Monday, June 22, 2009

How Many Calories Do I Need While Training and Breastfeeding?

I am 5'3'' and 125lbs. I have a 10 month old and am still breastfeeding. I am back to my pre-pregnancy size, but want to lose 10-15 lbs more and really get toned. I am going to be running a 1/2 marathon in October, so I've been doing cardio (walking/running/dancing) 4x's per week, and some light strength training w/lots of pilates 2x's per week. I'm eating pretty healthy (lots of whole grains, veggies, fruits, ect) many calories should I be taking in to lose weight, but maintain my milk supply for breastfeeding? Ex- today I ate 1770 calories, and ran 2.6 miles (I usually avg around that 4x's per week). I want to lose 1-2 lbs per week. --Jessica S.

Dear Jessica,

Congratulations on your lofty goals and especially on breastfeeding, which is a healthy decision for both you and your baby :)

For someone in your shape (and not knowing your age) I would estimate you burn at least 2200 calories as a base, an additional 500 calories breastfeeding, and probably 300 calories for each 1/2 hour of exercise.... so you could be easily burning 3000 calories per day. This means that a 2000 calorie intake will lead to a 2 pounds per week weight loss. I would not recommend going below about 2000 calories per day while you are performing all these feats!

The fact is, you need not only calories, but also protein, calcium, and all the other major nutrients to keep up your strength for training, and to continue making the healthiest breastmilk for baby.Be sure you're following the guidelines for healthy eating, including beans/meat/eggs or another good source of protein, and 3-4 servings of dairy in addition to the whole grains fruits and veggies.

In fact, it's probably more difficult for someone in your position to get in the foods you need than to keep your calorie level low enough to lose weight. It's smart to eliminate "empty calories" (Foods that provide lots of calories with little nutrition, like soda, candy bars, and fried foods) when trying to lose weight and making sure not to eliminate food groups like carbohydrates that can be providing you with necessary B complex vitamins and energy.

It sounds like you're doing a great job. Good luck with the half-marathon!

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