Struggling with how to lose weight while breastfeeding? You are not alone! Here are some of the best tips on how to lose weight while breastfeeding – without hurting your milk supply!
Many women want to lose weight after their baby have arrived – but they worry about the impact it could have on their growing baby and breast milk supply.
But there is good news – you can lose weight while breastfeeding safely while still continuing to sustain your child and help them grow appropriately.
While it’s important to take certain precautions, in this article, you’ll learn some of the best tips and tricks for losing weight while nursing.
Please always consult your trusted medical provider and/or a dietitian or nutritionist to help you navigate your unique circumstances.
- Ways to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
- Breastfeed Frequently
- Focus on a Balanced Diet
- Eat Enough
- Drink Water
- Balance your Blood Sugar
- Moderate Exercise
- Find New Ways to Exercise
- Avoid Quick Fixes
- Watch Your Measurements
- Prepare/Plan Meals
- Avoid Stress & Get Enough Sleep
- Intuitive Eating
- Eat Whole Foods
- Slow and Steady
- Meet with a Nutritionist/Dietitian
- Breastfeeding-Friendly Weight Loss Programs
- FAQs about Losing Weight While Breastfeeding
- How Many Calories Does Breastfeeding Burn?
- How Many Calories To Burn to Lose Weight Breastfeeding?
- Can I do Intermittent Fasting while Breastfeeding?
- Can You Lose Weight While Breastfeeding?
- Will I Lose Weight Breastfeeding?
- Can I Do Keto While Breastfeeding?
- Breastfeeding Meal Plan
If you’re looking for an easy-to-follow and breastfeeding-friendly meal plan, you NEED to grab our 28-day Breastfeeding Meal Plan. Developed by a nutritionist, this meal plan is customizable to meet your goals and has tons of recipes that you are gong to love! You can learn more about it here.
Ways to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding does burn a lot of calories. By nursing on demand, you will burn the maximum amount of calories.
It’s important to do this especially as you start to exercise more so your body still knows that even though some of your fat stores might be disappearing, your body still needs to produce milk!
On average, when you are exclusively breastfeeding, you’ll burn about 500 calories a day. If your baby gets formula in addition to breast milk or complementary solid foods, it’s probably closer to 300 calories.
It is important to realize that extreme dieting and exercise can cause a decrease in your supply – so be careful. You can check out this post about low milk supply if you are already experiencing that.
Focus on a Balanced Diet
As a new mom, it can be easy to just grab whatever food you see when you have a snack – but often those “convenience” foods aren’t very good for you.
A balanced diet is the best way to see sustained and steady weight loss. This includes:
- Lots of veggies
- Pairing carbs with protein
- Choosing foods with fiber
- Limiting sugary sweets
It’s important to pick filling foods to help you stay sustained for longer. For instance, if all you are eating is carby-snacks, you likely won’t stay full for very long. Carbs are important, but you should pair these with something with protein and maybe even fiber to keep your blood sugar stabilized and your body feeling full for longer.
I also recommend making sure you incorporate collagen into your day tohelp with postpartum healing and continue to take a quality prenatal vitamin.
While breastfeeding, you need to determine your BMR – which is basically how many calories you burn by existing and doing your typical schedule. On top of that, I would add 300-500 calories.
MyFitnessPal is a great way to track calories if you are into that. In the food diary section, you can even add breastfeeding, and it will add that to the number of calories you can eat that day!
As you start exercising more, make sure you eat more calories so you don’t drop below the 1500-1800 total mark. You want to make sure you are eating good calories and fat as well.
Try to avoid anything super sugary or greasy. I know lots of people who eat too many calories (and most of them are sugar) that really struggle to lose weight while breastfeeding.
It’s normal to get extra hungry while breastfeeding – just make sure you are eating healthy!
Here are some great breastfeeding snacks that will help you eat enough without a lot of extra effort. My FAVORITE are these protein bars – they are the only ones I can stand eating, and they feel like a treat. You can get 10% off through this link.
Make sure you check out our breastfeeding calorie and macro calculator to help you develop some nutrition goals and targets.
Drinking water is recommended to help with weight loss – regardless of your breastfeeding status! It helps flush out toxins, and excess water weight (which seems counter-productive, I know), and it helps keep you fuller.
