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Counting macros for weight loss while breastfeeding can be a very effective way to lose weight, maintain muscle, and completely change your body after baby. I personally do not count macros, and preach a program based on eating clean and learning real hunger and full cues. I believe this is really important for long-term success, BUT a macro plan can provide the structure a new mom needs to stay within her calories, and making the most of those calories. Let’s look at what macro counting is, and how it can be very beneficial for postpartum weight loss while breastfeeding.
What is Macro Counting?
Counting your macros is a more complex way of counting calories. You start with your daily caloric needs to maintain your weight, then decrease that number to reduce your overall weight. Within that total, let’s say it is 1500 calories, you will eat specific ratios of carbs, protein and fat. Rather than focusing on your total calories each day, you are hitting your totals of grams (or you can convert to calories) of each macro. For some, this kind of structure and in depth knowledge of the foods you are eating is really helpful. It also keeps a good balance of a variety of foods. By doing this, all your calories for one day don’t end up being one major macro nutrient. Unless you are following a keto-focused diet, your macros are going to be split in a way to help you monitor your numbers of each macro. For a keto diet, you will be mostly fats, with little carbs and protein.
How is a macro method beneficial for breastfeeding and weight loss?
The reason macro counting can be super beneficial for breastfeeding is because it helps you eat a wider variety of foods, which is what I preach in my program. Breastfeeding mamas need a wide variety of nutrients that come from protein, carbs and fat. By ensuring you are eating solid amounts of all those foods, you are helping your body get the nourishment it needs to product a healthy milk supply and let go of fat. Because breastfeeding can make weight loss a little trickier, keeping your body nourished, not just on calories, is really important. This is what will help your milk supply stay strong. This doesn’t mean you can’t lose weight effectively on a keto or low-carb diet. Every person is different, which is where some of the benefits of macro counting come into play.
Counting Macros Acknowledges The Individual:
This is one of my favorite aspects of macro counting, which is why I may just dive head first into macro counting myself. You can completely customize your ratios to best suit your genetics and metabolism. This is really important because I believe no one should ever go off general guidelines of calorie intake or BMR on Google. I have a very specific way I have mamas figure out their calorie intake and defecit during my program, and I highly suggest figuring out your needed intake. It may be much lower than suggested just because you haven’t been active for some time, you’ve gotten older, or your metabolism. It could also be much higher than suggested because you naturally have a lot of muscle mass. Whatever the case may be, you need to find YOUR caloric needs. A professional can help you do this.
Counting Macros Takes Into Account Your Body Type:
This is where the individual ratios start to take place for the macro nutrients. Your body type says a lot about your metabolism and insulin resistance. It isn’t a fool-proof method, but it does make for a great starting point. Most of us know weather we are pear shaped, apple shaped, diamond shape or otherwise. This is where various professionals have different ratios for body types to pull from.
As a fitness professional, I have basics I start with, then we fine tune over a few weeks to find a really good macro count for the specific client. You can do this yourself as well, by just going for a general low-carb ratio, or low-fat ratio. By starting with either low carb or low fat, you are minimizing one fuel source. Our bodies can use protein as fuel, but it prefers carbohydrates, then fat. If you minimize one, you are helping your body not need to store the second source. For example, if you eat crackers and cheese, your body is going to use the glucose in the short term, and because it has glucose, it is going to store the fat. If you leave your body in a deficit, it will tap back into those fat stores. If not, they will just stick around. Decide how you prefer to eat. Higher carbs or higher fat. This will help you go in the right direction.
Counting Macros Teaches Balanced Eating Habits:
Counting macros at first is tedious. Not many people can stick with weighing all their food, which is what many suggest you do on their macro plan. I don’t do that. I convert them to calories, so you can add up your calories, rather than weighing. I believe this is much more feasible for new moms. I don’t know about you, but I can’t hold a baby and worry about weighing my food during the day. I also am not that detailed of a person. I just can’t keep up with the numbers. For those of you who love a number to reach each day, this is perfect for you. And, by doing this, you learn to eat balanced throughout the day. Slowly, this method becomes a habit, and you can visually judge your portion sizes. You learn not to eat a whole pint of ice cream, but to have a normal serving size and factor that in. It really teaches self control with all foods, rather than foods off limits.
Counting Macros Leaves No Foods Off-Limits:
The last, but maybe most awesome part of counting macros is you don’t need to eliminate any foods. All you need to do is factor in what you love to eat, and fit it into your macro count for that day. For some, who struggle with cravings and guilty eating, this is a new sense of freedom. By eating what you want, withing the confines of your calories and macros, you can really eat what you are craving. The only hard part is if you are cravings a carb, but you’ve already eaten all your carbs for that day. In that case, you learn to ignore cravings, and at other times you get to enjoy them. As a breastfeeding mama, with lots of sugar cravings, you can really set yourself up for success by doing a higher carb, lower fat ratio plan that enables you to eat more carbs.
Macro counting is a slow process, for many. I think it is important that I mention this BECAUSE sometimes it takes some time to tweak the right ratios of macros. Setting your calories takes just a few days, but your macros can take some trial and error and tweaking. This is because everyone is different, yet it can be the most beneficial aspect in the long run. I am working on a simple plan for mamas to follow to help with weight loss that is a guide to macro counting for breastfeeding. This plan will go over how to count your calories, where to start with your ratios, what to do for YOUR body type, and lots more. The best part is the freedom to take your numbers and run with it. The hardest part is getting started. I hope to help you with it all, so please sign up to know when it is out!
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.