The decision to breastfeed may be a healthy one for you and your baby, but it often complicates your attempts to lose weight—especially the unsightly postpartum belly fat. Being sleep deprived and feeling like you cannot leave your baby for long periods of time may create the urge to eat and make exercise seem impossible. Eating adequate, nutritious calories to keep up your milk supply is of paramount importance. Use nursing to motivate you to clean up your diet and include specific foods that can actually assist you in dropping the unhealthy belly fat.
Do not feel pressure to wean in order to lose belly fat. Nurse your baby to help reduce the fat you store during pregnancy to help prepare for breastfeeding.
Aim for a gradual weight loss. Plan on taking at least 10 months to return to your pre-pregnancy weight, and do not try any weight loss efforts in the first six weeks as calorie restriction may affect your milk supply. Adjust your caloric intake to lose about 1 lb., and at the most, 2 lbs. per week.
Make the calories you are eating of the highest nutritional quality to protect your energy levels and insure the quality of your milk stays high. Avoid turning to convenience snack foods like chips and fast food for dinner as they often contain belly bulging trans fats. Make every meal contain lean proteins and healthy carbohydrates.
Eat whole grains instead of refined flours. Select whole grain bread, brown rice, quinoa and oatmeal because, as a Pennsylvania State University Study published in a 2008 issue of the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" reported, eating whole grains instead of refined grains while following a lower calorie diet encourages weight loss at the belly. Consume whole grains to provide the added bonus of filling fiber, which assists with postpartum irregularity.
Snack on foods high in fiber and monounsaturated fats. Keep plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables cut up in the refrigerator—try apples, figs, celery, cucumbers and bell peppers as high-volume, low-calorie foods to help satiate your ravenous nursing appetite. Try small servings of nuts instead of snack crackers and cookies. Cook with olive or canola oil because, as reported in a study in the journal "Diabetes Care" in 2007, inclusion of monounsaturated fats in place of saturated fats reduces fat at the belly.
Participate in moderate exercise at least five days per week. Take the baby out for a walk in the stroller. Swap baby-sitting with another new mom so you each have some alone time to go for a jog or to visit the gym. Cardiovascular exercise will not affect your milk supply and will help target belly fat, as shown in a University of Illinois study published in a 2009 edition of the "American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism."
Things You'll Need
Fresh vegetables and fruits
Olive and canola oil
Bring your partner on board with your weight loss efforts--have him help you prepare healthy meals and support your efforts to exercise.
Be careful not to lose weight too quickly, because fast weight loss (more than 2 lbs. per week) may lead you to release toxins into your bloodstream and contaminate your milk.