Losing weight the healthy way during breastfeeding
It is extremely common and even healthy to gain a certain amount of weight during pregnancy. This helps provide nourishment to the rapidly growing foetus in your womb. And the weight gain is variable because it depends on several factors such as genetic predisposition, pre-pregnancy weight, diet, physical activity, and lifestyle. However, no matter how much weight you gain, you might be worried about how you can lose it after your little one is born. The good news is that mothers lose weight naturally when they breastfeed. Fat cells that accumulate in your body during pregnancy help fuel the milk production when you are lactating. Hence, every time you feed your baby, excess fat stores get depleted, and this paves the way to weight loss.
However, if a mother decides to adopt any other method of losing weight while breastfeeding, she must make sure that it doesn’t affect the milk supply quantitatively or qualitatively. Do remember that the new family member is completely dependent on your milk for the initial half-a-dozen months. This is the reason why, following a balanced, nutritious diet and a healthy lifestyle is essential.
How can a nursing mother lose weight?
Here is a simple checklist that can help you lose weight in a healthy manner post-pregnancy.
- Include every food group in your meals: Follow a diet that includes nutrient-rich sources from every major food group. Each food group is important when it comes to getting the right amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, fibre, minerals, vitamins, and healthy fats. So, you cannot miss out on any. After all, these nutrients will get passed on to your baby through the breast milk. Plus, by balancing your diet, you will be able to lose weight faster.
- Pump it up with protein: Your milk production depends a lot on this one important nutrient in particular. So, make sure you consume enough beans, peas, pulses, and seeds, if you are a vegetarian. Non-vegetarians should eat eggs, fishes (low-mercury varieties only) and lean meats.
- Increase calcium intake: Calcium is essential for adequate milk production. At least three good low-fat dairy sources a day, or calcium-fortified nutrient-dense choices, or even ragi, will help you get enough calcium.
- Load up on fruits and vegetables: At least half your plate must contain fresh fruits and vegetables. Try a rainbow of colours, so that you get all the necessary vitamins and minerals. Each micronutrient is needed in a very small amount, but has a pivotal role to play in your body. Moreover, you will get your supply of dietary fibre too.
- Replace refined grains with whole grains: Whole grains can ensure better metabolism as they are rich in fibre. And the higher your metabolic rate, the faster you will burn calories.
- Get smart with oils: Healthy plant-based oils are cholesterol-free. Olive, mustard, canola, rice bran, and soy oil are good options when used on a rotational basis. Since they are fat sources, moderate consumption is the key. You can also try to steam, bake or grill foods as much as possible.
- Control sweet cravings: Don’t give in easily to sugary foods like cakes, cookies, chocolates or pastries. If you control sugar intake, there will be fewer sugar stores in the liver. This way, lesser amount of sugar will get converted into adipose or fat deposits.
- Stay hydrated like a pro: Water aids fat breakdown efficiently. So, try and drink 2 to 2 ½ litres every day. Buttermilk, coconut water, soups, and fresh juices can also help. However, be wary of any beverage that can spike your sugar or salt level.
- Choose supplements with care: They must be consumed only if prescribed by a doctor. While supplements do not have any calorific value, these cannot be considered as food replacements. You can take these along with a wholesome and nutritious diet.
- Soak up some sun: The sun is the most reliable source of vitamin D. However, avoid exposure during peak light hours. Vitamin D enhances calcium absorption in the body. And calcium is necessary for building your bones and teeth, and keeping you physically active. Stronger teeth will help you chew food better and make it more digestible. So, this is an indirect way to burn the fat!
- Stay physically active: After pregnancy, you will need a few weeks to rest and recover. After that, you can start going for relaxed walks. Then, you can gradually progress to an hour of cardio, and even embrace weight training. Your diet needs to be constantly supported by physical activity if you want to lose weight.
It might help you to know that losing baby weight usually takes more than a year. So, it might not be a good idea to look for the fastest way to lose weight while breastfeeding. Remember that losing weight quickly can result in loss of lean muscle tissue and hamper your energy level. And a new mother needs a lot of energy to deal with her new responsibilities. So, start slow and keep an eye on your diet and exercise regime, to lose weight healthily.