Nutrition, Postpartum, Postpartum Fitness

Getting Lean While Breastfeeding

I am getting ready to end my THIRD breastfeeding journey with my little Archie! He’s almost 15 months old and LOVES food. His daycare teachers call him a piranha. I’m ready to be done pumping and have a little more freedom!

I absolutely love breastfeeding and feel very grateful that I’ve been able to go this long. I will definitely miss it!

I will NOT miss pumping though. I was very happy to put that pump into storage! ¨̮

Now that I’m almost done, I’m noticing that I’m able to lean out more. I find that my body holds onto extra fat while breastfeeding.

Some women drop weight easily while nursing due to the extra calories being used to produce milk or their bodies use fat stores for milk.

How many calories your body burns each day will depend on your baby’s age, how often you nurse your baby, growth spurts, whether your baby supplements with formula, if your baby is eating solids, and of course how much milk you are producing.

On average, there are 20 calories in each ounce of breast milk. Let’s say you’re producing 25 ounces of milk daily, that’s about 500 calories burnt by breastfeeding. You can be burning up to 700 extra calories each day.

Again, this number will change depending on the factors listed above, but 500-700 calories is a lot!

No wonder you are more ravenous while breastfeeding!

However, like I mentioned, some woman are like me and don’t lose weight easily while breastfeeding.

A big reason could be due to hormones….


Those pesky hormones!

Prolactin is a hormone that tells you milk glands in your breasts to make more breast milk.

Every time your baby latches, prolactin is released.

Studies show that (non-breastfeeding) people who have high prolactin levels often gain weight, feel tired, and have less energy.

While breastfeeding, you have about 10 times as much prolactin as the average person.

Prolactin suppresses the hormone Adiponectin.

Adiponectin promotes a faster metabolism, gives you energy, and helps break down fat.

So, in essence, prolactin can be a fat metabolism inhibitor.

Sounds like a big bummer, but there are ways you can continue to breastfeed and also work to increase Adiponectin.

Here are 3 suggestions that you can easily incorporate into your lifestyle:

  1. Exercise. Shoot for at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week.
  2. Fiber. This can increase your levels by 60-115%!
  3. Fish Oil. Fish, omega-3s, avocados, nuts, olives. This can increase your levels by 14-60%.

Choose ONE of those 3 suggestions and do it for a week. Once you’ve mastered one, add the next suggestion.

Calorie Deficit While Breastfeeding

In order for anyone to lose weight, you need to be in a caloric deficit.

This means that your calories out needs to be greater than your calories in.

This can be be tricky while breastfeeding because you don’t want to lose your milk supply.

Here are some tips to avoid losing your milk supply while in a calorie deficit:

  1. Wait at least 2 months before doing anything consciously to lose weight. This will allow your body to establish a healthy milk supply. Also, you are recovering! Give yourself a break.
  2. Drink lots of water. Shoot for 100oz.
  3. Don’t cut out too many calories. Kelly Mom recommends that you eat at least 1500-1800 calories per day and that women should stay in the high end of this range. Please note, that some women will require more, so just pay attention to your body. You don’t want to starve yourself.
  4. Don’t try to lose more than 1 or 1.5lbs per week. This should be a gradual process.
  5. Focus on adding foods to your diet.
    1. Foods high in protein and fat will keep you full for longer and help you feel more satisfied. You’ll end up eating fewer calories in the long run. As a new mom, you are sleep deprived which can make you more snacky and munchy, but these foods can help combat that.
    2. Add Fruits and Veggies to every meal. They’re full of vitamins and minerals and will also help crowd out more processed foods.
  6. AVOID quick fix solutions or diets. Say NO to liquid diets, low-carb diets, fad diets, weight loss supplements, juice cleanses. Throw all of that in the garbage, PLEASE do not let their marketing suck you in.
  7. Exercise. If it’s safe to do so and you’re doctor gives you the green light, begin exercising. Strength training is so important to help you build muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn daily while just resting.

How to Determine Your Calorie Deficit?

Here are some simple steps to determine your calorie deficit:

  1. Search TDEE online for a calculator to determine your Total Daily Energy Expenditure.
  2. ADD 200-250 calories to your TDEE. Remember, this is an estimate to give you a starting point. You might need to add 400 calories instead. This is where I recommend you watch your milk supply and re-evaluate often to determine if you need more calories.

This will tell you where you want to be calorie wise. Macros are also important to consider.

Macronutrients while Breastfeeding

At every meal, try to identify these 3 things:

  1. What is my protein? Is it at least the size of my palm?
  2. What is my carb? Is it the size of my fist?
  3. What is my fat? Is it the size of my thumb?


Remember, protein takes longer for your body to break down and digest so it will help you feel full for longer. It’s also essential in helping you build and maintain lean muscle mass which increases your metabolism helping you burn more fat.

Aim for 0.8 – 1 gram of protein per pound of your goal body weight. For example, if you are 150 lbs, eat 120-150 grams of protein daily. This is about 24-26% of your diet.


Aim for .4g of fat per pound of body weight. Again, fats can help you feel more satisfied and full after a meal so you end up eating less in the long run. Plus, breast milk is mainly made of fat so this can help boost or maintain your supply. This should be about 33-35% of your diet.


Carbs are NOT BAD. They give you energy and can be filled with a lot of valuable nutrients. Plus, they’re delicious. This should be about 31% of your diet.


Aim for 25-30 grams of fiber each day. This will help you feel more full and satisfied and help you eat more fruits and vegetables.

This will also help you avoid constipation which was always an issue with me postpartum!


Try to stay under 40g of sugar each day. When you’re sleep deprived and tired, you will crave sugar and I’m not telling you to cut it out completely. I love my licorice and chocolate! Just be aware of it. Drink water or sparkling soda instead of soda and juices with lots of calories and sugar.


In conclusion, do what works for you. If counting calories and/or macros is stressful and overwhelming for you, don’t do it!

Focus on ADDING things to your meals or diet.

When you focus on adding and not on taking things away, you will naturally crowd out the things you wanted to take away.

Listen to your body and pay attention to your milk supply. If eating less calories cause you to have a dip in supply, simply add some more calories in.

Remember, this time period is temporary. It seems like forever, but it goes by quickly.

Try not to feel discouraged if you’re unable to lose the weight you’d like to.

I’m always here to help. Feel free to email me ANY questions and I’ll get back to you within 24 hours.

I know this period of time can be hard, emotional, and foreign.

So many new challenges and different experiences.

Give yourself grace.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

Don’t try to “bounce back”.

Try to focus on your strengths….like how you just grew a human and gave birth to it! AMAZING. Seriously.



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