Last Updated on April 3, 2023 by Jada Glover
No doubt, breastfeeding your little one is a joyous experience but it requires a lot of energy and effort. To take care of your baby and your family, you first need to take care of yourself and have the energy to handle other things life throws at you at the same time. In this post, I’ll be sharing my favorite tips to increase your metabolism while breastfeeding.
Boosting your metabolism is a great way to stay healthy, energized, and active for a longer period of time. A faster metabolism means more energy to perform various activities. Your metabolism also determines how fast you may be able to lose weight after the delivery of your baby.
So, if you think your body is in need of more energy and it needs to shed pregnancy weight, then here are six effective ways to help you boost your metabolism and lose those extra pounds while breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding and Metabolism – How are They Linked?
Your metabolism (or metabolic rate) tells how fast chemical reactions occur in your body or how fast your body burns calories. The higher it is, the more calories you burn.
During lactation, your metabolism speeds up and the energy consumption boosts by 15% to 25%. It is because you need more energy to produce a healthy amount of milk. Fats, which your body stored during pregnancy along with the fats that you get from daily meals, are used by the body to produce breast milk, stay energetic, and give calories to your baby via milk.
You may notice 12 to 15 pounds of weight loss right after delivery. It is from the placenta, amniotic fluid, and baby. After that, weight loss happens at a slower rate, typically a loss of 1 to 2 pounds per month is normal and healthy. It may take 6 to 9 months or a year to lose your pregnancy weight fully. In my experience working with moms in my Postpartum Weight Loss Program for Breastfeeding Moms, some moms hang on to a few pounds while breastfeeding, especially, if they don’t have much in terms of maternal stores.
Increase Metabolism While Breastfeeding
Here are the most effective and proven ways that can help you increase your metabolism while breastfeeding so you can shed extra fat and begin to have self-confidence again!
Moderate Exercise to Stay Active
Exercise is a powerful metabolism booster that not only helps you lose weight but also keeps you active and decreases stress levels.
Some women find it challenging to start exercising after delivery, which is understandable, especially if you didn’t exercise during pregnancy. If that is how you feel as well, then start with a simple 15 to 20-minute walk. Put your baby in a stroller or a baby carrier, wear comfortable shoes, and start walking. Fresh air will have a calming effect on your mind and will also prove good for your baby.
You can also start doing light weight-bearing exercises that will make your muscles and bones stronger. Do easy yoga without putting too much strain on your muscles.
Generally, it is recommended to breastfeed your baby before starting exercise or going for a walk. It will minimize engorgement.
Don’t wear tight and restrictive bras as that can cause clogged milk ducts.
Do not exercise for 6 to 8 weeks after delivery. Even when you decide to exercise, make sure you’re cleared by your doctor or midwife before you start exercising.
Increase your calorie intake so that your milk production does not get affected by working out.
Eat Healthy and Nourishing Food Regularly
Eating a balanced diet is essential to fuel your milk production. Your little one will be nursing which means you need to produce enough milk to meet his growing needs. To keep up with your baby’s demand, you want to ensure you’re eating plenty of nourishing foods.
Eat at least 1,800 nutrient-dense calories per day. As your body is generating milk, it needs the energy to make nutrient-rich milk. Keep in mind it takes about 300 to 500 calories per day to produce breast milk. Add the following foods into your diet.
- Eat fruits and vegetables more, you will feel fuller and your body will also get essential vitamins and minerals.
- Gain healthy fats from wild salmon, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, olive oil, chia seeds, walnuts, and almonds.
- Limit your intake of processed carbohydrates and sugars, and increase the consumption of proteins. Fish, beef, chicken, eggs, beans are some of the protein-rich sources.
You can also try this amazing Lactation Smoothie Recipe that will not only improve your metabolism but will also boost your milk supply.
Eat plenty of calories per day. Do not think that skipping a meal will help you lose weight while breastfeeding. It can even have an opposite effect as skipping a meal can slow down your metabolism which will eventually slow down the burning of fats. The exception to this is if you are working with a health coach (like me!) to do intermittent fasting while breastfeeding, in which case you are still consuming your minimum recommended 1,800 calories in a day in a shorter eating time frame. This can really help moms break through a weight-loss stall if you’re experiencing one.
Some moms find that eating 3 meals and 2 snacks gives them plenty of energy and keeps them full and satisfied throughout the day. The key is to include healthy fats and proteins, as well as complex carbohydrates in your meals.
Avoid eating processed foods (junk food and fast food). They provide empty calories that do not have any positive effect on metabolism.
Drink Plenty of Water
It is often recommended to drink 8 to 12 glasses of water a day. Drinking water has a lot of benefits so it does not matter whether you are working on weight loss or not, make it your habit to drink water often.
Water is involved in a lot of chemical reactions happening in the body so it plays a role in boosting metabolism and reducing body weight.
Create a schedule to drink water at a specific time like 2 glasses in the morning, then one glass before every meal. Keep a water bottle with you all the time. It will keep reminding you that you have to drink it. However, avoid drinking a lot of water right before bed as frequent urination can disturb your sleep.
If you do not like drinking water, you can use infusion bottles. Add fruits and whatever you like to add. But make sure it does not have artificial sugar.
Drink water 30 minutes before eating a meal. You will feel fuller and eat less.
If you’re sweating a lot or feeling low on energy, add natural electrolytes to your water.
Sleep and Rest More
No doubt, being a mother is a huge responsibility and you always want to be with your little one. But remember to not forget your own health while taking care of others. Your health is just as important as your baby’s health. Because if you are not active and fresh, then how will you support your baby all the time? Studies show that well-nourished breastfeeding mothers play with their babies more and are better able to care for their babies.
Sleeping less than 6 hours a day can cause metabolic syndrome which can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, high sugar level, etc. So make sure you sleep 6 to 10 hours a day. If you do not get enough time because your baby needs feeding after 1 to 2 hours, then sleep when your baby sleeps. Consider that time a great opportunity.
A lot of times when you are sleep deprived, you go for sugary drinks to overcome the lethargy and to stay awake. These sugary drinks harm the body in more than one way. Also, the contents of your drink may also pass through the milk to your baby. So, instead of looking for the quick fix ways to stay awake, sleep for a good 8 hours and let your body heal and gather energy for the next day.
Get help from your friends and family. Aunts are always ready to spend time with their nephews or nieces. So, ask your sister to make some time for your baby. You can sleep while your sister keeps an eye on your little one.
Be Patient with Yourself
If you are trying to boost your metabolism to lose weight then remember that not all lactating mamas shed pounds the same way. If one of your friends lost her pregnancy weight in 6 months that does not mean that you have to lose that much amount of weight at the same time as well. So, give yourself some time and be patient, the time will do its magic at the right moment. It’s more about how you feel in your body.
Consider losing weight a long-term goal. Do not look for quick fixes to see final results in a month. Be kind to your body and give it the time it needs to recuperate. Your body has supported you throughout your pregnancy so let it heal properly.
Do not pressure yourself. It took you 9 months to gain weight so it will take you months to lose it, too.
Track your progress. You can try creating a chart or tracking with a phone app. This way you will be able to see if your effort is bringing fruit or not. If not then evaluate what needs to be changed.
Do not compare yourself with another postpartum mother. We all are born unique so our bodies work differently as well.
Seek Help from a Health Coach
If you still think that your metabolism has not boosted and you are not losing your pregnancy weight after putting in a lot of effort then it you might want to reach out to a health coach to further evaluate your lifestyle and nutrition or you could consider my Postpartum Weight Loss Program for Breastfeeding Moms.