I've lost track of the number of mamas who've asked me if they need to stop breastfeeding in order to lose weight. Gaining weight isn't as common while breastfeeding, but struggling to lose weight is very common. I know with my first baby, I figured I would just lose all the weight because I was burning so many extra calories while breastfeeding. Unfortunately, many new moms don't burn as many calories as they think, so their calorie intake increases more than it should. There's also the issue of milk production, andi if you experience a dip in supply from trying to eat a healthy diet, then that can really affect your goals for losing the extra weight. As a mom of 4 boys, a nutrition expert and Pre/Post Natal Fitness Specialist, I have both experience and expertise in breastfeeding nutrition and weight loss. I've been helping breastfeeding mothers lose weight without losing milk supply for years, and I even created a protein powder that helps increase milk supply, while losing weight.
Weightloss in general is really hard, add in breastfeeding, exhaustion, postnatal depletion and hormonal changes, and you have a recipe for a difficult weight loss journey! Setting goals to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight is awesome, and you deserve to feel great and healthy, but finding a balance between eating enough calories, producing enough breast milk, and still burning fat is tricky. Luckily, I have figured out exactly what foods you need to eat to fully nourish your body and help you lose weight, while keeping your milk supply up (or even increasing it!).
I have found that with someon breastfeeding mothers, the weight doesn't like to fall off until you stop breastfeeding. There are many reasons for this, and a lot of it depends on whether you gained too much weight during pregnancy, hormonal levels, fat metabolism, getting enough sleep and more! I'm going to go into all the reasons you may lose weight when you stop breastfeeding, and how to lose weight while breastfeeding if you don't want to stop.
"Milkdust saved my postpartum season!!! I saw ads and took a chance because I was desperate. I started working out consistently and eating very clean at 6 weeks postpartum (second kid) but I kept gaining weight instead of losing it! I was so discouraged and ready to try anything…so I bought milkdust protein powder and the metabolism boost. I started using it as a meal replacement because I wasn’t scared my supply would suffer and in one month I lost 5 pounds and the weight keeps coming off! My supply is great and I am so thankful I found milkdust. It will forever be in my postpartum essentials!"
Hormonal Changes That Affect Weight Loss If You Stop Breastfeeding:
When you stop breastfeeding, there are several hormonal changes that occur as your body transitions from producing breast milk to returning to a non-lactating state. These changes are a natural part of the post-breastfeeding process and can vary from person to person. Here are some of the key hormonal changes that typically occur:
Prolactin Levels Decrease: Prolactin is the hormone responsible for milk production in the breasts. As you stop breastfeeding or reduce the frequency of nursing or pumping, your body receives the signal to produce less prolactin. This gradual reduction in prolactin levels leads to a decrease in milk production. Sometimes a breastfeeding mother can lose more weight as prolactin levels drop lower and lower.
Oxytocin Levels Decrease: Oxytocin, often referred to as the "love hormone" or "bonding hormone," is released during breastfeeding to facilitate the letdown reflex, which allows milk to flow from the breast. As breastfeeding decreases or stops, oxytocin levels gradually return to baseline. Some new mothers don't experience any weight change until these levels are back to baseline.
Estrogen Levels Increase: During pregnancy and breastfeeding, estrogen levels are typically lower than normal. When you stop breastfeeding, your estrogen levels begin to rise again. This increase in estrogen can lead to changes in the menstrual cycle and may eventually result in the return of menstruation. In most women, increased estrogen levels can lead to storing more adipose tissue, but for some, when estrogen levels rise back up their bodies will let go of more fat stores.
Progesterone Levels Increase: Similarly, progesterone levels, which are also reduced during pregnancy and breastfeeding, tend to rise as you wean or stop breastfeeding. These hormonal changes can influence your menstrual cycle and fertility. Progesterone can influence appetite and metabolism to some extent, but the effects are generally subtle. Some people may experience changes in appetite or cravings during the menstrual cycle or during pregnancy, but these effects are highly individual.
Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) Levels Increase: LH and FSH are two hormones produced by the pituitary gland that play a crucial role in regulating the menstrual cycle and ovulation. As breastfeeding decreases or stops, LH and FSH levels begin to rise, which can lead to the resumption of ovulation and fertility. Typically, this does not help with weight loss, but it does bring back a regular mentstrual cycle.
