Weight Loss While Breastfeeding
For some women, breastfeeding alone causes the pounds to melt away like a popsicle on asphalt during a southern Texas heat wave. For others, the baby weight is a little more stubborn, even while breastfeeding exclusively and on-demand. Every woman’s body, milk supply, metabolism, genetics, etc. are different and every baby’s needs are different, too. But one thing we know for sure is that breastfeeding requires energy and energy is measured in calories, IE – breastfeeding burns calories. How many? Well again, every woman is different. For some it may be 1,000 calories or more, for others it may be only 400.
The good news is that you can safely, effectively and intentionally lose weight while breastfeeding without compromising your milk supply. Fat loss occurs when your body uses stored body fat as a source of energy. How do you get your body to do this? You provide it with a little bit less calories (food) than it actually needs. This forces it to use stored fat to make up for the deficit.
The key to not compromising your milk supply is to test and find out how much energy your body requires and then slowly ease into a reasonable calorie deficit. Also, it’s important to note that breastmilk is comprised of 80% to 90% water so it is extremely important to drink plenty of water – at least 3 liters/day!
How do you find out how much energy your body needs on a daily basis? Well you can use a calculator (like this one on my website) to get a rough estimate of your energy needs before breastfeeding, and then add about 600 calories to that number to account for breastfeeding. Remember, every woman’s body is different so we’re just taking an average here and we’ll test these numbers for accuracy. Take that TDEE number (this is simply an estimate of how many calories you need daily on average) from the calculator, then add 600 calories to that number to account for breastfeeding and that’ll be your starting point. Keep track of the number of calories you consume throughout the day and try to eat within +/- 50 calories of that number. Do this for 2 weeks and track your weight every day. If your weight stays about the same, lower your calories by 200. If you lose weight, stick with that calorie number. A safe and healthy weight loss goal while breastfeeding is to lose approximately 1 pound per week.
KEY POINTS FOR WEIGHT LOSS WHILE BREASTFEEDING:
Drink plenty of water (aim for 3L/day)
Ease into a caloric deficit
Listen to your body
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your health, your baby or your breastmilk.
Ann is a wife, mother of 3, and founder of the Permission2Eat and The Daily Deficit weight loss program. She’s not a dietitian, fitness coach or anything else with fancy letters after my name. She’s just a mom that lost 25 pounds after having kids and is happier with her body than she ever was before having kids! People started asking her how she did it and that’s what inspired her to create a program to help other women do the same thing. Ann’s passion is to help mamas who love their babies to also love their bodies. The Daily Deficit takes women step-by-step exactly how to lose weight.