Last Updated on July 21, 2023 by Jada Glover
To do something different in your life, like losing weight when breastfeeding, you have to make a change, right? And, the reason why you want to make a change has to be personal to you. So before we get into how to lose weight while breastfeeding, let’s talk about why you want to lose weight when breastfeeding.
This will help you stay accountable to yourself and motivated too! You’ll understand why you want to do it.
Like many of us, when we get pregnant, we think it may be a time to eat more because we are “eating for two.” But what I’ve learned, is that it means you need to be twice as careful about what you eat.
When we know better, we can do better. So, fast forward to having my son, I wanted to lose the unwanted, unplanned weight I put on when I was pregnant. For me, my “why” was because I wanted to live as long as possible!
I wanted to live a healthy life by eating the right foods, so that my body is adequately nourished. I battled with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in my early 20s. Ever since then, after discovering a healthy approach to overcoming it, I’ve been on a health journey of my own.
I don’t want to relive all those terrible symptoms like hormone imbalances and infertility. Changing my lifestyle is what enabled me to get pregnant with my son. So, why would I want to go back to living an unhealthy lifestyle again?
I value my body, just as you should. You want to fuel it with proper food, real food so you CAN lose weight when breastfeeding and feel great!
Please note that this article contains affiliate links, and that means that I may earn a commission if you buy something (at no additional cost to you). Read my full disclosure here. I only recommend products I use and love and recommend to my clients.
Can You Safely Lose Weight While Breastfeeding?
This is the most important question because a breastfeeding mother is responsible for the health of two people. Losing weight while breastfeeding is recommended by nutritionists and physicians only if it is carried out with a proper diet and exercise plan.
So, if you are working to fit in your old jeans within weeks after your delivery, you need to slow down. Don’t go for instant weight loss. Take it slowly and gradually so that your baby also gets the required nourishment through breastfeeding. A balanced diet combined with an effective nutrition and exercise strategy will be helpful to both you and your newborn.
Is It Okay To Lose Weight Fast While Breastfeeding?
Excessive postpartum weight loss is not healthy. If you start losing weight too quickly, you will be left exhausted, stressed, and tired, along with a milk supply that may lack vital nutrients. There can be many reasons behind these conditions, some examples are:
- Not providing your body with the required nutrients.
- Too busy taking care of others.
- Postpartum thyroiditis
Will My Breast Milk Supply Drop If I Lose Weight Too Fast?
Depending on the number of calories you are consuming in a day, your water intake, and electrolyte consumption, your breast milk supply could drop if you lose weight too fast. Although you want to lose it as quickly as possible, give yourself time to see results.
Losing weight while breastfeeding should be viewed as a process for this reason. Some moms may lose the weight fast, while others may struggle to get off that last five or ten pounds.
When you start consuming healthier foods, you’ll start seeing the results before you know it. The last thing you want to do is risk drying up your milk supply or not eating properly or enough, resulting in less nutritious milk for your baby.
Does Breastfeeding Help Postpartum Moms Lose Weight?
The widespread opinion that breastfeeding will help a mother lose weight much faster is quite true. Do you know how many calories breastfeeding burns? Breastfeeding burns as much as 500-700 calories per day depending on how often you’re breastfeeding.
However, every human body works differently. Therefore, many factors affect your weight loss efforts after pregnancy, including your pre-pregnancy diet, level of activity, and even your weight after the baby is delivered. A breastfeeding mother has the propensity to lose 1-2 pounds every month for the next six months.
When Is The Right Time To Start Losing Weight After Pregnancy?
You just gave birth to a beautiful little angel of yours. Your newborn needs your time and attention, whereas your mind and body need time to heal properly. Thus, give yourself about 2 months before diving into any diet or workout plans.
This will allow your body to recover from postpartum and establish a healthy milk supply for your little munchkin.
How Many Calories Should I Eat To Lose Weight While Breastfeeding?
