Lose Weight While Breastfeeding

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Now that your little one has joined you on the outside, you’re probably eager to say goodbye to the pregnancy weight. But losing weight while breastfeeding brings its own set of challenges. Today’s expert, Leigh-Ann Webster, a certified personal trainer, licensed wellness coach, and nutritional counselor, offers advice on navigating the tricky balance between losing weight while maintaining an adequate milk supply.

When can new moms start to think about losing weight?

Before you begin, make sure to get your doctor’s clearance. Webster says that most moms can begin thinking about diet and exercise once their milk supply is established and the baby is on a bit of a schedule. Generally speaking, a woman can begin walking at about two weeks postpartum although with a C-section, it may take longer.

How many calories does a breastfeeding mom need to consume to maintain her supply?

Webster says that studies have shown regardless of a woman’s height, weight, or age, when calories drop below 1500, her milk supply starts to decrease. You don’t want to go below that number or decrease calories by more than 15-20% of your daily requirement. General weight loss guidelines suggest losing one pound per week, but that may be too much for nursing moms, so Webster recommends shooting for a half pound per week instead.

TIP: Spread your calorie intake out — instead of 2-3 meals, eat 3 smaller meals with snacks between. Want more information about losing weight while breastfeeding? Listen to our podcast episode or read our transcript!

What are some quick and easy food ideas for new moms?

Webster suggests eating every few hours to keep the milk supply steady. Some examples of nourishing meals and snacks include:

  • For breakfast, consider a yogurt parfait with berries, low sugar yogurt, and all-natural granola. Another option is instant oatmeal or slow cooker oatmeal with walnuts, cinnamon, and apples (make it the night before).
  • As far as lunch ideas go, Webster recommends a bean and cheese burrito – use corn tortillas, black beans, tomatoes, avocado, and a little bit of cheese.
  • For dinner, consider sautéed vegetables with chicken or wild-caught salmon, which is very high in Omega 3s. Fajitas can also be a quick and easy option.
  • When thinking about snacks, consider the following: homemade trail mix, apples with almond butter, quesadillas made with whole wheat tortillas, cheese, and veggies, or a combination of hummus, fresh vegetables, whole grain crackers, and/or string cheese.
  • Taking 30 minutes each week to organize the fridge and meal plan can also be a great tactic. Ask for help when it comes to food – usually friends and family are more than happy to bring over a dish.

How can breastfeeding moms incorporate exercise into their routine?

Webster recommends a mix of cardio and weights but suggests starting out with walking for about 30 minutes at a time. The goal should be to stay within the aerobic zone or 65-85% of your maximum heart rate. Once you develop a habit of getting in some cardio, you can add weight-bearing activities like free weights, squats, lunges, jumping jacks, etc. Webster says these types of activities are great because you can do them at home with little or no equipment.

Can lactic acid from exercise affect the taste of breast milk?

The body forms lactic acid when you exceed 85% of your maximum, so you shouldn’t create much lactic acid if you stay within the aerobic zone (65-85% maximum heart rate). Lactic acid can transfer into breast milk if a woman is doing a lot of high-intensity interval training, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the baby won’t drink the breast milk. If your baby seems to be struggling with feeding, consider reducing the intensity of your workouts so that you stay within the aerobic zone.

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