How to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding

by | Apr 24, 2020

After my second pregnancy, I was determined to lose my postpartum baby weight fast. I chose to do a low carb/modified Keto diet while breastfeeding and it worked fabulously!

I was sure that this was a safe way to lose weight while breastfeeding and made sure to ask my doctor about any restrictions or modifications that I needed to make. I didn’t want this diet have any impact on breastmilk supply or the health of me and my baby.

In a little over 2 months, I lost the weight from two back-to-back pregnancies all while continuing to breastfeed. Thirteen pounds were shed and I was finally back to the weight that I was before having my first baby.

I finally felt great about my ‘mom bod’ and want to encourage all women to do it. You can also lose weight while breastfeeding with a little exercise, diet, and a lot of dedication.

When Is It Time to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding?

Despite what everyone says about the fact that breastfeeding makes your baby weight just fall off, that was not the case for me. After both of my pregnancies, I still had an extra 10+ pounds that would not come off despite exercising and nursing.

That’s when I decided I needed to try a healthy diet that could shed the pounds fast. You can start your regular diet and exercise plan around 6 weeks postpartum with your healthcare provider’s approval.

Making the Decision to Start a Weight Loss Diet While Breastfeeding

Postpartum recovery can be tough on any new mom. If you’re not feeling good about yourself, your body, and your image, you may want to think about starting a diet. If you’re experiencing other signs of depression or anxiety surrounding these feelings, you should also speak with your doctor about it.

I knew dieting would be hard for me because I was never a healthy eater. I’ll admit that in my younger years, I didn’t have to work at being thin. I was fortunate to always have a petite frame and high metabolism. However, since my first pregnancy and as I have gotten older (into my 30’s), I’ve gained a lot more weight than I ever thought was possible!

Not only did I want to look good in a bathing suit again, I wanted to feel comfortable with my body. I didn’t feel confident with the way that I looked and couldn’t wait to start feeling like myself again. Looking back at our wedding photos that are hanging around the house, I just kept thinking that I have come so far since then.

Of course, I have two beautiful children to show for some of the weight gain which makes me more than grateful.

However, I didn’t want to keep letting my weight go up because the more you gain, the harder it is to lose. Especially since we plan on having a third baby, I didn’t want to start off the next pregnancy without first losing all the previous baby weight.

What Diet is Best While Breastfeeding?

Since you’re typically hungrier while nursing, you may have cravings for certain foods.

For me, I was always craving carbs. I was home all the time on maternity leave and constantly snacking on crackers, chips, and any junk food I could lay my hands on. That’s when I knew I needed to cut them out because I was living an unhealthy lifestyle.

I chose a low carbohydrate diet because I noticed that after childbirth I was on a carb binge! I always loved all heavy carbohydrate foods, such as pasta, breads, fried foods, potatoes, fruit, and sweets and this was just exacerbated while breastfeeding. This type of diet had worked for many others and I had a good feeling that it would work for me.

I started out planning to do the Keto diet. However, I had to modify it a bit because of breastfeeding. Your body needs more carbohydrates than the Keto diet allows in order to provide enough vitamins and nutrients for your baby and still keep mom healthy. Therefore, it turned out to be more of a low carb diet plan.

It’s tough dieting while breastfeeding because I didn’t want to sacrifice the nutrients I was giving my child, as well as my milk supply. However, this diet didn’t have any negative effect on either my supply or my baby’s nutrients.

My baby was gaining weight well and I always had plenty of milk, even enough to pump extra each day.

What can I eat on the low carb/Keto diet while breastfeeding?

The Keto diet is a low carb/high fat lifestyle. You are allowed to eat about 25 net carbs a day in order to enter ketosis and burn fat quickly. Read more specifics on the diet here.

To modify this diet to be better compliant with breastfeeding recommendations, I allowed myself to eat around 50-60 net carbs per day. Although, I still made sure the carbohydrates I was taking in were healthier carbs, like fruits and vegetables, and not a dish of pasta. This is definitely a safe way to lose weight while breastfeeding.

On this diet, you can pretty much eat as much meat, eggs, and dairy as you wish, but limit the carbohydrates and sugars. Some foods are obvious no-no’s, such as pasta, bread, fried food, chips, crackers, rice, etc.

