This post probably contains affiliate links, to items I am in love with, and I am confident you will too! For any health advice I give on nutrition and wieghtloss, make sure you check with your doctor, as I am not a health professional. I am just a mama with lots of health and fitness knowledge and experience.
The Keto diet is really popular right now, and many mamas have had a lot of success with it, until they start breastfeeding. Doing the Keto diet while breastfeeding is safe and possible if you follow it correctly. With changes in hormones and nutritional needs while breastfeeding, there are some modifications you need to make to your Keto diet, to ensure you can keep up your milk supply and lose weight. If you make the proper changes to your Keto diet while breastfeeding, you can almost effortlessly lose the baby weight while breastfeeding, and experience no issues with your milk supply!
I personally don’t follow the keto diet completely. I believe in fruits, veggies, proteins and fats for myself, with a wide range of variability on higher-sugar carbs like fruit. The reason this works for me is because I am a runner. As a runner, I burn more carbs, so I can eat more fruit. BUT, with all that considered, as I burn through more carbs, I really stick to fruits and veggies, which is still low carb. I also eat plenty of fat like avocados and nuts, as well as olive oil or salad dressings. In my program, I focus more on teaching my mamas to eat clean, use fruit as a tool to limit sugar cravings and provide nutrients, and eat limited amounts of healthy carbs like quinoa or oatmeal.
That being said, by following my program, you are staying fairly low carb! I want to mention that because I am not a complete advocate for the keto diet for myself, BUT I believe there are MANY MANY people who love it, thrive on it, and keep weight off on it, so I want to give you all the tools you need to ensure you can continue eating higher fat and lower carb while breastfeeding.
How Does The Keto Diet Work While Breastfeeding?
There are some key changes that happen when you start to breastfeed. First, your hormones do a major switch. Your estrogen drops down (so if you are usually estrogen dominant, you may experience fast weight loss!!), and your prolactin increases. With estrogen dropping, you are already in a prime state to let go of tat. The keto diet uses your hormonal state of low estrogen to your advantage!!
The reason the keto diet is great for the low estrogen status is because it doesn’t allow for you to ruin things by spiking your insulin. The keto diet is a low carb, higher fat diet that keeps insulin levels low. Insulin triggers fat storage. If you keep insulin levels down, and estrogen levels are down, you will lose weight. Assuming you aren’t gorging on thousands of calories of cheese 🙂
Where some mamas go wrong, is they experience more hunger while breastfeeding. They allow this hunger to pull them out of ketosis by choosing refined carbs. Refined carbs are going to increase insulin and possibly pull your estrogen levels up! Guess what happens when your estrogen levels increase? Your milk supply can decrease! This is really important to understand, so I am going to say it big one more time:
By eating refined carbohydrates and increasing insulin levels you can also increase estrogen, which needs to be low during breastfeeding. This can cause a DROP in milk supply!!
Will one piece of toast do this? Probably not, but 5 pieces of toast over 5 days, plus a few cookies and some oatmeal can. Here what is the not so fun part. If you have been doing well on keto, your body can get massively out of wack FASTER! You aren’t used to the carbs, so it has a higher impact. Just a few mistakes makes many mamas give up because they think their milk supply is going down because of KETO, when really it was just the few higher carb meals or snacks that threw them out of wack and messed with their hormones. If you stay in your keto zone while breastfeeding, you are going to use fat successfully to produce breast milk! That is why our bodies store breast milk in the first place.
But, many mamas crave sugar while breastfeeding, and thus can’t sustain a keto diet, so what should you do? Let’s get into it!
How To Sustain A Keto Diet While Breastfeeding, When You Crave Carbs and Sugar:
Craving carbs and sugar is the number one problem women in my program, and many breastfeeding women have while breastfeeding that gets in the way of weight loss. Many mamas who THRIVED on keto, can’t seem to keep it together while breastfeeding.
Here’s your plan on how to modify the keto diet to combat these cravings and keep you losing weight!