When I was creating Milk Dust, in the lactation blend, I made sure to add in ingredients like Red Raspberry Leaf and Fenugreek, all of which not only increase milk supply but also balance hormones and help your body function better with the hormonal changes postpartum! The best thing you can do if you want to lose lots of weight (or just some of the pregnancy weight) is to focus on taking good care of your hormonal health! By using supplements like Milk Dust, you can support your body's own, natural hormone levels, and you will feel better too!
Also read: Why Can't I Lose Weight While Breastfeeding?
When You Stop Breastfeeding You Get More Sleep, and More Sleep Helps With Weight Loss:
Typically, when you are breastfeeding, you have to wake up more in the night if your baby likes to wak up and feed. Many breastfeeding mothers have to live on very little sleep for many months postpartum, or until the new baby matures and can sleep for longer periods of time. I know my babies woke up every 2-3 hours for what felt like a really long time, but probably the first 6 months. There are many ways the lack of sleep can really disrupt your weight loss:
Hormonal Imbalance: Sleep deprivation can disrupt the balance of hormones that regulate appetite, leading to increased feelings of hunger and reduced feelings of fullness. The hormones leptin (which signals fullness) and ghrelin (which signals hunger) can be affected, making you more likely to overeat and choose calorie-dense foods when you're sleep-deprived.
Increased Caloric Intake: When you're tired, you may be more inclined to reach for high-calorie, sugary, or fatty foods for quick energy. Lack of sleep can impair your judgment and decision-making, making it more challenging to stick to a healthy eating plan.
Reduced Physical Activity: Fatigue from insufficient sleep can decrease your motivation and energy levels, making it less likely that you'll engage in physical activity or exercise. This can lead to a decrease in overall calorie expenditure.
Metabolic Changes: Chronic sleep deprivation can affect your metabolism by impairing insulin sensitivity, increasing insulin resistance, and promoting the storage of fat. This can make it more challenging for your body to efficiently use the calories you consume.
Stress and Cortisol: Lack of sleep can elevate stress hormones like cortisol. Elevated cortisol levels are associated with increased abdominal fat storage and can promote weight gain, particularly in the abdominal area.
Late-Night Eating: People who stay awake late at night are more prone to snacking or eating larger meals during nighttime hours, which can disrupt the body's natural circadian rhythm and metabolism.
Disrupted Sleep Patterns: Irregular sleep patterns, such as shift work or frequently changing sleep schedules, can disrupt the body's internal clock (circadian rhythm), which can affect hormones and metabolism.
Cravings for High-Calorie Foods: Sleep deprivation can lead to cravings for sugary and high-calorie foods, as the body seeks a quick source of energy to combat fatigue.
Less Satiety from Meals: Sleep-deprived individuals may experience reduced satiety from meals, leading them to eat larger portions or snack more frequently.
Many mamas feel like its stopping breastfeeding that helps them lose weight, but they don't realize when they aren't breastfeeding they start sleeping more, baby gets older and easier, and they have more energy to start exercising. All of these factors play a really important role in weight loss. Getting more sleep in general will help you stick to your healthy habits, improve your overall health, and help you have more energy for regular exercise. Before you stop breastfeeding, try to find ways to get more sleep, and you might find that postpartum weight loss is much easier.
Stopping Breastfeeding Can Reduce Cortisol Levels Dramatically:
Most breastfeeding mamas carry a lot of stress concerning milk supply, and producing and pumping enough milk for baby. Pumping extra milk for working and a freezer stash is really stressful, and can even affect your mental health. Many mothers feel depressed and down if they aren't producing enough breastmilk, and they turn to junk food, and increase their food intake just to keep their supply up. This results in losing very little weight, if any, which leads to even more stress. Sometimes, taking the stress of breastfeeding and pumping off your plate can lead to healthy weight loss without making and diet changes at all. Here are all the ways increased cortisol may be affecting your weight loss goals:
Appetite and Food Choices: Cortisol can influence appetite and food preferences. In some individuals, stress or high cortisol levels may lead to an increase in appetite, particularly for sugary and high-fat foods. People under stress may be more likely to engage in emotional eating, seeking comfort in less healthy food choices.
Fat Storage: Cortisol can promote the storage of fat, especially around the abdominal area. Elevated cortisol levels are associated with increased visceral fat, which is the fat that surrounds internal organs and can be harmful to health. This can result in changes in body composition and contribute to weight gain, particularly in the midsection.
Metabolism: Prolonged stress and high cortisol levels can affect metabolism by increasing insulin resistance. This can lead to impaired glucose regulation, making it more challenging for the body to efficiently use glucose (sugar) for energy. As a result, excess glucose may be stored as fat.
