama, I have a few issues just because I love sweet potatoes, oatmeal, chocolate, apples and nuts for my breast milk supply. But, here’s the research on healthy fats for breastfeeding.
First, babies are using fats as their main source of energy. They are basically in ketosis according to a few studies (study 1 and study 2). Fat is fabulous for newborns and healthy for breastfeeding mamas. Breast milk is 50-60% fat, so by eating lots of fat, you are ensuring your milk has all the fat it needs as well. PerfectKeto quotes a study done in 2009 that looked at the effects of a LCHF (low carb high fat diet) and a HCLF (high carb low fat diet) on breast milk and the infants.
Results from this study showed the following: Regardless of the diet, daily breast milk production and daily infant breast milk intake remained the same. Neither diet had an effect on milk lactose or protein concentration; however, milk fat concentration and the energy content of milk were higher during the LCHF diet than the HCLF diet. Infants’ energy intake (kcal/day) was higher during the LCHF diet than during the HCLF diet. The estimated average maternal energy expenditure and the sum of maternal energy expenditure plus milk energy content were higher during the LCHF diet than during the HCLF diet.
PerfectKeto doesn’t link to where they found this study, but I’m assuming it’s quality information. I also read this woman’s experience breastfeeding while on a keto diet, and it struck me that she’s totally right. Cave women have been breastfeeding children with no carbs, sugar or grains really since the beginning of time. Completely excluding grains, processed carbs and sugar shouldn’t affect your supply at all, unless you drop your calories tremendously from eliminating those foods.
Eating enough veggies to ensure you get vitamins and nutrients, as well as drinking enough water to digest the fat and protein is going to be super important for a keto diet while breastfeeding. In addition, monitoring your unique body is probably the most important part. Your body will tell you if something isn’t quite right. So will your baby. If you need more food ideas, here’s 5 foods you’d never guess increase milk supply, and some fabulous protein powders for breastfeeding mamas! I also talk about the cleanest protein powder for breastfeeding. IdealRaw is my top choice if you need a good protein powder that doesn’t taste bad. You can grab some samples of it to see if you like it.
I personally think there’s no problem with the diet at all in general for breastfeeding. If you feel great, and you’ve already adjusted to being in ketosis before you start breastfeeding, chances are you will do great and produce plenty of milk. If you want to start the keto diet, postpartum as a means to lose the baby weight, just start slow. You can work on eliminating carbs little by little, so your body can adjust. Also, just keep note of how your baby feels and your milks supply. If you notice that your milk supply starts to drop, check out these super tips from my sister and I to get it back up, and slowly increase your healthy carbs. Don’t just binge on bread or cookies in a panic. There are so many factors that go into breast milk production. Once your supply is back, try eliminating carbs at one meal for a few days, then eliminate for two meals. Slowly find your happy place of low carb and high milk supply.