You may have heard from midwifes or other Mums ‘oh you’re breastfeeding, the baby weight will come off in no time!’ So is it true that breastfeeding causes weight loss? Well yes and no. The answer is very similar to the answer to the question ‘does exercise help with weight loss?’
You can’t out train a bad diet. No matter how much exercise you do, you can easily eat enough calories to balance out those burnt with exercise. Likewise you can’t out breastfeed a bad diet. There is no magical fat-melting affect that breastfeeding has on your body. The weight loss people report from breastfeeding is simply due to the fact that breastfeeding requires your body to use an extra (approximately) 500 calories per day. So if you keep eating the same foods in the same portions as you were eating before you were pregnant and breastfeeding, your body will now be in a negative energy balance. Which will cause weight loss.
If you eat a Mars Bar or Carmel Frappuccino every day as well as the diet you were eating to maintain your weight before your pregnancy, the 500 calories from those foods will cancel out the 500 calories you were burning from breastfeeding. So your weight will stay the same.
As you can see Isaac Newton’s law stating that ‘energy can neither be created nor destroyed, rather it transforms from one form to the next’ holds true for the human body. Breastfeeding as magical as it is for the bond between mother and baby, just has a scientific affect on weight loss in the human body.
I hope that clears things up! On a personal note, I was amazed how much food I could eat and still be losing weight. As long as it is healthy and treats are just occasional, you can eat quite a lot of food if you are exercising and breastfeeding! When I occasionally tracked food in my fitness pal (I’m a bit of a nerd, I find the specifics of the human body fascinating) I found my maintenance calories was 2550! That was for a 28 year old female, breastfeeding and exercising three times a week.