How to lose weight while breastfeeding is a problem every newly minted mom faces. According to the CDC, the normal amount of weight a pregnant mom should gain throughout her pregnancy may range from 25 to 40 pounds.
Per trimester that’s about 1 to 3 pounds per week. If you’ve been doubly blessed, and are carrying twins, those numbers can go as high as 50 to 62 pounds. As you can expect, given the wacky times we live in, only about 1/3 of expecting mothers will gain the recommended amount of weight during their pregnancy, per data analyzed and recollected Centers for Disease Control.
After the joys of childbirth has swamped you and you’re back home with your new kid, one of the first things that slings into your mind is… How can I lose weight?
Luckily, this is the first time that mother nature has been on humanity’s side. Breastfeeding actually helps mother’s shrug off the excess fat. And we are here to give you all the scientific straight dope, to fill you in on the skinny and, well, help you get skinny.
Why Being Overweight Is Such An Issue?
Spare tire: that’s the whimsical term, one would even dare say cute name, we’ve come up for baby’s leftovers. The second we stroll out of the operating theater, that mountain of joy firmly tugged under our arms is the very second we ask ourselves:
“How many calories does breastfeeding burn?”
Why that particular question? Why not: “how to lose weight when breastfeeding?” Or “best diet to lose weight while breastfeeding?”
Cause we stare down at the aforementioned mountain of joy and we can see it in his or her’s gyrating greedy eyes, hands clutching invisible melons, lips pressed and suckling at the air… You’ve just been conscribed, or more importantly your breasts, into indentured servitude; there’s going to be a lot of sucking going on for the coming months.
In a way, the same fixated look, laser beamed intensity unto your chest, that got you into this parenting mess in the first place.
Still, despite the many claims that breastfeeding is nature’s lipo, we still have to face the baby pickup we’ve become. And, although, it’s incredible and a sheer miracle, and quite frankly an awe-inspiring experience, we will doubtlessly take a long hard look at the mirror and say:
“It’s time to trade up…”
Time to switch from a VW beetle to a slick Jag. It’s not just a question of looking good, youthful and getting back that prom night physique, no, it’s about our health, and feeling well.
Obesity is one of the most serious health risk affecting Americans. Overweight has become the red-flag issue that is constantly on the tip of every health organization in the world’s tongue. A matter that’s easily become a global crisis with staggering implications and a monstrous death toll.
Obesity is a disease with monstrous and deadly connotations, that’s perhaps one of the easiest to fix. Overweight and obesity are closely associated with worldwide mortality rates; more than any other ailment.
According to new investigations, there are more people suffering from weight issues (overweight and underweight) than there are healthy people on the planet. In recent years, overweight has shifted its grip on society; before, it was considered a disease of affluence.
An ailment that only concerned those in high-income brackets; a socio-demographic pattern that was only seen in areas of money.
This was mainly due to the fact that Capitalism was intrinsically linked the high life; alcohol, caloric excesses, flinging the fat about. Meanwhile, poor communities were suffering from depleting resources.
As of 2000, the stats have shifted. Overweight and obesity are now growing in low- and middle-income nations. Metropolitan environments, no matter the geographical quarter, quickly transforming into international hotbeds for the scourge.
This is a paradigm shift that was caused by a two-fold change in society:
Back, in the days of Yore, even back in the days of The Backstreet Boys, supply chains weren’t as trustworthy and efficient as they are today. Costs of productions, which were later transferred to the product itself, went down as industrial innovations became more readily available. In the food industry, goods with high carbohydrate and calorie counts (rice, pasta, bread, etc) quickly became low-cost items.
Also, a mental shift has occurred. People are more wary of their “pot belly”. This change has not only lead society to enter an exercise binge Era, but it has also spearheaded a worldwide consumer free-for-all; buyers demanding products (light options) that fit their new mindset. Due to the higher cost of light products and the price of a gym membership this new set of societal values has only been incorporated by those with money.
“Overweight is the hot button issue that’s currently assailing the world stage. It is a pandemic that has a vast reach over all societal tiers. Sadly, it is also a pandemic that’s slowly not only becoming endemic, but incredibly life threatening, to those with little to no economic support.”
Let’s circle back to that question up above:
“How many calories does breastfeeding burn?”
Although it might sound strange, there are a number of myths concerning the topic of how to lose weight while breastfeeding. A cornucopia of nonsense that’s liable to make you rethink dieting while breastfeeding. We will, a few paragraphs from this ground zero tableau, approach that bizarre conglomerate of dribble that’s circling that toilet drain we call the rumor mill.
