Low Carb Diet & Breastfeeding

Most women can’t wait to lose weight and fit into their old clothes following childbirth. However, some tend to forget the weight that was gained during pregnancy was gained over a few months and it is not going to disappear overnight.

Health professionals advise mothers to wait two months following the birth of their child to begin losing weight as the body requires recovery time. It also needs to settle down and establish a good milk supply. By following a sensible, balanced diet, most mothers find they can lose weight steadily from breastfeeding.

Low carbohydrate and high protein diets such as the Atkins and the South Beach are now very well known and popular. They assist diabetics and those who suffer gluten intolerances. Although these diets state that protein and high fat foods are not restricted, vegetables are limited.

Diets such as these are not balanced and low in phytochemicals; antioxidants and folic acid often make you feel quite unwell. They also tend to lack in minerals such as magnesium and calcium and fibre. Diets such as the Atkins tend to be high in saturated fats. Following diets such as these for a prolonged period can make you more prone to health problems. Most of the weight loss from these diets is from water loss and if you do not drink plenty of water whilst following such a diet, you are at risk of dehydration.

Many nursing mothers have noticed that low carb diets such as those above have decreased their milk supply as when they have discontinued the diet; their milk supply has increased again. There are several factors that can cause this; such as dehydration, or the sudden decrease in the calorie intake. When your calorie intake dramatically reduces, your body goes into starvation mode.

There is also an insufficient calorie intake with a low carb diet as you don’t feel as hungry. You may feel that you are eating enough due to the lack of hunger, however to maintain a sufficient milk supply, you should be eating approximately 1500 to1800 calories per day. Those who are following diets such as the Atkins restrict their calorie intake to below 1700 calories per day.

If you wish to try a low calorie diet whilst breastfeeding, it is advisable to wait until your baby is at least two months of age before beginning the diet. It is more beneficial to wait until your baby is six months old and eating solids if you can wait.

Ensure that you are drinking plenty of water to avoid yourself becoming dehydrated and make sure that you do not suddenly decrease your calorie intake. You should make sure that you are monitoring your calorie intake and you do not eat less than 1800 calories per day. Always keep an eye on your milk supply by monitoring your baby’s weight gain and the output and weight in your baby’s nappy.

Some experts have concerns regarding the safety of a breastfeeding mother to be in ketosis. It remains unknown whether the ketones that excrete into the blood and urine are present in the breast milk and whether they pose a danger to the infant.

Although gradual weight loss has not been known to affect the milk supply or the health of the baby, there have been concerns about the rapid weight that the mother loses her weight through a low carb diet. Toxins are stored in our body fat and when a breastfeeding mother rapidly loses her weight, the toxins can be released into the bloodstream making the level in the milk supply increase.