In this post I’m going to be sharing tips to help you lose fat while breastfeeding. YUP. We’ll be talking about fat loss, breastfeeding and how you can do both without decreasing your milk supply! Ready? Let’s go.
After going through 9 months of growing a baby, and seeing the scale creep upwards week after week (for very good reason, of course!), it’s no surprise new moms are eager to lose the baby weight ASAP.
But for breastfeeding moms, this part can be a bit challenging. You are still nourishing a baby, just like during pregnancy. Unlike during pregnancy, however, it is safe to lose weight while breastfeeding. You do have to take into consideration that your body is burning extra calories daily in order to produce milk. And not some small extra amount either.
Although the adage goes that you’re eating for two while pregnant (not true by the way!) breastfeeding burns more calories; producing breast milk burns the equivalent of a really good workout daily…300 to 500 calories! (See, you knew you felt tired for a reason!!)
So, let’s talk about some tips to lose fat while breastfeeding.
Lose fat while breastfeeding
1. Make sure you eat enough
When breastfeeding, it goes without saying that the priority is to make sure your baby is getting the nutrients he/she needs. So no crash diets here (in fact crash diets are never recommended, but even more so while nourishing a baby!) However, from my experience as a coach, I see many women doing just that. Women who are breastfeeding yet aggressively cutting their calories because they’re in a hurry to lose all the baby weight. This then affects their milk supply. But that’s not the only consequence.
Many of these women still struggle to lose weight even at a lower caloric intake. But how can this be so?
Here’s what happens: when these breastfeeding moms reduce their caloric intake so aggressively, their body’s response is to use all its energy to work towards making milk. Remember, milk production takes up about 300-500 calories per day.
This in turn makes moms super lethargic, because her (limited) calories are going toward milk production rather than toward her own energy levels. And because of this, these moms don’t move nearly as much as they were when they had more calories coming in.
When this happens, it changes their TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) and it changes what the calorie deficit number should be. Lethargy, combined with the sleep deprivation every new mom experiences, is the perfect combination to VERY little movement. And very little movement=very little or no results.
When it comes to nutritional intake, new moms should NOT be consuming any less than 1500-1800 calories per day. This may be even higher based on your height, current weight, and activity level. Read more about this here.
2. Drink plenty of water
Another huge consideration for breastfeeding moms is hydration. Remember, your body needs to get the water to produce milk from somewhere. See, very often when moms start to watch their nutrition, they normally combine that with some form of exercise. When they don’t up their water intake at the same time, they often see a drop in the milk supply because they are not drinking enough water.
Breast milk is more than 80% water, so you can see why staying hydrated as a nursing mom is essential! Keep in mind that when you exercise you lose water through sweat. Consequently, if you are not replenishing the water lost through sweat, it will most definitely affect your milk supply.
In addition, if you’re having trouble staying within your calorie goal, water is the perfect way to help. It keeps you full longer. How much water you need is really going to depend on several factors, such as how much physical activity you are getting, the season (in summer you’ll need more water than in the winter) and even where you live (if you live in a hot, dry climate, you’ll need more than someone living in a cool climate.)
How do you know if you’re getting enough water? Well, besides the obvious (if you’re thirsty, drink!!) pay attention to your biofeedback. Your body has ways of telling you it needs more water. Keep an eye on the color of your urine. It should be straw color. If it is super yellow and dark in color, that means you’re not drinking enough. Also, keep an eye on your milk supply.
A sudden drop in milk supply after you’ve started exercising is a red flag that you’re not getting enough hydration as well. If you pump milk, producing less is easy to spot. If you’re not pumping through, look for signs of low supply in your baby. Is your baby swallowing after each suckle or at least every few suckles? Is he or she producing enough urine? You can also keep an eye on your baby’s fontanelles or “soft spots”. A sunken-in soft spot can mean dehydration.
3. Set realistic goals to help you lose fat while breastfeeding
This can’t be stressed enough! Remember this general rule: it took you 9 months to put on the weight. You’re not going to lose it all in a couple of weeks or a couple of months. Expect around 9 months, give or take, to lose the weight. For some women this amount of time will be less, for some, it may be more. Have patience with your body and give yourself some grace in this period of your life.
Also, talking to the *very* new moms here, give yourself a bit of time. Don’t go home from the hospital and count calories your first day back. (i.e. If your husband brings home a pizza for dinner that first night home…have your slice of pizza momma!!) Give yourself some time to settle into your new routine and find your “new normal”. I mean, don’t abandon all sense and eat takeout and ice cream for every meal, but also don’t fret if you need a bit of time to settle in before making super nutritious and healthful meals and watching your macros etc. Otherwise, you’ll burn out real soon. You have to be realistic about timing.
As for specific numbers when it comes to weight loss: breastfeeding moms should not lose any more than 1.5 lbs a week. Meaning that your goal of losing 10lbs in a month might not be realistic nor sustainable to do while breastfeeding. So set a realistic weight loss goal. Slow but steady wins the race here!
The same goes for exercise…in fact, if anything, I’ll give you a stronger warning for exercise. Exercising too soon after having a baby can have lasting negative effects on your healing body. Would you go out for a run a week after getting your appendix removed or a hernia repaired? Of course not. Treat your postpartum body with the same consideration. At a minimum, the general recommendation is to wait 6 weeks before resuming exercise. After that point, with your doctor’s ok, you can slow back into exercise, but I strongly, strongly advise you to choose a program that takes into account that you are a new mom and the changes your body has gone through.
My 5 Weeks Super Shred Challenge is coming up soon! And I want YOU to join in! Yes YOU!
Why should you join this challenge?
I make accommodations for breastfeeding moms. I will take into account the fact that you’re nursing and you’ll get advice on what your calorie and macro goals should be. When it comes to exercise, I take into account your newly postpartum body and problems many women face after giving birth like diastasis recti and pelvic floor issues.
So, whether you’re recently postpartum, breastfeeding or just ready to lose the baby weight, this challenge is for YOU. Don’t wait, sign up today.
Sign Up here: 5 Week Super Shred Challenge!
Wanna help other mamas find tips to lose fat while breastfeeding? Save this post to Pinterest! It’s an easy (and FREE) way that you can support and help me grow. Make sure you’re following me for more tips (@nathaliamelofit).