A breastfeeding mother requires extra calories to remain active and provide her baby with an adequate milk supply. On average, breastfeeding mothers need approximately 450-500 more calories per day. So, that means a breastfeeding mother must consume on average 2300-2500 kcal per day.
You may have to increase your supply of calories based on your body weight, energy level, age, and, most importantly, the number of times you are feeding your child throughout the day.
How To Safely Lose Weight Fast While Breastfeeding – 12 Tips
Losing weight fast while breastfeeding may seem like an easy solution if you’re struggling with postpartum weight loss. Be sure you give yourself time and grace to see results. Consistency over time is the key.
Most importantly, if you have a treat here and there, don’t beat yourself up over it. Enjoy every bite and move on- just remember though, try to enjoy the sweets and processed foods occasionally.
What you put in your body is what you will get out of it- the better your choices, the more energy you’ll have to play with your baby and the better you’ll feel when you look in the mirror! Now, let’s review the top tips to safely lose weight when breastfeeding.
1. Start With Small Changes
Small changes over time, really lead to significant results. Read the book, The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy; you won’t regret it. He talks about small changes over time, yielding significant results in ANYTHING in life.
So, create habits that help you build up those healthy choice muscles. You will have to practice it over and over again so that it just becomes a habit. It takes approximately 21 days of doing something consistently for it to become a habit.
Just like breastfeeding took practice in the beginning, this will too. And if you are consistent and follow-through, you’ll see the results. Start by making small substitutions in your diet.
Instead of applesauce, if that’s what you usually go for, eat a fresh apple because it has far more fiber and nutrients and less sugar. Plus, your body will be able to absorb the nutrients in the apple much more easily.
Take a closer look at anything you buy that comes in a package. Look at the ingredient label, which is typically located on the back of the box. Disregard any of the marketing claims on the front of the package, that’s where food manufacturers get sneaky.
When was the last time you checked out the ingredient label on the crackers or the applesauce you buy? That’s a great place to start because you’ll be able to see what’s actually in what you’re eating. Just because we see a picture on the front of a box, that doesn’t mean that that’s the only thing in it, unfortunately.
Check for added sugar, preservatives, food dyes, just different things that food manufacturers like to sneak in there to make things taste better. And, if you’re used to eating that kind of stuff – spoiler alert: your taste will change the less often you eat junk food.
Examples of making small substitutions that can help you lose weight while breastfeeding:
- Remove one soda a day. If you’re a big soda drinker, then replace one soda with sparkling water. Buy sparkling water with ONLY the fruit essence, no added sugar or sweetener.
- Substitute white bread for whole-grain bread. If you typically eat white bread for your sandwiches, then substitute that for whole-grain bread. My family eats Ezekiel bread or Dave’s Killer Bread.
2. Shop Smart
One of the reasons why I created my Postpartum Weight Loss Program for Breastfeeding Moms is because I hear from a lot of moms that they can’t afford to eat healthily. Shop sales!
Check out your local grocery store sale ads online. You can view them online before you even step foot in the grocery store and make your list before you even go to the store so that you can stay goal-oriented on why you’re there.
Write down your shopping list, and stick to that mission. You can also check out local bent and dent stores where they sell food for less, farmer’s markets, and local farms. You can always get produce cheaper when you can get it from the source, like a family farm.
More tips for shopping smart and eating healthy:
- Don’t go to the grocery store hungry.
- Shop the perimeter of the store. Save yourself from processed temptations, typically in the middle of the store.
- Buy organic produce when it’s in season.
- Wash your conventional produce in vinegar and water at home, to get rid of pesticides, fertilizers, and wax coating.
- Invest in grocery delivery if you can afford it.
3. Make Smoothies
When you’re breastfeeding your baby, and you have a family to take care of, you want the most accessible foods possible so that you can maintain this kind of lifestyle and lose weight while breastfeeding. Smoothies are a great quick meal that you can either eat as a meal or as a snack.
