Have you been trying to lose weight on keto but you’re worried about your milk supply? Here are 8 things you need to know about increasing your milk supply while following the keto diet.
When it comes to increasing milk supply, the first thing many nutritionists and lactation consultants speak of is eating more complex carbohydrates. When on the keto diet, however, you won’t want to follow that advice.
Milk supply can be increased in a variety of ways while on the keto diet other than increasing carbohydrate intake.
It is crucial to increase other macronutrients in the diet (like fat and protein). This will help you to compensate for the carbohydrate loss in the diet.
It is essential for a mother on the keto diet to remain in ketosis, but it is also very important to make sure their baby is getting enough nutrient-rich milk in order to grow.
This can be very stressful for a mother as she is trying to meet the nutrition needs of both her and her baby. The following are 8 tips that you can use to increase milk supply while still following the Keto Diet.
Make Sure You Are Eating Enough
It is best to be on the Keto Diet for a while before breastfeeding so that you have an understanding of what your body needs and how your body handles being in ketosis.
The most essential part of obtaining a decent milk supply for your baby is making sure to eat enough calories throughout the day.
It is important to make sure you are increasing your calories by at least 200 to 300 per day in order to keep up with the milk supply.
This is important for every woman breastfeeding, not just those on the Keto Diet.
The average breastfeeding woman needs to consume between 2,000 to 2,800 calories per day to meet energy needs for both her body and to provide adequate amounts of milk for her baby.
Studies have been done in breastfeeding women in the United States and Sweden that have shown breastfeeding women need at a minimum, 1800 to 2200 calories per day.
If you think your milk supply is depleting or simply not enough, track how many calories you are eating in a day and see if it is between 2,000 and 2,800.
You may be surprised that you are not getting enough food to eat throughout the day. Try fitting snacks into your schedule about every two hours. As a rule of thumb: when the baby eats, you eat.
You should also check out this article I wrote to help you figure out how many calories you burn by pumping or breastfeeding.
Is Keto Is Safe While Breastfeeding?
If you are wondering if Keto is safe while breastfeeding, some researchers also had this same question. There was a study conducted of 7 breastfeeding women who were between 6 to 14 weeks postpartum.
Each woman was given a high fat, low carb diet for one week. Then, a few weeks later she was given a high carb, low fat diet for a week.
Each woman consumed about 1800 calories per day, and the macronutrient profile they followed was
- High Fat Diet: 55% Fat, 30% Carbohydrates, 15% Protein
- High Carb Diet: 25% Fat, 60% Carbohydrates, 15% Protein
When the women’s milk output was compared, it was similar between the diets. Following either diet, the women produced an average of 804 – 852 ml of milk per day, which converts to 27.2 oz to 28.8 oz milk per day.
So, following a high fat and low carb diet (55% Fat, 30% Carb, 15% Protein) did not reduce the volume of breastmilk produced.
However, when the women were following the high-fat diet, the researchers did find that their milk had a higher concentration of fat.
Also, when you look at these diet profiles, the women were eating more carbs than is typically eaten on a strict keto diet, even though they were eating a diet that is lower in carbohydrates.
Be sure to ask your doctor before starting a new diet to make sure that it is safe for you.
Many times when taking care of a baby, we forget to take care of ourselves and our needs as women.
When breastfeeding, it is vital that you do not only get enough food throughout the day, but also enough water. If you are dehydrated, you will make and produce less milk for your baby.
Specifically with the keto diet, you will be at a higher risk for dehydration due to a lack of carbohydrates in your system.
This means that women on keto need to drink even more water than women who are not following the keto diet.
Try to drink 128 ounces or more of water per day when breastfeeding.
If you have a hard time drinking plain water and prefer flavored, try adding lemon or lime to your water for some natural flavor.
You can prepare a pitcher of water and put various:
- Other flavor enhancers
In order to keep it new and refreshing for your taste buds.
You just would not want to include mint as a flavor enhancer, as mint may reduce milk supply.
When you start the keto diet, your body loses water and water weight. With this water loss, your body is also losing electrolytes.
It is important to take your vitamins and minerals while breastfeeding to combat this loss.
Speak with your physician about your regimens for:
- Exercise, and
This way your doctor can advise which vitamins and minerals are best for you to be taking while breastfeeding.
You can also consume beverages that include electrolytes, such as water with electrolytes or Gatorade Zero.
It is very possible to consume enough vitamins and minerals from each food group. In order to do this, your diet needs to be colorful, and you need to consume a variety of foods.
Try to consume a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
Consult with your lactation consultant and doctor to see what vitamins and minerals you need to add to your diet while being on keto. One of the most essential things for an overall diet is to keep it diverse and colorful.
When consuming vitamins and minerals, keep in mind your breastmilk color may change. It is normal for milk to appear green when starting a new vitamin.
You do not need to dispose of this milk, and it is safe to still give it to your baby. Breast milk changes as your body changes and as your baby grows every single day. It is normal for appearance to change on a regular basis.
Keep a note in your log of how your milk changes and consult with a physician if you have any questions or issues. Just keep in mind that physical appearance changes in breast milk are normal when making changes in diet.
Eat Your Vegetables
We hear this as kids, and now it is time to hear it again. Make sure you are eating your vegetables! It is specifically good to consume dark, leafy greens while breastfeeding.
Leafy greens offer a good amount of nutrients such as iron and calcium.
