*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional nor am I advocating Intermittent fasting and breastfeeding without your doctor and pediatrician’s consent and support. Everyone’s situation, needs, and health are different. I am simply sharing my experience while I was under the guidance of a doctor.*
Intermittent Fasting & Breastfeeding: My Experience
I have a really hard time losing weight while breastfeeding. Like instead of losing weight, I gain it. While other women waste away while breastfeeding, I’m voraciously downing the last cupcake.
One thing that helped turn this around was practicing intermittent fasting (IF) following my 4th pregnancy and birth.
Honestly, it was perfect for me. No I didn’t lose a ton of weight quickly (because that would not be healthy or easy to maintain), but I reversed the trend of all my previous pregnancies and have slowly and continuously lost weight (here are my top tips for intermittent fasting while breastfeeding).
The Struggle is Real
After each birth, I would resolve to finally lose the weight. But I always had trouble losing while breastfeeding. In fact, I usually would gain 10 lbs before then getting pregnant again.
But since breastfeeding is amazing (and I really do love it), I refused to let my weight interfere with what was best for my baby.
After the birth of my 4th and last child Dec 2016, I was bound and determined to lose the weight. I was going to finally overcome my inability to lose weight while breastfeeding.
So after getting the okay from my doctor, I had joined a gym, hired a personal trainer, tried to eat healthy, and worked my butt off for weeks and weeks. But my weight did not budge.
It was so incredibly depressing.
Then, I came across intermittent fasting while researching healthy eating, which was my main struggle. It was a revelation. There are so many health benefits to IF, it’s unreal (e.g. fat loss, increased lifespan, lower ideas risk etc).
I wanted to do it, but couldn’t find anything substantial about intermittent fasting AND breastfeeding. I didn’t want to risk my milk supply or quality, but I also didn’t want to wait a year to lose weight.
But then I thought: women throughout history have successfully breastfed with limited food supply and in various circumstances. How could a couple extra hours of fasting a day impact my milk supply?
Talking to the Doctor
At my baby’s 3-month visit, I decided to ask the pediatrician about it. My milk supply was well established and my baby and I were in a great routine.
My pediatrician has always been very involved in my nutrition when I am breastfeeding, making sure I am getting all the vitamins and nutrients I need so my babies get what they need. She is very current on research and very concerned with healthy living. So I figured she was the perfect one for me to talk to.
I honestly figured that she would say “no” out of extreme caution. But to my pleasant surprise, she was really supportive of my plan to fast daily for 16 hours (half while sleeping).
I was going to eat between noon and 8:00pm each day while focusing on drinking tons of water and eating healthy.
I started the very next day.
Managing Intermittent Fasting and Breastfeeding
I woke up around 7:00am and got busy taking care of my kids. I wasn’t going to eat until noon, so I tried to stay busy. Honestly, that’s not hard as a mom, right?
After the morning routine, we went to the gym. By the time I got my kids checked into the kid’s center, worked out, gathered up my kids, and drove home it was almost noon!
By then, I was definitely ready to eat and prepared a nice big meal. Then I ate 3 meals between noon and 7 and made sure to be done eating at 8:00pm.
I continued this and by about day 4, it was seriously no big deal waiting til noon to eat. In my experience, it was really easy to adjust to IF. Eating during an 8 hour window is so doable!
Plus, I found that feeling “empty” in the mornings helped me have more energy to take care of my kids and get stuff done around the house.
To my pleasant surprise, my milk supply was unaffected by the fasting. I had plenty of milk and I noticed no change in nursing whatsoever. My baby didn’t seem affected one bit.
At times when I’ve lost weight more quickly–months after beginning IF–I have noticed a slight (and temporary) drop in supply, but that seems unrelated to IF and more to do with rapid weight loss. As of right now, I have a very healthy still-breastfed 15 month old.
The weight immediately began to come off at about a pound a week (my breastfeeding sister has seen similar results), which is perfect.
Other than the first few days, I never felt hungry. I have lost 35 lbs so far.
I wasn’t necessarily drastically changing what I was eating right off the bat. But the best part of intermittent fasting is that it helped me get in control of my eating–which was key for me on my weight loss journey.
Since beginning IF, I have changed my eating habits a lot. But it’s been a really natural and gradual progression which means that it’s a change that has been easy to maintain.
Best Result of IF: Changing Habits
I never struggled to exercise–I love it. But you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet. And breastfeeding makes me feel like I am starving ALL THE TIME. It was hard to control my eating because I want to eat everything in my sight.
With intermittent fasting, I felt like I took back control of my eating habits. It became easier to start making better food choices.
Calorie counting has never worked for me. I’ll be dedicated fore about a week before I lose track and then eat whatever I can get my hot little hand on.
But as I gained more self-control through IF, I started to be more mindful of my true hunger cues and really listening to my body. Listening to how food actually made me feel.
As I gained more self-control, I read some fantastic books on nutrition that helped shape the foods I was eating. Here are a couple of my favorites:
- The 10 Day Detox: This book was really helpful in conquering my sugar addiction and cleaning up my eating.
- The F-Factor Diet: This book really helped to start eating healthy fiber-rich foods that filled me up without adding loads of calories.
With IF and continued nutritional education, I began to finally stop the cycle of gaining weight while I breastfeed my babies.
Intermittent fasting while breastfeeding was the answer for me.
Overall, intermittent fasting is simple (no counting calories or tracking food) and has been a miraculous way for me to build healthy eating habits. It was an important tool for me in taking back my health and losing 35 lbs of extra weight from you pregnancies.
If it interests you and you are breastfeeding, be sure to consult with your doctor/pediatrician first. (And check out my top tips for intermittent fasting while breastfeeding).
Also, I created a free printable intermittent fasting log (see below) where you can track your food, hours fasted, weight, and milk supply.
I’d love to know how it goes for you!
Good luck, mama!