Note: Be sure to consult your doctor regarding the best methods to lose weight during and after pregnancy. The experience below is written by a friend of mine.
When I started my second pregnancy, I was at a healthy weight. For the first time in my life, I had healthy eating and exercising down in a way that made sense for me.
I felt strong and figured I would soar through my first trimester, just like I soared through my workouts and trips to Whole Foods.
Oh, how wrong I was.
The first three months of my pregnancy brought wave after wave of nausea, seemingly only quelled by a large, Brooklyn-style extra-cheese pizza from Domino’s.
I remember lying in bed with tears in my eyes because pregnancy fog made it tough to work the pizza-ordering app on my phone. The Zofran my OB-GYN prescribed did nothing, but greasy food somehow gave me a few minutes of relief.
Needless to say, it only took me a few weeks to gain the recommended maximum weight gain of five pounds for the first trimester. I went from my OB’s ideal patient to a mom who needed to reign in the weight gain — fast.
I didn’t expect to need to lose weight during pregnancy, but there I was, with the ever-growing numbers on the scale staring me in the eyes at every prenatal appointment.
So, what’s the best way to lose weight after pregnancy? Below I share all my best tips so that you are well-informed as you embark on this journey of motherhood!
How To Lose Weight In a Healthy Way While Pregnant
Some weight gain during pregnancy is essential — but recommendations differ from woman to woman. It can be possible to lose weight during some parts of pregnancy (especially during the first trimester) in a healthy way.
Women who have a BMI of 30 or higher are advised to gain between 11-20 pounds during pregnancy, while women with a BMI of 25.9-29.9 are advised to gain 15-25 pounds — a difference from the standard recommended weight gain of 25-35 pounds for women who are in the BMI range of 18.5 to 24.9.
Of course, BMI is not an end-all-be-all measurement, and it’s important to talk closely with your OB-GYN about the weight gain recommendations that make the most sense for your body.
If you and your doctor decide that it makes sense for you to lose weight, it makes sense that you’re searching for information on how to lose weight healthily while pregnant.
Here’s some advice that worked for me (and other mamas I’ve talked to) on how to lose weight in a healthy way while pregnant:
- Eat when you’re hungry. Don’t try to stick to a specific meal schedule or plan that fails to allow you to eat when you need food. Your body is still going through a lot, and you need fuel to stay strong and heal.
- Fill up with veggies and other nutrient-dense food sources before turning to empty carbs (processed sugars and white-flour-based carbs may not be conducive to helping you meet your weight loss goals).
- Stay hydrated. Your urine should be pale yellow. If it’s darker, there’s a good chance you’re not getting enough water. Staying hydrated can help quell tough-to-overcome cravings.
- Get enough sleep. I get it — you’re busy, and sleep can be tough to come by. A lack of sleep can mess with your ghrelin levels (a hunger hormone), making it tougher to stay on track.
- Consider the time of day that makes the most sense for you to exercise. Work with your schedule, not against it. If you’re a morning person, get up and get moving — if you’re a nighttime person, wait until the evening to get out for a brisk walk.
- Deprive yourself when you feel hungry. Avoid eating out of boredom or stress, but when you’re truly hungry, it’s time to fuel up.
- Wait until the last minute to decide what to eat. Failing to have a plan is how you end up at the gas station with far fewer choices than you would like. Keep minimally processed, plant-based snacks on hand at all times.
- Obsess about the scale. Your body is doing amazing work, and it can take some time for the efforts you’re making in the kitchen to show up on the scale. Weigh-in at your OB appointments, talk to your doctor about your weight, but don’t stress if it takes some time to get things moving in the right direction.
- Overdo it on exercise. If you were exercising before you got pregnant, your OB will likely recommend sticking to your routine. If you weren’t exercising, try walking, prenatal yoga, or a fun group exercise class that makes sense for your current level of fitness — just listen to your body, and slow down or stop if necessary.
- Totally deprive yourself of foods that you love. During pregnancy, you may develop cravings that you’ve never had before. Having a bite or two of food that’s not on the plan isn’t going to ruin your progress.
What’s the Best Way to Lose Weight After Pregnancy?
Note: Before exercising after having a baby, be sure to get the ok from your doctor at your six-week postpartum appointment. Returning to exercise too soon could cause injury or further lengthen your recovery period.
Between sleepless nights, getting to know your adorable little one, and reconnecting with your partner, losing weight after having a baby can feel tough to fit in.
No matter what state your body is in right now, it created life — and that’s something to celebrate! Starting your self-love health journey from a place of care and appreciation for your body can make a huge difference in your happiness and success.
Research shows that the more weight women gain during pregnancy, the harder it is to take it off afterward. Many issues can make it tough to lose weight after pregnancy, including changing sleep schedules, fatigue, hormonal changes, breastfeeding, stress, and more.
If you’re finding yourself searching the internet for “what’s the best way to lose weight after pregnancy?” know that you’re not alone. While losing weight after pregnancy can be challenging, it’s far from impossible.
Some tried-and-tested strategies that can help with losing weight after pregnancy include:
- Meal prep when you can. Believe me; I know how tough it can be to keep healthy food in the fridge when you have a brand-new little one who needs constant care. Take shortcuts wherever you can — order groceries online and have them deliver if that’s an option for you. When friends and family ask how they can help, ask them to swing by with fresh fruits and veggies.
