Should you be on the keto diet to lose pregnancy weight?
You’ve probably heard a bit about the keto diet from friends or on the internet, but is it right for those of us trying to lose weight post-pregnancy?
Today we discuss all things keto with the Healthy Mummy team of nutritionists, to give you the pros and cons of this way of eating.
Firstly, what is the keto diet?
Essentially the keto diet suggests eating a very low amount of carbohydrate (5%), moderate protein (25%), and high fat (70%) meals. The idea is that eating this way encourages the body to burn fat rather than glucose.
Most fruits as they are high in natural sugar
Sugar, including all sweeteners like honey and maple syrup
Grains such as rice, wheat, corn, pasta
High carb vegetables such as potatoes and sweet potato
The Slow Cooked Tomato Mushroom and Bacon Soup (pictured at the top of the page) from the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge would be suitable on a keto diet. It contains no fruit or sweeteners, no grains, and no potatoes.
Green leafy vegetables such as baby spinach and Asian greens
Other vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, lettuce, aubergine and courgettes
In terms of cutting out ‘bad’ carbs like donuts, cake, ice cream and biscuits – yes it is. But when it comes to cutting out nearly all carbohydrates, nutritionist Nikki Boswell has to disagree.
‘Whole grains are a really important source of soluble fibre, b-group vitamins, magnesium, selenium and iron. Keto diet plans also often recommend cutting out legumes, starchy vegetables and some fruits – this really starts to limit the diversity of the diet and risk nutritional deficiencies.’
As part of the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge we include all food groups, which means you can enjoy wholegrains such as rice and pasta as part of the healthy meal plans.
Elisha adds that some of the main nutrient deficiencies are potassium and salt – it is recommended that those on the keto diet use supplements and 2g of salt per day to avoid ‘fatigue and brain fog symptoms.’
Is it safe to go keto whilst breastfeeding?
For mums trying to lose weight while breastfeeding, the keto diet can be tricky as it can cause fatigue, may impact the quality of breast milk, and also severely restricts your food options.
Nikki Boswell believes that ‘Cutting out a large variety of whole, unprocessed foods (whole grains, legumes, starchy vegetables, fruits) runs the risk of nutritional deficiencies in a time of high vitamin and mineral need.’
Nikki adds that going keto is unlikely to ‘change the nutrient composition of milk (baby will still receive the same amount of carbs, protein and fat), but the vitamin content can be compromised and so the ‘quality’ of fat in the breast milk may be altered (e.g. high saturated content rather than mono/polyunsaturated).’
Nutritionist Cheree Sheldon says that fatigue can be an issue for breastfeeding mums on a keto plan. Cheree says that when someone begins the keto diet, ‘there is a period people go through where they don’t feel that great until their bodies learn how to efficiently use fat as a fuel. Sometimes it might take 2 weeks to get fat adapted, but other people take up to a year, and during that time, your energy levels are pretty low.’ Not ideal when you are trying to wrangle a newborn!
Is the keto diet worth trying?
Nikki Boswell says that although some people may get some good results in the short term, ‘post 2 years the results are no better than other weight loss regimes. There is also strong evidence that long term (10 years+) there is an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and death in general. As with all fad diets it also not very practical and is difficult to stick to, especially as a busy mum.’
Cheree believes that it can be useful to try in the short term as a sort of kick start, but after that it’s best to revert back to a healthy eating plan such as the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge which offers a full range of all food groups.
Nutritionist Elisha feels that keto is useful when used for specific problems. She said it ‘is now widely used to lowerinsulin and blood sugar levels and to reverse Type 2 diabetes. It is very successful for correcting these issues, when done right.’
Is keto suitable for a family?
Nikki Boswell feels that as mothers, we have a role to play showing kids how to eat well. She says ‘unnecessary restriction of a diversity of foods, modelling selective and picky eating, eating different foods to the rest of the family (keto is NOT good for young children!) is not positive for the healthy development of eating behaviours and nutritional diversity in children.’
Kids love to snack on fruit and enjoy wholegrains with their meals (think pasta and rice) so it would be very hard for them to stick to a keto plan, and as Nikki says it would not be suitable for them to try it long term.
Nikki finishes by saying ‘The Healthy Mummy achieves great weight loss success stories following a nutritionally balanced approach, without cashing in on fads.’
How the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge is different to keto
There are NO food groups cut out on the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge. Everything is on the table (literally) but we make your favourites in a healthier way.
The best thing to do is to decide what is best for you and your family. Here at Healthy Mummy HQ we can’t imagine a life without healthy wholegrains like cous cous or rice, fruit for our snacks or in our Healthy Mummy Smoothies, and natural sweeteners in snacks like bliss balls and cakes. Find out more about the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge here.
Want to lose weight after having a baby?
If you are interested in kickstarting your weight loss and want to improve your energy – not to mention – improve your overall health and wellbeing – our 28 Day Weight Loss Challengeis an awesome program to check out.
Our 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge includes:
28 days of at home exercise routines (no gym needed) – with video instruction
Customisable and breastfeeding friendly meal plans (including a 7 day cleanse)
Time-efficient exercises for busy mums – under 30 mins
Challenge combines Pilates exercises with interval and circuit training (HIIT)