Breastfeeding and Weight Loss
Apr 14, 2018
Breastfeeding mamas are often hesitant to begin working out for fear of losing their precious supply. Or, on the other side, are frustrated in their weight loss progress because they feel that breastfeeding is holding them back from reaching their goals. Luckily there are some simple strategies you can incorporate into your diet and exercise routines to maintain your supply and also achieve weight loss. If you've made the decision to breastfeed your baby, you probably did so knowing the benefits to your baby - including nutrition, immunity, and bonding. That being said, these should be your goals during this time and not returning to the hard-body you were (or hoped to be) before getting pregnant. You can lose weight and fat, but getting that chiseled physique is going to be difficult.
On to the guidelines:
- EAT! You need to ensure that you’re getting enough calories to sustain your supply and also encourage your body to release some weight. When you’re nursing, your body is still putting your baby’s needs first. If you don’t get enough calories, your metabolism will slow down and store calories as fat to help fuel your supply. Aim for 300-500 additional calories a day. Most nursing women can eat around 2000 - 2500 calories, lose weight and maintain your supply. Websites like BabyFit and Weight Watchers are set up with tools for nursing mothers, and are great for meal and calorie tracking. The Wholesome app helps track nutrition goals for both pregnancy and breastfeeding by recommending foods and recipes to ensure you're meeting your Rainbow Fruits and Veggies requirement each day!
- DRINK! If you get dehydrated, your milk will go too. In addition to your 8+ cups a day, you drink 8 oz before your workout, 8 oz. during, and 8 oz within an hour after your workout. This will help to replenish what was lost during exercise. Two good rules are drink when you’re thirsty, and make sure your urine is light in color (although a vitamin will make it look like you’re peeing a highlighter).
- AVOID! The breastfeeding period of your life is not the time for supplements, other than a prenatal vitamin. Fat burners, chemical or herbal, can be secreted through your milk and to baby. These can be harmful to your baby. This is not the time for “quick fix” weight loss, so save your money and wait until you are done with this phase of your life. For supplements related to milk production, please work with a certified IBCLC to determine what’s right for you.
- DON’T AVOID! Be wary of diets that are asking you to eliminate a particular food group. Unless you have a medical condition that warrants a special diet, make sure that you are getting protein, carbs (complex & simple) and healthy fats in your meals. Ideally each meal should contain a combination of all three. One last note of carbs - eating carbs gives our body energy. They are needed for exercise, milk production, and just the simple task of keeping up with the baby. Do not cut them out completely!
- RELAX! This is a precious time and you will benefit from savoring every minute of it. Taking time to relax will not only help your body recover, but sleep has been shown to be a crucial element of weight loss. We have enough stress and sleep deprivation during those first few years of babyhood - take those free moments to cuddle up with your little one and get a few zzz’s. The gym and the dishes can wait.
Looking for More?
Get more tips and guidance on returning to exercise and safely losing weight by downloading the MamaSport Breastfeeding Athlete's Playbook. 5 Must-Do's for returning to exercise without losing your supply. Get meal suggestion, progressive return to exercise, and even my favorite sports bras to keep you comfortable and supported. Download your copy now!
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