Inside: Here are the best tips on how to lose weight while breastfeeding without losing your supply and how I lost 35 pounds following the Noom program!
I went my entire third pregnancy not knowing how much I weighed.
When I stepped on the scale at the doctor’s office, I would just close my eyes, as if turning a literal blind eye to my weight gain would make it all magically disappear.
But deep down I knew I weighed more than I ever had because I started that pregnancy bigger than I had ever been.
I weighed 169 when I stopped stepping on the scale before I got pregnant.
At delivery, the nurse informed me that I weighed 226 pounds!
I could not believe it!
At my six-week postpartum appointment, I had lost 20 pounds and weighed 205, but I still had another 35 pounds that I wanted to lose.
I had tried so many different weight loss methods in the past, and none of them worked long term. So I decided to try something completely different.
RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About Being a First Time Mom
How to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
If you want to lose weight while breastfeeding without killing yourself in the gym with an unrealistic exercise program, buying special diet food, or losing your milk supply then follow the tips below:
*Be sure to check with your medical provider before starting any postpartum weight loss program.
1. Sign up for Noom
Noom is a food tracking app that helps you record your calories throughout the day.
I had tried food tracking apps before. That’s how I lost 15 pounds before I had my first baby.
But here is where Noom is different: They provide short, interactive articles every day that change your relationship with food and how you handle stress, negative emotions, and setbacks.
You also get access to a personalized goal specialist and group support in the app.
The articles made the biggest difference for me in my weight loss journey this time. I learned that I don’t have to give up the foods I love to lose weight and I can eat treats, as long as I stay within my calorie limit for the day.
I also learned other outlets, besides food, for feelings of boredom, sadness, and even excitement.
When I hit plateaus in my weight loss journey (which I did) I learned how to push past them instead of throwing in the towel or switching to another weight loss program or fad diets at the first sign of stagnation.
RELATED: Moms’ Picks: 12 Best Nipple Creams For Breastfeeding
2. Drink a lot of water
Water is essential for any breastfeeding mom so make sure you drink a lot. Healthline recommends moms aim for 96 ounces a day. This is one of the most important tips for how to lose weight while breasting without changing your milk production.
I never liked water before I became a mom, but now I can’t get enough of it. However, that doesn’t mean I always remember to drink water.
To make it easier, I like to keep a mug full of fresh water and ice so whenever I see it I remember to take a sip. I love that it has a lid and straw too so I can take it wherever I go without fear of it spilling.
3. Aim for your calorie limit to be at least 1500 a day
According to KellyMom, 1500-1800 calories is an acceptable amount for nursing moms to eat every day if they are trying to lose weight.
I personally stayed at the higher end of that range.
That amount put me in enough of a deficit to lose weight, while still providing me enough energy to make milk.
The science of weight loss says you have to burn more calories than you take in, plain and simple. This causes the body to pull energy from fat stores and not just from the calories you ate that day.
But, if you’re not tracking your calories every day, how will you know how much to cut out?
That’s why signing up with Noom was so important for me because it helped me keep track of my calories throughout the day. It ensured I always consumed enough calories and didn’t hit extra calories over 1800.
And Noom is the only one who re-shaped my thinking about food and how to lose weight. Tracking your food only goes so far if you don’t know how to make the most of your daily calorie limit.
(Check out what I eat in a day down below.)
RELATED: 14 Breastfeeding Essentials For First Time Moms
4. Don’t restrict yourself
Who has been on a diet that had labels for food?
Good, bad, low-carb, high-carb, etc.
I have. And I find that I can restrict my food for only so long before I end up giving in to my cravings, binging on the “forbidden” food and then feeling terrible about myself.
So just stop restricting yourself. Learn to live life enjoying all types of food, but in moderation.
5. Never let yourself go hungry
Even though you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight, that doesn’t mean that you should starve yourself.
Try to plan for 1-2 snacks throughout the day so you can refuel your body.
Letting yourself go too long without food isn’t good for your milk supply and could lead to fog eating (a.k.a. a hangry rummage through the pantry grabbing anything in sight that’s edible.)