However, there is also a limit on certain fruits and vegetables since many are high in sugar and starch (which are considered carbohydrates). The obvious bad fruits and veggies are potatoes, corn, carrots, bananas, oranges, pineapple, etc. Read a full list of all the fruits and vegetables that are high in carbs here.

The Diet Doctor is a great resource for learning what to eat and what to avoid on a Keto diet.

Will this diet effect my breastmilk supply?

I did not notice any significant changes to my supply when I started this diet while breastfeeding. However, I did feel a small drop and my breasts feeling less full.

However, I started the diet right around the time when your supply naturally dips because your body starts to regulate your milk production. Once I completed the diet and went back to my regular eating habits, I noticed an increase in breastmilk production. However, I’m not sure if this was related or not.

To ensure that I still had enough breastmilk to feed my baby, I started taking Fenugreek supplements and continued to pump at least once a day in addition to my regular feedings. Fenugreek is an herbal supplement that helps breastmilk production. Pumping will also trick your body into thinking you need to produce more milk.

So if you’re thinking about losing weight while breastfeeding, I highly recommend this plan. Read on below for tips and tricks which helped me stay on track.

Related post: How to Build an Outrageous Breastmilk Freezer Stash

Trying to lose weight while breastfeeding? Here are safe ways to lose weight without effecting milk. This diet & exercise plan worked for me

12 Tips on How to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding

This is the healthy eating plan that worked for me. You can modify it how you wish and use various recipes that you find. Hopefully you will have success with it too! Follow these tips that I used to lose the weight fast.

1. Your husband and family should all be on board

My husband had also gained some extra weight in the past couple of years that he wasn’t happy about. Therefore, he was happy to begin this diet with me so we could lose weight simultaneously. We worked together which was extra motivation for eating healthier and sticking to the diet.

If he was eating mozzarella sticks and ice cream (my weakness) right in front of me, there’s no way I would have lasted as long as I did! Thankfully, he was doing the diet right alongside me and we weren’t thrown off by each other’s poor eating habits.

2. Plan your start date in advance

I know most people start diets on Mondays. After a long weekend of eating terrible, you say to yourself I’ll start tomorrow. This can work for some people to get into the mind set of beginning a diet. I gave myself a few weeks before beginning my diet.

I started the low carb lifestyle as a New Years resolution so January 1st would be a fresh start. This helped me because I knew my plan a few weeks ahead of time and was able to mentally prepare myself for what was about to happen. Two weeks before the diet even started, I stopped buying carb-loaded snacks and junk food because I didn’t want it still lingering in the pantry once January 1st rolled around.

New Years and January is a great time to start a healthy eating routine, but you can start anytime. Instead of just picking any old Monday, have your sights set on the 1st of a month or even an anniversary or birthday. This may help to get you ready and prepared for a fresh start.

Related Post: Time Saving Hacks for Busy Moms

3. Establish a goal

When you’re planning on losing weight during breastfeeding, it’s helpful to have an achievable end goal in sight. This could be a weight you want to drop down to or a waist measurement that you want to achieve.

My goal was my pre-pregnancy weight because I knew it was achievable.

4. Clean out your pantry

The day before we started the diet, we got rid of ALL the carbs and junk food in the house. Of course we ended up having a carb binge the week before because we didn’t want it all to go in the garbage!

I got rid of all the unhealthy (and high carb) snacks and foods like crackers, chips, popcorn, pretzels, granola bars, cereal, pasta, rice, etc. This really helps when you have a snack craving and your first instinct is to raid the pantry for chips.

You won’t be reaching for those unhealthy snacks because they aren’t anywhere in reach. This was one of the biggest things that helped me, especially since I was always home.

5. Choose low carb/ Keto meal options

There are so many great recipes out there for Low Carb or Keto meals. You would be surprised how many great meals that you probably already eat that are low carb and Keto friendly. The fact that you can allow yourself a few more carbs while breastfeeding gives you even more options. Some of my favorite meals were:

Breakfast:

Lunch:

Dinner:

Trying to lose weight while breastfeeding? Here are safe ways to lose weight without effecting milk. This diet & exercise plan worked for me

The most handy tool I purchased was a vegetable spiralizer. I think zucchini noodles are the best tasting veggie noodles and I could easily whip up a quick batch myself using this spiralizer.

