Many of you have asked how many calories you should be eating when you’re trying to lose weight while breastfeeding. This is a tricky one because it’s different for everyone. I’ll go over some of the factors so you have the info you need to make the best decision for you personally.
As we talked about in the first webinar, it takes a 3500 calorie deficit to lose a pound. You can achieve this deficit by burning calories (exercise), ingesting fewer calories (eating less, or eating lower calorie foods), or a combination of both.
When you’re baby is exclusively breastfeeding, you’re burning about 850 calories per day. If you’re doing any exercise on top of that, you’re burning even more calories. Odds are you’re much hungrier now than before you were pregnant or even when you were pregnant, and that’s because your body is burning so many calories making milk. (Want proof? Look at how big your baby is compared to when he/she was a newborn, how many clothes she’s outgrown, how many fat rolls she has now 😉 — all that growing is due to calories that came from YOU!)
If you really restrict calories while you’re breastfeeding, it will not only affect your energy level but also your milk production. And until your baby begins solids and is nursing less, it’s best not to do anything that will lower your milk supply. Most people lose some weight right after their baby is born, but don’t lose all of their baby weight until they wean their baby. Until weaning (1-2 years), it’s normal to hang onto a few extra pounds because your body needs this fat tissue in order to make milk. You shouldn’t feel bad about this — it’s normal and important for nursing your baby.
That being said, there are some things you can do to keep yourself healthy while you’re breastfeeding that will also aid in weight loss:
- Do moderate exercise. Walking is a great way to get out of the house, introduce your baby to fresh air and the neighborhood, and burn some calories! A brisk 3-4 mile walk is a great workout, but you’ll probably enjoy it enough to not realize you’re working out.
- Eat frequently. No one can make good eating decisions when she’s starving. So don’t let yourself get to the starving point. Keep healthy snacks on-hand — at home, in the diaper bag, in the glove compartment of the car, etc. so that you’re prepared to eat when you’re hungry. Its hard to find time to fit in full meals when you’re a busy mom, but it’s not as hard to keep snacks handy. This will really help keep your appetite in check. Here are some snack ideas for hungry moms.
- Snacks (and meals) should combine lean protein, carbs, and some fat. This combination will help keep you satisfied for longer. See this list for snack ideas.
- Rid your house of tempting junk food. Yes, you need more calories when you’re breastfeeding, but it’s better to get those calories from wholesome foods rather than treats. If there’s junk in your cupboards that’s tempting you every time you go into the kitchen, remove it from your house. If you like to keep treats around for occasional indulgences, just make sure you’ll be able to eat these treats in moderation. I like to keep one treat (ice cream, chocolate-covered almonds, chips) around at a time — this helps me eat treats in moderation.
- Keep a food diary for a few days (part of this week’s homework!). When you review it later, look for places or times of day when you’re indulging in a way you know is not healthy. Want help looking over food diary? Email it to me for some recommendations (the optional part of this week’s homework).
- Bulk up your meals with vegetables. Add vegetables to everything: pastas, rice, tacos, sandwiches, wraps, casseroles, soups, etc. Vegetables are low in calories, but add volume and fiber (not to mention needed nutrients), so that your meals and snacks will keep you feeling full for longer.
- Plan ahead. Easier said than done, but it’s a key to healthy eating. You have to devote time to healthy habits if you expect them to become real “habits.” Plan a time to grocery shop at least once a week, plus a time for “food prep” where you’ll wash & cut produce, cook lean meats or eggs for snacking, and put healthy packaged snacks in all the spots you may want them (diaper bag, purse, car, stroller, etc). Instead of viewing this as a chore, think of it as a time where you can get out of the house for a shopping trip (put your husband on baby duty) then relax as you prep healthy food, perhaps while listening to music or catching up with a friend on the phone.
There’s lots more to say on this topic — so we’ll be visiting it again and again throughout the Lose the Baby Weight program!
** Image above taken from this link**