Episode 70: Ancestral Nutrition For Healthy Weight Loss While Breastfeeding

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Thanks for joining us for episode 70 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. If you want to keep up with our podcasts, subscribe in iTunes and never miss an episode! Remember, please send us your question if you’d like us to answer it on the show!

Today we are answering the following question from a listener:

“Hi, do you ladies have suggestions on postpartum nutrition, ancestral style? I am 12 weeks since delivering my baby and exclusively nursing, looking to lose the last 10 to 15 pounds in a healthy way. I’ve found nursing increases my appetite, especially for carbs, and I’m struggling with the right caloric balance to lose weight. I walk 10,000 steps and lift weights for 30 minutes, 2 to 3 times a week. Thanks.”

If you find your appetite is up and you’re craving carbs, don’t miss today’s podcast! While weight loss during breastfeeding follows similar principles as normal weight loss, there are special considerations that warrant attention. But after your baby is born, it can be a challenge to find balance in daily life, let alone your diet.

Today we discuss adjusting calories and macronutrients and explain how to experiment with these ratios for safe and effective weight loss during this special postpartum period. Also hear tips on how to address other significant lifestyle factors that can impact your weight loss goals such as exercise, hydration, and stress.

Here’s what Laura and Kelsey will be discussing in this episode:

  • How to adjust calorie needs for weight loss during breastfeeding
  • Importance of ensuring appropriate caloric intake to maintain adequate amount and quality of breast milk production
  • Why short term tracking of your diet will help you discover exactly what you’re eating and allow you to accurately adjust intake
  • Symptoms to watch out for that signal you’re eating too low calorie
  • Guidelines on adjusting macronutrient ratios for weight loss during breastfeeding
  • Signs that you tolerate carbohydrates well
  • Symptoms that signal you are not eating enough carbs
  • Importance of experimentation with your calorie intake and macronutrient ratios to find what works best for you
  • Tips for getting adequate water intake throughout the day
  • Tips for increasing nutrient density when diet isn’t optimal
  • Exercise recommendations for effective workouts when short on time
  • Ways to improve sleep quality even when quantity is low
  • Importance of stress management

Links Discussed:


Kelsey: Hi everyone. Welcome to episode 70 of The Ancestral RDs. I’m Kelsey Marksteiner and with me as always is Laura Schoenfeld.

Laura: Hey everybody.

Kelsey: How are you doing today, Laura?

Laura: I’m good, just finishing up a pretty intense week, which part of that is because I’ve been traveling so much and I’ve tried to squeeze some extra clients on days that I don’t normally see clients. Then the other part of that is anytime that I do have “free time” I have been working on my seminar for the Weston Price Conference in November, which that’s due in I think let’s see, two weeks. No, a week and a half. Wow!

Kelsey: Wow! You’re like oh crap!

Laura: Well it’s funny because my mom’s presenting as well and she keeps asking me how things are going. She’s like how’s your presentation coming? I’m like I feel like presentation is really not the right word because I have six hours of material I have to create.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: To be fair, I think some of that will be question and answer time and I might do some kind of break participation stuff. I don’t know, we’ll see, just to make it a little bit more interesting.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: But I think I probably have a least 4 to 5 hours worth of material I have to curate.

Kelsey: That’s a lot.

Laura: Yeah, I don’t really know what I was thinking when I signed up for it because I’ve only done like a handful of live presentations, or talks, or whether.

Kelsey: You’re sort of jumping in head first.

Laura: Right. Well even like an hour, 90 minute presentation kind of freaks me out and this one, like I said, full day worth. When I was signing up for it I was like I’m going to challenge myself and I’ll have lots of time to work on it this summer. That was before I started dating my current boyfriend, and so my travel plans for the summer got a little bit out of control. I did not have as much time as I was expecting. Now I’ve really just been kind of cramming it in and getting it ready for the last couple weeks.

