Not Losing Weight While Breastfeeding? Mama. I hear this all too often.
A lot of us hear that breastfeeding will have the weight just melting off, but for some of us that’s not the case. The good news is, you can still totally lose the weight, it just might take a little more intentional effort.
When you aim to lose weight while breastfeeding, it’s important to do so slowly and safely so that you don’t impact your milk supply. Rapid weight loss or extreme diet restrictions can cause your supply to dip – and none of us want that!
Yes, exercise is an important part of any weight loss program, but at the end of the day what we eat often has the greatest impact and can be the main culprit if you’re not losing weight while breastfeeding.
Read on for tips to lose weight while breastfeeding and diet plans that are totally breastfeeding friendly!
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Why am I not losing weight while breastfeeding?
I think we’ve all read or had someone tell us that breastfeeding is awesome for weight loss. But what about when it’s not? For some moms breastfeeding just doesn’t help the weight to budge. What gives?
For starters, weight loss associated with breastfeeding alone usually doesn’t occur until moms are 3-6 months postpartum. So, if you are still ahead of that on your postpartum timeline, don’t assume you won’t lose the weight, yet.
See what happens once your supply regulates
You see, around the 3-month mark our milk supply finally levels off. Until then, baby (and mama) are working hard to increase and build a solid milk supply. For the first few months you’ll likely be dealing with cluster feeding, engorgement, and leaky boobs, all as your body adjusts to what your growing baby needs.
Then this miraculous thing happens where your supply (and baby’s needs) finally normalize a bit! Around this time your boobs will stop leaking, and they probably won’t have that overly full feeling (unless baby goes an especially long time without eating).
And at this same time, many mamas report a sudden uptick in weight loss without changing too much else in their life. It’s like, our bodies hold onto fat stores to make sure we can supply what our baby needs, and once things regulate, your metabolism can start letting some of that weight go.
And then add in some diet, exercise and lifestyle changes
For some, it can be difficult to lose weight without intentional effort, even beyond the 12-week mark. This can happen for a few reasons:
- Some women’s bodies will naturally want to hold onto the last 5-10 pounds until their babies wean (without intentional weight loss efforts, that is)
- If you are restricting your diet significantly (especially before your milk supply is established) your body will go into a sort of starvation mode. It will hold onto weight and fat to try to maintain your supply
- You aren’t drinking enough water – this can be key to weight loss success without tanking your supply. HYDRATE MAMA!
- You’re not getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is linked to our bodies holding onto more weight for energy. I know it’s not always easy, but finding ways to clock more hours can really help your weight loss efforts!
- You’re not moving your body! Exercise and just general movement can really accelerate the work you’re doing with your diet. Babywear as much as possible, get out on brisk daily walks, and when you’re ready start an exercise program that you’re excited about. If you like the workouts you’re doing, you’re more likely to stick with it!
Breastfeeding friendly diet plans
When trying to lose weight while breastfeeding, it’s so important to give yourself enough fuel and calories! Our bodies need an extra 300-500 calories per day to maintain our supply.
The safest way to lose weight (especially while nursing) is at a rate of 1-2 pounds per week. This equates to a 3500-5000 calories deficit per week.
How many calories should you eat per day while breastfeeding to lose weight?
If you’re exercising aim for 2400 calories per day, and if you’re not exercising shoot for 1800-2000 calories per day (source).
But the thing is, I actually recommend NOT getting caught up on calorie counting. Instead, focus on eating to satisfy hunger, and make your calories count!
Eliminate empty calories, processed foods, and carb-loading – which is easier said than done when you’re sleep-deprived, believe me I know.
Instead, eat as much as you want, but choose REAL FOODS like lean proteins, fruits and veggies, healthy fats, and whole-grain carbs.
What to eat to lose weight while breastfeeding
According to registered dietician Melinda Johnson, try to incorporate at least three food groups at every meal and at least two food groups at snacks.
This will help you reach your serving goals for the day and challenge you to eat more variety instead of reaching straight for the carbs. Over the course of the day, here’s what you want to aim for:
- 3 Servings of fruit
- 4 servings of veggies
- 3 servings of dairy
- 4 servings of whole grains
- 3 servings of lean protein
- 1-3 servings of healthy fats
Breastfeeding friendly diet plans
The fact is, most experts don’t recommend following any fad diets or diets that completely cut out specific food groups (unless necessary for allergy/intolerance reasons). This is because our bodies need well-rounded nutrition when we’re milk making mamas!
Instead you really just want to focus on eating real foods from every food group. I know this can be challenging with a new baby around. I have found meal prepping and healthy crockpot recipes to be really helpful in making sure I’m eating real food instead of grabbing things from the pantry.
For snacks, I try to keep nuts, hard-boiled eggs, rice cakes with a healthy fat on top (avocado or nut butter), and fresh fruit around.
Related Reading: Breastfeeding Nutrition
Specific breastfeeding diet plan recommendations
But I know that some of us do better with guidance! Here are two plans to are generally accepted to be pretty breastfeeding-friendly according to Kelly Mom:
South Beach Diet (low carb diet plans): As a nursing mama, start with South Beach diet’s phase two and you shouldn’t have any issues with supply. This program can really help you understand how to eat healthy, whole foods throughout your entire day. It’s a great lifestyle-change kind of diet program vs. a crash diet. The South Beach Diet cookbook is full of great recipes, and a quick Pinterest search will yield tons of results, too!
Weight Watchers: if you really want a structured plan and guidance, Weight Watchers actually has a plan especially for breastfeeding moms. I haven’t used this (and this is not sponsored in any way!) but I have heard good things?
Focus on eating healthy foods and you’ll lose weight while breastfeeding!
I know that postpartum weight loss can feel frustrating and slow, but with some determination you can get back to your pre-baby weight.
Keep in mind that your body changed a lot and did an AMAZING thing during pregnancy. Growing a human is no easy feat.
Give yourself grace, and remember that weight loss after birth takes time. But with some healthy lifestyle changes you will see results over the course of a few months. Focus on hydration, sleep, whole foods, and daily movement and you’re bound to feel better for it!
Have a breastfeeding weight loss tip you’d like to add? I’d love to hear it!