Since all pasta is out on this diet, you’ll probably want to be cooking ‘zoodles’ often! It’s much more expensive to purchase them already cut at the store and they go bad quicker, so this was a good purchase.

6. Have healthy snacks available

Once you’ve gotten rid of all the unhealthy snacks and foods in the house, stock up on some healthy ones. This way, when you feel like snacking, you’re more likely to pick a healthy option.

Some of the low carb/keto snacks I enjoyed were:

  • celery with almond butter
  • string cheese
  • rolled up deli meats and cheese
  • strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries
  • raw almonds, pistachios, macadamia nuts
  • dark chocolate (70% cacao or higher)
  • Atkins bars

Here is an extensive list of low carb/keto-friendly snacks from All Day I Dream About Food.

7. Don’t starve yourself

You need to eat enough calories to replenish all the nutrients that were lost from pregnancy and childbirth and that you are still losing to your breastfed baby. Therefore, remember to eat 3 meals a day and small snacks throughout, just stick to healthier options and smaller portion sizes.

8. Exercise

Of course you can lose weight while breastfeeding without exercise, however you may want to start adopting an overall healthier lifestyle right now. If you can squeeze in just a few minutes a day from home, you can get a workout in!

At the time of this low carb diet, I also began exercising a couple times a week. Since I’m a stay-at-home mom, I was able to join a mommy-and-me stroller fitness group which was amazing. The moms work out while the kids watch and play and then at the end of class, there’s fun circle time for the children.

The class is boot camp style with tons of different targeted exercises, but everyone is able to go at their own pace. There are tons of new moms, pregnant moms, and moms who haven’t worked out in years, so it’s not super tough.

I still think my eating habits had the most impact on my weight loss. However, it’s great to get your heart rate up and burn some of those extra calories.

For a simple at-home exercise program, check out these 15 Mommy & Me Postpartum exercises from Live Core Strong, as well. You can do these exercises on your own time, at your own pace, and still spend quality time with your new baby while burning calories.

If you’re struggling with Diastasis Recti (separation of the abdominal muscles after childbirth), here are some great home exercises from Live Core Strong to strengthen those core muscles.

9. Don’t have cheat days

I know the idea of a diet seems tough and you may plan to have some days where you have to indulge. However, I highly advise against it. The fact that I gave up most carbs cold turkey, I didn’t even miss them! All of a sudden my mindset changed and after a couple days I didn’t even crave pasta or mozzarella sticks at all!

Once I hit my goal, I started allowing myself to have cheat days. Then one cheat day turned into a cheat weekend and it snowballed from there. However, I had already lost all the weight I needed so I was really just able to go back to some of my old eating habits and not gain the weight back. If I did this before I had reached my goal, I’m sure it would have taken me that much longer to lose all the weight completely.

10. Continue your prenatal vitamins

If you are continuing to breastfeed throughout your diet, be sure to take your prenatal vitamins so you’re getting all the nutrients your body and baby need. This is just in case you’re missing out on some of the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to provide for baby, including iron and vitamin D.

The first few weeks I didn’t see as drastic of a drop as I had hoped (from hearing other success stories), but it got there eventually.

11. Create a healthy lifestyle

Once you have reached your goal, try not to go back to your old eating habits if they were not healthy. Now that I am at a weight I am happy with, I allow myself to eat more carbohydrates and other foods that I wouldn’t have allowed myself on the diet. However, I don’t go overboard and I still try to let that be on special occasions.

I still aim to keep healthy foods and snacks in the house, but give myself a pass when we are out to eat or at parties. This way, my healthy eating during the week and at home can make up for any additional calories I took in over the weekend.

12. Be Positive

A healthy outlook on losing weight can make all the difference. If you’re optimistic that this diet will work, then you can do it. Just stay consistent with your food choices and try to follow a diet low in carbohydrates.

The tips above worked for me to lose the baby weight fast, so hopefully it can work for you too.

Related Post: Managing Breastfeeding as a Busy Mom of 2

Related Post: Time Saving Hacks for Busy Moms

Trying to lose weight while breastfeeding? Here are safe ways to lose weight without effecting milk. This diet & exercise plan worked for me

Hi I’m Marissa!

A mom of two little ones, here to provide some relatable experiences, tips, and tricks to the joys and challenges of pregnancy and childbirth through raising babies and toddlers.  Read more about me here.