Every woman is concerned about the way she looks, and young mothers are not an exception. That’s why the question “How many calories does breastfeeding burn?” is quite popular.
There are directly opposite opinions about the possibility of losing weight during breastfeeding. Some mothers believe that it is impossible to lose weight while breastfeeding because milk should be fat and produced in sufficient quantity. Naturally, thinking and eating this way and not being able to expand the energy, a young mother doesn’t lose excess weight. Vice versa, she significantly gains even more.
Thus, mothers believe that one can get rid of excess weight only after the end of breastfeeding or in its absence. Because the woman no longer eats for two and the hormonal background comes back to its normal state. Also, the body understands that there is no longer a need for reserves – the offspring is not threatened with starvation. So it is off with excess fat. This opinion is so firmly entrenched in mothers’ minds that many of them even refuse to breastfeed in favor of a beautiful and slender body.
Losing Weight While Breastfeeding
There is another point of view: it is possible to lose weight while you are breastfeeding. Sometimes it is even more effective. Is it indeed so? Let’s try to understand.
The body of a future mom stores fat throughout the whole pregnancy (most intensely in the last trimester). This is done deliberately in order to protect the fetus and supply the future offspring with nutrition (milk) for several months in advance. That’s why the excess weight will not vanish right away. The body must make sure that the baby has enough milk and, therefore, consumes stored fat gradually.
During pregnancy, most women gain 4-8 pounds of fat which are part of a normal weight gain during pregnancy. From the physiological point of view, fat accumulated during pregnancy is energy reserve for the period of feeding. For these purposes 4-8 pounds are enough. More is not required. Thus, the problem begins when women during pregnancy gain more weight than it is recommended. In such cases, a woman usually has a strong desire to lose weight, and she practices diets with very low calorie content. Medical studies show that strict diets during breastfeeding lead to decrease in the amount and quality of milk. Therefore, such diets are detrimental to the health of the child and the rate of their growth.
Calories Burned During Breastfeeding
Surprisingly, lactation is a very energy-intensive process. If the mother nurses the baby on demand and doesn’t finish feeding with supplementary food and water, then the body spends about 700 calories on the production of milk per day! That means that the number of calories burned by breastfeeding is equal to two or three hours of exercise in a gym. And this happens every day. Isn’t it the most convenient consumption of calories for moms who want to lose weight? And if you take into account the fact that in order to avoid colic and allergies, many moms begin to eat only baked in the oven or steamed food, then losing weight while breastfeeding will certainly not keep you waiting.
Even without a diet, many nursing mothers lose an average of 2 lb. per month during the first 4 months of breastfeeding. At the same time, there are women who discover that during breastfeeding the appetite increases so much that it is almost impossible to resist. Sometimes a woman may have an acute desire to eat (and to eat a lot). Unfortunately, this desire does not usually pass until the end of breastfeeding.
A Balanced Diet Is not Harmful to Health
Not only during pregnancy but also during breastfeeding, many mothers hear the following advice: “Eat more, you feed not only yourself but also the child!” But there is definitely no point in eating till you are full. You need to have a sense of proportion and reasonably approach the composition of your diet. It would be inappropriate to completely prohibit a diet during breastfeeding. A moderate and balanced diet containing all the necessary elements and a sufficient amount of calories under the supervision of a professional should not affect the production of milk. What’s more, it contributes to improving the self-esteem of the nursing mother and improves her health.
Until now, nursing mothers have been recommended to consume at least 2300 calories per day (about 500 calories more than the usual daily diet of a woman before pregnancy). But recently published studies have found that a lower in calorie daily diet (1800-2000 calories) does not affect the production of milk. At the same time, it contributes to weight reduction. According to one study, the effect of a diet containing 1500 calories on breastfeeding led to a 15% decrease in milk production during the entire period of dieting. On the other hand, when a diet of 2000 calories was applied for ten weeks (under continuous supervision) there was no effect on the amount and quality of the milk. Tested women lost an average of 1 pound per week and lessened the body size.
Of course, we can’t say with 100% accuracy what kind of food affects the quality of milk. It is difficult because the fat content of milk and its amount depends more on heredity. But any restrictions can affect negatively both the amount and composition of breast milk (except for restrictions on excessively fatty, sweet food, and products containing dyes and flavors).
From Theory to Practice
Combining all of the above mentioned – breastfeeding women with excess weight are recommended following a moderate diet containing a minimum of 1800 calories, preferably under the supervision of a clinical nutritionist. The diet should contain all macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates) as well as all the vitamins and minerals necessary for the nursing woman. A diet is not recommended to already slim women.
How Fast Can I Lose Weight?
The speed of weight loss determines whether this diet is harmful or not. Loss of more than 4 lb. per month is not desirable in any case for a nursing woman. Even when it comes to slower weight loss it is necessary to constantly monitor the signs of hunger in the child. It may indicate a decrease in milk production.
What Diet Should I Choose?
It is not recommended to use so-called “popular” diets, such as high-protein diet, slimming drinks, food supplements, and powder diets. It is very important to monitor the balance of nutrition. It is better to do it with the help of a nutritionist. In addition, you shouldn’t start a diet immediately after birth. During the first weeks, before determining the amount of produced milk, a diet can bring a lot of negative consequences.
How Many Calories Does Breastfeeding Burn? Facts
- Your body burns about 500 calories a day more if you are breastfeeding. It is known that breastfeeding is very beneficial for a child. Breast milk is a natural substance produced and accumulated in the mother’s body. It provides the baby with important nutritious substances. Apart from providing a solid foundation for the growth of your child, breastfeeding helps the mother to naturally lose weight. She does not even need to exercise on a running track. The production of breast milk itself burns hundreds of calories a day.
- How many calories does breastfeeding burn? Breastfeeding burns an average of 500 calories per day. The usual range is from 200 to 600 calories a day. It is estimated that the production of 1 oz. of breast milk burns 20 calories.
- Studies have shown that nursing mothers lose more weight than mothers who feed children with artificial mixtures while consuming fewer calories. Mothers who feed babies only with the breast milk note that the proportions of body fat and body size decrease.
- Timeframe: babies fed solely by breast milk consume an average of 25 oz. of breast milk per day. This means that moms burn 500 calories a day simply by breastfeeding. The optimal range of mother’s milk consumption for 1-6-month-old babies ranges from 19 to 900 gr. in a day. This amount changes after 6 months, depending on how much solid food the child eats.
- Nursing mothers need to consume between 1800 and 2000 calories per day and more. Or 300-500 more calories than they used to eat before pregnancy.
Diet and Sport
- In general, moms should eat when they are hungry. However, it is better to follow a certain diet. Include whole grain products, vegetables, and fruit. Avoid artificial additives, chemicals.
- It is a mistake to say that physical exercises will affect the quality or amount of mother’s milk. Exercises can increase the level of lactic acid in the body but this will not entail any negative consequences for breast milk. Moderate exercises are the key to optimal physical fitness. They can help a nursing mother lose weight.
- A sharp decrease in the number of calories can affect the nutritional value of breast milk. It is not recommended to resort to extreme diets.
So, we’ve found out that calories burnt while breastfeeding can help you lose weight. But remember that the end of lactation is fraught with a return of weight. The body no longer spends energy on producing milk and, despite maintaining the previous diet, you can gain weight again.