But the good news is I feel like a lot of it is stuff that we talk about in our Adrenal Fatigue program, which we’re actually going to be launching again and we will tell you a little bit more about that for the sponsor. Trying to turn that into a live presentation that doesn’t go quite into as much nitty-gritty detail, but kind of covers a lot of the same topics and maybe expands on the some of the topics that I’m interested in, that’s kind of what I’m trying to do as the approach.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: I’m cracking open the HPA axis resources that we had used in the creation of the program and kind of going through that again and seeing if there’s anything else I can talk about that covers more of the physiology of the HPA axis. I’m not going to talk as much about testing the way we do in the program because I don’t really think that’s appropriate for a live presentation.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: But definitely covering the diet and lifestyle factors that affect HPA axis function and “adrenal fatigue.” It should be pretty interesting.

I think when Sally Fallon asked me to do a presentation, she was primarily asking me to do stuff on carbs, which I don’t know how anyone can talk about carbs for 6 hours. I guess maybe it’s possible, but she has seen some of the stuff I’ve been writing or posting about carb intake and how that can affect stress levels, and HPA axis function, and all that.

I think that’s one of the big things that the Weston Price people dislike about the Paleo community is that they think carbs are promoted enough.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Which on one hand I think is a little unfair because I think that’s just depending on what resources you’re looking at. But on the other hand, you and I see that all the time where people in the public that are following Paleo recommendations, they end up being too low carb accidentally.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: It’s not completely unwarranted criticism, but I do think that’ll be a big chunk of what I talk about is calorie intake, carb intake, that kind of thing. Because even though I don’t know if Weston Price people would be as much at risk for that kind of issue, I think anyone who’s on any sort of dietary restrictions could be dealing with that.  So just talking about how that can affect the HPA axis and then going into lifestyle factors, so sleep, and stress, and exercise. Maybe doing a little expansion on some of the mindset stuff.

Kelsey: Cool.

Laura: I went to an interesting seminar about stress resilience a couple months ago and learned about a lot about the different ways that we can build stress resilience. I’ll probably dive a little deeper into that too.

Kelsey: Yeah, that’s cool.

Laura: Yeah, and so that’s kind of what I’m focusing on. Again, kind of going through the physiology of stress, and why stress impacts our health as strongly as it does, and the kind of things that cause stress. It’s not just emotional stress, it can be other things as well.

My little tag line for it is “Becoming Stress Proof.” It’s not that we need to live like completely stress free lifestyles which would probably involve living on an island with no children and maybe no spouse as well depending on your relationship status, just not having a job. Avoiding stress entirely isn’t possible and it’s probably not even really healthy to never have any stress.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: But being able to build your diet and lifestyle in a way that you keep your stress resilience high, that can keep you thriving and really being able to tolerate things that come up in normal life. That’s kind of an overview of what I’m going to be doing.

That’s going to be November, I know the date of the presentation is November 14th which is a Monday. It’s going to be starting at 9:15, which is kind of a random start time. The weekend is the 11th through the 14th. Gosh, I keep wanting to say it’s in Birmingham, but I think it’s actually in Montgomery.

Kelsey: Somewhere in Alabama.

Laura: Yeah, that sounds terrible that I don’t know where it is. I feel I want to say Birmingham because I always want to say Birmingham. But yes, it’s actually in Montgomery, Alabama. We can put a link to the conference information in the show notes.

But registration is still available. Actually if you register before September 14th, you can get an early bird discount, which I’m not sure if this will publish before the 14th. But just realize that if you’re hearing this, you can probably keep registering up until the date of the conference and even than you might be able to show up for a single day seminar.

I believe my seminar costs money to attend, so it’s not included as part of the conference fee. I don’t remember exactly what the extra cost is though, so that would be something that you’d have to ask the conference organizers. But just keep that in mind if you’re planning on coming that you would have to pay a little extra when you come to my seminar. But hopefully people will be there and I’m not just preparing all this for nothing.

Kelsey: I’m sure you’ll have a good audience.

Laura: Hopefully.

Kelsey: I love the tagline, that’s perfect.