Restricting too much can also put your body into starvation mode. Your body may start hoarding fat which can make it nearly impossible to lose weight while breastfeeding.
RELATED: 40 of the Best Breastfeeding Tips
6. Exercise with intention
One misconception a lot of moms have is that in order to lose weight while breastfeeding, they need to be in the gym 40-60 minutes 5-6 days a week.
And that really isn’t possible for busy moms.
Exercising with intention can go a lot further than killing yourself at the gym.
After my second baby, I was killing myself doing intense workouts 5-6 days a week. My body got burnt out and I dreaded anytime I had to exercise.
This time around, I set aside 20-30 minutes 3 days a week to do my favorite workouts (resistance training or dance cardio) and I actually look forward to my workout days!
Move your body the way you love and for the amount of time that fits in your schedule.
If that’s 30 minutes of physical activity on the treadmill followed by 30 minutes of weights, great!
If that’s 20 minutes of yoga in the basement while your kids climb all over you, also great!
RELATED: 20 Important Things to Know About Breastfeeding
What should I eat to lose weight while breastfeeding?
If you want to lose weight while breastfeeding, healthy foods are going to be your best friend!
It’s important to maintain a healthy diet while breastfeeding so you and your baby get all the nutrients you need. Try to plan meals with lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats. Select items from each of the food groups including colorful fruits and vegetables and keep healthy snacks on hand.
You should also stick to real foods (whole foods) as much as possible and avoid processed foods.
Here’s an example of what I ate to lose weight with Noom while breastfeeding:
- Breakfast: Hard-boiled eggs, protein shake, Cream of Wheat with strawberries, toast with peanut butter (200-300 calories)
- Lunch: Leftovers from dinner the previous night; veggies, fruit (300-400 calories)
- Afternoon snack: String cheese, chips and guac, carrots and dip, protein bar (200-300 calories)
- Dinner: One of my favorite frugal meals, veggie, fruit, roll, etc. (400-500 calories)
- Evening snack: Popcorn, ice cream, candy (no shame!) (300 calories)
Total calories: 1800 (give or take)
I’m so glad I didn’t have to give up the recipes and food I love to lose weight!
If a meal I cook regularly has more calories per serving than I want to eat, I’ll either have a smaller portion, make an adjustment to another meal to compensate, or switch out some of the ingredients to save calories (like using cauliflower rice instead of white rice, for example).
If you’d like to get a FREE 4-week sample of the meal plan I used to lose 35 pounds, just sign up for my newsletter below and I’ll send it to you as a bonus!
Reasons Why You Aren’t Losing Weight
Even if you’re doing everything right to lose weight while breastfeeding, there’s still a chance you may not see the scale budge much. Here are a few areas to consider when you’re ready to throw in the towel.
Your body goes through a crazy influx of new hormones when it’s pregnant and breastfeeding. One of those hormones is prolactin.
Prolactin is necessary to make breast milk, but it also affects your body’s ability to metabolize fat. Basically, it makes your body hold onto fat so that you don’t use up all of your resources needed to produce milk. This could be why a breastfeeding mother can never lose those last few extra pounds until she’s done nursing.
Not to mention that when you start to lose weight, your body’s hormonal balance changes:
- Ghrelin increase (your get hungrier)
- GLP-1 increases (you get even hungrier)
- Leptin decreases (your hunger is no longer inhibited)
- CCK decreases (you don’t feel as satisfied)
To keep your hormones in check try to:
- Eat large volumes of foods that have fewer calories (like broccoli, broth-based soups, apples).
- Pair those low calorie foods with foods high in protein.
- Get rid of refined foods (like sugary and salty snacks).
- Engage in intense exercise. High-intensity activity has been shown to suppress hunger.
Some women naturally gain more weight during pregnancy than others. Some women can lose weight quicker than others. Our genetics play a big role in how we lose weight, and our body’s natural “happy weight.”
That number may change after having a baby, so don’t feel bad if you can never get down to your pre-pregnancy weight again.
To easiest way to lose weight is to create a calorie deficit. But if your diet is full of processed, high-calorie foods and is lacking nutrient-dense foods, you may be sabotaging your progress.
