I decided to dust off of my health coach hat to touch on a topic that seems to have a bit of confusion around it: breastfeeding and weight loss.
It’s pretty common knowledge that a woman can burn 500 extra calories a day while breastfeeding. WOOHOO, right? Bring on ALL THE FOOD. But not so fast.
Though some women may have the weight melt off, others hold on to it for a while. Why? Hormones. Isn’t that the answer to everything?
See, while breastfeeding a woman’s body produces prolactin to promote milk production and keep ovulation away. Since ovulation is what produces progesterone in a non-pregnant woman, a woman who isn’t ovulating typically has low levels of progesterone. A breastfeeding mom also has low levels of testosterone. Progesterone and testosterone are fat-burning hormones while prolactin tends to be fat-storing. (source)
Therefore even while eating an appropriate level of calories, it may take longer than you’d think for fat to start burning off due to the hormonal situation in a nursing mom’s body. Additionally, stress can raise prolactin levels and raising a newborn and the glorious lack of sleep that accompanies it can be stress-inducing, amIright?
So what is a mom to do?
Breastfeeding Hormones and Postpartum Weight Loss
Well, breastfeeding works really well for us so quitting early for the sake of having Gisele’s body (because that’s exactly what my body would look like if I stopped nursing), isn’t going to happen.
However, staying active and choosing the right foods can really help.
High carb foods (especially processed carbs) and dairy can promote a higher insulin response and hinder weight loss efforts.
In that light, my diet (I use that term loosely to describe what I eat through a day because I am most definitely not on a diet) is tailored lately towards lower processed carbs and higher protein, fat and vegetables.
I’m not being hardcore about it. We’ll still have weekly pizza and I’ll eat something if I really want it (restriction is not my thang), but for my everyday meals, I’m eating more that style.
So after that lengthy intro, let’s take a look at what a sample day looks like.
A breakfast smoothie makes for a fresh and filling start to my day. Not to mention, I love that clean up is quick and easy!
Spinach and romaine topped with kalamata olives, boiled egg, carrots, chicken, tomatoes, blue cheese (see, I can’t give up ALL dairy) and onions topped with Garlic Expressions.
About half a can of these. Portion control what?
Oven baked chicken fajita salad with romaine, purple onions, avocado, sour cream (yup, a little dairy again), jalapenos and then smothered in salsa. I went back for seconds.
For more of my meals, you can always follow me on instagram. I officially can’t eat food without snapping a picture first. Is there a 12 step program for that?
What style of eating works best for you?
I find that an anti-restriction approach with a focus on whole foods, which to me means proteins, vegetables, fats, fruit and whole grains (in their real form like brown rice and quinoa, not processed into bread) keeps my body the leanest. Though I do love me some sourdough bread. Moderation, right?