This post probably contains affiliate links, to items I am in love with, and I am confident you will too! For any health advice I give on nutrition and wieghtloss, make sure you check with your doctor, as I am not a health professional. I am just a mama with lots of health and fitness knowledge and experience.
Many mamas struggling to increase their milk supply immediately blame their low milk supply on diet. Diet plays a large role in your body’s ability to function normally, but your diet isn’t just the culprit to your low milk supply. The hormone levels are the real reason your body isn’t producing enough milk, specifically estrogen.
What I want to go over is the correlation between your diet and estrogen levels. This is where a lot of mamas get really confused. They think it is the diet specifically that is causing the drop in milk supply, when in actuality, the diet is affecting estrogen levels, which in turn affects milk supply.
Warning, this is an in-depth, long post with lots of details. If you just need a simple solution to increasing milk supply and losing weight, scroll to the end 🙂
The reduction of calories does not affect your body’s ability to produce milk unless you have no fat stored from pregnancy. For the majority of women, this isn’t the case!!
You may be arguing with me in your head, which is fine. But, let’s go over the scientific proof of what is happening in your body when you reduce calories, rather than increase nutrients, and how your diet affects your estrogen levels, which in turn affects your milk supply.
Science states that your energy intake is not correlated to your milk supply:
Studies have shown that energy intake and lactation are not related. Many mamas think the opposite, and even well-known websites and bloggers state not to reduce your calories too much. If you have plenty of fat reserves from pregnancy, you can go days without eating and produce breast milk. That is why the fat is there. You can read more on these studies here, but this is the main point:
In most populations, no significant relationship between maternal weight loss and lactation outcomes has been found (Brown and Dewey 1992). Similarly, maternal body mass index is generally not associated with milk volume or total milk energy output (Prentice et al. 1994). However, among women with low fat reserves, energy balance may be more critical
Why does your milk supply seem to drop when you diet? Let’s look at estrogen:
In order to produce breast milk, your estrogen levels need to drop. If this doesn’t happen, or something in your diet causes your estrogen levels to rise, then you are going to affect your milk supply. For example, if you decide to reduce your calories, but do not focus on nutrient-dense foods, your body is not going to be happy. While breastfeeding, your body wants nutrient-dense foods, and it needs more nutrients. This often comes out in carb and sugar cravings, even though it really needs lots of greens and lean protein. If you stay in a certain caloric intake, but eat high-carb, high-sugar foods, you are promoting more insulin in your body. This is why calories in verses calories out isn’t a good model during breastfeeding, and so many bloggers and health professionals tell breastfeeding mamas not to cut calories.
If you only cut calories, but eat a high carb diet, your insulin increases which increases your estrogen. Increases in estrogen mean more stored fat and less breast milk.
Rather than increasing calories if your milk supply drops, eat foods to decrease estrogen:
Cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower help decrease estrogen in the body. While breastfeeding, you want to keep estrogen levels low, and if your milk supply seems to be dropping while you are trying to lose weight, you don’t have to give up! Here’s more details on cruciferous veggies and estrogen,
Because they have a component called indole-3-carbinole that is being shown time and time again to reduce levels of estrogen in the body. They also have levels of sulfur in them which detoxify the body quite well. Not only do you reduce serum levels of estrogen within the body, but you also help the body eliminate them easier. Since estrogen levels are actually highest at night and lower during the day, it’s most important to eat your big bowl of broccoli before bed.
I find that information pretty awesome!! Now, as a busy, breastfeeding mama, you may not want to eat a big bowl of broccoli before bed, but to help with your milk supply, you need too!
If you don’t like broccoli, try this!!
Another great option is to have a kale protein shake as dessert! Use my Milk Dust, which is specifically created as a low carb/sugar, protein powder with milk-boosting herbs and sugar-craving-stopping minerals. Blend Milk Dust with the cruciferous kale and a little avocado, and you will have an awesome, creamy dessert to help lower estrogen!! Milk Dust also has the hormone-balancing, amazing Red Raspberry Leaf, which can help balance all of your hormones for breastfeeding success!
By focusing on keeping your blood sugar and insulin levels in check, you can keep estrogen levels low. I talk more about the keto diet and how to successfully follow it while breastfeeding. Depending on your genetic make up, this may be the answer you need to losing weight and balancing your hormones properly for breastfeeding.
What if a low-carb, low-insulin plan still isn’t working?
Every breastfeeding mamas is completely unique in how they respond to foods, sugar and fats, as well as their hormone levels. If a lower carb diet isn’t working (and it has been AT LEAST 10 DAYS of LOW CARB!!) here is what you need to ask yourself:
- Were you low-carb straight for 10 days? This is key to give your body time to reset, adjust and balance hormones. If you need help with this, try my 10-day reset that is free!
- How low carb were you? Did you eat “low-carb” processed foods? Wheat in general can spike insulin and blood sugar, even if the product itself is high fiber and low carb.
- Did you eat a lot of fruit and snack a lot? Every time you eat, you produce insulin. Fruit (in some people who are more sensitive, which you probably are if you are reading this!) can spike blood sugar just enough to produce more insulin. According to your genetic background, this could be you.
- Are you exercising? Exercise helps lower insulin, especially in a fasted state (first thing in the morning). Try adding in exercise or walking in the mornings to help!
Here’s a simple solution, when everything seems too overwhelming!
If this all sounds a bit overwhelming, I understand. Having a low milk supply while trying to lose weight can be stressful. That is why I created Milk Dust, as a lactation aid, so mamas can work on their diet the best they can, nourish their bodies with help, reduce sugar cravings, and keep their milk supply. By adding a simple supplement to your diet, you can help your body do everything, without having to think about everything!
I hope all of this educates and helps you as you learn to nourish your body and baby while breastfeeding. My program specializes in a clean eating, nutrient-dense plan that helps you feed your body for healing and breast milk production, while still promoting weight loss!
If you need help losing the baby weight and keeping up your milk supply, I have a very popular program, The Postpartum Cure, which comes in an app you can download.