Women tend to lose about half of the weight gained during pregnancy by six weeks after giving birth, reports the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Do not be discouraged if you find yourself with extra fat in your legs long after your baby is born. Although it's not possible to spot-reduce the fat in your limbs, losing weight by making a few adjustments to your exercise and eating habits will help reduce fat throughout your entire body -- including your legs. As always, get your doctor's approval before attempting to lose weight after pregnancy.
To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume each day. One pound of fat is roughly equal to 3,500 calories; creating a daily deficit of 500 calories will help you burn about 1 pound of fat a week. This is easiest to do by reducing your daily caloric intake by 250 calories and burning 250 calories per day through exercise. Focus on eating low-fat dairy products, lean protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. Decrease or eliminate foods like soft drinks, alcohol, desserts and fried foods, which are full of unhealthy amounts of calories and fat. In addition, you should drink at least 8 cups of water a day to help flush out fat as you lose weight.
Do 30 to 40 minutes of cardiovascular exercises that target your legs five days a week. For example, go bike riding, jogging or take a brisk walk around the neighborhood with your new baby. Incorporate interval training, where you rev up the intensity of your routine for a fixed period of time, into your workout. For instance, ride your bike as fast as you can for one minute and then reduce your speed to a moderate pace for two minutes. Repeat as many times as possible during your workout. Interval training helps to burn more fat and calories than a traditional workout and can help boost your athletic endurance.
Target Your Legs
Do strength-training exercises that work your legs at least two nonconsecutive days a week. Although strength training won't help you to reduce fat just in your legs, it can help you lose overall body fat. This is because strength training increases your metabolic rate, which can help you burn calories and fat. Strength training also helps strengthen and define the muscles in the legs, which can give them a better appearance. For best results, do exercises that work multiple leg muscle groups at once, such as lunges, step-ups and squats. Don't forget to also do exercises for your abdominals and upper body as part of a total-body strength-training routine.
Tips and Safety
Wait at least six weeks after giving birth before you attempt to lose any weight. Losing weight before than can be damaging to your health and recovery. Be patient. It took you nine months to gain weight during pregnancy; you should expect that it will take at least that much time to lose it. Use caution if you are breast-feeding. Your body needs an adequate amount of calories each day in order to maintain an adequate milk supply. If you lose weight too quickly, your body may produce less milk. To prevent this, do not lose more than 2 pounds per week. If you find you are losing more, add a healthy snack to your day.
- Muscle & Fitness: The Ultimate Leg-Training Workout
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Why Strength Training?
- Shape: 8 Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
- Journal of Physiology: Short-Term Sprint Interval Versus Traditional Endurance Training: Similar Initial Adaptations in Human Skeletal Muscle and Exercise Performance
- Fitness: The Truth About Your Body After Baby
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Weight Loss While Breastfeeding
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: Losing Weight After Pregnancy
- Columbia Health, Go Ask Alice!: How Many Calories Does it Take to Lose One Pound?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?