Per your doctor’s order, you jumped off the ketogenic diet while you were pregnant. Now that bundle of joy is in your arms and you’re ready to get back into ketosis. If you’re breastfeeding your baby, you might want to take a step back and reconsider going keto. Here are a few things to consider before starting the keto diet while breastfeeding.
Can You Go Keto While Breastfeeding?
There are two primary anti-keto arguments for mothers who are breastfeeding: hydration and milk production, and available nutrients for the baby.
Hydration and Milk Production
Studies show that regardless if you’re on a low-carbohydrate or high-carbohydrate diet, milk production isn’t impacted in a significant way. In fact, mothers on a ketogenic diet had breast milk that was more energy and nutrient dense.  With that said, hydration plays an important role in breast milk production. For those who are beginners to the keto diet, dehydration is a big concern. When carbohydrate levels suddenly drop, the body excretes more water and electrolytes. The result is dehydration and accompanying keto flu symptoms. If you do breastfeed while on keto, you must drink an excess of electrolyte-based water.
Your baby is looking to you for adequate nutrition. What you eat (or don’t eat) can have a significant impact on meeting the baby’s nutritional needs. There is some concern that by skipping carbohydrate-based foods, you’re missing out on micronutrients that are essential for the baby’s development. Fruits, for example, are rich in vitamins and minerals that the baby needs to grow.
The solution for this is to increase your carbohydrate intake with high-quality options such as fruits and whole grains. On average, you may want to shoot for around 50 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per day while breastfeeding. This number might be closer to 70 or 80 grams of carbs if you’re a very active person. Once you are finished breastfeeding, you can resume a strict keto macronutrient breakdown.
Tips for Breastfeeding on Keto
If you decide to breastfeed while following a ketogenic diet, here are few tips:
1. Don’t Worry About Weight Loss
A caloric deficit diet should be saved until after breastfeeding. By placing yourself on a calorie-restricted diet, you are depriving your baby of essential nutrition.
2. Stock Up on Fruits and Veggies
As mentioned above, you should temporarily increase your carbohydrate intake while breastfeeding. Avoid low-quality options such as processed foods and opt for high-quality and organic options.
Eat a variety of seasonal vegetables and fruits while incorporating more fiber into your diet. Psyllium husk goes great with a morning smoothie.
3. Talk with Your Doctor
If you’re considering going on any type of diet while breastfeeding, I strongly encourage you to chat with your doctor before you do. Get the facts from your physician before making any big dietary changes.
David James Sautter is a fitness writer with over a decade of experience in the industry. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Secondary Education, he earned certifications as a NASM-certified personal trainer, NASM-certified fitness nutrition specialist, and ACE-certified sports conditioning specialist. Merging his two passions, he has been the driving creative force behind articles, e-books, and training guides that cover a range of health and fitness topics with an emphasis on the ketogenic diet.
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