Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Post-Pregnancy Low-Carb Weight Loss Plan May Not Be Prudent

Is it okay to be on the low-carb lifestyle after being pregnant?

The kind of questions I am asked about livin' la vida low-carb are generally within my basic knowledge of the lifestyle since I have been continually educating myself about it since I first began eating this way in January 2004. But sometimes I'll get a curveball question that I frankly don't have a clue in the world about.

One such question came to me from one of my readers who wanted to know if low-carb living was right for her to help shed the pounds she packed on when she was pregnant.

Here was her e-mail:


I have eaten low carb pretty much for the last 8 years, and have been successful at controlling my weight. I began Atkins initially, and lost about 30 lbs. and kept it off.

Last January I became pregnant and went off of the low carb lifestyle, but still ate pretty healthily. I did, however gain 40 lbs. and a HUGE sweet tooth! I have lost 31 lbs. since having the baby (10 lbs. was HIM, thank you very much!) but am having trouble taking off the last 10 lbs.

My question to you is, do you think that re-starting a very strict regimen of 20-30 grams of carbs per day will work again? I have heard stories of the low carb diet only working the first time with the dramatic weight loss. Any truth to that? Thanks so much for your site, and congratulations on your success!


Although I'm a pretty heavy-duty, diehard low-carb fan, there are just some things about this lifestyle that I'll NEVER know about! LOL! After all, I am both a MAN and have never been PREGNANT. Hee hee!

Because of that, I decided to call in the big guns to answer this question and consulted with my friend and successful low-carb mother Regina Wilshire from the Weight of the Evidence blog to help me out.

With the helpful and wise advice from Regina, here was my response:

THANKS so much for writing with your question! I was a big baby, too (10 3/4 pounds!), and my momma got VERY big with me, too.

Since I have NO experience being pregnant (LOL!), I decided to contact one of my low-carb friends, Regina Wilshire from for assistance with your question.

She said that since you just had the baby within the last few months, it is very normal (and healthy) to still have some of the "baby weight" gained during your pregnancy on your body.

Before your question can be answered, Regina said she needs to know if you are breastfeeding. If so, then you should NOT be on a very low-carb program like you would be if you went back to the Induction phase. However, if you are not breastfeeding, it is accceptable to go back down to 20-30g carbs per day.

Regina added that since you only have 10 more pounds to reach your pre-baby weight, you might just want to return to the level of carbohydrates you were eating before you got pregnant and your body will gradually work its way back to your normal weight again. Again -- ONLY if you are NOT breastfeeding.

I think I see a blog post coming on this subject! :) THANKS again for writing!

I'm sure this is a question that many of YOU may have wondered about, too. It seems the breastfeeding question is the key. If you are breastfeeding, then hold off on going back to a severely restricted carbohydrate program until that time in your life has subsided. And, if you only have a few more pounds to lose after having your baby, then don't think you've got to go back to Induction. Returning to your former routine may enable you to get back to where you started from.

My reader wrote back to me one more time after my reply:

Hey Jimmy-

Thanks so much for your quick response!

No, I am no longer breastfeeding (I think my attitude that I could eat whatever I wanted while doing so contributed to this extra poundage) so I'm glad to know that I can start low carbing again. I've actually been doing it for the last 3 days now, and though I'm disappointed that I haven't lost 20 lbs., (ha ha) so far so good.

I read on one of your blogs that when you plateaued, you just decided that you were going to pretend that everything was going along swimmingly and not give up. That is going to be my attitude from now on.

I also was encouraged by the fact that your waist shrunk, even though you "only" lost 10 lbs. one time. My stomach is strangely mushy, and I am discouraged that it doesn't seem to be going back to what it was.

As you can see, I am not being very patient about this whole thing, so I am going to try to back off and just eat well and exercise and hope for the best!

Thanks for your inspiration!!

You are VERY welcome and I wish you well with both your health and for the health of that little one God has entrusted to you. "Swimmingly" -- now that's a fun word you don't hear every day! :)

As for your "strangely mushy" midsection, you have to tell yourself it's just a small price to pay to be thin and healthy. I have to keep reminding myself of that every single day so I don't get tempted to feel sorry for myself about my sagging stomach.

THANKS so much for writing and asking this important question. If I don't know the answer to YOUR specific question, then I am always happy to ask one of my various low-carb experts out there to assist me just like Regina did today. THANKS, Regina!

Keep those e-mails rolling in to me at


Blogger Newbirth said...

This get talked about on the official Atkins boards all the time. Weight loss phases of the diet are not okay for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

However, I think that has less to do with any studies (none have been done that I know of) than any real danger to mother or child.

2/01/2006 8:03 PM  

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