Last Updated on April 18, 2023 by Jada Glover
Are you anxious to start dieting after recently having your baby? Did you put on more weight than intended during pregnancy?
Maybe you were experiencing cravings during pregnancy, extra tired, or just not feeling well so you ate more processed foods. Some moms even use pregnancy as a reason to eat more (that was me!)
Don’t worry, mama, you’re not alone! That’s why in this article I’m sharing the best breastfeeding weight loss meal plan. When you follow this plan you can feel your best and still breastfeed your baby successfully.
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.
Why Is a Meal Plan Important For Weight Loss While Breastfeeding?
There are many factors that you have to balance in order to lose weight while breastfeeding. These include:
- Maintaining an adequate milk supply for your baby
- Accommodating special dietary needs
- Eating enough calories (but not too much)
- Drinking enough water and electrolytes
- Eating specific nutrients through your food that will help both you and your baby thrive
It can feel complicated, especially at first. That’s why it is important to use a meal plan for weight loss while breastfeeding. Creating a meal plan will help you stay organized so you aren’t pulling your hair out or scrambling for meals each day.
Planning is critical when you’re trying to maintain a sustainable, healthy diet to lose weight while breastfeeding. I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying, “If you fail to plan, plan to fail”. 😉
There are many ways to create a breastfeeding meal plan depending on your dietary preferences, your family’s likes/dislikes and more. Although it’s not strictly a calories in-calories out equation, the number of calories you eat in a day or week versus what you’re using to make milk and your daily physical activities will determine your net usage and impact your weight loss results.
Breastfeeding Meal Plan Calorie Goals
You want to aim for about 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week. If you lose weight too quickly, it may come right back on due to an unsustainable approach. Or, you could be passing on toxins to your baby through your breast milk, which you don’t want either.
Some moms require a lot more calories than others while breastfeeding. This is very dependent on the following factors, as well as your genetics.
- Age, weight, and height
- How often you breastfeed or pump (exclusively, partially, occasionally)
- Physical activity/exercise you’re getting
- How much weight you gained during pregnancy
- Your maternal fat stores
- If you’re pregnant and breastfeeding (a diet or calorie restriction is not usually recommended in this case – consult with your doctor first)
Your body uses about 300-500 calories per day to make breast milk. It takes calories to make milk and you’re giving away calories in your milk.
In general, you should not reduce your calories below 1,800-2,000 calories per day as a breastfeeding mother, whether you’re intentionally trying to lose weight or not. Some breastfeeding moms may require more calories – 2,200-2,400 calories per day or more. And, if you’re breastfeeding twins, this number will be even greater.
You need energy to feed your baby and maintain your own health. I know you may be in a hurry to lose the baby weight.
But remember, you didn’t gain it overnight. It took you 9 months or more.
Gradual weight loss while breastfeeding is the goal. Focus on balanced, nutritious meals that fuel your body rather than drastically cutting calories.
Types Of Weight Loss Breastfeeding Meal Plans
The type of diet you choose should be one that balances healthy meals with enough calories and nutrients to produce milk and give yourself plenty of energy. Pick one that is sustainable for your preferred way of eating and lifestyle. Combine it with mindful eating to achieve the best results.
Here are a few types of breastfeeding weight loss meal plans that offer what you need as a breastfeeding mom.
A modified low-carb or keto diet can help some breastfeeding moms lose weight, but it’s important to make sure you’re still getting enough nutrients through quality foods. A lot of moms that choose this modified keto approach have done keto in the past, so they are familiar with it. If this is you, keep in mind that more carbs may be required while breastfeeding than what you’re used to.
I have first-hand experience doing a modified keto diet while breastfeeding my son. I used this approach to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight (50 pound weight loss), and I have helped many moms through my Keto While Breastfeeding weight loss program.
Based on my combined experience with a modified keto diet for breastfeeding moms, I suggest eating at least 50-75 carbs per day (very dependent on many factors as discussed earlier). Sometimes this modified method is called the Keto 2.0 diet in the diet and fitness community because it is a modified version of the original keto diet.
