Let me guess, you’ve been told breastfeeding makes the weight just “melt off” after pregnancy? But this isn’t always the case and this assumption can leave you feeling frustrated and confused. If you struggle with losing weight while breastfeeding, you’re not alone!
After my first baby was born, I had this expectation that the extra weight I gained during pregnancy would just “melt off” from breastfeeding.
I was definitely misinformed!
Yes, some moms are able to shed the pounds more quickly than others while nursing.
However, for me, the weight didn’t just “fall off” like I was told. At least not right away and without putting in some extra effort.
While breastfeeding does burn approximately 425-700 EXTRA calories per day (source), this alone may not be enough to give you the rapid weight loss you were hoping for.
As a matter of fact, some women may have a hard time losing weight until they finish nursing. You can thank your female hormones for this. They can make fat loss a little tricky.
I think plenty of moms desire to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight. I know I sure did. I just finished my third pregnancy in 4.5 years and I learned a little something new each time.
The struggle to create and maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle as a brand new mom or mama of multiples is tough. With a little creativity, dedication, consistency and support, I promise you can reach your goals!
In this post, I share some reasons why it may be more challenging to lose weight while breastfeeding and seven tips I used to help lose weight after all three of my babies.
1. Increased appetite
The caloric deficit needed for weight loss can be difficult to maintain because breastfeeding mamas are typically hungrier than normal.
Breastfeeding can leave us feeling constantly starving due to the extra calories being used to produce milk.
I have always felt much hungrier while I was breastfeeding than pregnant.
2. Sleep Deprivation
Lack of sleep is a very significant factor in weight loss, regardless of breastfeeding or not.
Not getting enough sleep can cause spikes in our appetite due to hormonal fluctuations.
Hungry, sleep deprived moms tend to reach for snacks that are quick and easily accessible. However, these snacks tend to be higher in sugar and calories which is not optimal for weight loss.
3. Decreased activity level
This is a given, right?
We would rather sleep or cuddle our squishy, delicious smelling newborn rather than exercise or get outside for a walk to burn some calories.
Reduced activity with an increase in appetite and calories can be a big hurdle to reaching your weight loss goals.
So, what are some ways to still lose weight while breastfeeding?
Here is what helped me lose weight after all three of my pregnancies.
1. Make Savvy Food Choices
Breastfeeding is an excellent time to focus on developing healthier eating habits because what we feed our body, we feed our baby.
Sticking to healthy options instead of reaching for quick, sugary or processed foods will help keep your appetite at bay while also providing healthy nutrients for your baby.
This recipe book has been a HUGE lifesaver during the newborn phase when I am too tired and overwhelmed to come up with recipe ideas.
Not only does it provide healthy meal ideas but the recipes are all designed to help you maintain your breastmilk supply as well.
I highly recommend it and definitely “Struggles of a Fit Mom Approved!
2. Track your calories
According to Kelly Mom, most moms are able to maintain their milk supply on 1800-2200 calories a day.
Because you may feel hungrier while breastfeeding, tracking calories can help you stay on track.
I love apps like “Lose It” on my phone because I can enter my food while I’m nursing my little one.
I believe that calorie counting shouldn’t be a lifelong endeavor.
However, in order to learn proper portion control, you should have a good understanding of calorie counting.
At the end of the day, weight loss boils down to calories in vs calories out.
As long as you remain in slight caloric deficit, you will lose or maintain weight.
Eating foods that are nutrient dense will help keep your body fuller, longer which will help keep your appetite more satisfied and stay in your calorie range.
Keep in mind that during the newborn and breastfeeding phase, you are more sedentary while you nurse and cuddle your newborn.
This means that you aren’t burning as many calories throughout your day.
Yes, breastfeeding burns calories but being more sedentary may offset those extra calories burned.
I suggest to start eating around 1800-2200 calories and tracking as precisely as possible.
They play around with adding or reducing a few hundred calories from there until you find a balance that works for you.
If you are exercising, be sure to up your calorie intake on days you workout.
I would suggest only about 300-400 calories which is equivalent to a protein shake.
3. Add Extra Protein
Protein is the building block for our entire body. Not only does it help us to repair and rebuild our muscles, it also helps us control appetite.
I make a protein shake almost every single day, breastfeeding or not.
However, I find protein shakes to be much quicker, healthier and more convenient when you’re busy tending to a newborn. You can also add milk boosting foods like oatmeal or brewers yeast but make sure you add those foods to your calories intake for the day!
4. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is extremely important in not only maintaining your milk supply but also aiding in weight loss.
Because breastmilk is primarily composed of water, a dip in supply could mean you’re dehydrated.
I always tell my clients that our bodies can have a difficult time distinguishing between thirst and hunger.
This often causes us to reach for snacks instead of quenching our thirst.
If you are trying to lose weight or notice a dip in your supply, always try drinking more water or calorie free fluids before grabbing something to eat.
If you struggle with drinking plain water, I highly recommend using an infused water bottle. I LOVE mine.
5. Try Electrolyte Drinks
And yes, I get it on Amazon because it’s easier to have it shipped to my doorstep than having to lug 20 bottles of Gatorade and from the store to my house.
We can lose a lot of electrolytes through our sweat. The theory behind electrolyte drinks like Gatorade is that dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance can lower your breastmilk supply.
When I’m feeling a dip in my supply, especially after a sweaty workout, I immediately drink more water and Gatorade Zero.
6. Squeeze in Exercise Whenever and Wherever you Can
Finding time, energy and motivation to exercise with a newborn can feel impossible, especially if you have other kids around.
But even just 10 minutes a day can help you lose weight and reshape your body.
For example, when the weather is nice, take the baby for a walk. Throw in some lunges and squats on the walk and you’ve just upped your calorie burn for the day!
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If you like more structured workouts, I put together an entire workout program called Tone in 10.
It is designed to help you maximize your workouts and results when your short on time.
Trust me, several 10 minute workouts spread throughout the day can add up to huge results!
Not only that, being a mom can be extremely stressful. Adding in a few workouts can help you burn off some stress, boost mood and increase your energy to help keep up with the demanding mommy tasks!
7. Don’t Give Up!
I know, I know, this is way easier said than done. Especially if you’re not seeing results as quickly as you hoped.
It is very hard not to get discouraged when you feel insecure in your postpartum body and frustrated that you are unable to reach your goals as quickly as you hoped.
But keep in mind, breastfeeding can either help with weight loss or prevent you from losing those last few pounds.
However, it is important to remember that everyone experiences weight loss differently. The most important thing you can do is focus on your own goals and not compare your progress to others.
If you stay consistent, your hard work and dedication will inevitably pay off!
Related: 10 Simple Ways Busy Moms Stay Fit
I’m only one email away from helping you reach your goals or answer any questions. Never hesitate to reach out!
Brooke is a certified Prenatal and Postnatal Exercise Specialist with a Bachelors of Science degree in Kinesiology-Exercise Science. She is also a mom of 3 girls with more than 15 years of experience in health and fitness. Brooke’s goal at Struggles of a Fit Mom is to help motivate, educate and inspire other busy mamas who struggle with finding time, energy and motivation to take care of themselves in the chaos of motherhood.