Are these diets safe to follow during pregnancy?
When it comes to food and fitness, fad diets have definitely attracted spotlight, owing to the quick results they offer. Most often than not, people choose to follow fad diets for weight loss. And pregnancy is a phase of life wherein women usually put on the maximum amount of weight. Many modern mothers feel that this weight gain affects their body image negatively and also undermines their confidence. But are fad diets the right answer to pregnancy weight woes or do they have any negative effects during pregnancy and lactation?
Let’s evaluate the effects of some popular diets on pregnancy.
Ketogenic diet: This diet works on low carbs and high-fat. When the body does not have enough sugars to break down in order to produce energy, it starts burning down the body fat to produce energy. The protein intake is also reduced in this diet and the body becomes dependent completely on the fat intake, thereby compromising the intake of carbohydrates like whole grains that provide the main source of energy. Pregnant women, however, need more energy in order to meet the body’s increased demands. Proteins that are important for tissue and muscle growth are also restricted. This type of diet causes alterations in the nutritional status of the mother, on which the foetus is dependent. The alterations made by the diet can affect organ growth in the foetus, thereby leading to organ dysfunction and can also cause behavioural issues after birth.
Mediterranean diet: This diet is based on the traditional cuisine of countries that are located around the Mediterranean Sea. It is considered to be among the healthy diets during pregnancy as it is based on fruits, vegetables, olive oil, whole grains, seeds, and nuts. The diet is more plant-based than meat-based and includes a weekly consumption of white meat like fish and chicken and an occasional serving of red meat. This diet is a good source of minerals, vitamins and proteins along with healthy fats, and therefore it can be considered as a heart-healthy diet. Consuming a Mediterranean diet during pregnancy can reduce the risk of gestational diabetes as well. But, this diet shouldn’t be followed as a regular practice. Also, you must always consult a dietician or doctor before following such a diet during pregnancy.
Atkins diet: This diet emphasizes a reduction in carbohydrates. This is also a weight loss diet. The diet claims to be heart-healthy and is believed to be effective for weight loss too. However, reducing carbohydrates in the diet makes the body dependent on fat to get its energy. The carbohydrate intake is expected to be monitored while following this diet. Drastically cutting down carbohydrates during pregnancy can lead to nutritional deficiency though. The fibre intake in this diet is also low, which can lead to side effects like constipation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. When the body is dependent on fats for energy, it can lead to the build-up of ketones and cause a condition called ketosis. Remember that altering diets and eliminating one or more food groups from the diet during pregnancy can have harmful effects on the foetus.
Dukan diet: This is again a weight-loss diet which originated in France and covers a list of 100 foods that you can eat. There are no restrictions on the amount of food that you can eat as long as you go by the given list. The diet mainly consists of foods that come from animal sources, hence is high on protein and low on carbs. This is said to reduce the hunger hormones, thereby giving you the feeling of being full. There is very little quality research available on the Dukan diet currently. However, it is regarded as one of the unhealthy diets to follow. It has no health benefits except for visible weight loss. If you are planning to experiment with this diet, pregnancy is definitely not the time to do so.
Paleo diet: Also known as the caveman diet, this diet is low in carbohydrates and high in protein and fibre. It includes lean meats, whole grains and healthy fats. However, it eliminates dairy, grains, legumes and processed foods. Eliminating such foods from the diet during pregnancy can put the overall health of the mother and child at risk.
Remember, that during pregnancy, it is very important for the mother to stay healthy in order to be able to nourish the growing foetus. The mother’s nutritional status directly affects the growth and development of her unborn child. So, it is recommended that women should avoid fad diets during pregnancy. This is a time when one must include a variety of different foods from all the five food groups and eat sufficiently for long-term health and wellbeing. A balanced diet in consultation with a doctor or dietician is recommended for pregnancy.