Over coffee with my girl friends who have just given birth, they will inevitably pop me the question about how to lose weight after pregnancy. Then this will be followed by a discussion about celebrity moms in Hollywood walking out the maternity ward as if she hasn’t been pregnant before, what they did and how they did it.
Gossip aside, it is critical that you know how to lose weight after pregnancy not for the sole purpose of fitting into your size ’0′ jeans again. More importantly, research has shown that if you don’t get the baby weight off, there is a very high chance that you will be going down the path of overweight and obesity for the next 10-15 year of your life which can lead to many health problems.
The key consideration when we discus about how lose weight after pregnancy is firstly to establish how much weight needs to be lost. Most women gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy and 8-15 pounds is attributed to weight from fluids. This will be lost naturally in about 2 weeks after delivery.
Once water weight is, don’t be too quick to jump into a strict diet and exercise regime. Give yourself 6 weeks to recuperate before you start watching your calories and ease into the workout regime. Many new mothers lack the knowledge of how to lose weight after pregnancy while keeping themselves healthy, succumbing to extreme methods to regain your pre-pregnancy figure can affect both you and your baby.
How To Lose Weight After Pregnancy
This may come as a surprise but breast feeding is the fastest and easiest way to shed the baby weight naturally. Your body burns an extra 500 calories daily if you are nursing. This is a great way to shape up in addition to all the amazing benefits of breast feeding for your newborn. Bear in mind that your calorie intake should not go below 1600kcal as you do need adequate nutrients and calories to sustain your milk supply and quality of breast milk.
Excluding water weight, most will have about 15-20 pounds to lose. Pace yourself with a calorie controlled diet. Your daily calorie intake should range between 1600 -1900kcal. In conjunction with breast feeding, you should be creating a relatively healthy calorie deficit which allows you to lose about 1-2 pounds per week.
Most of us do not consume enough water. Sometimes, our body interprets thirst for hunger. Ensure you keep yourself sufficiently hydrated. And remember to drink only calorie-free beverages, water is your best choice, but if you don’t like the taste of plain water, try flavoring it with slices of lemon.
Choose nutrient-dense foods
The food you eat plays a critical role when you are planning how to lose weight after pregnancy. Strict dieting can give rapid weight loss results but it is unhealthy. Nutrients are needed to produce high quality breast milk. So be sure you choose nutrient-dense low calorie foods that give you plenty of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and protein such as:
- Oily fish: Packed with DHA and essential fatty acid for healthy development of brain and eye health in newborns. Sardines, cod fish, tuna and salmon are good choices. Do avoid shark and albacore as they tend to be higher in mercury levels.
- Low-fat milk and dairy products: Rich source of calcium. Pregnancy and breast feeding causes significant calcium depletion from the mother’s body. Aim to consume 1000mg of calcium per day. If you are vegetarian, ensure getting calcium fortified soy-milk and soy products.
- Whole grains, fruits and vegetables: I cannot emphasize this enough. When many people think about how to lose weight after pregnancy, they are concerned about cutting out certain foods from their diets and this compromises on their intake of fiber. Postpartum constipation is very common. Load up on fiber rich foods which not only promotes bowel health but helps in weight loss as they keep you fuller for longer. Vegetable soups and fruit smoothies are a great way to incorporate more fiber into your diet.
Diet is important, but as to how to lose weight after pregnancy, that is only one part of the equation. You need to incorporate aerobic and strength training exercises to burn excess calories and firm up. Swimming and brisk walking are great low impact fat-burning workouts. Lugging around a baby all day is itself a workout, but you still need to add some strength training. Use some light weights or water bottles to firm up those biceps. You need about 150 minutes of exercise weekly for best weight loss effects. Alternatively, sign up for post-natal exercise classes at your nearest gym.
I usually advise friends and clients not to be too harped up on how to lose weight after pregnancy. Postpartum depression can develop due to hormonal changes after child birth and this is worsened by strict dieting and obsession with weight loss. Keeping a positive mindset helps you regulate your appetite, you are less likely to overeat when you feel in control of your body and emotions.
Get enough sleep
Many new mothers struggle to get enough sleep after their child birth. This is especially so for nursing mothers who need to stay up to feed the newborn once every 2-3 hours. Research has shown that lack of sleep increase the level of fat storage hormones. So the general advice is to try to get adequate rest. Slip in a couple of power naps throughout the day if necessary. Aim for 6-8 hours of accumulated sleeping time.
Keeping It SANE
So when my girlfriends ask me about how to lose weight after pregnancy, I tell that simply be S.A.N.E:
Sleep: Make sure you get adequate sleep
Attitude: Have a positive attitude and outlook towards life keeps you emotionally healthy
Nutrition: Choose your food wisely, focus on nutrient dense and high fiber foods
Exercise: Stay active and exercise regularly
If images of shapely celebrity moms leave you feeling ashamed of your body, just remember that you can have that same sexy body but with using healthier weight loss methods. How to lose weight after pregnancy and regain your svelte figure is only a matter of mind over body, take baby steps and celebrate small success and you’ll bounce back into your pre-pregnancy body in no time. Until your next pregnancy that is!