Are you not losing weight while breastfeeding? Here's why.
Being a new mum and experiencing weight gain is frustrating. It's incredibly disheartening when you hear of women claiming that their mum tum melted off thanks to breastfeeding.
The truth is neither weight gain nor weight loss can be attributed to breastfeeding alone. A range of factors are responsible for your postpartum weight, including the types of foods you're eating, the total number of calories you're consuming, as well as your age, metabolic rate, activity level and cortisol levels.
So, if you're someone who thinks they're doing everything right but still gaining weight while breastfeeding, here are some reasons that might explain why.
Why am I not losing weight while breastfeeding?
1. You're eating more calories than you are burning in a day.
If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. Alternatively, you will lose weight if you burn more energy than you consume. However, if you eat too few calories, you risk slowing down your metabolism to conserve energy and causing harm to your body. And, if your calories are too low while breastfeeding, it can impact your milk supply.
So, the key to losing weight is to consume nutrient-dense, healthy foods and maintain at least a moderate level of physical activity. The combination of a healthy diet and exercise should ensure your energy output is slightly less than your energy input. And this will allow you to lose weight safely and gradually without impacting your milk supply.
If you eat healthy food and avoid junk food, you will naturally lose weight. There is usually no need to count calories if you take this approach.
Although we don’t recommend strictly counting calories (as it can be stressful and exhausting), we understand that some people benefit from a guideline, particularly if you're having trouble losing weight.
The number of calories required in a day differs from person to person. There is no one size fits all. Obviously a 100kg mum has different calorie requirements to a 60kg mum. And if you're breastfeeding you need additional calories to support your milk supply.
Your individual requirements are based on your age, weight, height, whether you are partially or exclusively breastfeeding and your activity level.
To see how many calories your body needs to lose weight while supporting your mill supply, access our click here to calorie calculator.
2. You're eating the wrong foods.
It's important to remember that calories are not made equal. One hundred calories worth of chocolate is not equal to 100 calories worth of eggs. Chocolate is high in sugar and simple carbohydrates with little protein. It's full of empty calories that will not fill you up, which leads to feeling hungry again and overeating more than your body needs later on. On the other hand, eggs are high in good quality protein and are full of other nutritious vitamins and minerals to fuel your body with energy and sustain your hunger.
3. You're not consuming enough nutrients
Your nutritional needs are higher when breastfeeding as you are supporting yourself and your baby. Your body needs proteins, healthy fats, minerals and vitamins to repair and transform postpartum.
Eating foods low in nutrients causes the body to crave more food so that we can meet our nutrient needs. If our body does not get the nutrients it needs, it will send a hunger signal encouraging us to eat more food, and that food contains more calories. Consuming more calories than we need prevents or at least slows down weight loss.
Instead of cutting calories drastically, focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods that will keep you feeling satisfied, reduce cravings and provide essential nutrients for both you and your baby.
Aim for plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
We know it's hard to eat healthy when you're a breastfeeding mum. You're the busiest and most tired you've been in your entire life, so it's natural to crave high sugar foods that give you an instant energy boost.
The In Shape Mummy Health Shake can be your saviour here because it's so quick and convenient. It can be prepared in under five minutes, and will fuel your body with a good serve of protein to help keep you feeling full and 25 essential vitamins and minerals to help meet your increased nutrional needs while breastfeeding. All while satisfying your sweet cravings with the delicious vanila, chocolate brownie and caramel fudge flavours.
Here's our popular Slimming Energiser Smoothie recipe:
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 frozen banana
- ½ cup frozen raspberries
- 2 tbsp rolled oats
- 2 tbsp In Shape Mummy Health Shake
You can have the shake twice a day, for example as breakfast and as an afternoon snack. So that is 2 healthy meals you don't have to think about! Obviously it is important to eat healthily for the rest of the day as well. If you eat unhealthy food for the rest of the day your results will be affected.
To lose weight, aim to eat healthily for 90% of the time. The In Shape Mummy Health Shake can help you do this.
