Pregnancy can lead to changes in many of your daily routines and habits, including what you eat and how much exercise you get. Most prominently, the body changes during pregnancy to ensure that the unborn child/children get(s) enough food and other basic needs. These changes already start happening in early pregnancy and become more and more noticeable as time goes on. Women tend to gain more weight in the final months of pregnancy than they do in the first few months. Women who gain a lot of weight in pregnancy have a higher risk of certain health problems and complications during childbirth. For some women, breastfeeding and taking care of a baby is enough to shed the weight gained during pregnancy. Women who don’t lose weight, or even gain weight instead, might have a higher risk of health problems that could get worse in other pregnancies.
Many women struggle to achieve a healthy weight after pregnancy. Taking care of a newborn, adjusting to a new routine and recovering from childbirth can also be very stressful for women. However, it is important to return to a healthy weight after delivery, especially if you have plans of getting pregnant again in the future. Exercise alone probably won’t do much; the best way to lose weight is by combining a change in diet with extra physical exercise. You could also try some helpful programs which help people change their eating and lifestyle habits. While losing weight, it is also very important to know that excessive weight loss can also have disadvantages. Certain diets are unfavorable at this stage and can reduce the quantity of your breast milk or the nutrients it contains. The bottom line is to maintain a moderate and healthy weight that is not detrimental to you or your baby.
Evidence-based tips that can help you lose baby fat after pregnancy
1. Be Realistic About It
Contrary to popular stories on the media about weight loss, losing weight after pregnancy may actually take time. According to the study of 1,743 mothers from different countries by the World Health Organization (WHO), women lost an average of 10.4 pounds (4.7 kg) in the time between two weeks and two years post-birth. However, with good diet and exercise, you should be able to achieve any level of weight loss that you wish for. Although you may not go back to your pre-baby weight or a healthy weight immediately, the most important thing is that you eventually return to a healthy weight range in good time.
2. Avoid Crash Diets
Crash diets are very low-calorie diets that are intended to make you lose a large amount of weight in the shortest amount of time possible. You should avoid crash diets because after delivering a baby, your body needs good nutrition to heal and recover. To this end, a low-calorie diet is likely to be lacking in important nutrients and will probably leave you feeling exhausted. In addition, if you are breastfeeding, you require more calories than normal.
3. Breastfeeding Helps
Breastfeeding has many benefits for both mother and baby, including providing nutrition, supporting the baby’s immune system and reducing the risk of diseases for mother & child. Additionally, breastfeeding has been shown to support weight loss in mothers. In some cases, weight loss may not appear feasible in the first three months postpartum due to your increased calorie needs and reduced physical activity during lactation. Although after three months, breastfeeding may help you lose weight. If you are not breastfeeding, diet and exercise will still be enough to help you lose weight.
- Eat Foods High in Fibre
Consumption of foods that are rich in fiber has been shown to help with weight loss. Soluble fiber may also help you feel fuller for longer by slowing down digestion and reducing hunger hormone levels. This process will help you lose weight in the long run.
5. Eat Healthy Proteins
Including protein in your diet can boost metabolism, decrease appetite and reduce calorie intake. Research has shown that protein has a greater thermic effect than other food nutrients. What this means is that the body requires more energy to digest it than other types of foods. Due to the high amount of energy needed to digest proteins, more calories are consequently burned.
6. Avoid Added Sugar and Refined Carbs
Added sugars and refined carbs are particularly high in calories and have little nutritional benefits. Common sources of sugar include sugary drinks, fruit juice, plain sugar, white flour, sweet spreads, cakes, biscuits, pastries, and their likes. Consumption of these foods contributes largely to the onset of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. You can avoid them by sticking to whole foods.
7. Avoid Highly Processed Foods
These foods include fast foods and pre-packed foods, which are high in sugar, unhealthy fats, salt and calories; all of which are bad for your health. You can reduce the number of processed foods you eat by replacing them with fresh, whole, nutrient-dense foods.
8. Avoid Alcohol
In terms of weight loss, alcohol provides extra calories without nutrition. Alcohol has also been related to weight gain and may lead to the storage of more fat- such as belly fat. In addition, alcohol can cause a temporary reduction in breast milk volume in mothers who are breastfeeding. While breastfeeding, small amounts of alcohol can be passed through breast milk to your baby, and this may be harmful to your baby.
9. Get Involved in Relevant Exercises
When you combine exercises such as walking, jogging, running and cycling with good nutrition, there is a high tendency that you will burn more calories. Exercise has numerous health benefits; it improves heart health, reduces the risk and severity of diabetes and may reduce the risk of several types of cancer.
10. Drink Enough Water
As simple as it seems, drinking enough water is very important for anyone trying to lose weight. Drinking water aids in boosting metabolism and contributes to weight loss. It is especially important for staying hydrated during breastfeeding. Drinking water may also reduce your appetite and calorie intake. You should drink at least 1–2 litres of water per day.
11. Get Enough Sleep
Depriving yourself of sleep can negatively affect your weight. For new mothers, getting enough sleep may be difficult; but you must try as much as possible to get enough sleep because poor sleep can ruin your weight loss efforts. Strategies that may help include sleeping when your baby is sleeping and asking for help from family and friends.
12. Find a Support Group and Ask For Help
Working on weight loss with a group can be beneficial for some people. Some studies have shown that people who engage in group-based weight loss tend to lose more or at least as much weight as those who lose weight alone. If you are feeling depressed or anxious, you should always reach out for help. Talk to friends and family for help around the house, preparing meals or taking care of the baby for a few hours to allow you to rest or get some exercise. You can also consult your doctor or other health practitioners for more help and support during this period.
Gaining some extra weight after pregnancy is normal and very common. However, you should know that getting back into a healthy weight range is beneficial for your health and any future pregnancies. The best and most feasible way to lose weight is through a healthy diet, breastfeeding and exercise.