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Weight Loss Supplements While Breastfeeding

author image Lau Hanly
Lau Hanly runs Fierce For Life, a nutrition and fitness company that helps young women start with healthy eating and smart training without overwhelming them. She has a certificate of nutrition, and provide individual coaching, standard fitness and nutrition programs, and group training.
Weight Loss Supplements While Breastfeeding
Young woman breastfeeding her child in a field. Photo Credit FamVeld/iStock/Getty Images

After you have your baby, you are probably anxious to return to your pre-baby weight and body. However, using weight loss supplements while breastfeeding is not only unnecessary, but they also can have a negative impact on your baby's health. It is much healthier for both you and your baby if you lose weight gradually and naturally.

The Evidence on Supplements

Evidence positively backing the use of weight loss supplements is mainly anecdotal, largely unsupported by the scientific community. While you're breastfeeding is not the time to test their efficacy; you do not want to compromise your health or your baby's. The "American Family Physician" stated in 2004 that no weight supplements at that time met the criteria for recommended use. These supplements are not a "magic bullet" for fat loss, and the risk of negative side effects outweighs any potential benefit.

Supplement Side Effects

A handful of common active ingredients are used in weight loss supplements, including: ephedra, chromium picolinate, and guar gum. While it can contribute to weight loss, ephedra has been associated with increased psychiatric distress, cardiac and digestive problems, hypertension, stroke and even death. Chromium picolinate has not been found to create meaningful weight loss, and it has been associated with rhabdomyolysis -- the breakdown of muscle tissue -- and kidney impairment. Guar gum has been found to be ineffective for weight loss, and it can cause gastrointestinal upset, reduced efficacy of oral contraceptives and interference with insulin medications. Caffeine is another common ingredient in "fat burners," but caffeine in breast milk can affect infants for up to 120 hours.

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Stick to a Natural Diet

Breastfeeding is an energy intensive activity, and it can cause gradual weight loss in nursing mothers. Eat a natural and healthy diet while breastfeeding to help you meet your own nutritional needs and return to a healthy weight, while providing the best quality milk for your baby. Consume plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and regular servings of whole grains such as bread, pasta and rice. Include dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt, as well as lean meats, poultry, eggs, nuts, and small servings of fish.

Add Exercise

When your doctor has given you the go-ahead and you feel ready, add regular exercise to your routine. Exercise will help you lose weight while breastfeeding without resorting to potentially harmful supplements. Ease into exercise: The breastfeeding group La Leche League International recommends walking, gentle aerobics and water activity as beginning activities. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and pay attention to how your body is coping with the extra activity.

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