I’m excited to share my tips for nutrition and breastfeeding as a personal trainer and CSCS. Please keep in mind that I am not an R.D. or medical practitioner.
Nutrition and Breastfeeding
I’ve been meaning to write this post for months. Several readers have asked about my nutrition while I’m breastfeeding, and I’m happy to share. With nutrition, I don’t think there’s a one size fits all. I tell my clients this all the time. There are guidelines that I suggest, but it is about finding what works for you and your body. Let’s dive in, shall we?
My Tips for Active Moms
1. Be Patient
You probably don’t want to read this, but give your self time to regulate your milk supply before making drastic changes. Your milk supply tends to be well established by 8-12 weeks. Before that, your goal is to fuel with real, nutritionally dense foods a majority of the time. You need energy and nutrients to stay healthy and active in order to care for your child or children.
2. Eat Intuitively
A breastfeeding mom requires 500 more calories each day. Maybe even more during growth spurts. You feel me, mamas? I vividly remember times I was alternating between nursing Cole and shoving food in my face just to keep up! If I was hungry, I ate. If I wasn’t, I didn’t. I truly tried to tune into my body.
In order to be prepared for those ravenous moments, I had healthy options ready that could be eaten fast (and with one hand) like wraps, smoothies, protein bars, or nuts.
3. Exercise is Beneficial for New Moms
Many new moms ask me if intense exercise will impact their milk supply. This is a very personal question as “intense” is quite a relative term. What’s intense for me, may not be intense for you.
Once I gave my body 6 weeks to fully recover and was cleared by my doctor, I gradually increased my exercise duration and intensity. Because I remained active during my pregnancy, I responded rather quickly and felt stronger each day.
My workouts keep me sane and show my children that it is important to be active. It’s our lifestyle. With two kids, my workouts are never very long, but I make them count!
My best advice is to pace yourself. You want to be a strong mom for the long haul, not just today. Accordingly, allow yourself some grace when returning to fitness. Every woman has a different journey, so it’s best to focus on your journey and not compare it to others.
4. Intermittent Fasting
After my milk supply was established, somewhere around 6-8 weeks, I returned to the practice of intermittent fasting. I stopped eating after dinner (or sometimes a snack when Cole was really young) and don’t eat again until I’m hungry the next day. In the early months, that would be 9 or 10 in the morning.
Now, I usually don’t break my fast until after noon. I approach each workout in a fasted state because I feel more focused and energized doing so.
5. Eat When You’re Hungry
I try to keep things fairly simple. Parenting is hard enough. So, along with #2, I eat when I’m hungry.
I used to think I had to eat every 3 hours to keep my metabolism “on fire.” Or, I had eat within the 30-60 minute window following a workout or my body would digest itself. Unless you’re trying to add lots of muscle or training for a physique competition, you don’t need to eat immediately following a workout. In fact, you can help train yourself to be a fat burner, instead of a sugar burner, by waiting longer to eat (an hour or more).
6. Vitamins & Supplements
Postpartum moms should continue to take prenatal vitamins among other things. During pregnancy and after, I used probiotics everyday to aid with digestion. Recently, I received Silver Fern’s Ultimate Probiotic and love the benefits.
This company is cutting edge with products like protein powder and baking mixes (low carb, high fiber, gluten free) made to the highest quality standards.
I also use a pre-workout drink Pro-Sculpt (pink lemonade is my favorite flavor) before my workouts and after I have nursed Cole. It’s a fairly clean drink, but has a good amount of caffeine, so I opt to use it after I have fed Cole.
7. Hydration & Fuel
I think drinking “to thirst” is generally a good rule of thumb. In the first month, you may feel like you are thirsty non-stop, so have your water jug, not bottle, nearby. Drinking in excess won’t help milk supply. In order to maintain or increase supply, the breast needs to be emptied.
Presently, I do not track my calories or macro-nutrients. Based on past experience, I know I do well on a 40/30/30 approach where 40% of calories are coming from carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, & grains; 30% come from protein; and 30% from fat. Some days, 50% of my calories come from fat!
Most days, I eat protein and fats first, and gradually add carbs in afternoon and evening when my body naturally craves them. This is also called carb backloading. With most of my workouts in the morning, my muscles are loaded with glycogen from the previous night.
I’m not perfect or rigid in my choices. I definitely indulge! However, for most meals and snacks, I try to eat protein, healthy fats, and vegetables. I know when I feel my best and try to stay close to that.
Every experience is different with regards to breastfeeding. This mom thing is HARD, right?! Make healthy choices when you and take care of yourself, so you can be the best version of you!
What was your nutrition approach while breastfeeding?
Disclaimer: Although I am an NSCA-CSCS and Healthy Moms® Perinatal Instructor, you should consult a physician before starting any exercise program or diet plan. If you choose to do any of the workouts featured on this website, you do so at your own risk.