My hubby and I are trying to lose weight together now that I've had our baby and can work on it again. We're using a calorie counting system called MyPlate on It's been working pretty well for us, so I was explaining it to a few friends. One of the girls (who has never had a kid, mind you) chimes in that I shouldn't have fewer than 1800 calories per day while breastfeeding. She didn't cite a source or anything, so I'm wondering how true it is. I'm currently keeping myself at just under 1600 calories per day. Am I perhaps doing harm to myself or my baby?

asked 04 Mar '10, 15:25

Artemis's gravatar image

accept rate: 11%

Okay, I just came across something that helps a little bit.

It was once thought that a nursing mother needed to have a diet that was significantly higher in calories and nutrients than a non-lactating woman. It was often recommended that a nursing mom consume an extra 700 to 1000 calories a day. Today, it is known that this much energy is not needed for sustaining lactation -- an extra 200 to 500 calories per day, over a woman's pre-pregnancy diet will be sufficient.

In 1989 the Recommended Dietary Allowances listed 2700 calories per day as the estimated energy need for lactation. Generally, nursing mothers maintain an intake of closer to 2200 calories per day (Nutrition During Lactation, 1991) and even lower, around 1800 calories, when hoping to lose weight. The nutritional quality of human milk generally remains quite adequate, and often unaffected, even when a mother's caloric or nutritional intake is inadequate

The Committee on Nutritional Status During Pregnancy and Lactation, of the Institute of Medicine, was "impressed by evidence that mothers are able to produce milk of sufficient quantity and quality to support growth and promote the health of infants -- even when the mother's supply of nutrients and energy is limited." (1991)

This does not mean that we should not encourage mothers to eat to appetite, consuming a minimum of 1800 calories a day. Optimally nursing mothers should eat a well-balanced diet, rich in nutrient dense foods. In fact, during pregnancy and lactation many mothers are already well motivated, so it is a wonderful time to encourage healthy eating.

Apparently I should be eating a little more. That would explain why I'm a little light-headed right now. :)


answered 04 Mar '10, 15:33

Artemis's gravatar image

accept rate: 11%

This link has some great information about dieting while breastfeeding, too.

I've never tried actually dieting while I was still nursing, I tend to lose a lot of weight just from nursing itself, but I also tried to be really careful of what I ate in the early months when the babies were exclusively breastfed and my body was dedicating so much of its resources to making milk. When I had my older kids I was your age and didn't worry about it at all. I'm a lot older now, and I have to be more careful that I don't completely deplete my body's reserves. (But, if anybody tries to take my chocolate away, things are going to get ugly!)

I had to come back and clarify, 'cause I really didn't get my point across at all did I? My point was, you're young, you're body has a lot of resources to make milk for your wee one and is going to do that, probably regardless of what you eat or do, as long as you don't go on a starvation diet, and 1600 calories a day is low for a nursing Mama, but not starvation diet low. But it may do that to the detriment of your health, so make sure you take care of yourself, make every calorie nutrition dense and you should be just fine.


answered 04 Mar '10, 21:55

Neen's gravatar image

accept rate: 30%

edited 05 Mar '10, 02:12

Thank you! The site had some really good points!

(05 Mar '10, 13:07) Artemis
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Asked: 04 Mar '10, 15:25

Seen: 12,079 times

Last updated: 05 Mar '10, 02:12