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    Breastfeeding & Lactation

    Weight Loss During Breastfeeding – Know the Facts

    Written on 5 August 2022

    Breastfeeding is the primary source of nourishment for a newborn baby. But breastfeeding and weight loss in new mothers is also a natural and healthy phenomenon. The reason behind losing weight while breastfeeding is the use of the excess fat cells that gather in the body during pregnancy to boost the production of milk. Breastfeeding weight loss can also occur despite following dietary recommendations of consuming an additional 300 to 500 calories daily to supply adequate energy to your body.

    This article explores the science behind weight loss during breastfeeding and the related benefits.

    How are Breastfeeding and Weight Loss Connected?

    Losing weight while breastfeeding is a natural occurrence in most mothers. An apparent reason is a sudden surge in physical exhaustion that a new mother must endure after giving birth. According to research studies, a breastfeeding mother burns almost 500 additional calories every day on average. That is the same amount one will burn after 45 to 60 minutes of physical exercise.

    You may also like: What are the essential tips for breastfeeding mothers to have a healthy diet plan?

    Reasons for Weight Loss During Breastfeeding

    • Nursing mothers are highly conscious of their food intake - for their babies and their own bodies. This has a direct effect on losing weight while breastfeeding.
    • Studies also show that breastfeeding mothers lose up to 1.5 kg more weight than those who switch to formula food within the first three months of birth.
    • Some breastfeeding mothers may return to their original weights before pregnancy, thanks to the loss of calories during breastfeeding.
    • It has also been found that nursing mothers had lower overall body fat even five years after delivering a baby.
    • Exclusive breastfeeding during the first 3 to 6 months leads to faster weight loss.

    Why is Breastfeeding Weight Loss Not Uniform?

    Losing weight while breastfeeding is not a uniform experience for all lactating mothers. And it may not be easy either. Not all lactating mothers experience weight loss during breastfeeding. While burning 500 calories daily may lead to a loss of about 0.5 kg per week, most nursing mothers take much longer than the theoretical calculations on paper. Research studies have shown that most nursing mothers lost about 86% of the gained weight during pregnancy within the first six months of delivery.
    There are still other studies that argue that breastfeeding and weight loss may be two disconnected phenomena. However, there are limited studies to prove this theory.

    Why is Breastfeeding Weight Loss Difficult?

    Pregnancy itself is challenging and exhausting for most women. Delivering a child is even more draining. Post-partum breastfeeding and child care often add to an already exhausted mother's physical and mental stress. Because of these reasons, most lactating mothers feel hungry more often and tend to eat more. Added to this is a continued cycle of sleep deprivation, which may result in weight gain rather than weight loss.
    Other Ways of Losing Weight While Breastfeeding

    Breastfeeding and weight loss are two very delicate things and need careful attention. There are other healthy ways of losing weight while breastfeeding that may be considered -

    • Consume enough nutrients to produce milk and energy, but avoid overeating. Eating too little may also be harmful to new mothers.
    • Foods rich in fibre and protein should be added to the diet for breastfeeding mothers to lose weight.
    • Lactating mothers can engage in moderate exercise to preserve their muscle mass.
    • Staying hydrated at all times becomes essential.
    • Slow and conscious eating can make a lot of difference to the overall health of a lactating mother.
    • No matter how difficult, catching up on sleep whenever possible can be hugely beneficial.

    Weight Loss Diet for Breastfeeding Mothers

    There is no one-size-fits-all diet for breastfeeding mothers to lose weight. But there are standard guidelines that one can follow for weight loss during breastfeeding. Here is a list of recommendations based on multiple studies and research -

    • It is a good idea to combine protein, calcium, and vitamins for breakfast. A glass of milk, along with eggs or spinach and some whole wheat bread, can be ideal.
    • For a quick snack during the day, a fruit high in vitamins or yoghurt can be consumed before lunch.
    • Lunch should ideally be light, not too protein or fat-rich. Indian breads, such as roti, dal, and freshly prepared salads are good enough. This can be finished with a bowl of yogurt.
    • A light snack during the evening, such as a handful of dry fruits, may be consumed to ensure space for a well-balanced dinner.
    • Dinner should be rich in protein-based meals such as chicken or fish. A light soup can also be helpful.

    In the end, making healthy choices is the key to weight loss during breastfeeding. And considering that it is a natural process, it ultimately boils down to those choices.

    Article Source:

    Jane Chertoff.March 1,2019.How to Safely and Quickly Lose Weight While

    Donna Murray, RN, BSN. October 23, 2021.Tips for Losing Weight While

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