Last Updated on August 31, 2023 by Jada Glover
Now that you have successfully made it through pregnancy and delivery, you may feel anxious to fit back into your pre-pregnancy wardrobe. The good news is that there is a healthy way to lose weight during your postpartum period. The best postpartum diet plan for weight loss doesn’t have to be complicated.
However, it’s crucial to do so carefully, ensuring you provide your body with the necessary nutrition and know what foods to avoid.
While getting back to pre-pregnancy weight may seem your focus, breastfeeding moms must focus on maintaining optimal nutrition for a healthy milk supply since your body is making the milk your baby needs to grow.
As a Certified Health Coach and Certified Lactation Counselor for moms, I know how important nutrition is for post-pregnancy, breastfeeding moms. Breastfeeding moms should focus on proper nutrition while getting back to pre-pregnancy weight.
While the goal of slimming down is within reach, be patient with yourself. Stay mindful that your body has been through 9 months of growing and giving birth to a new baby, so be realistic and allow yourself time to recover.
Give your body time to recover. Losing weight too quickly can mean it will take you longer to recover.
Wait until your six-week checkup before actively attempting to lose weight. Breastfeeding moms should wait at least two months or until their breastmilk gets established before cutting calories to slim down.
Once you start focusing on healthy eating and exercise, look to lose no more than about a pound and a half a week. Losing weight too quickly while breastfeeding could decrease your milk supply. It may surprise you at how much weight you lose by breastfeeding alone.
Losing Weight After Pregnancy
Many moms return to their pre-pregnancy weight about six to 12 months after delivery. Remember that it took nine months for your baby to develop and grow inside of you, so allow time for your body to return to the desired size you enjoyed before the baby.
Some women lose half their baby weight by six weeks after childbirth.
Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet combined with low-impact, daily exercise to shed unwanted pounds.
Breastfeeding moms get an added boost in post-pregnancy weight loss since breastfeeding helps you shed those pounds.
Essential Nutrients for a Steady Milk Supply
Achieve your weight loss goals without compromising your breastfeeding journey. Choose a healthy, balanced diet that promotes overall health and well-being that also supports your breastfeeding needs.
Continuing to eat nutritious foods postpartum while breastfeeding is just as important as it was while you were pregnant. Consuming a healthy postpartum diet helps speed up your post-childbirth recovery.
Pay close attention to the foods you eat during your postpartum recovery, since everything you eat determines your breastfeeding baby’s health.
Lose The Weight in Time
After the baby arrives, you’re probably anxious to get back to that pre-pregnancy weight. However, be careful not to jump on a lose-weight-fast diet fad too quickly. The good news is that there is a healthy way to fit back into those pre-baby jeans while still providing the nutrients you and your breastfeeding infant need.
In addition to eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, follow these helpful pointers for shedding those postpartum pregnancy pounds:
Breastfeeding moms have an advantage in losing post-pregnancy weight. Breastfeeding helps your body burn between 300 and 500 calories per day.
Avoid Excess Calories
Please don’t abruptly cut your calorie intake to an unhealthy, low level. But, do avoid unnecessary empty calories in sugary drinks or junk food. Cut back on calories by eating smaller portions, and choose to eat healthy snacks.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, CDC, a breastfeeding mother needs between 2300 to 2500 calories every day compared to the 1800 to 2000 calories per day for a non-breastfeeding mom. This is especially true as your milk supply regulates in the beginning.
Of course, the exact calories you need depend on your body size, age, activity level, and how often you breastfeed.
When you add these extra calories, ensure they are filled with all the nutrients you and your baby need.
Add Fiber and Protein
Eat fiber-rich food to avoid constipation and keep your post-baby weight-loss healthy. Consume whole grain foods, fruits, and vegetables. Accelerate your weight loss and recovery with healthy protein.
One Step Backwards
Avoid taking a backward step in your post-partum weight loss by staying away from refined, processed, or sugary foods. Avoid foods packed with added sugar or refined carbohydrates like white flour, tons of pasta dishes, or desserts. Avoid processed foods high in sugar, salt, fat, and unnecessary calories.
Eat a Healthy Postpartum Diet
When you eat a healthy, well-balanced, and nutritious diet during your postpartum recovery you gain the following benefits:
- Faster healing and recovery
- Boost milk production
- Help to maintain energy levels
- Help to maintain healthy mental health
- Produce important hormones
- Help you lose weight
Eating healthy while recovering from childbirth and establishing a milk supply includes:
- Eating when you feel hungry
- Eating in moderation
- Consuming good fats
- Eating lean proteins at every meal
- Eating fruits and vegetables at every meal
- Limiting sugary, spicy, processed foods, and caffeine
Eat a healthy diet by including the following in your postpartum, weight-loss journey while breastfeeding:
- fruits and veggies
- healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and seeds
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins and minerals that your postpartum body needs. Include as many fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet as you can.
Buy organic and wash them well before consuming raw or juicing.