4. Mindless snacking
Having little kids means always having a supply of snacks on hand. And if you're snacking, you need to be aware of how many extra calories you're consuming. Mindless snacking or finishing off your kids' leftovers is one of the most detrimental things for losing weight. You'd be surprised at how quickly the calories add up.
Two handfuls of Barbeque Shapes contain over 120 calories, as does an Uncle Toby's muesli bar. Three Oreo cookies are 160 calories, and a serving of potato chips is around 150 calories. So, you can see, if you have a cookie here and a handful of chips there, the calories add up super quickly. Ultimately this could be the reason why you do not see a weight shift.
Our tip is to always have wholesome snacks on hand; it's easier to say no to something unhealthy if a healthy option is sitting right there. Vegetable sticks and hummus, boiled eggs, avocado on rice cakes, mixed nuts, bananas and smoothies are all great snack options. In Shape Mummy's Chocolate Brownie Breastfeeding Boost Bars and Salted Caramel Peanut Protein Bites are also fantastic healthy options for snack attacks.
5. Drinking too many calories
Fizzy drinks and store-bought juices are an easy way to consume extra calories. A 330ml can of Coke contains a whopping 39g of sugar and 140 calories. A serving (200ml) of Golden Circle orange juice contains over 15g of sugar and 82 calories. So having one of these drinks a day will see you reach and even exceed your recommended daily sugar intake, as well as add significant calories. We all know processed sugar is the enemy to weight loss.
If you're trying to lose weight, there are lots of sugar-free delicious drink options. Sparkling water with a squeeze of fresh lemon is a great option for weight loss. Kombucha is a low sugar fizzy drink that contains probiotics that support gut health. Our Breastfeeding Boost Tea, Hot Chocolate and Chai Latte are also great low calorie options.
6. Unhealthy cooking methods
The number of calories in popular cooking oils is quite shocking. Below are the total calories for 1 tbsp of the most common cooking oils:
Vegetable oil: 124
Olive oil: 119
Coconut oil: 117
It's unrealistic to cut out oil from your cooking, and it's also unnecessary. But what's important is knowing that if you're a little loose-handed with your oil, you could quickly be adding anywhere from100-300 extra calories to your meal.
We recommend measuring your oil and reducing the amount when you can. So many recipes require copious amounts of oil, but, if you reduce the amount by ½ or 1/3 you could save yourself 200+ calories without affecting the flavour of your meal.
Even if you use healthy oil, frying will add a lot of calories to food. Instead try baking or boiling food when cooking.
Why Do I Feel So Hungry While Breastfeeding?
Producing milk requires energy, which is why you end up burning extra calories.
If you are not eating enough healthy food to fulfil your protein and nutrient needs your body will keep craving more food to meet those nutrient needs. This explains why after eating a bag of chips or other junk food you can feel hungy shortly afterwards - they are "empty calories" meaning there is a lack of nutrients. Eating junk food can lead to craving more food later on.
In addition, most breastfeeding mums are also tired and stressed, which can lead to comfort eating.
The combination of feeling like you want to eat more and comfort eating could mean you see the numbers on the scales go up. When you know the chocolate is in the fridge, it’s hard to muster the energy to find something nutritious to eat. Uber Eats and Deliveroo make temptations all the more difficult to ignore.
That’s why you need to have a plan to combat that hunger. You’ll notice a pattern to your appetite, so get out in front of it by having some boiled eggs, nuts, fruit, yoghurt and In Shape Mummy Health Shakes and snacks on hand when it strikes.
It is also important not to skip meals. Skipping meals can lead to being more hungry later in the day which can lead to over eating the wrong foods (it is harder to make healthy choices when you're starving hungry).
Try to aim for breakfast, lunch and dinner plus a morning and afternoon snack.
We understand it's hard to always prepare healthy food when you're so busy which is why the In Shape Mummy Health Shake can be a great help.
Will my milk dry up if I focus on weight loss?
