I remember when I was pregnant with each of my beautiful children I would always go through the pregnancy telling myself that when I deliver I am going to drop the weight and drop it quick. I would be itching to get back to working out after the six week mark and boy I started restricting calories almost immediately after getting home with my little ray of sunshine. Oh how I wish I knew then, what I know now. It was so bad…my first pregnancy I opted to stop nursing after only six weeks because the weight wouldn’t come off. Thankfully, for the rest I nursed much longer, but just resigned myself to waiting until after nursing to see any losses.
Even when nursing we will dramatically cut calories in efforts to make the scale move. It is even more detrimental when nursing because not only will the body go into starvation mode, you risk lowering your milk supply as well. The funny thing is, women that tend not to “diet” while nursing, following a non-restrictive diet tend to lose weight during their nursing phase. A full-time nursing mom burns approximately 500 calories per day, so if she is consuming healthy foods, eating regularly and feeding on demand weight loss is usually inevitable. Just adding a minimal amount of exercise will increase weight loss, for example going on a walk for a mile or two while pushing your precious cargo a few times per week.
It is so important not to restrict calories the first two months after delivery. Your body needs time to heal and you also need to establish an adequate milk supply for your little bundle of joy. Now, once you are past that point, yes you can start to restrict calories a little, but it shouldn’t be substantial. Here are steps/guidelines for successfully losing weight while nursing:
- Calculate your TDEE, BMR, using the appropriate activity level
- Subtract no more than 15% from TDEE for your cut value
- You have your cut value which includes your activity level, but it doesn’t take into account the numerous calories burned to produce the milk. If you nurse full time, then you need to add back in 500 calories and for part-time nursing mommies calculate the number of ounces you believe are being consumed and multiply it by 22. For example, if your cut value is 1800, then as a full time nursing mom you would consume a total of 2300 calories per day.
- Try to shoot for 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 30% fat
This is truly the time when you are “eating for two” and not the time for VLCD (very low calorie dieting). Relax in knowing that the benefits of breastfeeding extend well beyond just basic nutrition, but you are providing wonderful health benefits as well to your wee one. Oh, and let’s not forget about the priceless bonding that takes place. This is the most precious time, enjoy it, the weight will come off. Take it slow. Listen to your body, if you’re hungry then your body is telling you it needs fuel, so fuel it.