Intermittent Fasting While Breastfeeding

Pregnancy weight gain is one of the things that new moms need to deal with after giving birth.

This dilemma is experienced by the majority of new moms, but 1 out of 5 women gains more than 40 pounds than they should during the duration of their pregnancy. As the celebratory period of giving birth slows down, most women focus on nurturing the new member of their family. But there is also a good chance that they’re eyeing plans to shed off the additional pregnancy weight gain. One of the most popular ways to achieve this is to take up intermittent fasting while breastfeeding.

pregnancy weight gain


Intermittent Fasting Explained

You might have heard the term “intermittent fasting” before if you’ve been keeping up with trends within the health community. Intermittent fasting pertains to certain changes in eating patterns within a small period, utilizing natural metabolic processes to lose weight. Unbeknown to a lot of people, the human body is actually undergoing a form of fasting every night during sleep. While we sleep for 8 hours (more or less), we are not taking any food or adding calories.

Intermittent fasting is when we extend these 8 hours by skipping meals and eating as much as we can at a later time. Intermittent fasting works by limiting the number of calories that a person consumes every day. This is done by restricting food consumption for a prolonged time to restrict caloric intake. By doing so, the body is forced to use its fat reserves (the thing that we want to lose) as energy for doing daily activities.

Consuming any type of food is not allowed in some types of intermittent fasting. However, consuming any non-caloric items such as water and coffee is allowed as long as you don’t add sweeteners and flavor enhancers.


Is It Safe for Breastfeeding Moms?

Having the urge to get physically fit again after pregnancy is a common thing that happens to new moms. And intermittent fasting is gaining popularity due to its “easy” setup of no exercise-no diet. However, this might not be an optimal option for breastfeeding mothers who need additional calories to nurture their babies.

There is no study that shows that intermittent fasting can bring immediate danger to the breastfeeding mother or the baby. But fundamentally, it is not recommended unless a physician is monitoring your activities on a daily basis according to Harvard Medical School. The gist here is that a breastfeeding mother needs more calories, fluids, and enough nutrients to produce necessities for the body and the baby.

By reducing the daily caloric intake, you are also likely reducing the amount and quality of milk that you can produce. At best, you can experience unpleasant side effects such as fainting and nausea. But at worst, your child might experience lethargy, dehydration, or lack of development in the weight area.

A mother is nursing her baby

Can You Still Do Intermittent Fasting?

According to CDC, a breastfeeding mother should at least add 330 to 400 calories on top of their daily recommended diet to maintain outstanding health. Although it is considered safe in normal circumstances, you might consult your physician to know the best course of action. The key to losing weight while producing the required amount of milk is to increase your caloric and water intake during the “eating” period while fasting. However, when you are noticing side effects for you and your baby, it’s time to find other ways to lose your pregnancy weight.


When is the Right Time for Intermittent Fasting?

Ideally, you can start going all out on intermittent fasting once your baby is no longer solely dependent on breastfeeding to get their required needs for development. You might want to start on the later part of breastfeeding to reduce the effect of the fasting process on you and your baby’s health. Other factors such as the BMI and age of the breastfeeding mother are also considered.

Because of such diverse factors to account for, the effect of intermittent fast also varies from one woman to another. It is better to prioritize safety when it comes to pregnancy and post-pregnancy decisions, so seek your doctor’s opinion first before diving in.

A young mother is preparing a healthy meal

Other Methods Of Losing Pregnancy Weight

A guided plan of exercising and maintaining a healthy diet is still the safest way to lose weight. The effects will benefit you in the long term, and not just during the fasting period. You can instead adjust your daily food habits such as consuming on a smaller person. Increasing intake of nutrient-rich food such as fresh produce and whole grains.

Or you can always try exercising if you want to progressively increase your body strength and overall health. And lastly, breastfeeding is also a way to promote weight loss after pregnancy. Breastfeeding gives the same effect as intermittent fasting does: it uses fat cells which are already stored in the body after pregnancy.

Mayo Clinic reported that breastfeeding alone can cause weight loss even when the recommended calorie count is followed. Without intermittent fasting or other weight loss aid, all the additional weight gained during pregnancy should be gone within 6-9 months.

Walking is good for baby and mom

Tips For Safe Intermittent Fasting

Just like any exercise or diet changes, it’s a good idea to start slow on intermittent fasting. Gradually extend your fasting period to avoid problems with milk supply. If you started to notice any side effects, it’s best to stop the process and find other alternatives. Most side effects can affect emotions and exacerbate stress or mood swings.

Don’t forget to increase your intake of water, iron, healthy fats, and nutrient-rich vegetable. Although these might not directly affect your weight loss, they help in keeping you healthy while you’re in the fasting period. And lastly, don’t over binge during your eating periods. It might be tempting to add more food due to caloric deficit, but it will only lose your progress.

If you’re feeling a little bit in the lows after starting your fasting, you might want to try boosting your diet by taking food supplements.


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