Trying to Lose Weight While Nursing!

Updated on June 25, 2011
L.S. asks from South Elgin, IL
11 answers

I still have 15lbs to lose of baby weight! I am trying to fit in workouts and eat sensibly. But, I freaked out when I read that if you lose more than 2lbs a week, my body could release toxins in to the breastmilk!! Has anyone heard of this?? The first week I started, I lost 2 lbs in 3 days and panicked... tried increasing the calories I ate daily, but then haven't lost anything again... I know I have to work on figuring out how many calories I should be eating since nursing can burn a range of calories.. its just frustrating. I know breastmilk is best for my baby and I want to continue, but somedays I just want my body back!!


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So What Happened?

Thank you so much for the advice!! I think it was probably water weight at first, but it made me nervous! My baby is 12 weeks old, so I figured its about time to ATTEMPT to take care of myself!!! Like I said though, I am just doing what I can to fit in some workouts, make healthy food choices and watch my servings. I know being healthy is an overall lifestyle change and I want my whole family to be healthy and it starts with me and my husband... I also want to be more prepared and organized with the foods we eat so we are not tempted to run to McDonald's all the time. This is some really great advice, thanks for sharing so much important information, I really appreciate it!

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answers from Appleton on

I could never lose weight while breastfeeding. I was on a see food diet--if I saw food I ate it. But I always had a generous milk supply. I always laughed and said I could have fed Ethiopia.
The baby fat will come off after you wean. But seriously enjoy this time. Before you know it you will be getting ready for prom.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Rochester on

How old is your baby? Are you nursing exclusively? I think there are 2 things you have to take into consideration. 1) my husband gently reminded me of this often- it took 9 months to gain the is going to take some time to loose it. and 2) your baby is only young once and doesn't care if you are 15 pounds overweight. don't push it and enjoy it. :) With my 2nd, those last 15 pounds just lingered and lingered. When she was about 9 months old and nursing only 4 times a day and eating lots of solid food- then I started to REALLY try to loose the weight and it came off rather quickly and easily. Don't sweat it. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Yep, I've heard that: "Rapid weight loss programs should be avoided because fat-soluble environmental contaminants and toxins stored in body fat are released into the milk when caloric intake is severely restricted."

Below is the complete information from

Yes! Nursing mothers can lose weight safely if they follow some basic guidelines.

Six guidelines for safe dieting during lactation

1. Wait until your baby is two months old before dieting
It's best not to do anything consciously to lose weight until after the second month. This gives your body enough time to successfully establish a healthy milk supply that is less likely to be adversely affected if your caloric intake is restricted. Breastfeeding your baby, on average, burns 200-500 calories per day (above what you needed to maintain your pre-pregnancy weight) -- so keep in mind that even without a weight loss program you are burning extra calories.

2. Breastfeed without restriction
Research tells us that both more frequent breastfeeding and breastfeeding longer than six months increases maternal weight loss.

3. Eat at least 1500-1800 calories per day
While nursing, you should not consume less than 1500-1800 calories per day, and most women should stay at the high end of this range. Some mothers will require much more than this, but studies show that going below this number may put supply at risk.

4. Keep weight loss at less than 1.5 pounds per week
Most moms can safely lose up to 1.5 pounds per week or 6 pounds per month after the second month and not affect milk supply or baby's well being. One study has suggested that short-term weight loss of 2.2 pounds (1 kg) per week is not a problem (in this study, moms dieted for 11 days).

5. Decrease the calories gradually
A sudden drop in calories can reduce milk supply. Some moms notice this during an illness, although dehydration and/or medication use could also be a factor in reduced milk supply when mom is sick. It has been hypothesized that a sudden calorie decrease can cause mom's body to go into "starvation mode" and cut nonessential resources such as milk production.

6. Avoid quick-fix solutions
Liquid diets, low-carb diets, fad diets, weight loss medication, etc. are not recommended while breastfeeding.

What might happen if a nursing mother loses weight too quickly?
In most instances of too-rapid weight loss, it is not the breastmilk (composition or supply) that would suffer, but mom's nutrition and/or health.
Excessive dieting can result in a reduced milk supply.

According to Breastfeeding and Human Lactation (3rd Edition, Riordan, pp 440), it is noted that fad or rapid weight loss programs should be avoided because fat-soluble environmental contaminants and toxins stored in body fat are released into the milk when caloric intake is severely restricted. I was unable to find a definition of "severely restricted" but I expect that it is significantly under 1500 calories per day (which they called a "modest intake"). I've included information on a study on this subject below. See also the info at this website regarding environmental contaminants and breastfeeding.

Three great tips for weight loss (whether you are nursing or not)
Make dietary changes -- decrease your fat intake to 20-25% or less of total calories; keep your protein intake up to prevent loss of muscle mass (Recommended Intake of protein for nursing mothers is 65 grams/day for the first 6 months and 62 grams/day between 6 and 12 months).

Spread your calorie intake out -- instead of 2-3 meals, eat 3 smaller meals with snacks between. Your body will be less likely to go into "starvation mode" if you are eating small amounts throughout the day.

Exercise moderately so that you burn more fat while keeping lean muscle mass. Resistance/weight training is a good way to build muscle mass. A person with more muscle mass burns more calories, even when resting.

