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Atkins Diet for Pregnancy

By Rachel Nall ; Updated July 18, 2017

The Atkins diet was created on the principles that carbohydrates are used for energy before fats. By consuming less carbohydrates, the Atkins diet proposes to burn fat first in order to promote weight loss, according to USA Today. If you are an avid Atkins diet follower and are thinking about becoming pregnant--or are currently pregnant--your goals may shift from weight loss to a healthy diet for you and your baby.


Pregnant women should consume an additional 300 calories per day throughout the course of their pregnancies, according to the March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization dedicated to healthy pregnancies and babies. In addition to these adjusted calorie needs, the March of Dimes recommends you should consume a variety of foods from the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and fats. While the Atkins diet is not without some degree of carbohydrates, the amount of carbohydrates may not be enough, according to What to Expect, the official website from the author of "What to Expect When You're Expecting." Without enough complex carbohydrates, the body may not receive take in enough folic acid, which is essential to a baby's growth.

Expert Insight

A 2004 study published in the American Journal of Physiology found that female mice who followed a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet were more likely to have female offspring with lower triglyceride levels throughout adulthood. Triglycerides, a form of cholesterol, should be kept low in order to reduce the likelihood of experiencing coronary artery disease, which can lead to heart attack.

Time Frames

The Atkins diet features many phases, including the initial or "induction" phase, weight loss phase and the final, or maintenance phase. According to the Atkins official website, a pregnant woman should follow the maintenance phase. As this is the least restrictive phase, a woman may be able to better incorporate needed complex carbohydrates into her diet.


Pregnant women should consume a sufficient amount of nutrients in order to encourage her baby's healthy growth. If the body does not consume enough carbohydrates, it will begin to have difficulty breaking down fats and will produce a substance known as ketones, according to the Internet Journal of Nutrition and Wellness. Too many ketones in the body can lead to a state known as ketosis, which can ultimately result in brain damage to the fetus.


A woman can follow the Atkins diet during pregnancy, providing she consumes enough calories a day and incorporates complex carbohydrates into her diet. Examples of complex carbohydrates include whole grain-breads, legumes and vegetables, according to MedlinePlus. Because the Atkins diet does involve the inclusion of healthy protein sources, fruits, healthy fats and other nutrient-packed health options, following the maintenance phase can provide nutrients that can offer a baby nutrients into adulthood.

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