Increase Your Vegetables:
This is really important. Your body needs more nutrients while breastfeeding, so it is signalling this message to your brain, yet it comes through as sugar or carb cravings. By increasing your veggies you are filling yourself up with more nutrients, minerals and vitamins that are really important while breastfeeding. This will help you keep your estrogen and insulin low, nourish your body properly for breastfeeding, and reduce some of the hunger because the veggies are going to add bulk. With the bulk and fiber, you can help yourself feel more full.
Use Supplements Like Milk Dust To Help:
I created Milk Dust as a low-carb, protein powder with essential vitamins and nutrients specifically to support breastfeeding mothers and weight loss. It has added benefits of specific ingredients that help control blood sugar (Chromium and Brewer’s Yeast), as well as vitamin B12 (essential for energy!!) and Folate. There is also some fat from the chia seeds, flax seeds and pumpkin seeds to help with Omega-3s, and protein. This is all going to aid you in your weight loss, keep your blood sugar steady, and ease sugar cravings. It is sweetened with natural Stevia, Monk Fruit and a little Organic Cane sugar, so you can get that satisfying, sweet taste! If you blend it with frozen cauliflower and some avocado, it is like a sweet and creamy dessert!! There are also lactation-boosting herbs like Fenugreek, Milk Thistle, and Red Raspberry Leaf (this is so beneficial to hormones!!!) to encourage your milk production as you transition your diet! Of course this is a dairy-free, corn-free-soy-free, GMO free and vegan product made with plant-based protein from peas and brown rice.
Eat Low-Sugar/Carb Fruits:
You can add some awesome low-carb fruits to help you fill up and attack those sweet cravings. Here’s your list of low-carb fruits you can add to salads, as snacks and into your Milk Dust smoothies for a tastier, more dessert like protein shake!
- Raspberries, Black Berries and Strawberries (blue berries are twice as many carbs)
Breastfeeding also uses a bit more energy than when you were pregnant (as long as you are staying as active as you were pregnant), so you may be able to get away with 25 grams of carbs per day, and still be in ketosis. Especially if you are adding more fasting hours. Fasting during breastfeeding is completely safe and helpful for weight loss. Eat all your nutrients during your eating hours, and you will be fine !
Add In Some Nuts Like Pumpkin Seeds and Pecans:
I added pumpkin seeds into Milk Dust because they are high in zinc, which is a really important nutrient for breastfeeding mamas and baby. You can pack a bag of pumpkin seeds and pecans as a great, high fat, low carb option for on-the-go snacking if you need too. Nuts are very satiating, so if you are really struggling with sugar cravings and hunger, add a serving or two to your day. As long as you are staying low-carb when you do this, it shouldn’t affect your weight loss. BUT, if you add more nuts, then break and add a cookie too, you are better off not adding the nuts because the added fat and sugar will promote weight gain and estrogen levels to rise. We don’t want that!
By making these small modifications to your keto diet, you can successfully lose weight while breastfeeding, without losing your milk supply! The key is to combat the sugar cravings with specialized supplements like Milk Dust, as well as adding in more low-carb fruits to help get that sweet taste. More veggies means more nutrients, which is exactly what your body needs while breastfeeding.
What to do if Keto just isn’t working while breastfeeding?
This can happen, and with your change in hormones and energy needs, you may just not be able to sustain ketosis while breastfeeding. This doesn’t mean you can’t lose weight, or still eat a healthy diet to lose weight and promote milk supply. The first step is to understand that you are nourishing your body and baby’s. This isn’t about eating a healthy diet to lose weight, this is about giving yourself and your baby the nutrients you both need. Shifting into this mindset will help you make better choices at each snack or meal. My program is more well-rounded, teaching clean eating first, then energy control (managing calories) if necessary. By getting the chemicals and added sugars out, you can learn to listen to your hunger cues and energy needs. Because my program focuses so much on choosing nutrient-dense foods, weight loss without a drop in milk supply becomes pretty easy. Nutrient dense foods like veggies, avocados, fruits, proteins, beans and nuts all have positive affects on estrogen levels, which will help you keep your hormones in the right spot for milk supply!
If you need help losing the baby weight and keeping up your milk supply, I have a very popular program, The Postpartum Cure, which comes in an app you can download.