Whether you prefer them raw or cooked, it is important to get three servings of vegetables a day in your diet.
They are more nutrient-rich if eaten raw, but if you prefer them cooked, that is okay. It is essential to consume them so prepare as wanted and best enjoyed.
There are different variations of the keto diet, where some people follow a strict keto diet and others follow a “lazy keto” or “dirty keto” diet and eat more carbs.
Everyone who is on the keto diet may be held to a different standard than others. Some on the keto diet allow starchy vegetables, while others do not.
Consult with your plan and your doctor to see if your diet allows starchy vegetables such as green beans, corn, etc. These can also be used to increase milk supply if added to your diet.
This all depends on how many grams of carbs your diet allows you per day and whether you are counting net carbs or total carbs per day.
Increase Nut and Seed Consumption
When you are eating a diet that is fairly low in carbohydrates, it is important that you consume enough
nuts and seeds to meet nutrient requirements for milk production.
Almonds are great food to eat for milk production due to their being high in protein and fatty acids. A handful of almonds is an easy snack to eat while feeding your baby.
Other nuts can also be consumed, such as walnuts. Nuts are high in Omega 3’s and fatty acids, which is great for increasing milk production.
In the beginning stages of breastfeeding in the first few days, you produce a thick, fatty milk called colostrum.
Chia seeds and flax seeds can also be consumed to increase milk production on the keto diet.
Flax seeds contain phytoestrogens which have been proven to show an increase in milk production for the breastfeeding mother.
Overall, a nutrient-dense diet needs enough of these three factors:
- Calories, and
- Healthy fats (like from adding nuts and seeds)
This will ensure that you are able to increase milk production for a healthy baby. This milk is very important in the beginning for brain development, as it is high in fat.
Consuming a diet high in omega 3 fatty acids can be great for brain development in your baby in the early stages of feeding and development.
Increase Pumping and Feeding Schedule
Although you can use food to help increase milk supply, you may have to condition your body into learning you need more milk by feeding more often.
If your baby eats every 4 hours, for example, try pumping in between feeds. If you are expressing milk every two hours regularly, your body will make enough milk to supply for every two hours.
Your body listens to what your baby needs. So, if you are telling your body you need milk every two hours, your body will become conditioned to just that.
It is crucial to log feedings, especially in the beginning, to become aware of what your body needs and how much milk is being made and expressed.
Try keeping a detailed log of every time you pump and feed. When pumping, record how many ounces you are getting from each side each time. Be sure to be drinking water and eating a snack at each feed and pump session.
The breastfeeding female body works off of supply and demand. The more you tell your body the baby needs, the more you will produce.
It can be helpful to keep a dry erase board or calendar on the wall to record your pumpings and feedings. If feeding the baby at the breast, set a timer as to how long the baby feeds on each side.
Try to keep each feeding around the same amount of time to produce around the same amount of milk from each breast. If the baby feeds 20 minutes on the right breast, try to get the baby to feed 20 minutes on the left as well.
When on the Keto diet, it is important to make sure you are consuming enough protein.
The keto diet focuses on a high protein and fat intake and a lower carbohydrate intake. Consult with your doctor to see how many grams of protein per day you should be consuming.
High protein foods you can consume include:
- Cottage cheese
- Greek yogurt
Consuming a protein powder may also be acceptable but not necessary if consumed enough from whole food sources.
It is best to consume protein from whole food sources for milk production versus getting it from protein bars or powders.
They can contain synthetic sugars and other artificial sweeteners that may negatively impact milk production.
Try your best to eat whole foods and prepare your own protein sources for consumption. A diet high in protein can be essential to sufficient milk production for mom and baby.
When it comes to fats, try to consume foods higher in polyunsaturated fats rather than saturated.
Olive oil and avocado oils are great sources of polyunsaturated fatty acids. It is best to lean towards these types of fats as they are high in HDL and low in LDL.
Saturated fats such as butter and lard are high in LDL and low in HDL.
HDL is what we call the “good” fats which keep our arteries from becoming clogged. They move out the “bad” fats known as LDL. LDL is associated with high cholesterol and triglycerides.
Consuming polyunsaturated fatty acids can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels and be good for overall health.
Consult with your MD and IBCLC
When following a certain diet while breastfeeding, your medical provider must be aware of what you are doing.
It is not recommended to start a new diet such as the keto diet until at least two months postpartum, unless you were already following this regimen during pregnancy.
Starting a new diet immediately postpartum can be harmful to you and your baby if your milk supply has not yet been established.
It can also negatively impact breast milk production pretty quickly.
Quick weight loss postpartum can quickly negatively impact breast milk production.
This means it is imperative to be:
- Eating enough calories
- Drinking enough water
- Talking to your doctor and lactation consultant regularly
If having any pain or issues while feeding, always reach out to your doctor or IBCLC for any issues or needs.
Breastfeeding is a great way to feed your baby and ensure they are getting the nutrients they need to learn and grow.
Being concerned about their intake is normal and means you are being a great mom already.
It is essential to try not to be too stressed while breastfeeding your child, as stress can also reduce milk supply and cause issues for both mom and baby.
Make sure to breathe and take it easy on yourself; you are doing a great job.
It is important to take care of yourself and your mental health.
If the mom isn’t taken care of, then the same is going to happen for the baby.
Remember to be gracious with yourself and to ask the experts if you have any questions along the way.