When it comes losing weight in any scenario, calories in vs. calories out is one of the baseline formulas in fitness. For the breastfeeding mother, the calorie burn for dispensing liquid gold can vary, with some organizations like Le Leche League estimating the calorie loss between 500 to 700 calories a day. Does this mean breastfeeding will help you lose weight?
Whoa. Let’s take that in: If Le Leche League is right, this equates to about a pound of weight loss (1200 calories) every two days. Sounds like the miracle diet plan, right?
Not so fast.
The answer to that question and how much weight breastfeeding will help you lose is determined by a few factors: pre-pregnancy weight, diet and physical activity level. While some mothers think if they just breastfeed and lounge, the weight will just pour off, this isn’t the case. Eating right and exercise are huge components in that journey.
From personal experience, I can tell you that my body never looked as good as it did breastfeeding with a daily goodies ranging from beer, nutella to ice cream. However, in that mix was a steady mix of exercise, with at least three workouts per week.
Some mamas, like my friend Melissa, found she got into better shape after nursing. “I found I was always hungry and eating way more than I should.” In addition, as her little ones got older, she found she could safely take time away from her baby and do individual workouts that enabled her to focus on herself.
Follow these expert tips for the fastest way to lose weight while breastfeeding, and ensure it stays off:
Remember to drink water
Breastfeeding is about 90% water. The struggle of thirst is real. Ensure you keep up your fluids, especially downing water before and while feeding your little one.
Start slow when it comes to postpartum exercise
Experts recommend you typically wait 6 to 8 weeks before returning to exercise. Between your lady parts and ab muscles healing, it can be tough to hit the gym before that point. However, if you’re feeling good and you’re doctor has cleared you before that point, there’s no reason you can’t start.
The important thing is to ease into. This is the number one overlooked component of being successful with fitness. It starts with a small activity and feeling good.
Perhaps a 20-minute stroller walk where you pick up the pace? Or a 20-minute postpartum Peloton workout?
My first pregnancy I waited the recommended six weeks, and the second time around I felt ready at four weeks. By getting back to the gym sooner, my strength and weight loss skyrocketed. I started at four weeks postpartum struggling to do a push-up on my knees and by the end, I could do 100.
For some great postpartum workout routines and inspiration, check out:
- Strong as a mother, Robin Arzon’s pregnancy journey
- Healthline’s “The Best Postpartum Exercises to Do Right Now”
- Mommy and Baby Fitness – Live classes that are incredibly baby friendly and ease you back into exercise.
Do your best to eat "right"
As a former fitness instructor, I have never been a fan of dieting. Diets suck. The mental restriction alone causes you to eat more. So here’s my advice. Eat your nutella. Have your wine. Just do that 20% of the time. The other 80% focus on eating right like leafy greens, fruit, meals you know are inherently healthy and avoid takeout when you can.
Bread and pasta have bad wraps. I have personally never gained weight from making a turkey cheese bagel, with an apple, a daily lunch meal. I have also never gained weight with homemade pasta. It’s the Italian restos that get me into trouble.
Enjoy this journey. #OWNITMAMA