You’ll see gradual weight loss with this method, which should be your goal anyway. Good low-carb food options include:
- Lean proteins
- Leafy greens
- Low sugar fruit
- Healthy fats like wild-caught salmon, avocado, berries, and nuts
I suggest moms eat this way (remove as many processed foods as possible) before limiting any carbs so their bodies can adjust to a cleaner way of eating first. Eating more nutrients can also supercharge your postpartum recovery.
If your supply drops on a keto diet, try adding 1-2 servings of whole grains per meal such as quinoa, brown rice, or 100% sprouted whole wheat bread to help bring it back up again.
Whole30 Elimination Diet
If you’re looking for a reset, you can try the Whole30 elimination diet which is a 30-day program designed to reset your body and help you establish healthier eating habits. Since the program emphasizes eating whole, real foods, this can help you get the nutrients you need as a breastfeeding mom to maintain milk supply and lose weight.
This way of eating may be harder to stick to over the long-term because it eliminates all added sugars, grains, dairy, legumes, alcohol, and processed foods. On a Whole30 diet you’ll focus on eating whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, nuts, and seeds. Avoid ingredients such as MSG, sulfites, and other preservatives.
For 30 days, it may be okay, but remember that you will need to eat enough calories to maintain milk production. You should be feeling more energized, have better digestion, and may lose weight during the program.
Focus on how you feel rather than a number on a scale. This is sage advice for any breastfeeding weight loss meal plan that you may be following.
After the 30 days of strictly whole food eating, you can start reintroducing some of the foods you eliminated (the healthier ones of course like whole grains) to see how your body responds to them.
The paleo diet is based on the idea of eating like our ancestors did during the Paleolithic era, before the development of (modern) agriculture. Similar to a whole foods approach, the paleo diet emphasizes whole, nutrient-dense foods such as lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
At the same time you will eliminate processed and refined foods, grains, legumes, and dairy products. The paleo diet also emphasizes the consumption of grass-fed and pasture-raised meats, wild-caught fish, and organic produce.
There is less emphasis on the number of calories and cuts of meat you’re eating as long as you’re choosing whole food and animal sources. This is also not an elimination diet, this is more of a lifestyle approach (unlike Whole30). It can be helpful if you’re trying to help your entire family eat better.
Eat until you’re full and satisfied, but be mindful of your total calorie intake and portion sizes. If you’re trying to create a breastfeeding meal plan for weight loss, eating a paleo diet is a great option. It will give you lactation nutrients, energy, and fuel your body with the food it needs to feel well long-term.
The Mediterranean diet focuses on sprouted whole grains, some dairy, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats such as fatty fish, olive oil. and nuts. Because of the (mostly) whole foods inclusion, and eating foods that are minimally processed, this is a great option for breastfeeding moms.
A Mediterranean diet combined with a Paleo diet is how I eat to maintain my weight while nursing my babies. I’m half Turkish, so I enjoy eating this way; maybe it’s in my genes. 🙂
This allows me to eat whole, real foods, get the proper nutrients I need for adequate milk supply, and leaves me feeling full and satisfied. Sometimes I enjoy sprouted whole grain bread and full-fat yogurt for the fiber and probiotic benefits. This also allows me to splurge on special occasions and not feel guilty about it.
I have also learned to incorporate mindful eating tactics that help me to eat when I’m hungry and stop or slow down eating when I’m full. These mindful eating strategies have helped me lose my pregnancy weight even faster the second time around. They also helped me maintain my weight and reduce cravings while breastfeeding.
You can checkout the Lean Mamas Postpartum Weight Loss Program for Breastfeeding Moms, where I include all my tips, including a 30 Day Mindful Eating Guided Journal to help you safely and effectively lose weight while breastfeeding.
Sample Weight Loss Meal Plan for Breastfeeding Mothers
The following sample one day meal plan is for breastfeeding moms who want to lose weight while breastfeeding. It is intended to be a sample meal plan that shows you how to eat real, whole foods.
