I gained 41 pounds during this pregnancy and at seven weeks postpartum I still have 15 pounds to go to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight, and then about five more on top of that to get to my goal weight of 124.
It’s normally very simple…when you want to lose weight you have to factor caloric input versus caloric output. You eat as healthy and clean as possible and workout.
However, for a mom to a newborn there’s another ball to juggle when you want to lose the baby weight if you choose to breastfeed.
You need to ensure that you are consuming enough calories to produce the milk to satisfy your baby. As an exclusive breastfeeding mama, this is extremely important to me and takes precedence over my weight loss goals.
Many women want to know how to lose weight while nursing while ensuring their milk supply doesn’t diminish.
The great news is that women burn between 400-800 calories per day from breastfeeding (about 20 calories per ounce of milk produced). While breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed your baby and protect them with their mother’s antibodies, it’s also awesome for losing the baby weight…and all while sitting down! You can’t beat that :).
Women ask me how to lose weight while nursing and their first question always is, “how many calories should I eat?”
Many lactation consultants throw out the number that nursing mothers should consume a net caloric intake of 2,000 calories/day to produce enough milk. I disagree with this recommendation. That means if you work out and burn 400 calories, you need to eat 2,400 calories in that given day. It’s not an easy task to eat 2,400 calories of healthy food.
Obviously you should try to eat a little more than normal just like when you’re pregnant. There is no “one size fit all” calorie recommendation for people who are trying to lose weight, so why should we assume this is the case for nursing moms? When it comes to how to lose weight while nursing I think it’s most important to listen to your body when it comes to postpartum diet and exercise.
In my experience after the initial four weeks when my milk supply is well established, I then tighten up my diet. I always feel best when I eat small meals throughout the day that are packed with nutrient dense foods. I try my best to make meal choices that are high in protein, abundant with fruits and veggies, whole grains and healthy fats. Also, it is also essential to drink plenty of water.
There is no need to overcomplicate it. If I’m hungry, I eat something else. If I notice that my milk supply is dwindling in the least I will make an effort to eat more.
It’s not a good idea to get hung up with counting calories and eating garbage to get to your calorie goal. This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine.
Eating those extra four Oreos to get in the last 280 calories to reach your net goal of 2,000 calories per day isn’t helping your baby or your weight loss effort. You will be able to sneak in a treat here or there a lot easier while breastfeeding, but you should never make a habit of eating the processed junk.
Trust me…if you skip the Oreos you won’t dry up.
When it comes to how to lose weight while nursing the truth is that many women will lose the baby weight from breastfeeding alone. However, incorporating fitness into your postpartum weight loss plan is extremely important. While breastfeeding alone might get you back to your pre-pregnancy weight, I can almost guarantee you that your body will not look the same.
My goal for working out postpartum is to tone up and achieve lean muscle mass. Again, it’s so important to listen to your body. Start off slow and build from there. If you had an active pregnancy it will be a lot easier to get back at it.
After both pregnancies I jumped right back into working out (6 weeks after my C-section with my Dr.’s approval of course, and 4 weeks after my VBAC) and I had no problem with my supply. I just keep in mind that if I had a tough workout I make sure to eat something additional that day…but a nutritious choice.
I do utilize the “MyFitnessPal” app on my phone to keep a food journal. I don’t do this to count calories but more to keep track of my protein, carbohydrate and fat intake to make sure I’m eating balanced and eating enough. The app also helps hold myself accountable to making healthy choices in my diet.
To achieve healthy postpartum weight loss it is reasonable to aim to lose about 2 pounds per week, but always remember to consult with your doctor before entering into any exercise or nutrition program.
Stay tuned for a postpartum nutrition guide that I’m going to post in the next few weeks that will help you further answer the question about how to lose weight while nursing.