WARNING: THIS POST IS LONG, AND OUR ATTENTION SPANS ARE HUMANS ARE SHORTS.
Ladies, if you’re looking for information on postpartum diet, this is worth the read. It’s full of good shit that I RESEARCHED MYSELF, meaning I am not a dietitian, nutritionist, doctor, lactation consultant, or medical practitioner. Regardless, the below was and still is, my approach to nutrition as a postpartum, breastfeeding woman.
The Postpartum Game Plan
After Luke was born, I had a never-ending welcome wagon of food entering my household. Casseroles, lasagna, cakes, cookies, you name it. It was really nice to be doted on by family and friends, but I quickly learned the food I was eating wasn’t exactly helping my baby blues. They tasted delicious, but the gratification was temporary, and when it was gone, I had spiked blood sugar, and severe fatigue.
It wasn’t until I was four weeks postpartum that I felt CAPABLE of focusing on my nutrition – don’t forget that includes meal planning, prepping, and grocery shopping. Breastfeeding was starting to normalize, Luke was sleeping consistently throughout the day and night, and I was beginning to wrap my head around the new normal.
Nancy Anderson, a former Barry’s LA/Dallas trainer who I’ve gotten to know over social media, gifted me her 30-Day Slim Down. The plan included modifications for breastfeeding, weekly grocery lists (Instacart, bless you), and easy to follow recipes. It was a total Godsend.
To be honest, there were moments where I strayed from Nancy’s prescription. The Slim Down methodology includes reverse carb cycling, meaning you don’t consume carbohydrates outside of veggies until the afternoon. But every few days I would eat oats for breakfast, or I’d include Greek yogurt in a snack to keep my protein intake high.
Regardless if I was on or off the Slim Down, I made sure to combine complex carbs and a high-quality protein source for each meal.
A quick reminder…
- Carbs = are the body’s main energy source and serve as a direct fuel source during activities that require energy expenditure – both physical as well as mental exercises.
- Protein = essential macronutrient for muscle repair and muscular hypertrophy, DNA repair, maintaining the structural and functional integrity of cells, etc.
The Foundation for Success
After delivery, most women want to dive directly into a weight loss “strategy,” but the mistake most women make centers around the dietary restriction. Their choices have good intentions, but their actions work against them. They eat too little or eat the wrong foods which contribute to fatigue, hormonal imbalance and feeling deprived. I wanted to avoid all of that as I was on an emotional rollercoaster navigating baby blues, a newborn, and my new identity. I NEEDED to set myself up for success because feeling like a “failure” was not an option during this delicate time of life.
The below isn’t an exhaustive list of everything I consumed in my early postpartum days, but a good example of my usual dietary suspects.
- Steel cut oats with berries, a great source of iron.
- Greek yogurt with sliced fruit topped with almonds, walnuts, pecans, or one serving of nut butter, satiating and filling protein.
- Shredded chicken or tuna with avocado on whole wheat toast topped with spinach, or any dark, leafy green which are nutrient-dense and high in calcium
- Hummus and whole wheat pita bread and veggies, primarily carrots, an excellent source of vitamin A.
- Lactation balls, recipe here.
- Bone broth soup with kale, bone broth collagen, and egg. Bone broth promotes gut health and the healthier a mom’s gut is, the better chance she has at producing high-quality breast milk, which in turn, passes on more nutrients to the infant.
As important as nutrition is, hydration is just as important. The average breastfeeding woman should consume 2-4 liters of water to maintain supply.
“They say” a breastfeeding woman should have anywhere from 2000-24000 calories, and a woman consuming as little as 1800 calories (or less) can put their supply at risk. My mission was to maintain my supply, my mood, combat fatigue and begin my weight loss journey.
Slow and steady was my M.O to win this race. It’s not sexy; it’s not fun, it’s not fast. BUT IT IS WORKING.
I determined my caloric balance using the formula for weight loss I previously outlined here. My weight, post-baby, was 145lbs and erring on the side of caution; I went with the high end of the formulaic range for weight loss. I also included additional calories for breastfeeding, 500 calories to be exact.
Showing my work, a la my 8th-grade self. SOMEONE PASS ME MY TI-83!!!
145lbs*13 = 1885 calories
1885 calories for weight loss + 500 calories for breastfeeding = 2,385 calories
P.S. I track my calories using the app, Lose It!
I had my starting point for my post-baby comeback. I ate the foods I mentioned above in differing quantities and combinations within that budget. Each week I subtracted 50 calories from that budget to create a small deficit. Remember when I said, “slow and steady?” I fahkin’ meant it. If I went over my balance for the week, I knew I wasn’t ready to cut. So I didn’t. Because of these small changes, my supply never dropped.
I’d like to be completely clear that while I sound super rationale and scientific in this post, I was a hot flaming mess IRL. I cried tears of frustration, I used my husband as a verbal punching bag, I was CONVINCED I would never have anything that somewhat resembled my own body ever again, and I questioned the process over and over.
I doubted myself as a trainer and a health and fitness professional.
My saving grace was that I never strayed from my plan. And that made the difference.
Ladies, if you spend a year growing a human, you will spend a year plus rebuilding your body. That’s just the way it is. You can be frustrated. But you cannot give up. Understand the principles needed to change your body, work with professionals you trust, and then go like hell to make whatever it is you want yours.
I believe in you.
I’m here for you.
OH BY THE WAY – Want to give the Slim Down a go? Use my code: KateLemere10 for $10 off (active until September 1, 2018). You can’t beat it. Shop on.