It is the desire of almost every mother to shed off baby fat as soon as they deliver their bundle of joy. However to get back to the pre-pregnancy shape is not a walk-in-the-park as most people would want to imagine! It takes time and therefore patience is primary. Trying to lose the weight within a very short time would be termed as selfishness, for lack of a better term. Reason being, that bundle of joy requires love as well and breastfeeding is vital. Hence the need for more calories to meet the need. A six week break is good before the idea of embarking on losing some weight especially in terms of reducing the calorie intake.
Preconception is the first phase in which every nutritional aspect needs sorting. This begins with attaining a suitable body weight. For instance, underweight, overweight and obese women should get in shape before considering pregnancy. This helps to avoid medical complications during pregnancy and bearing children with birth defects. All this can be achieved with a proper diet like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts and brazilian nuts. Nutritional supplements come in handy here. Get folic acid, vitamin b12, pre-natal multi-vitamins and evening primrose oil to balance hormones.
It is normal to have extra weight during and after pregnancy. One would wonder where the weight came from and the answer is simple! There is usually breast tissue, fetus, increased blood supply, fat storage and enlargement of the uterus, the placenta and amniotic fluid. Part of this is immediately lost during delivery and is usually about an average of 5kgs which is an incredible start. The remaining is gradually lost as the uterus shrinks back to around its pre-pregnancy size.
One should set a realistic goal and consult a nutritionist if possible. A goal to lose 1kg per week is reasonable. This means a deficit of between 450 and 650 calories per day from the recommended daily intake. Most mothers can shed a bulk of pregnancy weight by the sixth month, however every mother should shed the weight at their own pace.
It is primary to eat foods that are packed with the proper nutrients. Increase your fibre intake; this includes oats, muesli, cereals and whole grain bread. Reduce your sugar intake and cut down on refined foods. Take plenty of legumes for example lentils, kidney beans, black eye beans and pinto beans. Also take enough omega 3 in your diet. You can incorporate flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts. Choose healthy satisfying meals as these help reduce cravings and lots of snacking between meals. Incorporate fruits in your daily diet. Moringa is one of the superfoods that is beneficial as a detox and for milk production and provides calcium for nursing mothers. Get enough rest whenever possible as this helps reduce stress levels.
There are many factors that can affect a weight loss program. The first is age as metabolism tends to slow down by two percent every decade after one attains 25 years. Another factor is diet. Eating more protein than carbs improves metabolism and you burn more calories. Activity level counts as the other factor because being more active in terms of physical exercise burns more calories. All these factors determine the period one will take to bounce back to their pre-pregnancy weight.
Breastfeeding by itself helps lose weight. The activity helps melt off weight by stimulating release of hormones that are responsible for shrinking the uterus and thus shedding some weight. As you start weaning, your appetite tends to decrease and so is your metabolism, therefore incorporating physical exercises to lose weight is necessary e.g. gym sessions, swimming, walking, skipping rope and yoga just to mention a few.
As soon as you start on a weight loss diet make sure you are still eating enough calories depending on your activity level which is an average of 2000 calories. Eating less calories can make your body think you’re starving which ends up slowing metabolism. This makes it challenging to lose the extra kilograms eventually.
Losing weight after breastfeeding, can be done in numerous ways since the considerations for breastmilk formation stops. One of the primary ways is by avoiding diet with a lot of calories. Several supplements can be used. This includes and not limited to apple cider vinegar, green tea and other suitable fat burners. There is also meal replacements and plant proteins, e.g. available at Healthy U, Sunwarrior, Pulsin among others.
The ultimate goal of attaining a desired body weight and shape will somewhat be achieved in due time. This means the lifestyle and diet has to change in order to maintain the desired weight, else one can lose more weight than expected. To maintain the weight, light exercises sessions should be a routine. The light exercises includes; yoga, aerobics, walking, swimming, cycling etcetera. A constant caloric intake as per the RDI is key. Remember to incorporate things like green teas, plant based milks, fruits and vegetable and whole grain flours for your baking recipes.
By Jackson Keter, a nutritionist at Healthy U (KNDI certified)