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How to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding

Updated on March 14, 2013

Does Breastfeeding Help You Lose Weight?

The jury is out as to how much breastfeeding helps you lose weight. Some women claim that they have trouble keeping enough weight on whilst breastfeeding. Others are not so lucky and claim that they actually struggled to lose all their baby weight until they stopped breastfeeding. Some suggest that breastfeeding will help you lose most of your baby weight but many women find the last 10lb doesn't go until they stop. However, if you have a lot of baby weight to lose you may find that keeping hold of 10lb is a price worth paying if breastfeeding helps you shift the rest.

In this article I will discuss the theory behind how breastfeeding helps you lose weight and suggest some tips for women who are finding it difficult to lose weight whilst breastfeeding.

How Does Breastfeeding Help You Lose Weight?

When you breastfeed your body burns calories in order to produce the milk. On average a women will burn 750 calories a day through breastfeeding. This is a massive amount and you would have to do a lot of exercise to match this.

Now when you are pregnant your body keeps hold of fat and lays down what are referred to as maternal fat stores. Maternal fat stores are used to produce the milk required to feed your baby. However in order for your body to keep producing milk you need to consume more calories than you normally would. On average you should consume 500 calories above your normal daily requirements. This means that everyday you will burn 250 calories from breastfeeding which will be taken from your maternal fat stores meaning you will lose weight through breastfeeding.

If you are going to follow a calorie counting diet whilst breastfeeding you can work out how many calories you need to consume by using an online calorie needs calculator and adding 500 calories to the result.

If you do not have the time to count calories (let's face it how many new mums have time to do that) you can use the principle of eating only and always when you are hungry- listening to your body and responding to its needs should ensure you are eating the right amount and will also keep you metabolism chugging along nicely.

Do I have to Increase My Calories?

Now when you are trying to lose weight it is tempting to cut the amount you eat. It certainly seems counter intuitive to be increasing your calorie consumption by 500! Guidelines suggest that women should eat no less than 1800 calories a day when breastfeeding- eating any less than this could jeopardize your ability to produce milk and feed your baby so whatever you do make sure you are eating at least 1800 calories a day.

Let's look at how you lose weight.

You do not want to be losing more than 2lb a week- slow weightloss is safer and more sustainable than rapid weightloss.

To lose 2lb a week you need to create a calorie deficit of 7000 calories a week.

If you add an extra 500 calories you will still generate a deficit of 250 calories a day through breastfeeding alone - that is 1750 a week

That would leave 5250 calories to burn through exercise

That is 750 calories a day - this doesn't all have to be through targeted exercise though. Don't forget that you do exercise all the time- cleaning, picking up children, shopping, walking, going up and downstairs, cooking, gardening etc. You will need to do some targeted exercise as well though if you want to have significant weight loss.

Why Aren't I Losing Weight?

So what happens if you are breastfeeding but you still find you are nor losing weight? Here are a few things that could be happening:

1) You are not eating enough calories

As discussed above you are supposed to add 500 calories to your daily intake when breastfeeding. If you are not doing this you may find that your body goes into starvation mode and instead of burning your maternal fat stores clings onto them instead. If you cannot be bothered to count calories you can ensure you are getting the right amount by either adding two healthy snacks a day to your diet or simply eat when you are hungry. If you eat when you are hungry (and only when you are hungry) you will become totally in tune with your body and increase the efficiency of your metabolism.

2) You are not drinking enough

When you are breastfeeding you need to keep hydrated at all times- you should be drinking at least 3 liters of fluid a day- preferably water. Another general rule of thumb is to consume 8oz of water for every feed- keep a bottle with you and sip it throughout the day. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger and if you are not drinking enough it may be making you feel hungry.

3) You are not eating the right foods

Some women complain that they are constantly hungry when breastfeeding. For sure breastfeeding does increase your appetite but then you are allowed an extra 500 calories a day and should still lose weight. The main problem here may be that you are eating foods which are high on the glycemic index which in turn will make you feel more hungry not satisfied. Try to eat low GI foods at regular intervals throughout the day- make sure your extra 500 calories comes from healthy satisfying foods rather than from junk.

Did Breastfeeding Help You Lose Weight?

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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I only gained 14 lbs while pregnant since I am "obese" by my drs standards. I ate healthy and drank lots of water. When I gave birth my daughter was 7 of those lbs and then u add the fluid and placenta. I lost it all just giving birth and everything going back into place. I am breastfeeding. I have lost another 6lbs so far. I am exercising a few times a week and still eating somewhat healthy. I now weigh 174!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Breastfeeding dropped all my baby weight and then some. I withered away after both pregnancies. I also have a very high metabolism, something else that definitely plays a huge role in weight loss. It depends on what you eat too. Small meals spread throughout the day with plenty of water not only helps in weight loss but also in milk production. If your body doesn't have the means to produce milk, it's impossible to lose weight. Hormones also play a huge part in postpartum weight loss.

    • Meg Moon profile imageAUTHOR

      Meg Moon 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Great info hubhero- that is interesting what you say about Raspberry Leaf Tea helping flatten your stomach. I used it with all my pregnancies with great affect - 3 kids and only 5 hours and 32 minutes of labour in total! I will check out your recipe too!