There is, nonetheless, one myth that’s not a myth. One particular ray of sunshine in the whole “how to lose weight while breastfeeding quagmire”… one gossip bullet that’s true and magical:
Breastfeeding burns anywhere from 300-700 calories per day.
To be more exact, The American Pregnancy Association places the figure within the rank of 425 and 700 calories. Other sources, like BeFitMom, downplay the miracle and place the figure in the 300 calories per day box. And, here’s the kicker, the number increases, and skyrockets, over time as your milk production shoots up.
Your milk production and – by its strange relationship – your calorie burning bullet-train is directly proportionate to your particular body composition. In other words, how much weight you lose during breastfeeding and after giving birth is subject to your mass.
There is also a second factor to consider: how much milk your body creates is also linked to how frequently and how much your baby feeds. It actually takes over 20 calories to make one ounce of milk; if your baby is a hungry-hungry hippo, your calorie burning potential is higher.
Studies have linked multiple factors to how much a mother lactates. All these factors, like the cries of the infant, the environment you are in, your hormone levels and a dozen more are tweaked over time. As your baby and its needs adjust to life, so does your maternal instinct.. and by relationship your capacity to produce breast milk.
Depending on how much weight you gained during pregnancy. You can easily lose your pregnancy fat in as little as 6-months. This is is assuming a healthy weight gain during your 3 trimesters.
Aside, from the calories transferred to breast milk, 3 hormonal changes also help in your breastfeeding diet plan. Drop in oestrogen and progesterone; increase in prolactin; and finally an increase in oxytocin are fundamental to solving that age-old problem of how to lose weight while breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding Diet Myths Busted
Myth 1: I can pig out while breastfeeding. I’m burning calories and that permits me to eat whatever I want.
“You simply cannot eat what you want and think that breastfeeding will make you lose excess weight,” proclaims Dietitian and SDSA spokesperson Zelda Ackerman. “Many people assume that breastfeeding will magically melt the fat away but you still need to make healthy food choices – for you and baby – as well as start exercising, once your gynecologist or doctor has given you the green light, of course.”
Moms who are breastfeeding need to follow a balanced and healthy diet. A critical point to highlight is the need to get rid of energy-dense junk food, sweets, and pastries.
Myth 2: All I need to lose weight, while breastfeeding, is, well, breastfeed. Lactating will help me get rid of that extra tire.
“Although losing your pregnancy weight is important for your health, breastfeeding moms must be mindful that their bodies require extra energy and nutrition to produce breast milk. Following a restrictive weight-loss diet while breastfeeding can affect breast milk production,” Dietitian and Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA) spokesperson Maryke Gallagher told reporters. “Your body has a greater need for most nutrients and some of the extra energy required for breastfeeding comes from body fat stored during pregnancy, which will assist in weight loss.”
You have to follow your lactating months with a strict regimen, one that incorporates exercise and other calorie burning activities.
Myth 3: A breastfeeding diet plan will harm my baby.
“It’s true that moms can alter the types of fat in her breast milk by altering the types of foods they consume. Increasing one food class, one with a high content of fatty acid could generally cause a decrease in another. For example, studies have shown that mothers who eat traditional maize have less monounsaturated fats in their milk. Meanwhile, urban mothers, who generally consume more animal proteins, have a greater chance that their milk will have a greater fat content,” Researcher and Doctor, Albert Wiess, explained. “Nonetheless, so far as it has been studied, diets have little to no effect on the overall nutritional performance of a mother’s milk. A baby’s digestive tract is meant to distill all the necessary nutrients from the original source; the only difference is that in certain cases, the baby will simply drink more.”
Babies are resilient. They are scrappy. If you’re trying to lose weight while breastfeeding, and that diet is altering your milk fat content, then they’ll just latch on a bit longer. Suck you dry until they are satisfied and sated.
Losing Weight While Breastfeeding; What’s The Critical Factor?
It’s rather simple: the level of emptiness of the breast is what analysis have shown drives breast milk fat production, and by result calorie content. The more milk a new mom produces, the higher degree of losing weight when breastfeeding.
Why It Is Important To Learn How To Lose Weight When Breastfeeding?
A climb in a mother’s BMI (Body Mass Index) is responsible – aside from heart diseases and strokes – for a list of noncommunicable diseases and critical illnesses. A small catalog would start with: musculoskeletal disorders (especially osteoarthritis – a highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints); diabetes; psychological traumas and disorders; cancers (including endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder, kidney, and colon).
