I had a question recently on social media about breastfeeding and weight loss.
It can be difficult for mums who are breastfeeding that are keen to get back to their pre-pregnancy shape but also need to think about providing enough nourishment for their baby’s milk. They want to ‘diet’ but don’t want to affect their milk supply.
The mum who asked the question said that prior to being pregnant she had dieted by going low carb but didn’t want to for that exact reason, in case it affected her milk supply.
First lets look at how fat loss works and why carbs aren’t the devil and I’ll explain why you definitely don’t want or need to cut them out.
In order to lose weight we need to eat fewer calories than our bodies need. All food and alcohol contains calories, some more than others but regardless of how healthy it is it all contains calories.
The reason going low carb works for weight loss is that it eliminates all carbohydrates from people’s diets. By doing that you are removing a lot of calories, and therefore you lose weight.
But, going low fat has exactly the same effect.
As does cutting out alcohol and junk food.
What all of these diets do is control and reduce calories but they do it by eliminating one food source.
Whilst this might work for weight loss usually they aren’t sustainable, they aren’t healthy and they leave people feeling tired, irritable and generally feeling crap.
So what about if we reduce calories but without eliminating one food group?
This is a more sensible way of losing weight, and the way I encourage weight loss with Lean Mums. You basically eat a balanced diet and get the basics right but also look to control the total number of calories you eat.
What should a balanced diet include?
- Eating protein with every meal (this can be meat, fish, eggs, yoghurt, cheese, beans, pulses, protein shakes)
- Essential fats (look to include foods like avocado, nuts, olive oil, and oily fish in your diet)
- Carbohydrates like bread, pasta, rice and potatoes in the right quantities
- 1-2 pieces of fruit a day and plenty of vegetables
With Lean Mums every meal is around 400 calories and nutritionally balanced with the foods listed above, so you know that by eating 3 meals a day you are having 1200 calories. The snacks are between 150-200 calories so again you can control your total intake based on how many you are eating.
Going back to carbohydrates, they are a great source of energy, they taste really good and help you feel full but as I’ve said you need to eat them in the right quantities. When people find themselves either gaining weight or unable to lose it usually it’s because their diets are made up almost entirely of carbs and fats with no protein or vegetables.
It’s about finding a balance. You don’t need to cut them but you don’t want to live on just them either. When you cut them out you feel tired and lethargic. This is no good for anyone but particularly not when you have a baby to look after.
They should just form a part of your diet alongside everything else on that list, and then if you want to lose weight you simply eat a bit less of everything rather than cutting one thing out completely.
What about the wrong stuff (the tasty stuff), can you eat any at all?
I’m also a big fan of enjoying a bit of what you want here and there. If you fancy a bit of chocolate or an ice cream now and again then go for it but it shouldn’t be all the time and it just never replace the important basics.
So what about breastfeeding and weight loss?
It really shouldn’t be any different to anyone else who is wanting to lose weight sensibly.
1.First make sure you are eating a balanced diet made up of the right foods.
2.Then look to control how many calories you are eating.
3.If you aren’t losing weight you can look to slightly reduce how much you are eating by reducing your portion sizes and eating a little bit less of everything.
How do you know how much or how little to eat?
Lots of people go wrong when dieting by drastically under eating. This is an absolute no no for you, not only is this unhealthy but you need plenty of energy to care for your baby.
If you start to feel overly tired or lethargic then you are probably under-eating and need to increase your calories. Also keep an eye not only on your weight but also how your clothes are fitting and maybe take some tape measurements of your waist and hips. It’s often easy to feel like you aren’t making any progress at all but if you don’t measure it how will you know? If you start to lose a lot of weight too quickly this can be another sign you are eating too little.
The key with this is like lots of things, be sensible, do the basics well and listen to your body.
If you have any more questions please feel free to get in touch.