Nutrition is always important but when pregnant, proper eating habits become even more vital. Going keto can have both pros and con while pregnant and it’s important to understand both of these. As always, if you are considering following the ketogenic diet while pregnant, please consult your physician first.
Cons of Being Keto While Pregnant
- Nutritional Deficiencies: While the majority of your caloric intake will come from fat and a moderate amount of protein, it’s important to focus on eating well-rounded choices. For example, despite popular belief, keto is more than avocados and bacon. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and low-carb fruits are also permitted. Limiting your food options on a keto diet can put you and your baby at risk for nutritional deficiencies. Pregnant women need higher levels of folate, for example, because folic acid helps to prevent birth defects. Where can you find all-natural sources of folate? Leafy greens, for starters. A keto diet will supply plenty of vitamins D, E, and B-12, but you’ll need to keep an eye on your intake of magnesium and vitamins A and C.
- Not Eating Enough: Pregnancy is not the time to worry about weight loss. Expecting mothers need between 200 to 300 extra calories per day in order to provide adequate nutrition for both you and the baby. Dietary fat is the most satiating macronutrient, providing nine calories for every gram consumed. Since the bulk of your calories will be coming from fat, you can rest assured that you’ll feel satiated on the keto diet. What’s more, you’ll easily be able to get in those extra calories.
- Keto Flu: The keto flu is the most common side effect for those attempting to transition into a state of ketosis. It’s caused by losing too much water and electrolytes. Thankfully, it’s easily remedied by eating a well-balanced diet, consuming plenty of electrolyte-based water or drinks, sugar as sugar-free sports drinks, and maintaining an appropriate exercise program.
Benefits of Keto While Pregnant
- Prevention of Gestational Diabetes: A type of diabetes that you can develop while pregnant, gestational diabetes typically goes away after childbirth, but it can increase your risk of type-2 diabetes. Studies suggest that keto can help to prevent and management gestational diabetes while lowering your risk for type 2 diabetes. 
- Improved Fertility: For women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) who want to have a baby, the ketogenic diet might be able to help. Research suggests that the keto diet can improve fertility by reducing inflammation that makes it more difficult to conceive. 
- Reduced Cravings: Odd cravings such as pickles and ice cream are a hallmark of pregnancy. Researchers suggest that the keto diet is effective for reducing cravings while providing satiation. 
Keto While Pregnant? Make Sure You Do It Right
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- Jonasson L, Guldbrand H, Lundberg AK, Nystrom FH. Advice to follow a low-carbohydrate diet has a favourable impact on low-grade inflammation in type 2 diabetes compared with advice to follow a low-fat diet. Ann Med. 2014;46(3):182–187. doi:10.3109/07853890.2014.894286.
- Mavropoulos JC, Yancy WS, Hepburn J, Westman EC. The effects of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet on the polycystic ovary syndrome: a pilot study. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2005;2:35. Published 2005 Dec 16. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-2-35.
- Anguah KO, Syed-Abdul MM, Hu Q, Jacome-Sosa M, Heimowitz C, Cox V, Parks EJ. Changes in Food Cravings and Eating Behavior after a Dietary Carbohydrate Restriction Intervention Trial. Nutrients. 2019 Dec 24;12(1). pii: E52. doi: 10.3390/nu12010052.
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.