- Move with your kiddo. Life with a newborn can be tough — naps and feedings dictate your day. Make a point to get moving with your little one. A 20-minute walk around the block gives you both some fresh air and gives you the chance to move your body in a meaningful way.
- Take a minute (literally) to destress. Whether this is your first baby or your fifth, the newborn period is all-consuming. You need a moment to destress to lower your stress hormones, stop stress eating, and get your focus back. Taking even 60 seconds to meditate on your goals can give you the motivation you need to stay strong throughout the day.
- Try something new. When you have a baby, your hormones and lifestyle may do a total 180. The nutrition and exercise plans that worked for you in the past may not work anymore. There’s no need to go back to the exercise routine that was a good fit for you in the past if it’s not a good fit anymore — it’s all about finding what works for you.
- Take it one pound at a time. It took nearly ten months for your body to grow a tiny human — and it will likely take at least that long to return to some semblance of your pre-baby body (and that’s 100% ok). Don’t expect too much too fast, and know that you will get where you want to be in time.
How to Eat Healthy and Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
If you’ve decided to breastfeed your baby, congratulations! You’re embarking on an exciting journey that will provide an incredible bond between you and your little one.
When you’re searching for information on how to eat healthy and lose weight while breastfeeding, you’ll likely find lots of conflicting information, and it can be tough to know what to follow.
Losing weight while breastfeeding can present some unique challenges. Don’t let this discourage you, however — breastfeeding is great for both you and your baby (and it’s like a workout in and of itself).
While the exact caloric burn of breastfeeding differs from mama to mama, you can expect to burn between 200 and 500 extra calories each day while nursing or pumping.
200 to 500 calories per day may sound like a lot, but it’s nothing too crazy — a couple of extra servings of fruit, a granola bar, or a few servings of string cheese will have you hitting the low end of the range easily.
The problem when it comes to losing weight and breastfeeding? While your body is torching calories, you may find that your hunger feels out of control.
It’s important to eat plenty of food to fuel your body’s caloric needs, but it can be tough to figure out how to balance hunger with your desire to lose weight when your body is hard at work feeding your little one.
Getting enough (but not too many) calories and keeping hunger at bay can be challenging. Here’s what worked for me in getting the post-baby weight off while breastfeeding:
- Load up on high-fiber fruits and veggies. Fiber doesn’t just help keep your digestive system healthy — it can also keep hunger at bay. Beans, broccoli, avocados, and berries can all go a long way in helping you stay satisfied as your body produces food for your baby.
- Stay tuned in to your body. It can be easy to stress eat when you’re getting to know your baby and getting used to a new routine. Check-in with yourself before you reach for food to make sure you’re actually hungry — and if you are, be sure to choose a food that will fuel your body, not your stress.
- Stay hydrated (and prepared). Drinking enough water is key for keeping your supply high and keeping you moving toward your weight loss goals. Plant water bottles at the places you tend to nurse during the day (and night), so you’re never far from getting hydrated.
- Just say no to convenience foods. Look, I understand — it’s easy to grab protein bars, drive-thru fare, and other convenient options when you’re in the throes of the newborn and infant stages, but doing so will set you back. Keep easy-to-grab, healthy options on hand — think bananas and peanut butter, sliced veggies and hummus, and other fresh, nutrient-dense options.
- Be real with yourself. As you get to know your breastfeeding body, it’s ok if you struggle to figure out what works for you. Make the best choices you can each day, don’t try to make up for missteps along the way, and keep your eye on your end goal.
- Be moderate with exercise. If your doctor has given you the all-clear for exercise, follow their guidelines and get your sweat on when you can. Keep an eye on your supply — overdoing it can lower your milk output, so you’ll want to keep it moderate as you figure out the right amount of exercise for you.
What Weight Loss Supplements Are Safe While Breastfeeding?
As a breastfeeding mom, you know that supplements you ingest can get to your baby quickly and easily. It’s crucial that you do your research on what weight loss supplements are safe while breastfeeding before deciding to take any weight loss supplements. Great nutrition and exercise will get you where you want to be in time, but it’s understandable if you’re interested in something else to help speed the process along.
Instead of choosing chemical-laden weight loss pills, it’s a better idea to stick with breastfeeding-safe natural supplements that support healthy weight loss.
Prenatal vitamins, calcium supplements, and zinc or iron supplements can all be helpful if your body needs extra support (talk with your pediatrician or OB-GYN before adding any supplements to your weight loss plan).
It’s important to know what you don’t want in your body and breastmilk as well. Some natural supplements — including ginseng, aloe, feverfew, and licorice root — are not safe for breastfeeding moms.
You’ll also want to steer clear of any supplements with excessive amounts of caffeine, as breastfeeding moms should try to stick to an upper limit of 300mg or less per day.
There’s a lot of information out there about what’s the best way to lose weight after pregnancy. What worked for me was eating healthy, getting enough rest, and staying hydrated.
More specifically, I meal-prepped, walked with my stroller, took a few minutes each day for myself to meditate, and was patient with my weight loss.
You may do things differently and that is completely fine!
Don’t stress out if you eat too many calories or skip an exercise day. Just do the best the can.
Also, it’s best to avoid taking weight-loss supplements while breastfeeding.
Remember that your priority should be to enjoy the time with your newborn! Time goes by so fast!