    • Meg Moon profile imageAUTHOR

      Meg Moon 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Why thank you audreyhowitt!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      5 years ago from California

      Just an excellent article!

    • Meg Moon profile imageAUTHOR

      Meg Moon 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Knubbs714- yes it should be possible but eventually you will probably have to incorporate some exercise and watch what you eat as your baby gets older and has less breast milk and more solid food. It will definitely help though.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      My baby is only 2 weeks old but since her birth I have lost 20 lbs and she was 9 lbs of that. I am EBF. I am trying to finish losing this extra weight and I only have 10 more to go until I get to pre-pregnancy weight and then I have to try to get down to what I was before I got pregnant with my 2 year old which is 170. Do u think it is possible with EBF

    • LauraGT profile image


      6 years ago from MA

      I was also surprised not to lose weight while breastfeeding, but I was ravenous all the time and couldn't shed my last 15. But, when I stopped breastfeeding, I did lose some weight. Then, I had more time to exercise and got back to my pre-preg weight. While I know it's hard at the time, I would encourage mamas to go easy on themselves on the weight loss while their breastfeeding! Thanks for the interesting hub!

    • Meg Moon profile imageAUTHOR

      Meg Moon 

      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thanks for your lovely comments- I think when you realise how much exercise you'd have to do to match the amount you burn from breastfeeding you realise how worth it breastfeeding is - in terms of weight loss!

    • idigwebsites profile image


      6 years ago from United States

      Yes, breastfeeding does make one lose weight, it burns a lot of calories than exercise does -- even when you just sit around all day and breastfeed your baby. I know someone whose sister has breastfed her baby. Now she looks like she was like then before she got pregnant. She hasn't gotten obese.

      Very interesting hub you've got, excellently written. :)

    • Meg Moon profile imageAUTHOR

      Meg Moon 

      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Wow Sharkey11 that's excellent and very encouraging - but I agree it can be tricky when you give up and you've gotten used to eating all those extra calories!

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great article! My personal experience was that I lost all of my weight plus fifteen extra pounds while breastfeeding. That was solely due to the nursing because it was a long time before I could get up and get active again.

      When I started out, I had low supply so they told me to eat a lot of peanut butter, to increase the fat content of the milk. I know I was laying back some whopping calorie amounts, but it still burned off.

      The down side is that I got used to being able to eat a lot and not gain weight. Now I have to be more careful. Thanks for sharing this! Weight loss is a great incentive to try breastfeeding!

    • Meg Moon profile imageAUTHOR

      Meg Moon 

      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Yeah my friend has just stopped and she‘s put on half s stone in a week!

    • profile image


      6 years ago from Alabama

      I breastfed my daughter until she was 17 months. Once I stopped, I held on to the weight, I was skinnier while breast feeding than when I stopped.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I lost almost all my pregnancy weight very easy and nursing helped me a lo!!! It's great the nature helps us

    • Meg Moon profile imageAUTHOR

      Meg Moon 

      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      I have to admit this time round I can actually feel myself getting hungry every time I nurse. I'm eating whatever I like at the moment and I'm not gaining any but I've slowed down on the weight loss so I think it's time to fill up on some healthier options

    • Medical Momma profile image

      Medical Momma 

      6 years ago

      Informative post! I am still struggling with losing my leftover baby weight, and my son is 7mo old. It can be challenging, because you always have it in the back of your mind that you have to eat extra to produce enough milk, yet you still can't fit back into your pre pregnancy clothes.

    • Meg Moon profile imageAUTHOR

      Meg Moon 

      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Well there are a few people out there who report this. It depends how much you have to lose if it's a fair bit then I think EBF is great for shifting weight, especially at first but it does become more gradual.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I dont't believe that breastfeeding helps you lose weight. I think its the opposite. As soon as i stopped after 3 weeks, weight came of super quickly. I got down to my pre pregnancy weight in 4 months. i think eating less and not worryig about those extra calories needed helped me tremendously.

    • Meg Moon profile imageAUTHOR

      Meg Moon 

      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      @mailxpress you're welcome- I'm currently breastfeeding and have lost all my baby weight whilst eating whatever I like so it is good. Unfortunately I've still got the baby weight from my last two pregnancies to lose now!

    • mailxpress profile image

      Michelle Cesare 

      6 years ago from New York

      Thanks for sharing your point of view with the fact statistics. I would have never thought that breastfeeding would contribute to burn calories while providing nutrition.

    • FigureCompetition profile image


      6 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Great post - I am currently breastfeeding and slowly losing weight - all your tips are principals I follow

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      6 years ago from USA

      Great hub. It is quite interesting. My personal experience is that as soon as I stopped breast feeding, I lost that last ten pounds that I was holding on to.

    • bac2basics profile image


      6 years ago from Spain

      I really enjoyed this article and anything that promotes breast feeding gets my vote ( unless you are still breast feeding 2 and 3 year old´s or over, in a developed country)Maybe if more expectant mothers knew the weight loss benefit as well as everything else, they too would opt for the natural approach to feeding baby. voted up etc.Following you.


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