They can be nutrient-dense because you can add protein, carbs, and fats, including green vegetables. You can make them in the morning for breakfast or a snack. They are great if you are on the go too. Make one for breakfast before you leave the house, and sip on it on the way to work or school.
You can add one or more of almond milk, flaxseed, flax oil, hemp seeds, kale, spinach, or protein powder. My favorite green to add is spinach. If I add half a banana and spinach, the banana always masks any “green” flavor. I usually put in two handfuls, but start small if you need to, and work your way up.
There are lots of different options with smoothies, which makes it an excellent choice for breastfeeding mothers to get their nutrients in quickly. It’s super versatile and quick and easy.
4. Eliminate 3 Key Ingredients
Focus on the quality of foods and not as much on the quantity, because when you add more nutrient-dense foods to your diet, you’ll see an increase in your energy. You’ll feel better, you’ll sleep better, and you’ll just feel fuller and more satisfied for longer.
Try not to think of eating healthy to lose weight when breastfeeding as depriving yourself.
You can eliminate 90% of the junk food in your diet or the processed foods in your diet just by avoiding the following three ingredients:
- High fructose corn syrup.
- Hydrogenated oils
- Anything with a number, any ingredient with a number such as color dyes.
All of these will be on the ingredient label on the package. So I highly suggest you take a look at all of the ingredient labels of things that you’re eating currently and just do an inventory to see if any of those three ingredients are present.
If so- eliminate them! All of these alter our brain chemistry. Of course, you want the healthiest brain possible, for yourself and your baby.
However, you can treat yourself occasionally. Don’t deprive yourself because if you do, you’ll likely end up wanting more of it in the long term. There’s a reason why we call them treats! There’s a reason why we only get a birthday cake for our birthday.
When you have a treat, try to make them at home when possible, and turn it into a fun, healthier option. Get creative with it! For example, instead of using white sugar, use honey or maple syrup.
Remember, you’re setting examples for your children. When you eat junk food, that’s setting your children up to eat junk food too. They learn from you, especially as babies and toddlers.
You want to shape their palates. The flavors of the food you eat also pass through your breastmilk to your baby, so why not expose them to the best, nutrient-dense foods possible?
5. Invest In Yourself
Sometimes we need a coach to help us on our journey. Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself. You cannot put a price tag on the long-term benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
The results won’t just benefit you either – think about the impacts on your relationships with your kids, your spouse/partner, and your life with your friends. Have you ever been embarrassed to put on a swimsuit after having your baby?
You don’t have to feel that way, mama! Take some time to reflect on what you want. If you’re ready to take action and invest in yourself, so you can have more energy, get better sleep, and lose weight when breastfeeding without losing your milk supply, you need a partner to help you!
That’s where I come in. This is what I do! I help mamas get real results so they can be the best versions of themselves! Maybe you’ve downloaded a diet plan from somewhere, you’ve been exercising every day, but you’re still not getting the results you want.
That’s because you haven’t been shown HOW to get the results. You need guidance, support, and accountability. It feels good to feel good, right?
Check out my most popular program, Postpartum Weight Loss Program for Breastfeeding Moms, where I teach mamas like you how to lose weight while breastfeeding.
6. Drink Lots Of Water
Water is the best natural resource given by God. Whether you are trying to lose weight or not, water is always the most basic body requirement. It is 100% free of calories, helps your body get rid of the extra calories through active digestion, and removes toxins from the body.
Newborns rely on their mother for an active milk supply, so a mother must stay hydrated! Maintain a habit of drinking 12 cups (96 fluid ounces) per day.
7. Improve Nutrition
You are likely to feel hungrier since you have another little tummy to feed. Going for a clean, healthy, and well-balanced diet is an easy way to lose weight while breastfeeding. Try to improve your eating habits by involving the following elements in your diet.
- Eat fiber-rich fruits and healthy vegetables. Opt for organic when possible.
