Can You Lose Weight While Breastfeeding?

Christian Coulson
Updated: June 14, 2020
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There was a dad who tried to keep his wife happy through labor by telling jokes, but she didn’t laugh once.

Do you want to know why?

A: It was the delivery.

Okay, let’s get serious now.

You’ve probably heard some moms say that you can lose weight quickly when breastfeeding.

You’ve also probably heard some others say that it’s nearly impossible to lose it.

So, which one is it?

Interestingly, they’re both right. In this article, we’ll go into detail as to why this is the case.

Can You Lose Weight While Breastfeeding?

The short answer to this question is: yes, you can.

In fact, studies (1) have shown that breastfeeding moms burn about an extra 500 calories per day.

Other studies (2, 3) show that breastfeeding moms tend to pay more attention to what they eat.

They typically go for more nutrient-dense foods like lean protein, fruits, and vegetables instead of processed ones.

These diet changes are typically enough to start seeing a significant change in weight.

Not Every Woman Loses Weight While Breastfeeding

It’s important to remember that we are all different, and while some moms are able to lose weight quickly while breastfeeding, don’t feel discouraged or depressed if you lose it a little slower.

Here are a few reasons why you may not be losing weight:

  • Increased Hunger

Losing those 500 extra calories per day during breastfeeding can lead to increased hunger.

In fact, studies (4) have shown that some women tend to eat more and move less while breastfeeding.

Here are 7 effective tips to help you prevent overeating.

  • Lack of Sleep

As a new mom, you probably have irregular sleep patterns, and might not even be getting enough sleep.

These two studies (5, 6) showed a relationship between lack of sleep and obesity.

Other lab studies show that lack of sleep leads to hormonal changes which may favor an increase in calorie intake and decreased energy expenditure.

This increase in food consumption and decreased energy expenditure will often lead to weight gain.

If you’re having trouble falling asleep, consider an efficient night-time routine.

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How To Lose Weight Safely While Breastfeeding

At this point, losing weight is not only about you but also about your little one.

In order to lose weight you need to eat fewer calories than you burn; however, lowering your calories too much can lead to nutrient deficiencies.

Not getting enough nutrients can leave you feeling hungry and tired and make it a little difficult to produce enough milk for your baby.

Here are a few ways you can lose weight while getting enough nutrients in your diet:

  • Don’t Go Too Low on Calories

In order to ensure that you’re getting enough nutrients and producing enough milk. You should try to not go below 1500 to 1800 calories per day. (7)

  • Eat More Protein and Fiber

Protein and fiber digest slowly, this will help you stay full for longer, reducing your chances of overeating and getting cravings.

  • Drink Enough Liquid

Having enough liquid is important for your milk supply. Plus, it can also help you lose weight by reducing appetite and keeping you full.

A good rule of thumb is to drink at least 1/2 oz of liquid per pound of body weight.

For example, if you weigh 150 lb, you should drink at least 75 oz of liquid.

note: People who are more active or live in warmer climates might need a little more water. So try paying attention to what your body tells you.

Here’s an article I wrote about how drinking more water can help you lose weight.

  • Don’t Buy Unhealthy Foods

“If you don’t buy it, you don’t eat it.”

Studies (8) showed that you’re more inclined to eat foods that are easily accessible to you.

So instead of buying processed and sugary snacks, try going for nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables.

If you absolutely need to have snacks, try going for low-carb ones.

  • Get Some Sleep

This one might be a little difficult for you as a new mom, but it’s definitely doable.

Remember that lack of sleep can trigger cravings and increase hunger, which can lead to weight gain.

So if you’re not able to get a long sleep at night, focus on taking naps while your baby naps.

This way, you can give your body some rest and time to recover.

  • Add a Little Exercise

Adding exercise to your routine is a great way of burning calories without having to eat too little.

Even if it’s just a quick 30-minute walk in the mornings.

Remember, getting enough nutrients becomes even more important during breastfeeding, so in order to reach a calorie deficit, you may want to add some form of exercise. (9)

For example, instead of eating 300 calories less per day, you can try burning 300 extra calories through exercise.

Plus, adding some resistance/strength training will help you preserve muscle mass, which is important to prevent a slow metabolism.

I hope you loved this article about losing weight while breastfeeding!

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