Safe Dieting While Breastfeeding

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Let’s face it.  In L.A., we’re worried about our weight.

For a new mom, weight loss after delivery of her child can be an important goal for a mom's self-esteem and happiness.  But for moms who are breastfeeding, it is important that weight loss occur slowly and in a healthy manner.

Below, I provide a few comments on three of the more popular diet plans, specifically regarding how to implement them in a way that is safe for breastfeeding moms and for their new babies.  Here are the three that I've selected to touch on for this post:

  • Atkins
  • South Beach
  • Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers... This diet is by far the most appropriate and healthy diet for breastfeeding women of the three discussed in this blog post...

Atkins Diet

Visit the Atkins Diet Website 

Breastfeeding moms SHOULD NOT participate in the first phases of this diet due to the fact that low-carb diets can cause mom’s body to release ketones that could pose risks for a baby.  [Ketones are chemicals made when the body does not have enough insulin in the bloodstream.  Serious illness and even comas can result when ketones build up too quickly in the bloodstream.]

Phase 1

NOT RECOMMENDED for Breastfeeding Women

The Induction Phase is meant to kick-start the weight loss process by burning fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.

Phase 2

NOT RECOMMENDED for Breastfeeding Women

Phase 2 of the Atkins Diet is an "Ongoing Weight Loss Phase" designed to keep carbohydrate consumption low (25 grams/day) so that fat continues to be burned.

Phase 3

Breastfeeding Women May Begin the Diet at this Phase and eat a Well-rounded Diet

Atkins' Pre-maintenance Phase helps the dieter lose the last 10 pounds towards their goal.

Phase 4

Breastfeeding Women May Engage in this Phase The Maintenance Phase.  

South Beach Diet

Visit the South Beach website  This diet has three fundamental phases for moms.  If you are breastfeeding, DO NOT engage in Phase 1.  Skip to Phase 2 and engage in Phases 2 and 3.

Phase 1

NOT RECOMMENDED for Breastfeeding Women

This phase lasts for 2 weeks.  Its primary purpose is to eliminate cravings, get insulin levels under control and jump-start weight loss.

Phase 2

Breastfeeding Women May Begin the Diet at this Phase and Eat a Well-rounded Diet

This phase slowly reintroduces good carbohydrates and lasts until desired weight loss is achieved.

Phase 3

Breastfeeding Women May Engage in this Phase

This phase is focused on maintaining the weight lost.

Weight Watchers

Visit the Weight Watchers Website 

This diet is by far the most appropriate and healthy diet for breastfeeding women of the three discussed in this blog post for 3 reasons:

  1. You are encouraged to wait 6-8 weeks post-partum before initiating your weight loss plan.
  2. This diet is focused on a healthy, well-rounded diet from the beginning.
  3. The diet does not have “phases,” where one’s food intake changes over time.

In addition, when one begins the Weight Watchers diet, every individual’s points are based on their age, weight, and special circumstances, like breastfeeding.  This means that, rather than following a standardized diet plan designed for overweight adults who are not pregnant or breastfeeding, this diet is designed to suit the individual’s needs.

Additional resources can be found at MyPyramid for Pregnancy and Breastfeeding.