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.
Intermittent fasting is not only perfectly safe while breastfeeding, it can also be a great way to help you lose your baby weight. Intermittent fasting itself will not affect your milk supply. If you properly nourish yourself during your eating window of time, you can really help your body let go of fat, while keeping up a healthy milk supply. I am going to go over what intermittent fasting is, how it is beneficial to losing weight while breastfeeding, and how I specifically practice intermittent fast, so you have a real-life example. I practied intermittent fasting even while breastfeeding, which I believe helped me lose the baby weight, and also out of habit. Once you create the habit, it becomes second nature.
What is intermittent fasting in general?
Intermittent fasting simply means fasting for about 14-16 hours. Some people practice a longer fast, and some shorter. I personally believe it isn’t really fasting unless you get to 14 hours. That would be say eating at 8pm at night, and eating again 10 am. If you do 12 hours, that is still a good number because your body is supposed to fast at night, and I’ve read that 12 hours is the minimum you should fast on a regular basis, NOT as intermittent fasting. The idea is to allow your body more time to completely use the food you ate yesterday. It also gives your body a break from digestion, which takes energy. In addition, I’ve read that when your body is in a fasting state, it will also eat any damaged or diseased cells. It goes for fat and cells/tissues that aren’t perfect, so you are essentially helping your body clean itself. I will find this resource and add it in here. It was a book I read on fasting for religious purposes, but had some wonderful health information in it as well! If you are fasting to lose weight, I would set a minimum to 14 hours, so your body as ample time to use the fuel stores from the day before.
How is intermittent fasting beneficial for breastfeeding?
Digesting takes up energy and work. Giving your body a break can put more energy into creating breast milk. If you are eating enough nutrients to support breastfeeding, then this is a great scenario for allowing your body an opportunity to use fat stores to create breast milk. This is why we store fat while we are pregnant. To use it to create ample breast milk. By allowing your body time to tap into those fat cells, you are giving it an opportunity to use them. Of course, you can still use your fat cells by snacking and not intermittent fasting, but this is a great way to break a plateau! Your fat cells are also made up of various components, which can include water, fat and nutrients. These all go straight to baby’s milk!
How to make sure your milk supply doesn’t drop while intermittent fasting:
Eating proper nutrition while breastfeeding is your most important job, especially when trying to lose weight. I created a very unique, breastfeeding diet plan that promotes a healthy milk supply, while also helping your body let go of fat. I go over all the nutrients you need to help your body heal after baby, boost your milk supply, and let go of extra fat. Many mamas have been super happy with the program and results, and NOT LOSING THEIR MILK! I also give you a plan to heal your abs and pelvic floor, and workouts to help you tone up and get some fitness back. It is a holistic healing and weight loss program, yay! Basically, you want to eat nutrient-dense foods during your eating time. If you do this, your body will have all it needs to keep up your milk supply while intermittent fasting. It is super important to eat foods that are high in fiber, protein (please try this lactation protein powder!!), and colors (berries, peppers, sweet potatoes…). Sticking to these super simple guidelines will ensure that you lose weight while keeping up your milk supply. I also have some healthy craving crusher recipes in my program that help you with sugar cravings too!
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How I intermittent fast while breastfeeding:
I personally practice a small intermittent fasting routine, where I make a protein shake or snack around 11 am, maybe another snack around 12, and I go for my biggest meal around 1 or 2 pm, depending on the day, and if I am hungry. I don’t limit the time I can stop eating, because it depends on what we have going on as a family, or if I do my workout later in the evening when it is cooler. I never eat past 9pm though. This is basically what I did right after each baby too. It was habit. But, one thing I never do is go hungry. I can’t stand being hungry, so if I am hungry hours earlier than I normally eat, I JUST EAT! When you are breastfeeding, you caloric needs can change a bit, so if you are starving, I want you to snack on fruits, veggies and hummus and protein shakes. Have a small snack every hour, til you get to your big meal time if you can. Otherwise, just eat earlier and end earlier. The great thing about intermittent fasting is that it will help you learn what real hunger is, verses a craving. This can be such an important lesson. You will understand when your body actually needs nutrients! Then, you will know you need to eat solid, nutrient-dense food. There is nothing wrong with eating, it’s eating foods that don’t offer a lot of vitamins and nutrients that is the problem.
If you are struggling with what to eat, I highly recommend this eating clean challenge for breastfeeding mamas, or this smoothie challenge to get you started!
Also, I have some free eating and fitness challenges here, where you can slowly get started making some changes!
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.