Diet Plan for Breastfeeding Mothers to Lose Weight

July 4, 2023
Nidhi Damodaran – July 4, 2023
Diet plan for breast feeding mothers

Maintaining a healthy diet positively impacts both breastfeeding mothers and their babies – first thing…

Maintaining a healthy diet positively impacts both breastfeeding mothers and their babies – first thing because it protects the latter from developing various types of infections (that of the ears, chest, and kidneys) and illnesses, such as gastroenteritis Breastfeeding is also good for a lactating mother, for it helps her reduce the risk of developing breasts and ovarian cancer.

Soon after giving birth, some women tend to become overweight. Breastfeeding happens to be one of the most effective methods as this burns about 500 calories a day in the postpartum period, noted Ms. Murray, a registered nurse (2021). The current topic, thus, addresses the importance of a proper diet plan for breastfeeding mothers. It also covers the highly important aspects of breastfeeding and associated weight loss strategies.

Basics of Postpartum Weight Loss

losing weight after postpartum

Factors Influencing Weight Loss During Breastfeeding

If you are a new mother and have gained a significant amount of weight, you need to keep note of the factors that influence/affect your weight loss strategies postpartum. As such, some of them have been mentioned below for your reference and understanding. 


Breastfeeding in itself is a significant factor influencing weight loss. It helps lactating mothers shrink their uterus back to its pre-pregnancy state (Murray, 2021). In a study, it was found that women who breastfed their babies exclusively for 12 weeks weighed 7.5 pounds lighter post 10 years of their pregnancy compared to those who never breastfed (Crollman, 2019). However, certain other factors determine the weight of a person as well, especially in a breastfeeding mother, which may even cause weight gain. As such, such a weight is not easy to shed, even if a mother exclusively breastfeeds her baby, pointed out Sissons (2023).

Some women still feel those ‘baby weight’ as a leftover effect from their pregnancy. This is none other than the extra calorie that builds up postpartum and a mother’s body uses this to produce that needed amount of breastmilk for her baby (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 2022). If at all, the mother loses all her baby weight at once, then she will need to build up those lost calories to make enough milk for her baby. She can discontinue her calorie intake once her child starts eating other food and breastfeeds less often.

Low–Calorie Diet Plan for Breastfeeding Mothers

One of the biggest mistakes that new mothers, especially those who have gained weight postpartum, make is their hurry-worry to shed those extra kilos. This tendency further prompts them to follow a strict low-calorie diet. This is likely to result in an inadequate milk supply for their babies (Murray, 2021). As a breastfeeding mother, you should note that whatever weight loss plan you have adopted, it may have a bearing on your baby’s health.

Healthy Diet Plan for Breastfeeding Mothers

A healthy diet plan has all the goodness of assisting breastfeeding mothers in losing or gaining weight postpartum. As noted in La Leche League International (2023), breastfeeding mothers must consume at least 1800 calories per day, which will help them to make enough breastmilk, and exclusively feeding their babies, will, in turn, help mothers to reduce excess weight.

Setting Realistic Weight Loss Goals

According to Chertoff (2019), weight loss goals in the postpartum period depend on the amount of calories a woman can consume and burn. It also demands losing weight safely. Hence, it would be in the best interest of all those weight loss-seeking breastfeeding mothers out there to seek their physician’s advice for setting their weight loss goals.

Timeline for Postpartum Weight Loss

Medline Plus (2023) points out that women should plan to return to their pre-pregnancy state/weight by 6-12 months postpartum. This is the normal time rendered fit for new mothers to lose most of their baby weight. There are exceptions to this rule because most women lose about half of their baby weight by six weeks after their delivery. That the rest of the weight generally sheds off in the next several months is a typical occurrence after childbirth.

Essential Nutrients for Breastfeeding Mothers

essential nutrients for breastfeeding mothers

Importance of a Balanced Diet Plan for Breastfeeding Mothers

A balanced diet postpartum serves a variety of benefits for breastfeeding moms. As stated above, it helps in reducing breast and ovarian cancer risks and protects women in their post-delivery state from numerous other ailments like osteoporosis. A balanced diet especially benefits breastfeeding moms who do not consume meat, fish, or other animal products. However, they should eat foods rich in vitamin B12, which can be exclusively found in vegetables.

