After 40 weeks of watching your body change and grow, it's tempting to jump right into losing weight after delivery. However, slow down a bit -- your body has been through a massive ordeal. If you're breast-feeding, dieting can destroy your milk supply. You also need to be cleared by your doctor before picking up an exercise regimen, which occurs about six weeks after birth. You might turn to weight-loss supplements to help speed up the process, but they're unlikely to help -- and, in some cases, they could harm you.
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Postpartum Weight-Loss Basics
No matter how much weight you gain during pregnancy, aim to lose the weight within six months, says University of Maryland Medical Center. If you're like other new mothers, you'll likely lose about half of it by your six-week postpartum appointment and the remainder over the course of a few months. However, your weight loss can be affected by myriad issues, including how much you eat per day, your activity level, whether you're nursing and how much you weighed before you got pregnant. The most effective, safe solution for postpartum weight loss is a healthy diet and moderate exercise. MedlinePlus recommends eating five to six small meals a day, including breakfast; choosing fruits and vegetables for snacks; and drinking plenty of water. Add physical activity to your daily routine, but don't overdo it -- a walk around the block with the baby stroller is a good start.
Effectiveness of Commercial Supplements
A number of over-the-counter products claim to help you lose a significant amount of weight rapidly; however, at best, they're ineffective, and at worst, they're dangerous. According to MedlinePlus, the majority of supplements that offer quick weight loss contain ingredients such as aloe vera, aspartate, coenzyme Q10, fish oil, DHEA derivatives, hydroxycitrate, chromium, L-carnitine, panthethine, pyruvate and sesamin; however, no proof exists that any of these ingredients help with weight loss.
Safety of Weight-Loss Supplements
Take a hard look at the ingredient list of your weight-loss supplements, and put it back on the shelf if it contains ingredients such as ephedra, which can cause stroke and heart attacks; conjugated linoleic acid, which increases risk of diabetes and gallstones; or guar gum, which can cause blockages in the intestines and esophagus. Other risky supplements include tiratricol and chitosan.
Vitamin D Supplements
Vitamin D supplements might have promise for weight loss, but you shouldn't rely on them as a sure thing to slim down. A study done at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in 2014 compared women who took vitamin D orally for 12 months with those who took a placebo, and found that those who took the vitamin lost more weight. Another study, published in 2013 in "Nutrition Journal" found that supplementation with vitamin C and calcium aided in weight loss for women on an energy-restricted diet. Your body needs 600 international units of vitamin D a day, but don't go above 4,000 IUs a day, or you risk toxicity.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Healing and Losing Weight
- Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center: Vitamin D and Its Effect on Weight Loss Examined in New Study
- MedlinePlus: Herbal Remedies and Supplements for Weight Loss
- MedlinePlus: Losing Weight After Pregnancy
- Nutrition Journal: Calcium Plus Vitamin D3 Supplementation Facilitated Fat Loss in Overweight and Obese College Students With Very-Low Calcium Consumption: A Randomized Controlled Trial
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D