This is not a low carb/keto sample day. You will want to aim for an average of 2,000-2,200 calories per day. As I’ve mentioned before, calorie count will vary from mom to mom so I’ve intentionally omitted portion sizes from this sample meal plan so you can adjust according to your needs.
Listen to your body’s hunger and satiety cues to help guide you as well. If you are following this plan, add more food/portion sizes if you still feel hungry, or reduce or stop eating if you start feeling full.
- Oatmeal with sliced banana, cinnamon, and a tablespoon of almond butter
- A cup of black coffee or green tea with dairy-free creamer or whole milk/cream
- Large spinach salad with cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, grilled chicken breast, pecans, blue cheese (or other toppings of choice) and 2 tablespoons of olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing
- Whole-grain pita bread or gluten-free crackers on the side
- Grilled salmon fillet with roasted asparagus, mashed sweet potatoes, and brown rice
- Fresh berries with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey
- Apple slices with a tablespoon of peanut butter
- Baby carrots with hummus dip
- Boiled egg and a small handful of homemade trail mix
This meal plan is rich in whole foods and provides a variety of nutrients, including complex carbohydrates, lean protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Remember to also stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of water.
I hope you found this one day sample meal plan helpful. If you want more meal examples, you can get my 21-Day Breastfeeding Meal Plan for Weight Loss guide.
Breastfeeding Weight Loss Meal Plan Nutrients To Include In Your Diet
Proper nutrition is a huge part of the milk supply equation and thus, an important consideration on any breastfeeding weight loss meal plan. Although it is sometimes overlooked as a secondary factor, key lactation nutrients play a vital role in your ability to make milk.
Your milk quality can also be altered by the types of foods and nutrients you’re eating (like the quality of fats you’re eating, for example). Staying hydrated is also very important component of any breastfeeding weight loss meal plan.
Drink to thirst. Check your urine to make sure it’s a pale yellow. This will help you determine if you’re drinking enough water.
Usually that means at least 8-10 glasses per day. Naturally, you should feel more thirsty while breastfeeding anyway.
Add an electrolyte drink to your day. My favorite is this electrolyte powder made by Earthley Wellness. It is completely safe for breastfeeding moms and gives you natural electrolytes from real food sources for the best bodily absorption possible.
The following key nutrients are important to include in any breastfeeding meal plan for weight loss. This will help ensure you’re setting yourself up to successfully continue to breastfeed your baby and balance your hormones to lose weight.
These critical breastfeeding nutrients include:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
- Omega-3s and other healthy fats
I put together some key elements to consider when you’re looking for the best breastfeeding meal plan. These questions helped me after having both of my babies while I was breastfeeding to lose the unwanted pregnancy weight I gained.
What To Eat On a Breastfeeding Weight Loss Meal Plan
After having a baby, you experience a drastic shift in hormones. By consuming a diet in these nutrients, and making other healthy lifestyle choices, you can help to balance those hormones in the postpartum stage.
What foods contain these vital nutrients, so you can be sure you’re including them in your breastfeeding meal plan?
Fruits & Vegetables
Aim for fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can help to reduce inflammation and support hormone balance. Aim for a variety of colors, as each color provides different nutrients.
Some examples include brown rice, quinoa, and oats. They are rich in fiber. Fiber helps to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance, which can lead to hormonal imbalances.
The fats found in nuts, seeds, avocados, and fatty fish are essential for hormone production. Omega-3s in particular have been shown to reduce inflammation, support hormonal health, and prevent postpartum depression.
Protein is important for maintaining muscle mass and a healthy metabolism.
Antioxidants & Fermented Foods
Foods that are high in antioxidants like berries and fermented foods like sauerkraut, Greek yogurt, and kimchi, are also important for immune health and your microbiome (and your baby’s!).
The good news is you can get these essential nutrients from your daily whole foods meal plan. Don’t skimp on these nutrient-dense foods as these will give you energy, reduce your cravings, support good milk production, and support your own health and your baby’s growth and development.