Staying hydrated is essential for successful breastfeeding, and it’s essential for healthy weight loss!
If you have trouble drinking water, here are a few tips:
- I highly recommend an infused water bottle in case you aren’t a big fan of drinking tons of water a day. I love using one of these. It’s especially good for those of you who may like to drink soda. You could also add some fresh fruit to a cup of water
- I’ve been told that if you drink a large glass of water before you eat, it will help you to eat a smaller portion. I definitely think this helps!
- Make yourself drink every time you sit down to drink – you might like my “Turning Water into Liquid Gold” tumbler. I find that it is easier to get down more room temperature water quickly than ice cold water (even though that’s what I prefer!)
- I have personally had a lot of luck with getting a GIANT water bottle, so I can know that if I at least drink that, I’m doing okay. I love this brand that has all sizes – I use the 64 ounce one. It keeps it SO cold, and it’s a lot less expensive than the Hydro Flask.
- Consider a product like Re-lyte, which you can add to water to help balance your electrolytes, which is important while breastfeeding, especially if you exercising. Start out with a smaller scoop and more water, though, as it can be a bit salty!
Balance your Blood Sugar
There are a lot of changing opinions out there on what it takes to lose weight. A growing body of nutritionists and dietians are saying that it’s most important to make sure your blood sugar is balanced throughout the day.
The simplest way to do this? Eat meals that are balanced with protein, fat, and fiber throughout the day and don’t fast more than 12 hours at a time.
Try to focus on having protein with all of your meals, as well as good-quality fats and fiber.
- 10 Best Protein Bars for Breastfeeding Moms (2022)
- 9 Best Protein Powders While Breastfeeding + Is it Safe to Drink?
Exercise can be a great way to increase how many calories you are burning each day. While there are some really intense exercises out there, it is better to do moderate exercise.
It is great for busy moms of babies because the workouts can be as short as 10 minutes. You can modify the intensity, so if you find your breast milk supply is being affected, you can just tone it down.
Aaptiv also has some specifically designed programs that are for postpartum moms – they are called Trimester Four and Stroller workouts.
They’ve been created just for moms who have had babies, which is awesome.
They also have an amazing 40-week program that spans your entire pregnancy – you can read more about that here – The BEST Exercise App for Pregnancy: From First Trimester to Postpartum.
Find New Ways to Exercise
It can be hard to make it to the gym when you have a baby! I mean, even if they have childcare, that’s kind of iffy since there are always sick kids there. Jack comes home with a new sickness every time he goes.
So find new ways to exercise with your baby. Put your baby in a baby carrier and walk around the house – it’s like carrying around an 8-20 pound weight!
With your free hands, you could use some hand weights for a while.
You can do exercise videos at home (I love HasFit). Something as simple as going on a 10-minute walk around the neighborhood while pushing your baby in their stroller can do a lot of good (plus fresh air is always helpful!
Avoid Quick Fixes
I’m in several different breastfeeding support groups on Facebook, and it seems like a day doesn’t go by where someone asks “Is such and such diet/program safe while breastfeeding.”
Every time I see one of these, there’s always someone that chimes in and says it totally is – often someone selling the resources for the program.
I’m always curious about them, so I jump on Google, and I see that although there were a few people who had no ill effects from the diet, many, many others say that their breast milk supply dropped significantly.
I’ll be real with you – if you want to breastfeed, make it your priority.
If you start doing something that is going to hurt your breast milk supply, you have to decide what’s more important to you – losing the weight FAST and NOW or having a little more patience to make sure your supply isn’t affected.
There’s no wrong choice – you just have to decide what’s important.
With that said, I never think these “quick fix” diets are worth it, breastfeeding or not. They limit your caloric intake significantly, and more times than not, people who do them end up gaining weight back. Yo-yo dieting is NOT healthy.
Watch Your Measurements
It’s easy to fixate on the number on the scale – I certainly do! While breastfeeding, you may be the unlucky one who can’t lose weight…but you CAN tone up, and those measurements aren’t as apparent by a number.
Learn how to take measurements – all you need is a flexible measuring tape. I have the Qardio Base Scale, which I love, because it tracks progress, and it measures your muscle and body fat percentages. It also has a pregnancy mode, which is pretty cool.