The added fiber will also help counter constipation.
Whole grains provide a good source of fiber and good carbohydrates needed for energy. Try brown rice, quinoa, and oats.
Eating proper amounts of protein will help your post-childbirth body regain strength. Lean meats and eggs contain protein as do lentils, peas, nuts, and seeds if you prefer a vegetarian or Vegan option.
Fruits and vegetables offer some amount of fiber as do whole grains. Try beans, apples, avocados, or broccoli.
Choline, Iodine, and Omega-3
Eat foods that naturally provide you with choline, iodine, and Omega-3. Choline and Omega-3, like folic acid, help your baby’s brain develop and improves immune function. Iodine helps keep your postpartum thyroid in balance. Omega-3-rich foods will also help ward off postpartum depression.
Include low-fat dairy options to get protein, Vitamin B, and calcium. Calcium helps your baby grow healthy bones and keep your postpartum bones strong.
Vitamin D supports a healthy immune system, mental health, helps build strong bones, and maintains a healthy thyroid. If you need a boost in Vitamin D in addition to sunshine and foods, consider taking a Vitamin D supplement.
Postpartum, breastfeeding mamas need to drink at least 16 cups of water. Breastfeeding mamas especially need to stay hydrated. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends breastfeeding mothers consume about 16 cups of water every day. This water intake equals about 1 gallon or 3 liters per day. This can come from drinks, food, etc.
Be sure you add some electrolytes into your day too so you get the minerals you need while breastfeeding. A great drink for this is coconut water with no added sugar.
You could also make your own electrolyte drink. Take a glass of fresh water, add a pinch of Himalayan salt, a dash of honey, and a squeeze of fresh lemon, and mix well.
Keep a large container of water nearby. Every time you nurse, drink a large glass of water. If you tire of tasteless water, fill a cup with cucumber slices, watermelon, or citrus fruit to add flavor to the water.
Part of the postpartum journey involves hormones that are resuming to a pre-pregnancy level. During pregnancy, progesterone runs high, but now estrogen starts to dominate.
Estrogen leads to weight gain, so its dominance plays a role in losing that postpartum weight loss.
You also may have high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, from lack of sleep.
The food you eat will also play a part in balancing hormones. For instance, insulin secretes after consuming carbohydrates. So, eating smaller portions could help.
Help balance your hormones by:
- Pairing protein with carbs to prevent blood sugar spikes.
- Limit processed and pre-packaged foods
- Continue taking your prenatal vitamins for up to a year after giving birth
- Go for a walk, or get some other low-impact exercise sessions in
Foods to Avoid
Stay away from binging on junk food or processed foods like cookies, potato chips, french fries, donuts, or a lot of sugary or oily foods.
Also, avoid alcoholic beverages or excess caffeine since both pass through to the baby through your breast milk. Limit your caffeine to 300 mg or less per day.
Caffeine doesn’t only lurk in that morning coffee. It’s also a good idea to avoid soft drinks and chocolate. Also, read any over-the-counter medication labels carefully to avoid any unnecessary stimulants.
Healthy Breastfeeding Snacks
Eat healthy snacks when you’re hungry between meals. Some healthy postpartum, breastfeeding snacks include:
- Whole grain crackers with almond butter
- Veggies and hummus
- Trail mix
- Apples and string cheese
- Grass-fed beef jerky
Additional Post-pregnancy weight-loss tips:
Your body is healing, and you are establishing your milk supply to provide nutrition for your baby. With this in mind, remember the following:
- A breastfeeding mom needs an additional 300 calories per day
- If you cut carbs to lose weight, it may negatively impact your milk production and make you feel tired or lethargic.
- Lean meat provides protein, zinc, iron, and Vitamin B12.
- Stay hydrated to sustain healthy milk production and energy.
- Avoid excessive sugary, oily, spicy, or gas-producing foods, and say no to nicotine, alcoholic beverages, or caffeinated foods or drinks.
Get A Customized Diet Plan
As a Certified Health Coach CHC and Certified Lactation Counselor CLC, I understand that your body has been through a lot, and breastfeeding while recovering from childbirth offers a new level of challenges in balancing nutritional needs.
Please don’t hesitate to ask me about low-carb or Keto diets for breastfeeding moms. Or other questions you may have, like, “What about intermittent fasting while breastfeeding?”
Let me customize a weight loss plan for you, a nursing mom.
For more information, check out my Lean Mamas Postpartum Weight Loss Program for Breastfeeding Moms which uses whole foods and a balanced plate eating approach. I also offer a Keto While Breastfeeding QuickStart Program that uses whole foods with a modified Keto approach.
Grab your free breastfeeding foods Shopping Guide to get started losing weight and feeling great while maintaining a healthy milk supply.
Set your priorities on eating healthy and providing nutritious milk for your nursing infant and not on a quick weight-loss diet plan. Allow your body to heal and recover from childbirth while you watch your body heal and slim down.
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