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answers from El Paso on

I never heard anything about toxins being released into the breastmilk, but losing too much weight too quickly CAN decrease your milk supply. Losing 2 pounds per week is the standard definition of a healthy amount of weight loss. I would think that as long as you're not losing "too much" weight on a consistent basis, you should be fine. Good luck!!



answers from Salt Lake City on

The only thing I've heard of is that if you exercise a good amount, lactic acid can sour the milk (not make it bad really, but it won't taste as good, don't recall if it can cause upset tummy). But that's just for a short time after the workout.

I also know that losing more than 2 lbs a week in general isn't really healthy. 1-2 lbs a week is about as much as you want to go. A daily calorie deficit of 500 calories will equate to about a pound a week. That is basic metabolism + exercise compared to how many calories you eat. If you're nursing exclusively, you can count about 500 calories toward that, so just factor it in to how much you eat through the day.

I would guess if you lost 2 lbs in 3 days it was likely mostly water weight. Lots of things can make us retain or release water. If you eat a lot of sodium, you can retain extra. If you drink plenty of water, your body may release the excess.

So maybe just start slowly, with reasonable eating and moderate exercise.


answers from Los Angeles on

I lost a few going to 1500 cals/day while BF. I only wish i had lost more than two a week! It was barely one per week. Don't count the first week because you loose some water as well as fat when you initially decrease you food intake and start eating better. Judge rapid weight loss on what happens after that first week. (FYI I had tried initially at 1800 cal/ day and nothing came off).


answers from Houston on

do exactly what lipstickmama need to repeat it, :)



answers from Atlanta on

I've never heard of toxins being released into your milk. However, your supply can really take a hit if you lose too quickly. I'm doing weight watchers and I know that for breastfeeding mothers, they only recommend losing 1 lb per week. I unintentionally lost more than that and my supply tanked to the point that I needed to take domperidone to be able to feed the baby.



answers from New York on

I lost my baby weight extremely quickly and my son was also colicky. He cried a lot and wanted to be held. I think it might be a combination of losing weight too quickly and because he was allergic to dairy (which I didn't know at the time). You didn't say how old your baby is. Is your baby solely on breastmilk? If that is the case, if you do exersize then wait a bit to nurse and make sure you are eating well. 2 lbs could be water weight so don't weigh yourself constantly.


answers from Tampa on

As another poster mentioned - it's lactic acid build up... as long as you keep SUPER hydrated with simple water during and after workouts... it should be fine. Between nursing and soon to be running after your little one - losing weight along with a healthy diet should be very easy to achieve.

Much of the weight you lose in the beginning is water weight, and if you are doing weight bearing exercises - then you may gain a pound or two but start seeing inches fall away from your waistline. Don't get caught up in the weight numbers, but in how your clothes fit you.


answers from Dallas on

I've never heard of the 2 lbs in a week thing. Maybe if it's done in an unhealthy way the it can be a problem, but if you're adjusting your diet and exercising, and lose weight from that, I'd think it's completely fine and healthy! (I'm no medical expert, though!). I wouldn't base any of my weight loss off of that, though. I would lose however much I lose, if doing it healthy. I know I've lost more than 2 lbs a week at times, and I've seen no harm to my nursing babies.

I wouldn't focus on calories. Keep eating as many as you should be, especially for nursing. I'd focus on eating no unhealthy carbs, including very little bread (even wheat...avoid flour itself as much as possible, it makes you hold/gain weight), just a little bit of rice, little potatoes, etc. I wouldn't drink anything but water and would drink tons of that. I'd eat lots of salads (with yummy toppings!) because it's super healthy and quite tasty. I'd focus most of my meals to be some type of protein. It doesn't all have to be meat or anything, but protein is very healthy and needed. Then eat as many veggies & fruits as you want. Avoid sugars of all kinds. If you need something sweeter, use something like honey. Make your food from scratch as much as possible.

Anyway, if you eat a mostly protein/low carb diet (keeping in the fruits & veggies!), you'll lose weight. Carbs aren't good for us. Even if you don't have diabetes, they mess with your blood sugar, causing weight gain or difficulty in weight loss. If you haven't watched "Fat Head" before, you'll probably find some (if not all) of the info quite interesting! It's a documentary, entertaining, and can be instant watched on Netflix. I highly recommend anyone who is trying to lose weight to watch that.

With my third baby, I had gestational diabetes (I weighed 117lbs prior and eat healthy - it's not due to a crappy diet!). My previous baby had been 10 lbs 11 oz, so I was really concerned about another gigantic baby. Starting at around 28 weeks, I started SUPER closely watching what I was eating (and I was eating healthy prior to this, just eating more wheat breads and other healthy carbs prior). I was able to keep my numbers where they needed to be quite easily.

But doing the diet I told you about (low carb/high protein), I started losing weight at the end of the pregnancy. I didn't have much to lose, but I swear to you that the diet works! My goal wasn't to lose weight. It was just a side effect of trying to keep the baby a more normal size. She was only 8lbs 7oz, so it helped.

I'll be starting it up here again soon. I'm 25 weeks today. I started off the pregnancy 15 lbs heavier than usual (weight about 130lbs, so still healthy at 5 ft 4in). It was a surprise pregnancy, and I hadn't lost the remaining 15 lbs from having had a baby six months earlier (usually I always lose the weight by then, but I was too tired to care!). Anyway, so I'll be doing the diet again. Not planning to lose weight while prego, but I'll be keeping it up after baby is here to lose the extra weight fairly quickly and healthy!

I use the Wii and Xbox Kinect for exercises. We just got exercise programs through them (Zumba fitness is fun!), so I can more easily fit in working out now since I don't have to go anywhere. They are fun exercises too, which makes it easier.

Hope that helps!!

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