Losing weight after breastfeeding
by Vicky Gomez (Nutritionist and Dietician)
Getting rid of the baby weight consumes the minds of many women during and after pregnancy. Many questions arise regarding weight loss particularly when losing weight after breastfeeding. Does dieting affect milk supply? How much weight loss is not too much? Does breastfeeding increase weight loss? What if I diet during breastfeeding? It is the purpose of this article to give your body the right nutrition for breastfeeding and weight loss.
Even though breastfeeding burns up a lot of energy (kilojoules), it can take a while to get back to your usual weight, so be a little lenient and be patient. There is always that little extra weight that we have gained during pregnancy and a little extra weight we would like to shed. However, most women need the extra storage of fat for breastfeeding and will need to eat extra snacks to meet their energy needs.
There has been much discussion and expectation that weight loss is faster whilst breast feeding however, we know this does not always appear to be the case (The majority of women lose weight gradually while breastfeeding, some women actually gain weight, and others lose weight relatively rapidly.
A steady weight loss back to your pre-pregnant weight should be the goal, rather than rapid weight loss. The aim is to achieve approximately 500g of weight loss per week. Use your appetite and weight to work out your energy needs. Rapid weight loss of more than 0.5kg per week is not recommended while breastfeeding. Expect weight loss to be slow, and it may take up to 12 months before there is a return to pre-pregnancy weight.
It would be reasonable and safe to allow 9-12 months as adequate time to readjust after pregnancy and expect weight loss. Weight loss is really dependent on how much and proportional the amount gained during pregnancy. Generally, exercise alone without diet modification does not lead to weight loss, because exercise tends to stimulate an increase in energy intake, Breastfeeding women may accelerate weight loss by reducing caloric intake and increasing physical activity. A weight loss of 0.5 kg per week is achievable with modification in diet and exercise and does not affect intake and increase in physical activity, does not appear to affect milk supply.
The type of diet is extremely important particularly for breast feeding mothers. High-protein, low-carbohydrate diets are not recommended while breastfeeding and during pregnancy. These diets will pose difficulty meeting requirements and also providing the glucose required to support the milk.
So what works and is safe for losing weight after breastfeeding?
- Have small frequent meals per day
- Aim to achieve a 1kg weight loss per 2 weeks.
- Enjoy a range of low GI carbohydrates
- Encourage regular exercise.
- High protein diets (over 20 percent of total energy), and consumption of protein supplements, protein powders or high protein
In good healthy, baby body mum.