Losing the Weight After the Baby – Guest Post by Shawna Norton
Congratulations! You’ve created a life! I imagine you’re in love (albeit probably very tired too!).
Having a baby is one of the greatest gifts. From every woman I know, they’re in absolute awe of their new little person. But soon after their baby comes, most are ready to get their bodies back.
Now before I take one step forward in my “losing weight” suggestions- if you’re still nursing you need to be very careful of what you do with your food intake. Making milk requires an additional 500 calories per day to create, so cutting calories can affect production. A lot of women will wait until they have stopped breastfeeding or at least until they have cut down considerably before trying to lose weight.
I also like new moms to wait until they are getting some semblance of sleep before we start tweaking their diets. Sleep plays such a crucial role in hunger and fat storage. Adding one more thing to the new mom exhausted brain by trying to manage calories is a recipe for a bad day.
That being said – from what I understand you will be tired off and on till they are at least two or three (sorry!) — so just get to a place where you are coherent during the day then let’s talk diet changes. Okay, now you’ve kept reading- so you’re getting SOME sleep and you’re comfortable talking diet.
First, I am going to give you my favorite piece of advice- eat your carbs. In all my research and working now with a ton of women clients, carbs are our friends. It’s okay if you love your bacon, but I want you to start loving some moderate carbs too. Am I opposed to low carb? No. It has a time and a place. But your body is going through MAJOR hormone changes (like I needed to tell YOU that). You want a metabolism and hormone system that can hum along efficiently and happily.
I like my new moms to be trying to get between 200 and 300 grams of carbs a day, depending on activity level, etc. This is not high carb by any means. It’s enough to give you energy, fuel your day, fuel your metabolism, and help you stay balanced.
I’m a fan of my clients tracking their intake on My Fitness Pal. I’ve used it myself and its very easy and straight forward. Please don’t go by what it tells you to consume for total calories– its often too low and I want you to KEEP a healthy metabolism!
Second, get your protein. You are shooting for a minimum of 100 grams. This is MY advice- you will find a whole host of people saying “you only need a little bit” etc, etc. And yes- once we get you to weight maintenance you CAN eat less. But you are working on changing your body composition and we are cutting calories.
Protein helps you stay satiated, helps build lean muscle mass, and helps keep your blood sugar regulated. I like clients to shoot for .75 to 1 gram per pound of body weight (so for a 150 pound woman that’s 112 to 150 grams per day). You shoot for the higher end if you’ve returned to weight lifting. Use the lower end if you are doing more cardio based exercise.
Then the last piece is fat. I think we kind of went off the deep end when we started telling everyone to “eat all the fat”. It’s definitely not bad for us– in fact it’s NECESSARY to sustain healthy life. But eating it to the extreme is not going to help you lose the weight. Why? Because while eating fat won’t make you fat, it’s the easiest to be converted TO fat and requires the least amount of energy to convert.
In the nutrition world we use a term called “the thermogenic effect of food”. This roughly translates to how much energy your body uses to break down food. Carbs and protein require the most energy, fat not so much. So shoot for around 25 percent of your daily intake in fat. No more.
We end up having you eating in almost a 40/35/25 ratio of carbs/protein/fat. Again, this is what I’ve found works best for my female clients, new moms included.
I want my ladies to EAT. Getting you down to a super low cal diet might get the weight off faster, but the rebound can be huge depending on how low you go. It would be remarkably frustrating to lose the pregnancy weight only to gain it back. Not to mention we want you to have energy and enjoy your life while you’re losing the weight!
Your calorie consumption should be somewhere between 1700 and 2500 based on age, current weight, and activity level. You can play around with it a bit. I end up getting most of my ladies up to around 2300 to 2500 (no they are not gaining weight at this intake- we take it slow to ramp up the metabolism). Then when I’ve got the metabolism burning hot I can have them cut calories for a few days at a time and it creates a big deficit. Like I tell them- if you are already super low we won’t have a whole lot to work with.
Find out what you’ve been eating so far. Track on My Fitness Pal for a week and look at your habits. Then adjust your macros to my suggestions. Track this for a few more weeks and see how you feel. I generally suggest eating within 30 minutes of waking (I know, it’s hard!). Then eat every 3 to 4 hours thereafter.
Be conscious of WHAT you’re eating- focus on protein and carbs with moderate fat.
Eat your fruits and vegetables.
Be mindful- eat at the table, serve yourself on a plate, don’t eat out of the bag.
Meal prep or use a meal prep service (Territory foods is my favorite!).
Buy snacks in single servings.
Put bars in your purse and glovebox to avoid getting hangry.
Take 5 minutes in the morning to plan out your day. What you will eat and when will you eat it? (this one is HUGE when you’re trying to juggle life as a new mom!).
You’ve got this! You WILL get your body back- it takes time. Be kind to yourself. Your body has just made a new life. Take the weight loss slow, don’t get discouraged. And again, congrats on the new addition!