Plan your meals ahead of time – if you need some different ideas on how to meal plan, be sure to check out this post. I think that planning what and how you are going to eat can definitely help you eat less and make sure you are eating foods that are compatible and helpful with breastfeeding.
Here are some additional resources that might be helpful:
- The Best Menus for Breastfeeding Moms: What You Should Eat and Diet Plans
- 28-Day Breastfeeding Meal Plan
Avoid Stress & Get Enough Sleep
I think one of the biggest reasons I struggle with losing weight is this one. I get stressed out extremely easily, and it’s a good day when I’m in bed before midnight.
I know that if I were to adjust these two factors even just a little bit, I would be more successful. Stress is linked to weight gain, as is not getting enough sleep. Sleep is when your body works to repair itself!
I have found merit in meditating or just deep breathing for 10 minutes a day. I recently attended a church activity where one of the teachers mentioned that deep breathing can help boost your metabolism!
I know it can be hard to get enough sleep when you have a breastfeeding baby. It can also be stressful if you are dealing with other children, a baby who isn’t gaining weight, or low milk supply! But take all the opportunities you can to de-stress.
And I know it’s easier said than done but get as much sleep as you can. If you have to, invest in a better mattress or even pillow to help you get better sleep when you are sleeping!
This book was really interesting to me, and it takes a lot of the stress out of healthy living.
It basically puts the ax in all dieting and helps you to learn how to eat intuitively (without limiting any foods). I think it’s perfect for breastfeeding mothers because you learn how to eat what your body needs you to eat.
Eat Whole Foods
Focus on eating whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and avoid processed food if you can. If you do this, I believe you will have an easier time losing weight (even without exercise!) It will also ensure you are eating a well-balanced diet as well!
Slow and Steady
Don’t try and lose a ton of weight at once. It’s not healthy, and if you do a crash diet, you’ll be at much higher risk of losing your breastmilk supply. Aim to lose no more than 1.5 pounds a week.
My favorite thing to say is this – it took you nine months to grow and birth your baby. You don’t have to lose it overnight. Be easy on yourself and let your body recover from childbirth!
Meet with a Nutritionist/Dietitian
There’s a lot of information online about losing weight while breastfeeding – some good, some bad. I think one of the best things you can do is to meet with someone who specializes in dieting and nutrition. They can go over your individual goals and situation and build a plan specifically for YOU.
It’s okay to have a few guilty pleasures every now and then. Do what’s best for you and your baby! The fact of the matter is this – if your goal is to breastfeed your baby, make that your priority. I know it can be frustrating not to fit in your clothes like you used to, but you can get there eventually!
Breastfeeding-Friendly Weight Loss Programs
This was created by Jared from Tone-and-Tighten, and it’s specifically built for new moms! It’s a complete program to help fix diastis recti, but it also has an amazing meal plan.
I have been personally using this, and I love it. The workouts are fast and effective, and it’s specifically for postpartum mamas.
You can get $30 off with the code MOMMY30 by clicking here.
UPDATE – I have personally been doing the Mommy Tummy Fix since December after the birth of my third child.
Here is a picture of me when I started the Mommy Tummy Fix (three months postpartum) and about a month later. I still have a ways to go, but I have lost about six inches overall and five pounds.
This is a program that was created by a mother to help moms get healthier and feel more confident. It’s a really great program!
I’m sure you’ve heard of Weight Watchers. They have a plan that is specifically for breastfeeding mothers so you don’t have to worry about compromising your breast milk supply.
What I love about Weight Watchers is that it seems to train your body to know when you are full.
I love that you don’t really know how many calories you are eating – you just have to stay within the point range set up at the beginning.
I have found that I often end up with points left over at the end of the day.
It’s easy to follow, and you can eat anything. Plus, fruits and vegetables are ZERO points.
They often have great deals going on, where you can often try the plan for free. You can check it out here.
This can be a really great way to lose weight because you can account for the extra nutrients that you need while breastfeeding. A lot of moms have success with counting macros, though for me, I didn’t like having to track every last food.
You can find your macros here – Free Calorie Calculator for Breastfeeding Moms (with Macros).