- Increase the number of lean proteins in your diet. Lean proteins have less than 10g of fat and are a good form of nutrients. Some common sources of lean proteins include eggs, fish, chicken, meat, dairy products, beans, seeds, and nuts.
- Include healthy fats in your meals, such as olive oil, avocado oil, avocados, almonds, and coconut oil. This will fuel your body while also providing nutrients for your baby’s development and growth.
- Eat Omega-3s which will help prevent postpartum depression and help your baby’s brain development.
8. Try The Keto Diet Plan
These days, many breastfeeding moms are adopting a Keto diet plan to shed off all that extra weight without compromising their milk supply. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to do keto while breastfeeding.
You want to start by switching the quality of foods you’re eating to whole, real foods. Then, you can gradually decrease the number of carbohydrates you are eating on a daily basis. Never dip below 75 carbs before you wait and assess your milk supply.
Embracing the keto diet can be a good idea for losing weight while breastfeeding for many reasons. The traditional keto diet limits your carb and sugar intake to around 5%, but allows you to have a high intake of fats (75%) and adequate proteins (20%).
You’ll want to add in more carbs if you’re breastfeeding, at least to begin with. This forces your body to go into a ketogenic state, and the body uses its supply of fat for producing energy. This allows your body to break down the stored fat in your body, helping you lose extra pounds in a healthy way.
The primary benefit of the keto diet is that the food allowed during the diet is quite filling, and so you feel pretty stuffed even by taking a few calories. Besides, the diet restricts you from eating packaged and processed food along with decreasing sugar consumption. This makes your weight loss journey even faster and smoother.
The positive side of the keto diet is that it will not affect milk production when done gradually and methodically. When you’re eating healthy foods, your baby will get his share of nutrients even if you are on this diet.
If you are interested in trying keto while breastfeeding, check out my Keto and Breastfeeding Video Workshop + Quickstart Guide!
9. Don’t Forget To Exercise
To get their body back in shape, mothers often start exercising vigorously. This thinking needs to be changed. Yes, working out is an excellent way to restore your former figure, but now you have a baby who entirely depends on you for nourishment.
Wait for at least 6-8 weeks after delivery before starting your workout routine. Even after starting, avoid extensive exercises such as cardio workouts. Opt for postpartum-safe workouts like yoga, pelvic floor therapy, and deep breathing.
Start your day with a 20-30 minute workout, or go for a light walk to the nearest park with your little fella! There are also safe exercises to lose the baby weight that you can do.
10. Get a Good Nap
A healthier body needs a healthier mind. You may be surprised at the fact that sleeping also contributes to your weight loss journey. Being a new mom with a baby to nurse throughout the night, you may not get enough sleep.
If you wish to stay healthy and lose weight, it is time you start taking short naps when your baby sleeps. Weight gain is often associated with a lack of sleep because your body needs time to recover and heal.
Getting proper sleep will help you in the following ways:
- Your muscles will relax.
- The body releases more growth hormones.
- Blood pressure returns to normal.
- Body organs and muscles receive more blood supply.
- Reduce cravings and the need for “quick energy” fixes.
11. Don’t Starve Yourself
Extreme dieting and calorie restriction while breastfeeding is not safe. Starving yourself and skipping meals just to lose weight quickly will only have an adverse impact on your health.
Remember, you are nursing, and you need extra energy to take care of your little one. Instead of going hungry for quick postpartum weight loss, go for smaller portions and enjoy smaller healthy snacks, such as a piece of fruit or your favorite smoothie.
12. Avoid Quick Fixes
Take it slow. For a nursing mother, losing weight shortly after giving birth is not considered safe. You may get tempted by the many fad diet ideas and weight loss medications claiming to give you your perfect body in no time, but this will negatively impact your health, along with the quality and quantity of milk production.
Don’t Fall For These Myths When Losing Weight While Breastfeeding
There is a reason why the health and fitness industry is such a profitable industry. Many companies prey on new moms, especially those that are trying to lose weight after having a baby. This is why it’s important that you don’t fall for these common myths.
