One of the top concerns I receive from my prospective personal training and boot camp clients who are new moms that are looking to lose their baby weight, is that they are afraid they will "reduce their milk supply".
Listen, I completely 100 percent get it....breastfeeding is HARD in the beginning and the last thing you want to do after you've mastered it and your baby is thriving, is to jeopardize that. Our babies are surviving off of the milk that we provide to them and that is amazing.
However, while losing your baby weight while breastfeeding is a balancing act, I'm here to tell you that it absolutely can be done if you pay attention to your body and fuel yourself with nutrient dense food.
I've nursed my older two children for over a year and I hope to do the same this time with Luke. After I had Daniela (she is 2 now), I was able to lose 50 pounds and get into the best shape of my life, and I breastfed her for 17 months.
So since I have a little experience in this area, I want to share with you my top tips on how to balance breastfeeding and weight loss.
1. Nourish your body with nutrient dense food. Duh, right? If you are eating a "clean diet" and eliminating processed foods you are on the right track, but you also have to eat the correct amounts of each macronutrient (protein, carbs, fat, and fiber) to keep your milk flowing while you balance weight loss.
We need to get out of the 1,200 calorie diet mindset for weight loss because THAT DOESN'T WORK. You will be shocked at how much more food I'm able to eat while I'm eating the correct amounts of healthy foods (keep on reading and I'll share a sample day of my meals below). This is why I include a macro report with all of my boot camp clients, and my fitness challenge groups have a nutrition plan with portion control so they learn what and how much to eat based on their personal stats and goals.
2. Eat foods that are high in good fats that will help to keep the quantity AND the quality of your milk high with Omega-3 fatty acids. Some examples of good fats are extra virgin olive oil, salmon, avocado, nuts, seeds and natural nut butters (without added sugar and salt).
3. Increase your protein intake. Pretty much every single person I've worked with in the past two years (several hundred women at this point) were not eating enough protein when they joined my programs. When they changed this and increased the lean protein in their diet daily, they started to see awesome results. Foods on this list are chicken, turkey, fish, lean cuts of beef, Greek yogurt, and a protein shake or bar supplement, to name a few.
4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I'm going to admit that this is not easy for me at all...it takes work for me to drink 100+ ounces per day, but I know more than ever while I'm breastfeeding that I need to be good about it. I carry around a huge 33 oz water bottle with me everywhere I go, and I know I need to drink three of them per day to reach my water intake goal. The average non-breastfeeding person should be drinking at least half of their body weight in ounces!
5. Listen to your body. If you're hungry, you need to eat...just don't eat Oreos and ice cream. Instead, increase your portions at meal and snack times. Also make sure you are not eliminating any food group. Do not cut carbs out of your diet, just make sure you are opting for complex carbs like quinoa, sweet potatoes, brown rice, butternut squash, etc, instead of simple carbs like packaged foods that are often high in sugar and low in nutrients. It is very important that you are eating enough at any time you are trying to lose weight, but especially while breastfeeding.
I also want you to keep in mind that a healthy weight loss goal while breastfeeding is 1-2 pounds per week. If you cut calories and lose your weight too fast, this is when your milk supply can be jeopardized.
As promised, here is a sample day of my meals:
Breakfast: 4 egg whites scrambled with a cup of spinach, 1 slice of Ezekiel toast with a tbs of natural almond butter and a half of banana sliced on top and 1/4 cup of blueberries. I also had a large cup of coffee (I am up all night nursing a baby :)) with skim milk.
Snack 1: Protein Shake - 1 cup of almond milk, 1 scoop of protein powder (I use Cafe Latte Shakeology), 2 tbs of PB2, and ice blended well for 30 seconds.
Lunch: 6 ounces of grilled chicken, 1/2 of small avocado, and 1/2 cup of brown rice.
Snack 2: 1 cup of baby carrots and 2 apple cinnamon rice cakes.
Dinner: Baked chicken tenderloins (lightly breaded with panko), sauteed brussel sprouts, and 1/2 of a large sweet potato.
This day totaled just under 1700 calories, 135 grams of protein, 162 grams of carbs, 51 grams of fat, and 39 grams of fiber.
Please keep in mind that I am not a nutritionist and the exact amount of calories and macronutrients differs for each person and is based on a wide range of criteria including weight, height, activity level, etc.
If you are interested in joining my next round of Online Bikini Boot Camp where you will receive three video/phone consultations with me to discuss your goals and so I can answer all of your questions, daily workouts (with video demonstration), nutrition guidance with a detailed macro report based on your goals, and most importantly, daily accountability, click here to register!
I hope you've found my tips with foods to eat while breastfeeding and how to balance breastfeeding and weight loss. If you have any questions please ask in the comments below!