To make sure you’re eating the very best foods at a calorie deficit, you need to track your foods. It doesn’t have to be forever, but just long enough for you to lose the weight, or until you can easily estimate how many calories a meal will have.
4. Activity Level
If you’re not seeing the scale budge, it may be time to add in some exercise. As soon as I get the OK from my doctor to exercise, I always see my weight loss take off while I’m breastfeeding.
But remember, you need to exercise with intention. Low to moderate aerobic activity can increase ghrelin and decrease leptin levels. In other words, walking and low-effort exercise can make you hungry. Focus on effective, high-intensity exercise for the best results.
Having a new baby is stressful.
Not getting any sleep is stressful.
When you’re stressed your body produces high levels of cortisol which has been shown to negatively affect weight loss.
So what can you do about stress? Unfortunately, not much can be done about your lack of sleep until your baby learns to sleep.
Until that time, you may have to put your weight loss goals on hold. And that’s totally fine! Just focus on staying away from unhealthy food and feeding your body well.
A weight-loss plateau is when you go two or more weeks without weight loss and it happens to everyone.
Plateaus are normal. Plateaus are frustrating. Plateaus don’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. Plateaus don’t mean you’re not making progress.
To push past a plateau try:
- Riding the waves. Stay strong. Don’t change a thing.
- Meet your calorie budget. Don’t starve yourself or binge. Just stick to your calorie budget.
- Move more. Try adding 1,000 more steps to your day.
- Take a break from your deficit. Increasing your caloric intake after being in a deficit can increase calorie burn in the short term.
That depends on your unique body, metabolism, activity level, and diet. Many women are able to lose weight while breastfeeding while some may not lose all their baby weight until their baby is weaned.
The body holds on to some fat stores in order to keep up with milk production, but this should not prevent weight loss on its own. Instead, new moms experiencing sleep deprivation and a low energy level may also have a harder time sticking with healthy habits needed to lose weight.
It’s important for breastfeeding mothers to eat no less than 1500 calories a day to prevent changes in milk supply. Be sure to drink lots of water and eat a healthy diet, high in protein. Don’t restrict yourself, but do practice moderation.
Plan to exercise as frequently as your schedule allows and using routines you enjoy. A helpful app like Noom can assist breastfeeding mothers with creating and following through with appropriate weight loss goals.
Most women usually lose the most weight immediately following birth. Initial weight loss after birth is mostly fluids, but it can be up to 13 pounds. Fat loss while breastfeeding typically starts 2 weeks after birth and there is no particular month that marks the most weight loss.
Breastfeeding itself cannot cause you to retain weight. In fact, a study found that breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months postpartum reduces weight retention.
If you’re not losing weight postpartum, you’ll need to take a look at what you’re eating and your activity level.
I’m sure you’ve figured out where this post is going…
I did lose the 35 pounds. And in record time!
It only took me 3.5 months to shed all of that pregnancy weight I had put on and I couldn’t have done it safely and effectively without Noom.
And guess what?
I lost the weight again!
I had my fourth baby in 2021 and I lost the 55 pounds I gained by the time my baby was 5 months using the same tips I shared above.
If you liked this post for how to lose weight while breastfeeding, please check out this video I made about my entire journey with weight loss and how I’ve overcome my eating disorders. It’s so important to have a healthy lifestyle so you can feel your best and give your best to your new baby.
You may also like:
- These clever newborn baby hacks for new moms
- Proven newborn sleep tips to save your sanity
- Cute monthly baby photo ideas to capture those precious memories
- Tips to understand and manage your other postpartum body changes
- 3 first time mom books worth a read
- This ultimate list of mom hacks
Losing weight while breastfeeding and not losing your supply really is possible if you follow the tips I mentioned above.
If you want to try Noom, you can get a FREE 14-day trial here. I love that they give you a full 2 weeks with the app before you decide to commit.
Have you already tried Noom? If so, I’d love to hear your experience in the comments.
And if you have any other questions about how to lose weight while using Noom and breastfeeding that I didn’t address in this post, please leave those in the comments too!