I do a deep dive into lactation nutrients and foods inside my Lean Mamas Postpartum Weight Loss Program for Breastfeeding Moms.
Supplements can also be helpful in the short term if need be. Just choose quality supplements.
Some breastfeeding mothers may need to supplement their diet with additional nutrients such as calcium or vitamin D. You can read my list of preferred breastfeeding weight loss supplements here.
Foods To Avoid On a Meal Plan For Weight Loss While Breastfeeding
If you’re following a meal plan for weight loss while breastfeeding, you’ll want to avoid or limit some foods that may be harmful to your overall health, disrupt your hormones, or reduce your milk supply.
Here are some foods to limit or avoid.
Processed Foods & Added Sugars
Processed foods are often high in calories, unhealthy fats, and added sugars. These foods cause inflammation in the body and disrupt hormone balance. They are usually low in nutrients, which is especially important when you’re breastfeeding.
Instead, choose real foods that are minimally processed. This also includes sugary drinks which can add “empty calories” to your daily intake without any nutrient benefits. If you’re looking for electrolytes, opt for healthier alternatives like coconut water.
It’s best to avoid alcohol while breastfeeding as it can negatively affect your milk production, leave you feeling depressed, and decrease your metabolism.
Consuming too much caffeine can make your baby fussy or interfere with his or her sleep. Limit your caffeine intake to no more than 300 milligrams per day (about 2-3 cups of coffee).
Caffeine is also known to cause dehydration in the body. It can reduce the amount of water and decrease breast milk volume (which has 87% water in it).
Fish High In Mercury
Certain fish, such as shark, swordfish, and king mackerel are high in mercury, which can be harmful to your baby’s development. Fatty fish is important for your Omega-3 healthy fat levels though.
Limit your intake of these fish and choose low-mercury options such as wild-caught salmon, trout, and sardines instead. You can get more information from the CDC by clicking the link on the best choices of low-mercury fish for breastfeeding moms.
Certain Herbs & Supplements
Some herbs and supplements can negatively impact milk production or be harmful to your baby. Herbs or foods that may decrease milk production include parsley, sage, and peppermint.
Sage is usually found in holiday dishes such as dishes at Thanksgiving. Peppermint is found in candies, teas, and bubble gums.
Try to avoid these foods in large quantities if you can. However, consuming a little amount does not typically have any effect on milk production. Some hormonal medications, vitamins, and substances like cannabis and nicotine can also inhibit milk production.
The Best Breastfeeding Weight Loss Meal Plan
Every woman’s body is different and will respond differently to weight loss meal plans, especially while breastfeeding. That’s precisely why I think the best breastfeeding weight loss meal plan is a sustainable one that balances the vital nutrients you need for milk supply through real, whole foods, all while helping you lose weight!
I created a Breastfeeding Weight Loss Meal Plan that gives you 21 days of balanced, nutritious meals, so you don’t have to think about what to cook! It includes a prep guide, recipes, and a grocery shopping list.
The meal plan even incorporates leftovers for some meals because I know how busy moms are. It is gluten free and most recipes are dairy free, or can be easily adapted to be dairy free.
This 21-Day Breastfeeding Meal Plan for Weight Loss is also high in protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates that help support milk production and provide you the energy you need to take care of yourself and your family. These are all recipes that you can make for the whole family.
No need to have a separate meal plan for each of you. Encourage your family to eat healthy with you by making it fun.
When you are breastfeeding and trying to lose weight, having a weight loss meal plan that will not hurt your milk supply is the best strategy.
Remember, it’s important to prioritize your health and your baby’s health while trying to lose weight while breastfeeding. Do not follow a strict, low-calorie weight loss diet that can impact the quality and quantity of milk produced for your baby.
Instead, be patient with yourself and focus on making sustainable lifestyle changes like eating real, whole foods most of the time, so that you can maintain diet changes long-term. Keep in mind that other factors can affect your weight loss results as well.
Be sure you’re exercising regularly (even if it’s just a 30 minute walk a few times a week), staying hydrated, prioritizing sleep when you can, and finding ways to reduce stress in your life.