Muscle Breakdown: High cortisol levels can lead to muscle protein breakdown. Muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat tissue, meaning it burns more calories at rest. The loss of muscle mass can slow down the basal metabolic rate (BMR), making it more difficult to burn calories and lose weight.
Cravings for High-Calorie Foods: Stress and elevated cortisol levels can lead to cravings for high-calorie, comfort foods. These cravings may lead to overeating and the consumption of excess calories.
Sleep Disruption: Chronic stress and high cortisol levels can interfere with sleep quality. Poor sleep can further disrupt appetite-regulating hormones, increase hunger, and lead to weight gain or hinder weight loss efforts.
Reduction in Regular Physical Activity: Stress can lead to reduced motivation and energy levels, making individuals less likely to engage in physical activity or exercise. Reduced physical activity can contribute to weight gain or hinder weight loss.
Should I Stop Breastfeeding To Lose Weight?
For some mamas, the answer is yes, and some no. It really depends, but what we can see from above is that there are so many factors that go into play for postpartum mamas. If you are struggling to lose weight while breastfeeding, you might want to try a supplement like Milk Dust Lactation Protein Powder and Milk Dust Metabolism to help you, while also trying to follow a nutrient-dense diet. I've found that rather than jumping on fad diets like keto or low carb, purely eating super clean and nutrient dense is the best way to lose weight while breastfeeding. There are some great meal plans here on the Milk Dust site, as well as simple products that can help balance hormones, balance blood sugar and keep up your supply!
How Can I Keep Breastfeeding and Lose Weight with Milk Dust?
In creating Milk Dust, I handpicked specific vitamins like folate (L-methylfolate), which is as important during lactation as it is during pregnancy. I also chose vitamin B12 for energy, and superfoods like chlorella, spirulina, spinach, and blueberries. To help mamas combat sugar cravings, I included stevia, monk fruit and organic cane juice so mamas can enjoy the sweetness with very little sugar. Plus, herbs like turmeric and cinnamon bark, and minerals like chromium, balance blood sugar and taste delicious. It’s like drinking a milkshake! To top it off, Milk Dust is plant-based, vegan, made of non-GMO ingredients and is free of soy, gluten, dairy, and corn.
Milk Dust is the only protein powder on the market that is clean, nutrient-dense and specifically made for postpartum healing, nourishment, lactation, and weight loss. Enjoy!
Milk Dust is specifically formulated with the highest quality, organic ingredients to promote nutritional excellence in breastfeeding mamas, while also curbing the sugar cravings that can inhibit weight loss.
Your nutrition as a new mama should be a priority. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Protein shakes made with Milk Dust will make your insides happy. Think of Milk Dust as a magic dust that absorbs into your body and leaves you and baby flying on a cloud of nutrients.
Sugar craving is one of the most difficult aspects of losing weight while breastfeeding. Many times sugar cravings indicate mineral and nutrient deficiencies, which causes your body to crave glucose. Your body sends craving signals in hopes that you will eat something with more nutrients. Milk Dust holds a unique combination of chromium, magnesium, cinnamon bark, zinc, and folate. Chromium and magnesium are essential minerals that many are deficient in. These deficiencies result in strong sugar and carbohydrate cravings. Zinc and folate are also two very important nutrients for mothers healing after baby. A mother’s body needs zinc to repair cells and recover after birth. Folate is not only needed during pregnancy but also after baby arrives as it passes to baby through breast milk. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mamas consume 500 micrograms of folate daily while nursing. Lastly, cinnamon bark can help balance blood sugar, keeping sugar cravings at bay.
Milk Dust is chocked full of lactation-boosting ingredients like fenugreek, milk thistle, fennel seed, Brewer’s yeast, and raspberry leaf. These ingredients give you a magic potion to quickly boost your milk supply. Our special blend has secondary, milk-boosting nutrients like turmeric and pumpkin seeds.
Milk Dust provides a caffeine-free, healthy option for mamas on the go. Milk Dust is a unique powerhouse of green energy consisting of spirulina, chlorella, and wheatgrass, as well as vitamin B12 and turmeric. Spirulina is high in iron. Chlorella and wheatgrass help pull toxins out of breast milk, in addition to giving mama a healthy boost of energy. Vitamin B12 passes through breast milk to growing baby. Plus, vitamin B12 helps prevent anemia in postpartum mamas. Combined with the protein in Milk Dust, this blend of nutrients will help repair blood and nerve cells, which are important for boosting energy levels.