Myth #1: You Can Eat Whatever You Want
Although this sounds great, it isn’t true. You can’t eat whatever you want while breastfeeding and expect to lose weight. The quality of the foods you eat when breastfeeding will impact your weight loss.
It’s not just a calories in, calories out game. Your body needs more nutrients when you breastfeed and will pass them on to your baby. Vitamins and nutrients like the following are important to get through the foods you eat.
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin A
- B Vitamins
- Fatty Acids (Omegas)
- Amino Acids
- Phytonutrients for oxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits
- Probiotics for gut health
If you’re not consuming them through the food you eat, your body will pull them from your maternal stores, and/or they will be in lesser quantity in your milk. The best breast milk is the most nutrient-dense breastmilk.
The foods that contain these are simple: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, wild-caught fish, pasture-raised meats, and poultry. When you eat these types of foods, you’ll feel more satisfied for longer periods of time.
Your body is able to process real food much easier than it can processed foods, like chips, cookies, white flour bread, white flour pasta, etc. When you fuel your body properly, you will likely notice your clothes fitting looser too.
On average, your body will use about 300-500 calories per day to produce milk for your baby. That amount depends on whether you’re exclusively breastfeeding or partially breastfeeding. This does not mean you have to consume that many extra calories. If your goal is losing weight while breastfeeding, you can easily start around 2,000 calories and see how your body responds.
Myth #2: You Can Cut Calories & You Won’t Lose Milk Supply
This is a big fat myth for sure. The last thing you want to do is go on a low-calorie diet. Your body needs healthy calories to produce the best milk possible for your baby. If you notice you aren’t losing weight while breastfeeding, or your weight has plateaued, try these things:
- Listen to your body’s physical hunger cues to eat when you’re hungry.
- Incorporate movement into your routine once you’re cleared by your doctor to exercise. Anything will help.
- Only cut calories about 100 calories at a time for a week to see how your milk production responds.
- Keep a balanced proportion of healthy fats, protein, and carbs as part of your diet. Don’t go below 50 carbs, especially initially, if you’re trying to do a ketogenic diet.
- Reducing calories should be a gradual process. Don’t expect to lose more than a pound a week.
Myth #3: You Only Experience Cravings When Pregnant
This is another one that I find interesting. Most moms have more cravings while breastfeeding than they do pregnant!
Some cravings during breastfeeding are normal. Your body is craving nutrients in the postpartum phase. Your hormones are rebuilding. It’s more important now than ever to focus on YOUR health as much as it is your baby’s.
Even if you are craving chocolate or other comfort foods, try to also include more nutrients in your diet too or opt for healthier alternatives, rather than deprive yourself or take them away. You’ll feel more satisfied.
Stress, tiredness, emotions…all of these things can lead to cravings too. Research has also found that elevated cortisol levels (the hormone associated with stress) have been associated with weight retention in the first 12 months postpartum.
Figuring out how to lose weight while breastfeeding can be tricky, but if you use the tips above and are careful it can be done safely.
I often hear from moms that they are struggling to lose weight while breastfeeding, but I want you to know it is not impossible when you have the right tools and knowledge. If you take the right approach by eating healthy real foods, you will start to see the scale drop without seeing a decrease in your milk supply.
Focus on a healthy lifestyle (stress reduction, quality sleep), moderate exercise, a happy attitude, and quality foods, and you’ll see results in the mirror. Losing weight while breastfeeding starts with feeling good in the body you’re in- the amazing body that birthed a baby and is now providing that baby with key nutrition.
If you want more help with losing weight while breastfeeding, here is a summary of the resources Lactation Mamas offers:
- Postpartum Weight Loss Program for Breastfeeding Moms (the most popular to start a healthy diet while breastfeeding eating real, whole foods)
- Keto and Breastfeeding Video Workshop + Quickstart Guide
Be sure to check them out and if one sounds right for you, sign up!