“Baby fat, at the beginning of the pregnancy, might seem cute and a fount of sunshine. A mother’s natural glow, before giving birth is quite a beautiful and breathtaking thing. But that aspect of childbirth can actually lead to serious complications further in life. Literal baby fat can be killer. Baby fat, or fat acquired during pregnancy, can actually lead to obesity if not properly handled, after, during and, even before getting pregnant.”
Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Whitmer, having studied 6,583 volunteers, determined that fat can actually increase the chances, by at least 16%, of developing Alzheimer later in life as well as dementia.
How To Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
The best plans for dieting while breastfeeding.
1. Eat regularly and constantly:
Although it might be counterintuitive, eat every three hours. It is important to eat small meals/snack every three hours while nursing.
When you don’t consume enough calories, your body goes into a sort of standby mode or, how scientists call it “starvation mode”. This particular model is known as adaptive thermogenesis.
It is a way to reduce the amount of energy you are using, including burning calories. This can operate as a type of weight loss treason.
Also, if you’re not satisfied there is a greater chance that you will binge out whenever you get the chance.
2. Aim to lose the weight slowly:
Don’t jump head first and think you have to prove something. Losing weight is a marathon not a sprint.
It is prudent to wait for a full 2 months after giving birth before actively attempting to shrug off the weight. During this adjustment period, you can start eating healthy and dodge all that junk food everyone loves. After that period has passed, try to lose weight at a slow and constant rate, rather than all at once. A pound and a half a week is a sensible goal.
3. Avoid Diet Fads:
Diet Fads, like Adkins or the Paleo Diet, are trends designed for healthy individuals. People who find themselves on even terrain… not with a new kid, not with breasts pumping milk, and not with wild hormones running amok.
4. Keep track of your progress:
Use downloaded software and figure keeping apps to manage and track how much weight you are losing. This is particularly important as it will undoubtedly help inspire you.
How much weight you lose while breastfeeding goes hand in hand with the practical and tangible results you are obtaining.
One important point to take into consideration is the fact that it is easy to start obsessing over your weight once you start to keep a tight and close track of it. Try to keep you data scouring within reason. Avoid weighing yourself more than once a day, and don’t go ballistic or become frustrated if your weight shifts both up and down.
5. Select foods high in nutrients:
Pick your foods and snacks carefully. Choose foods heavy in protein, iron, and calcium. Defenestrate empty calories or those eatables high in fats or sugars. High protein meals are particularly relevant because they will keep you feeling full for longer. Try to dodge foods that are processed or that are simple carbohydrates, like bread, rice, cookies, candy, and desserts.
Dairy products, eggs, lean meats, whole grains, soy products and meat substitutes, lentils, nuts, seeds, and legumes are especially advisable.
6. Cardio and Exercise:
Exercising, a few weeks after you’ve given birth is the most efficient way of managing your weight and losing it when breastfeeding. Something as easy as going out for a walk can have gigantic effects of your belly. Power walks, small cardio burst workouts and even some light resistance training can do wonders for your goals.
It is imperative to take everything with a certain degree of moderation. Do not exercise to the point of exhaustion. It is also very important to get the green light from your physician postpartum.
7. Sleep and rest:
People, on an average, need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. This task is particularly challenging for breastfeeding moms who are regularly expected to nurse throughout the night. Taking adequate rest, however, is essential when trying to lose weight. Consider taking cat naps during the day; or using a pump and storing milk for those midnight jaunts; hire a babysitter; make a chore chart to distribute the household responsibility.
What is important is that every mom who wants to lose weight while breastfeeding has to make sleeping a priority.
There really is no magic bullet on how to lose weight while breastfeeding. Sure, our anatomy helps in that regard – as we’ve covered – but it is still an uphill battle that moms have no other choice but to trek and fight.
The only real trick is to stay positive, not get frustrated and know that you are not the only one Googling – at their wit’s end – the secrets to how to lose weight while breastfeeding.
Jacob Pearson is a registered dietitian with an expertise in sport nutrition. He has considerable research experience and is passionate about providing evidence-based health, fitness and nutrition articles for the general public. In his free time, Jacob enjoys hiking, travelling and exploring healthy foods as he does. Jacob loves wholesome food, performing body-weight exercises and can be found hiking his local trails. Outside of work, his wife, Emily and two kids, Jake and Drew, keep him busy with basketball tournaments and baseball coaching.