I have had so many requests for my postpartum fitness and eating plan. The secret here is to find balance between fat loss and maintaining your milk supply. I’ve always had trouble losing fat while breastfeeding (read this if you do too!), and so the first thing I needed to do was to accept that this might be it for now – I won’t endanger the baby’s milk supply to fit into my old clothes, my priority is mine and baby’s health. Here is what I’m doing to slowly try to drop extra fat while staying healthy and keeping up my milk supply.
When I first left the birth center after giving birth I was so hungry I thought I’d eat my own arm before we made it home. The appetite has not let up since then and I decided to listen to my body and EAT! When breastfeeding, the average mom burns an additional 500 calories a day – that’s like a high intensity workout!
The first several weeks were all about establishing my milk supply, so I did not cut calories at all. When I was hungry, I ate. At about 5 weeks postpartum, I reached a plateau and decided to start adding up the calories to give myself a starting point.
Calories, Macronutrients, and Nutrition
I don’t normally like calorie counting, in fact I hate it. However, I do recognize that calorie counting can be an extremely useful tool in special situations like this. I added up what I was currently eating, which was about 2400 calories per day.
Next, I checked my macronutrient intake using the app LoseIt (after simply logging what you eat, LoseIt adds the calories and breaks down the macronutrients for you).
- The number one macro I am keeping an eye on is protein. Without adequate protein, my milk supply will suffer, my body will shed muscle, and I won’t feel my best. The absolute minimum protein intake I want each day is 80 grams, but I aim for 100+ grams, even more now that I’m strength training again.
- Next, I made sure I’m getting enough healthy fat, about 30% of my total calorie intake.
- And last, I filled in the remaining calories with healthy carbohydrates. This is a MUCH higher number than I am used to, but with the amount I am moving, not sleeping, and energy it takes to keep a high milk supply, healthy carbohydrates are a must!
As far as nutrients, 80-90% of my calories consist of lean protein (3-5 servings), fruits (2-3 servings), vegetables (at least 2 leafy greens per day and 4-5 servings total), a variety of healthy fats (2-3 servings), and whole grains (1-2 servings). The other 10-20% of my calories I save for “fun foods” – as long as they are whole foods free of preservatives, chemicals, trans fats, artificial sugars and sweeteners, food dyes, etc, I eat what I want. For example, homemade blueberry muffins, organic tater tots, Amy’s Pizza Roll Snacks, or dinner at a local restaurant (with a little research on ingredients first).
So here is what my typical day looked like at 2400 calories:
- Breakfast – 2 scrambled eggs with spinach and onions, 1 sprouted grain english muffin with a tablespoon of cream cheese and a little raw organic honey
- Lunch – chicken breast, spinach, red peppers, cucumber slices, and homemade guacamole on 2 pieces of toasted sprouted grain bread, 2 clementines
- Snack 2 – Smoothie with greek yogurt, spinach, 1 cup of mixed frozen fruit (cherries, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, etc), and ground flaxseed
- Dinner – Beef and Broccoli over cauliflower “rice”, fruit
- Snack 3 – sliced banana, raw organic honey, greek yogurt, and walnuts mixed together
I eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and snacks every day, so I know what my base calorie intake will be. Depending on the calories of my dinner, which varies each night, I may or may not have a few hundred calories left over that I will then fill with my fun foods. I plan this out at the beginning of the day using LoseIt, then decide what to add in, like tater tots with my lunch or even a couple of tablespoons of Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter in my greek yogurt snack.
Typically I hit a macronutrient ratio of 25% protein (about 130g), 45% carbohydrates, and 30% fat.
When I hit a plateau, I drop 50 calories per day, one week at a time. Yes, this is a much slower way than the typical recommendation of 500 calorie deficits, but with the milk supply at risk, it’s better to take it slow. This will also help your metabolism to adjust so that it’s not adapting to the lower calorie range.