Breastfeeding And Not Losing Weight – What Now?

by | October 22, 2017

Andrea Short is a Maternity Nutrition & Wellness Specialist and Pre & Postnatal Fitness Specialist. She guides and supports individuals throughout pregnancy and beyond, so they can experience the healthiest pregnancy they can and feel confident they are taking the correct steps for their baby’s health as well as their own.

Almost all of us have heard at one time or another that breastfeeding will help you lose the baby weight quicker. While it does burn a considerable amount of calories, there are other factors to take into account such as maternal age, pre-pregnancy weight, duration of breastfeeding, and most importantly, pregnancy weight gain.

Exclusively breastfeeding can burn around 400-500 calories per day. That is a significant amount of calories. To put that in perspective, that’s equivalent to a 130 pound person running about 4.5 miles, or 155 pound person running 3.5 miles. So why aren’t a lot of women seeing weight loss? Simply put, breastfeeding makes you hungry, and it requires a lot of energy, or calories. Women need extra calories to help produce breast milk, so although they are burning calories through lactation, they make up for the calories burned by eating more.

In addition, lactating women have an increase in the hormone prolactin. Every time the woman nurses, prolactin is released. This is a fat retention hormone, which means that it helps your body hold onto extra fat. It also increases appetite, which is why it’s easier to consume more calories.

A third culprit is lack of sleep. Breastfeeding all hours of the night disrupts your sleep cycle and reduces quantity of sleep. Sleep reduction is associated with decreased leptin, which suppresses appetite; increased ghrelin, which stimulates appetite; and it makes it harder to resist high caloric, nutrient poor foods.

It is a combination of these three factors, which make it harder for lactating women to lose pregnancy weight despite burning a large amount of calories through breastfeeding. However, if lactation is continued for at least six months, it can enhance postpartum weight loss.

A Note From The Raise Vegan Staff

Don’t forget to check out the Facebook Group Ask A Vegan Nutritionist for some great ideas on easy peasy meal ideas for that amazing plant based family! We have awesome posts about Amazing Snacks To Feed Your Kids &  If you’re looking for other like minded parents, we have the main group, Vegan Pregnancy and Parenting, over thirty thousand parents, all Raising Vegan! From homeschooling, to food and everything in between. We have you covered for every over asked question that may come your way.

Raising children vegan is sometime wrought with worries about nutrition, and doubts from outside influences. You are doing an amazing thing for your kids, the planet, and most importantly, the animals. We thank you, we are grateful to you, and we admire you! Keep on rocking vegan parents, we are changing the world together!

Baker JL, Gamborg M, Heitmann BL, Lissner L, Sørensen TI, Rasmussen KM. Breastfeeding reduces postpartum weight retention. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Dec;88(6):1543-51. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2008.26379.

Copinschi G, Leproult R, Spiegel K. The important role of sleep in metabolism. Front Horm Res. 2014;42:59-72. doi: 10.1159/000358858.

Dewey KG, Heinig MJ, Nommsen LA. Maternal weight-loss patterns during prolonged lactation. Am J Clin Nutr. 1993 Aug;58(2):162-6.

He X, Zhu M, Hu C, Tao X, Li Y, Wang Q, Liu Y. Breast-feeding and postpartum weight retention: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Public Health Nutr. 2015 Apr 21:1-9.


One Response to “Breastfeeding And Not Losing Weight – What Now?”

  1. Sarah
    August 13th, 2018 @ 6:20 am

    Nice article your calculation is good that breastfeeding can burn around 400 to 500 calories per day, but we eat too much that why our weigh gain more and I agree with your point lack of sleep and I am very thankful to you that you share the information with us.

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