As a breastfeeding mom, you may feel more hungry and thirsty. This is natural, and you can eat healthy snacks and juices throughout the day and in regular intervals . The only thing you need to ensure is not to overeat on any items to stay healthy and fit.

Macronutrients and their Role in Postpartum Weight Loss

According to CDC (2022), a well-nourished breastfeeding mother needs to consume an additional 330 to 400 kilocalories worth of macronutrients, such as protein, fat, and carbohydrates. This comes to a total of 2000 to 2800 kilocalories, which would be enough for making a good quantity of breastmilk.


Regarded as the building blocks of life, every new mom needs to intake this nutrient – for herself and her baby, noted Margolie (2022). Breastfeeding mothers can increase their milk supply by taking protein in reasonable amounts and at regular intervals. This means that per day they should aim for 30% of protein through meals and snacks.


Carbohydrates serve a majority of the nutritional needs for a breastfeeding mother. These comprise fruits, vegetables, diary, and whole grains to provide energy, also aiding in micronutrient uptakes of vitamins and minerals (Margolie, 2022). The energy derived is utilised in breastmilk production, where breastfeeding subsequently burns the consumed calories.


Experts recommend consuming foods that contain good fats, such as avocados, nuts, and seeds, as well as those rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish. They strongly advocate against consuming high-fat content foods, like red meat, butter, and hydrogenated oil, and Omega-6. However, they favor losing weight in breastfeeding mothers safely by not risking their baby’s growth. Thus, maintaining portion size while consuming foods rich in good fats will help lactating mothers to stay in shape and stay fit.

While consuming macronutrients during breastfeeding, mothers should note that the intake of the same also relies on factors like age, body mass index (BMI), activity level, and extent of breastfeeding, i.e., exclusively breastfeeding, breastfeeding, or formula feeding.

Designing a Healthy and Balanced Diet Plan

Healthy and ballanced diet plan for weight loss

Calorie Requirements for Breastfeeding Mothers

As stated earlier, the right caloric intake amount depends on the breastfeeding mother’s age, physique, i.e., BMI, activity level, and the extent to which she breastfeeds her baby. Of note, a woman, who exclusively breastfeeds her baby should consume 500 extra calories than what she did in her pregnancy. In the case of mothers who are exclusively feeding their babies on formula, they should cut down their caloric intake to the previously stated amount, i.e., 330-400 kilocalories. Moreover, they should indulge in mild exercises per the instruction of their physicians (Medline Plus, 2023).

Building A Nutrient-Rich Meal Plan

A balanced diet is what every lactating mother should follow. Since the BMI, activity level, breastmilk production, and age are prime factors in determining the level of nutrient intake, following this appropriately and planning accordingly will ensure a balanced nutrient-rich diet without gaining additional postpartum weight.

Incorporating Superfoods for Weight Loss and Lactation Support

best foods for weight loass

It is not necessary to categorize superfoods that help boost metabolism and fat-burning, and those that aid in increasing the quantity and quality of breast milk because they serve these purposes all in one (Summers, 2019). The top superfoods have included whole grains, such as bread, rice, pasta, oatmeal and rice, salmons, sardines, beef, eggs, green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, legumes and beans, nuts and seeds, apricots and dates, and yoghurt. Intake for each of these should be upon a physician’s recommendations to ensure a balanced diet as well during breastfeeding. 

Safe and Effective Exercise Regimen for Breastfeeding Mothers

Effective Exercise Regimen for Breastfeeding Mothers

Benefits of Exercise for Postpartum Weight Loss

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG, 2022), the benefits of exercise for weight loss in postpartum have included:

  • Strengthens and tones abdominal muscles.
  • Helps lose the extra weight gained during pregnancy
  • Boosts energy levels.
  • Prevents postpartum depression.
  • Improves sleep patterns.
  • Helps fight stress.

Choosing Appropriate Exercises While Breastfeeding

Simple low-impact exercises, such as walking with their babies in favorable weather conditions would be a good idea (Medela, 2023). For those active lactating mothers out there, doing mild exercises and yoga would be appropriate as these will help them stay active as much as they can. If they wish to go a little further from there, they can plan a simple workout schedule at the gym at the advice of their primary care provider.