Laura: Yeah, it’s something that I feel like I work with so many of clients on stress as being a core factor in their health problems. So just really trying to look at all angles where stress could be coming from in somebody’s life and figuring out how much of that able to be eliminated, and if not eliminated, dealt with better.

Kelsey: Right. I think that’s huge, so good for you. I think that’ll be a great presentation. It sounds awesome. I hope you get a lot of people, and I’m sure you will, and I’m sure you’ll do great.

Laura: I’m not going to be stressed at all when I’m presenting.

Kelsey: Of course not.

Laura: Because I don’t have a fear of public speaking or anything.

Kelsey: You’ll have to do a lot of stress proofing beforehand.

Laura: Yes. I’ll have to listen to my own recommendations, which I’ve trying to lately. I’ve been working on that.

But since we’ve been talking about HPA axis dysfunction and stress, why don’t we hear a little bit about our upcoming program launch.

Alright, so Kelsey, do you want to read our question for today?

Kelsey: Sure. Alright. Our question for today is:

“Hi, do you ladies have suggestions on postpartum nutrition, ancestral style? I am 12 weeks since delivering my baby and exclusively nursing. Looking to lose the last 10 to 15 pounds in a healthy way. I’ve found nursing increases my appetite, especially for carbs, and I’m struggling with the right caloric balance to lose weight. I walk 10,000 steps and lift weights for 30 minutes 2 to 3 times a week. Thanks.

Laura: Alright, well first, congratulations on your new baby. It’s always exciting/possibly a little terrifying depending on your perspective on that. But I’ve had a lot of friends with new babies recently and I have probably 4 or 5 friends in my life right now that are due at the end of the year.

Kelsey: Wow.

Laura: I’m going to be surrounding by babies very shortly. But definitely postpartum period is stressful and difficult especially if it’s your first baby for a lot of women. It’s unlikely that anyone would be able to be in that period of time without having at least some level of challenge to their diet or their self-care and health practices.

First of all, just try to give yourself a little bit of grace in this time and realize that everyone is going to respond differently to postpartum, and even if you’re breastfeeding, that doesn’t guarantee that the weight is just going to melt off. Some people, some lucky women, that’s their experience, they lose all their baby weight very quickly from nursing. Don’t necessarily compare yourself to that if you’re not seeing that happen. But the good news is that weight loss during breastfeeding, I’d say generally follows a lot of the same principles of weight loss in any other time.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: There are some things that make the postpartum period a little bit special, so we’re going to talk about that today. But keep in mind that generally the principles for weight loss that would work when you’re not breastfeeding are going to at least be helpful during breastfeeding.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: One of the major things I focus on when I’m working with postpartum clients is calorie intake and making sure that their calorie needs are being met and also not exceeded if the goal is weight loss. As much as people like to say that calories don’t matter when it comes to weight loss, that’s really not true. They may not matter as much as people tend to think that they do and lower is not always better for weight loss.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: But there needs to be some amount of calorie deficit for fat loss to happen mostly just because if you don’t have any calorie deficit, there’s really no reason for the body to be getting rid of stored body fat. So yes, you do need to be in a calorie deficit and that is something that kind of applies across the board when anyone’s trying to lose weight that some amount of deficit is necessary.

Now, the thing that makes breastfeeding different for calorie needs is that when you’re breast feeding, the estimate is that you need at least 300-500 extra calories per day to supply the breast milk and to make sure that you’re able to create adequate breast milk for your baby. The one good thing about that is that it gives you a lot more wiggle room for your diet and being able to eat a lot more especially if you feel like your appetite is up. You may be surprised to see how much food you can eat with that extra 300-500 calories per day.

Now this doesn’t mean that you should just be eating tons and tons of extra food and eating anything that’s in front of you if your goal is weight loss. Now if you don’t have a goal of weight loss, then feel free to eat as much as you want. But if you’re goal is weight loss, you do need to pay a little bit of attention to how much you’re eating and making sure that you’re not just eating so much food that your calorie deficit is completely obliterated.