Healthy, sustainable weight loss will not dry your milk up. As long as you're not significantly reducing your calories or creating a significant caloric deficit, your body will find more than enough nutrients to produce milk from the foods you eat and your existing fat stores.
Weight loss isn't about feeling hungry all the time. It's about eating what you need to reach a healthy weight. If you're breastfeeding, that means eating to account for the extra energy you're burning without going overboard or devoting those extra calories to chocolate cake.
In fact, by shifting your mindset away from how much you're eating to what you're eating, you'll actually support milk production in many cases. A diet full of whole foods, lean protein and healthy fats is exactly what your body is craving. Extra calories comprised of refined sugar or carbohydrates don't provide any nutritional value for you, your breastmilk, or your bub. Of course, if you're having a tough day, treat yourself but remember to realign your food and weight loss goals afterwards.
So, now you know the truth about breastfeeding and weight loss. Yes, breastfeeding burns extra calories, so it is an excellent tool for returning to your goal weight. But it is just one part of the puzzle. If you consume more calories than you're burning, you won't lose weight. But, if you follow the 90/10 rule and eat healthy for 90% of the time with the option for treats 10% of the time, you'll be able to support your milk production and your weight loss goals all at the same time.
Will you lose weight when you stop breastfeeding?
When you are not breastfeeding, if you focus on eating nutrient dense foods and ensure the calories you consume are less than the calories you’re burning, you will continue to lose weight. In addition, you may find that you have more inclination for exercise around this time, so incorporating a few walks and a couple of home workouts into your routine will help put you further into a deficit.
How do In Shape Mummy Health Shakes help you lose weight?
The In Shape Mummy Health Shake can help you reach your goals quicker. It is a superfood meal replacement. In Shape Mummy is perfect for busy and breastfeeding mums as it is so quick and easy.
The In Shape Mummy blend is designed to breastfeeding mums, while also balance blood sugar levels, to help reduce cravings and the need for snacking. Every shake is enriched with organic vegan protein, 25 vitamins and minerals and probiotics to support you and your little one
For best results, replace 1 meal and 1 snack per day with an In Shape Mummy Smoothie, for example breakfast and an afternoon snack.
Can I keep using In Shape Mummy once I stop breastfeeding?
Yes. In Shape Mummy have another range of shakes that are made for Busy Mums.
The In Shape Mummy Health Shake for Busy Mums contains the same nutrients as the Breastfeeding Shake but it does not contain the milk boosting herbs.
The Busy Mums Shake is 100% breastfeeding friendly so it is perfect for mums who want to wean their babies as well as mums who are not breastfeeding. It is a great way to continue ensuring you're consuming enough protein, vitamins and minerals.
How much Weight Can I Expect to Lose?
A healthy and safe amount of weight to lose if you're breastfeeding is 2kgs per month, and if you're not breastfeeding 4-6kgs per month.
When you're breastfeeding it is important to lose weight at a slower pace in order to support your milk supply.
Try not to weigh yourself too often as it is important not to get fixated on the scales. We recommend not more than once every 2 weeks.
Keep in mind muscle weighs more than fat anyway. And your weight can change depending on the time of day, the time of the month and how much have eaten and drunk before you weigh yourself. A better judge is how you feel in your clothes.
Most importantly, think about what you want to gain, not just about what you want to lose. Whether you want to gain more energy, better self-confidence, better health, or whatever it is for you.
Also think about how eating healthy helps your milk supply and helps your baby's development. Thinking about what you want to gain will motivate you to act to achieve your goal.
But also be patient with yourself, and with your body. It took 9 months to gain the weight and to create a beautiful baby, so the weight isn’t going to fall off overnight either. Just stick to balanced eating and your body will naturally achieve its own healthy weight.
Shevi is a qualified nutritionist with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and food sciences. As a new mum herself, she is passionate about postnatal-related nutrition. Shevi has worked alongside some of the most famous leaders and celebrities in the fitness industry throughout Australia and the UK.
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