Creating a Supportive Environment for Successful Weight Loss

Creating a Supportive Environment for Successful Weight Loss

Childbirth accompanies significant lifestyle changes for a mother, including her physique, her schedule, and everything else that matters. Since gaining weight is a common concern, various other responsibilities apart from entering motherhood prevent women from planning and developing a successful weight loss regime. She, therefore, requires a supportive environment around her, such as through healthcare professionals, or joining support groups.

Since the responsibilities of a new mother are not confined to just devoting to her newborn’s needs, she is also bound to be responsible towards her other family members, including her parents and/or that of her husband. It is not that every new mother can derive support from her in-laws or those from her side for various reasons.

Neither may she have the time to consult with expert healthcare professionals for an effective weight loss exercise programme. However, if she wishes to remain active, she can seek help from support groups or a healthcare professional for scheduling her weight loss regime in a way that she has time for her baby and also to accomplish her other duties at the same time. In short, by applying time-management skills, she can conveniently wade through her other chores besides tending to her baby’s needs. 

Managing Challenges and Obstacles during the Weight Loss Journey

managing challanges during weight loss journey

Dealing with Potential milk supply concerns

Although exclusive breastfeeding helps women lose a significant amount of baby weight, some lactating mothers do happen to have a limited breast milk supply. Intake of calories in adequate amounts under a physician’s guidance will solve this issue (Medline Plus, 2023).

Coping with sleep deprivation and stress

Sleep deprivation and stress are other potential concerns a new mother may face, and this adversely affects her weight loss journey, especially when she has put on that baby weight in excess. Consulting with an OB/GYN on the issue is recommended. Also, understanding the sleep patterns of their babies, which only lasts for three to four hours, will help solve the sleep deprivation in the mothers. Thus, it would be proper to address that experienced by the little ones because they frequently awake two to three times at night, causing disturbed sleep for their parents as well, explained Porretto (2022).

Overcoming Emotional Eating and Cravings

Noting that sleep deprivation brings about a host of illnesses, such as decreased immune system function, increased hunger cravings etc., these naturally tend to retain the weight. Moreover, disturbed sleep patterns and excessive snacking are strongly associated with weight retention, observed Papatriantafyllou et al. (2022). One best way to overcome these tendencies is to get good sleep by compensating for those sleep disturbances a mother (and sometimes the father) must have experienced. Some brief hours of straight sound sleep will help alleviate the stress and discomfort.


  • It is way good for breastfeeding mothers to consider being on a healthy and balanced diet to prevent excess weight gain.
  • Postpartum weight gain causes cancer (breasts and ovaries). Hence, lactating mothers should consider intaking a proper blend of caloric intake (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) to help increase breast milk supply. 
  • Breastfeeding is one of the most effective weight loss strategies because it helps burn calories used to improve breast milk (both quantity and quality-wise).
  • Mild exercises, such as walking and yoga will be good to start during breastfeeding.
  • Support from family, friends, and communities is important in the weight loss journey of breastfeeding mothers.
  • Sleep deprivation, stress, and ensuing hunger cravings are some of the factors affecting weight loss in breastfeeding mothers.


Is it safe to follow a diet plan while breastfeeding?

Yes it is. You need to make sure that you are on a balanced diet plan for breastfeeding mothers, which is sufficient enough to increase breast milk supply for your baby.

How long does it take to lose baby weight while breastfeeding?

It takes about 6-12 months for a breastfeeding mother to lose her baby weight. These depend on the extent to which a mother breastfeeds her child. 

Can I follow a specific diet, such as keto or vegan, while breastfeeding?

No, you cannot because these are low-carb diets, which are not good for your baby, causing life-threatening issues for both the mother and the baby.

Are there any foods I should avoid while trying to lose weight and breastfeeding?

Yes, you should avoid drinking juices or drinks that have high sugar contents because these tend to nullify your efforts at losing your pregnancy weight. Also, you should limit your caffeine intake.

Can I take weight loss supplements while breastfeeding?

No, you cannot take any weight loss supplements when you are breastfeeding because these contain chemicals, such as herbs or medications  that are harmful for your baby.


Written By

Choose Your Baby’s Age