Pregnancy & The Keto Diet.
Is the ketogenic way of eating safe in pregnancy?
Perhaps no issue in low-carb ketogenic eating is as heated and as controversial as the ketogenic diet during pregnancy.
I looked into all the research I could find about this so
that I could give you an answer that's based not only on all the available
research but also on the common sense of this question. And the ancestral
appropriateness of the of the answer for this question.
So if you know someone who's pregnant or who's thinking of getting pregnant please consider sharing this blog with them. You can share it on your own Facebook page or you can send it to them as a message.
First of all, there's very little research on this topic "is a high-fat diet
safe in pregnancy?" Since few studies, of any sort, enroll pregnant women because of liability, ethical concerns and the physiologic complexity of pregnancy, evidence-based medicine about what is best for pregnant moms is severely lacking.
Into this research vacuum, many doctors default to the oft recommended advice: “Eat low fat with plenty of fruit, vegetables and healthy grains.”
We all know that the ketogenic way of eating is not just a
high-fat diet but it is high in fat. So all the research I could find was all
done in mice and they were given a synthetic high-fat diet that had Canola
oil, that had Crisco, that had synthetic fats that we would never ever recommend
giving a pregnant woman.
There's absolutely not a single research study done on high-fat diets in pregnant
humans that I could find. If you can find a study like that please post it in the
comments down below so I can do further research. But I could not find it on
pubmed.gov but what I did find was done in in mice and they were fed a very high
fat diet that was high in synthetic fats and in vegetable oils. And there their
offspring did have some little abnormalities. But I would think that's because they were eating lots of synthetic fats and vegetable oils. Not just because it was a high-fat diet.
But we are not mice, so what is a health-conscious, responsible, expectant mom to do?
Let's talk about other diets that obstetricians and pediatricians recommend to pregnant women. When you go to your obstetrician for your first
visit chances are you'll be given a diet handout and it'll say things like "eat
lots of whole grains, eat lots of fruits, drink lots of fruit juices and eat lots of fruits and vegetables".
Now is that diet based on any meaningful research? The answer to that is no!
There's never been a randomized control trial in humans showing that the diet
that your obstetrician will most likely recommend to you is safe in pregnant
women. That study has never been done.
I know you may go "what?!" Yes true story. The diet that you're pediatrician,
if you went to them in advance and said "hey I'm about to get pregnant which diet
would be best for my developing baby?"The diet that they would hand you would be some variation of the - vegetarian. "Eat lots of whole grains, drink lots of orange juice".
There is zero research showing that that's safe in human embryos and in fact though more and more experts are coming out and saying that's probably not safe if you're trying to grow human in your one. And so I don't recommend any of those
diets. And obviously the standard American diet definitely is not safe for pregnant women, and you should not eat that diet.
And now let's move from the research end of it, because I know there's just not much there right. Let's talk about the ancestral appropriateness of this. The
common sense of this question. So your baby is about to develop one of the
largest brains per body size in the mammalian family in the animal kingdom.
As a matter of fact, your baby's brain in relation to its body size is going to
be huge. All babies have this very big head and it's full of brains. And
what are those brains made of? They're not made of carbohydrates! The brain is
made of cholesterol and fat. And then some protein. But that's the bulk of
what your baby's brain is going to be made of.
The heart and the brain formed very very early in this process. "The
Western price foundation" - they have a podcast about this. Because once you've listened to that and understood what other cultures did thousands of years ago for pregnant women, you'll get a much better understanding of why it's so important
to fill the diet of a pregnant woman, or a woman who think she's about to get
pregnant, with lots of health fat's.
Four important vitamins.
There are four vitamins that are considered fat soluble:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
And if your fats that you're getting in your diet are consist of: Canola oil,
Soybean oil, Corn oil things like that processed oil, Crisco margarine. Then
you're not getting any of those vitamins whatsoever. And as I said earlier the
tiny human heart that's going to form inside your baby has to have those fat
soluble vitamins in order to form properly. You're going to get those
fat soluble vitamins from pastured butter, from pastured eggs, from pastured
pork, from grass-fed beef. That's where you're going to get those vitamins .
You won't get those in a in a bottle of Canola oil or in a tub of, I can't
believe it's not butter, they don't contain any of that. And so to help
your baby's heart and brain to develop as good as they possibly can,
you need to be eating lots of good healthy fats before you get pregnant. And this goes for the dad as well as the mom.
And then after you become pregnant, you need to eat a very fatty meat, a heavy
version of the ketogenic way, so that you're giving your baby all it needs to
develop a healthy heart and a healthy brain.
There are examples of this in multiple other cultures where the
pregnant women when they would have a kill, and bring it into the village, the
pregnant women would get delivered. They would get the brain, they would get the bone marrow, they would get all this stuff because they knew back then from
thousands of years of trial and error that the pregnant women have healthier
babies when they eat lots of healthy animal-based fat.
And this is just a fact that can be looked up in the anthropology and archaeology research. So if you know a pregnant woman or a woman who's about to become pregnant you need to turn her on to the ketogenic diet. Because it is absolutely the best diet for a pregnant woman, or a woman who's thinking of getting pregnant.
And I don't mean a ketogenic way of eating that's filled with bars and protein shakes and powders. I'm talking about a real whole food, lots of fatty meat ketogenic diet. That's what we're talking about here.
“It is completely safe for women to be eating a ketogenic diet in pregnancy. Women in ancient times were certainly ketotic during pregnancy,” says Dr. Michael Fox, fertility specialist at the Jacksonville Center for Reproductive Medicine, who has not only been recommending a low-carb ketogenic diet for 17 years to his infertile patients but also to all his patients who become pregnant. He has now had hundreds of patients “who have been completely ketotic throughout pregnancy without any untoward effects.”
Ketogenic expert, author Maria Emmerich, who has the popular ketogenic website Mind Body Health, has counselled hundreds of women on ketogenic eating during pregnancy, with great results. She points to evidence that the fetus is naturally in a frequent state of ketosis and that it is essential for laying down fatty structures like brains and nerve cells.
Another expert in low carb or ketogenic diets in pregnancy is US dietitian Lily Nichols, whose popular 2015 book Real Food For Gestational Diabetes has a whole chapter on the misconceptions surrounding ketosis in pregnancy.
She has helped hundreds of pregnant women in her career as specialist in gestational diabetes (GD), also known as “carbohydrate intolerance of pregnancy.” Along with her book and website, she frequently blogs and appears as an expert guest on low-carb keto podcasts.