I really love Macro Friendly Food by Elyse Ellis. She puts out some AMAZING recipes every month that are balanced with protein, carbs, and fat, and they are all super family-friendly. The subscription is just $10 a month!
Trim Healthy Mamas
This is another good meal plan, though I found it a little too intense for my liking. The Trim Healthy Mamas books are really awesome though. I started reading the book when I got it and was instantly captivated, especially because their meal plans and lifestyle can easily be adapted for a breastfeeding or pregnant mom.
The person who suggested this book said she couldn’t lose a pound while breastfeeding her other children, but by following the principles and meal plans from Trim Healthy Mamas, she actually was able to lose weight and keep her supply up. I recommend purchasing an introduction book and their recipe book (and the recipes look SO good and easy) if you are interested in this method.
FAQs about Losing Weight While Breastfeeding
How Many Calories Does Breastfeeding Burn?
This will depend on the frequency of nursing, how old baby is, and if solids have been introduced. On average, women burn 300-500 calories a day by breastfeeding.
How Many Calories To Burn to Lose Weight Breastfeeding?
This is going to depend on your metabolism, diet, etc. It’s generally accepted that you need to burn more calories than you consume in order to lose weight – breastfeeding or not – but there are definitely different factors involved.
Can I do Intermittent Fasting while Breastfeeding?
There are a lot of mixed opinions on this. Some say that Intermittent Fasting while breastfeeding is totally fine, while others say you should totally avoid it (especially as a pre-menopausal woman).
I used to be a big proponent of Intermittent Fasting. I did it before I got pregnant with success, and then after my son was born. However, since then, I have discovered that IF is actually not researched in women (at least last I read), and due to our hormones, it can be more complicated.
Can You Lose Weight While Breastfeeding?
There are two ways to look at this question – can you physically lose weight while breastfeeding or SHOULD you use weight while breastfeeding?
So let’s address both.
Yes – you can physically lose weight while breastfeeding – intentionally or unintentionally. While some women may have trouble losing weight while they breastfeed, you can definitely physically lose weight while you breastfeed.
Now on to the second one – should you lose weight while breastfeeding?
If you are six weeks postpartum, feel like you have an established milk supply, and you have a desire to lose weight – yes, you can safely do this while breastfeeding. You will want to be more careful, since extreme exercise and weight loss may impact your milk supply. But many women safely lose weight while breastfeeding all the time.
Will I Lose Weight Breastfeeding?
There is no guarantee. Some women lose, some gain and some can’t lose a thing. You might find this survey I did last year insightful – Does Breastfeeding Help You Lose Weight?
Can I Do Keto While Breastfeeding?
You’ll find lots of opinions on this, but I will tell you, I have worked with many mothers who have lost their milk supply due to the Keto diet. If you do it, you must do a modified version. You do need carbs while breastfeeding, and it’s important to remember that. A much safer approach that can help maintain your supply is counting Macros, especially because there are specific breastfeeding plans created for this.
If you are able to keep your calories above 1800 with Keto, then go for it. But otherwise, maybe look for something else.
It’s important to not let your calories get too low with any diet you do and to have a variety of healthy foods from all the different food groups.
Breastfeeding Meal Plan
If you just want somebody to TELL you what to eat – this meal plan is for you. It’s designed with recipes that help support a healthy milk supply while helping you recover from pregnancy.
You get 28 days of meal plans, recipes, and shopping lists – it definitely makes planning your meals easier than ever.
So there you have it! Lots of information on how to lose weight while breastfeeding. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to keep yourself fueled with nutritious foods and prioritize your supply. But there’s no reason you can’t try to lose some weight while breastfeeding.
Other Breastfeeding Posts You May Enjoy:
- Top 9 Best Lactation Supplements for Increasing Milk Supply
- How to Increase Breast Milk Supply Fast: 11 Expert Tips
- The Best Foods to Help Increase Milk Supply
Katie Clark is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She has helped thousands of mothers and families around the globe navigate breastfeeding challenges and questions since 2015. She has a passion for creating research-based, helpful breastfeeding education and helping parents find a way to make breastfeeding work for them. Katie is a mom of three little boys and lives in the great state of Colorado. She also has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in print journalism.