Breastfeeding and Banting: Is it safe to eat a LCHF diet?
On this episode of The Ask Prof Noakes Podcast we address two concerns surrounding breastfeeding. Prof. Tim Noakes chats about what you should be eating for the benefit of the baby and how much of it you should be eating.
Is it safe to be on the Banting Diet whilst breastfeeding?
Today we have got two separate questions but it is on the same topic.
The first one was submitted by Kim and she wanted to know is it safe to be on a low carb high fat diet or the Banting diet and be breastfeeding. She wants to know, are ketones harmful to her baby’s health and will it affect her milk supply?
The second question came from Christa and she wants to know is there special things you can do when breastfeeding, she said that her daughter has started follow the LCHF diet recently but she is feeling faint an hungry and the baby is still quite small, only eight weeks old?
Prof Tim Noakes: Let us get to Kim’s question. Firstly, if babies were not able to metabolise ketones, they would all be dead because they would all die within a few hours of being born and before they are fed, so the ketone response is critical to our survival.
Can infants metabolise ketones?
Infants, when they are born, are ketotic and they burn ketones until they start getting fed which takes some hours as you can imagine so the fact that you might give the child a little bit of ketones in the breast milk is really unimportant.
Ketones are one of the best foods there is, one of the best foods for the brain and for the muscles that there is.
She need not worry about that. If her milk supply is struggling because she is on the Banting diet and she knows it absolutely is the case, then she needs to address that question, perhaps eat a bit more carbohydrate but that is not a common complaint.
Many people will normally tell us that they do very well breast feeding on the Banting diet.
What I must emphasise is that we now believe that in so called epigenetic effects, which means that the way your genes express themselves is influenced by environmental factors. We now believe that if you eat a high carbohydrate diet during your pregnancy, your child will be exposed to high glucose and insulin concentrations all the time and low ketones levels. They then become keen to always have high glucose and high insulin and what does that mean?
Your genes are influenced by environmental factors
That child becomes more addicted or more likely to become addicted to eating carbohydrates, with the risk of obesity in the long term.
The epigenetic evidence suggests that each generation is getting fatter because we are feeding our children more carbohydrates during pregnancy and then what do we do?
Within six months we introduce them to these children cereals which are just packed with carbohydrates and sugar. We are producing addicts, carbohydrates addicts at the age of six months and it is much better for them to not ever be exposed to high carbohydrates diets, either during the mother’s pregnancy or when they are weaned onto the food for the first time.
With regard to Christa’s question, she is not eating enough. She must just eat more and that is the problem with a high fat diet or the high protein diet, it can take your hunger away.
I think that she has to eat more and if she has to eat more carbohydrate then that is fine because she is not going to eat as much as she did but she needs to eat. If carbohydrates are going to stimulate her appetite, then that is fine.
If she has put on a lot of weight during her pregnancy, she has got on board, she can use all that fuel but if she did not put on much weight during pregnancy and she is lean, then I think she just needs to eat a bit more because the energy cost of breast feeding is enormous and that is why she might be hungry. She is just not giving herself enough calories.