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Ask Dr. Gourmet

How can I lose weight while breastfeeding?

I recently had a baby. I am trying to lose the baby weight, but my concern is that I am breastfeeding. This is the first child that I have been able to nurse. Because of this, I am unsure of a safe way to lose the weight. Can you give me any suggestions and/or recipes?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

Breastfeeding mother holding her child

Congratulations on your new child and it's great that you are breastfeeding. There's so much research now to show just how much benefit this is for your baby now and later.

The first step is to determine your ideal body weight (IBW). Here's an article that can help guide you: How Much Should I Weigh? Multiplying your IBW by 11 will give you a rough idea of the amount of calories you need per day in order to maintain your weight at your Ideal Body Weight. Depending on your height and IBW you will need to eat between 300 and 500 calories per day less than that number to lose about a pound per week.

Because breastfeeding requires that you eat 300 - 500 calories each day over your baseline caloric needs, by simply making your baseline (non-pregnancy and non-breastfeeding) calories (the IBW x 11 calculation noted above) your goal number of calories, you will lose weight. Keep a close eye on your weight loss. You'll not want to lose much more than 1/2 to 1 pound a week to make sure that you are still getting enough calories to feed your new baby.

Following a Mediterranean style diet will help you lose that weight while still eating great food and eating healthy.

Double check with your physician about your weight loss plan to make sure that there are no specific issues with your baby that might be of concern for you losing weight.

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet