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“Young Mother Nearly Dies From a Low-Carb Diet”


Can it potentially be life-threatening to breastfeed on a strict low-carb diet?

MailOnline: New mother nearly DIES from a low carb diet: 32-year-old developed life-threatening condition […] while breastfeeding

While this seems to be exceedingly rare – four published cases ever, all of which ended well – it’s apparently possible to develop ketoacidosis while breastfeeding on a strict low-carb diet. The same thing can happen due to starvation.

Don’t do a strict low-carb diet when breastfeeding – and make sure to eat enough in general.


Note that the ending of the MailOnline article is misleading. There’s normally no need to “see a doctor immediately” if the breath starts smelling of acetone on a low-carb diet. That’s a common sign of normal ketosis, which is completely safe under normal circumstances (unless you’re a type 1 diabetic, then it signals that you need more insulin).

When breastfeeding however, it’s probably wise not to eat so strict low-carb that you get that smell. Let the weight loss take some more time and go for a more moderate, non-ketogenic, low-carb diet while breastfeeding (50+ grams of carbs per day). And make sure you eat enough. It’s hardly worth taking any health risk at all for losing weight faster.


I’ve just recently written more extensively about the rare risk of ketoacidosis when breastfeeding on a strict low-carb diet:

Breastfeeding on a Low-Carb Diet – Is It Dangerous?


Breastfeeding on a Low-Carb Diet – Is It Dangerous?

Is it dangerous to breastfeed while on a low-carb, high-fat diet?

Recently, the journal of the Swedish Medical Association published a case report (summary in English) of a woman who, six weeks after giving birth, had to be hospitalized for severe ketoacidosis. Luckily, she recovered quickly and her numbers were back to normal the next day.

Ketoacidosis is a dangerous condition, most often seen in type 1 diabetics with acute insulin deficiency. In rare cases, ketoacidosis may occur in non-diabetics after prolonged periods of starvation or inadequate food intake, in which case it typically occurs in combination with stress or other medical conditions.

The woman in this case had been eating low-carb, high fat for a long time before the incident. After giving birth however, she had suffered flu-like symptoms of fever, nausea and a complete loss of appetite. Despite this, she was still able to breastfeed her baby, which of course ramped up her nutritional requirements.

The case study report brings up the woman’s low-carbohydrate diet as one possible contributing factor to the situation. However, as soon as the media found out, they immediately exaggerated this possible contributing factor to the guaranteed sole cause of the condition (which, as we shall see, is unikely):

In the woman’s own words

The woman described in the case report in the journal contacted me of her own accord through common acquaintances. She tells a different story from the one perpetuated by the media: Continue Reading →