Kelsey: Right, and that’s an easy thing to do I think when you’re nursing and appetite up. Appetite is up usually for a reason because you do need to get a little bit of extra calories. I guess there’s just this idea out there when you’re nursing or pregnant, you just eat everything because you’re eating for more than just yourself. That can get you into trouble a little bit when, like you said Laura, your goal is weight loss.

Laura: Right, and 300-500 calories a day on one hand is a pretty big chunk. I mean for some people that might be like a large snack or a small meal extra. But on the other hand, it’s not so much that like you said, you can just eat anything that you want, as much as you want, and not worry about it at all if you’re trying to lose weight.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: The other side of that point is that you really don’t want to be under eating significantly because not only is that a source of stress which when you’re postpartum, the less stress you can be under, the better and you don’t really want to be causing more stress with your diet. The other potential issue there is that your milk supply could be affected, either the nutritional quality of the breast milk itself, the amount of fat, or protein, or lactose that’s in it, or potentially just the total volume that you’re production.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Defiantly don’t want to be a super low calorie intake. I’d say that one thing I see in a lot of my clients, and actually I just worked with a  client recently who is in the situation where she didn’t realize that she was significantly under eating because she’s trying to lose weight postpartum. A lot of women, if they’re looking to lose weight, they end up calorie restricting potentially more than they should be for good healthy weight loss. That was kind of impacting her sleep levels, and her stress, and she was having all these cravings, and then she would kind of get to the point where she couldn’t deal with the cravings anymore and she’d go have half a bar of dark chocolate with honey and coconut milk smeared on it.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Or not coconut milk, coconut butter. I’m sure that was kind of getting her back up to where she needed to be for calories, but it wasn’t really helping her lose weight. Definitely don’t want to be under eating, but again overeating is not helpful either. We’re really looking to find a good calorie range that doesn’t leave someone starving and raiding the pantry for chocolate because they can’t handle it anymore. But it also allows for a moderate calorie deficit of about 300-500 calories per day would be good enough.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Generally when I’m figuring out calorie needs for a client with a weight loss goal when their breastfeeding, I’ll just try to figure out what their maintenance needs are and then have that be their calorie goal based on their weight.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: If you think about needing an extra 300-500 calories a day for breastfeeding, that extra calorie need can be the deficit. Then so you can eat what you’re general maintenance needs would be to maintain your weight at your current height and activity level. Or I shouldn’t say current height, current weight and activity level.

Kelsey: Yeah. They’re going to do a lot of growing.

Laura: Yes, definitely. Or shrinking.

That might be a lot more than you expect. I’m trying to remember we ended up coming up with for my client that I just spoke with. I feel like her maintenance calorie needs were something like 2,200 a day. Depending on how you’re eating, if you’re eating a pretty Paleo or whole foods diet, 2,200 calories is a decent amount.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: That’s actually a significant amount of food from a volume perspective. You may actually need to make sure that you’re not under eating if you are on a Paleo diet. But like I said, if you’re kind of having any sort of binge eating situations because you’re so hungry because you’ve been under eating, you may end up kind of eating more than that and then getting rid of the deficit.

That calorie goal is going to be different depending on your height, your weight, your age, your activity level, the amount of body fat you have compared to your muscle mass will affect that as well. But just try to figure out what you’re maintenance calories goal would be based on all that. There’s a lot of calculators online that can help you figure that out. Then do a couple of days worth of tracking to figure out if that’s what you are eating, which when you’re postpartum I know can be huge added stress. So I don’t want people to be like tracking all the time, but I think it’s good to just check in and see what you’re doing and see okay, am I getting this much? Or am I getting way over? Am I going way under? Then just make the adjustments necessary to get you closer to that typical maintenance goal.

If you’re not losing weight on that, you can play around with dropping a little bit more if you start to drop the calories. And anything like major hunger… and when we say hunger, I don’t mean like you’re never hungry and you never have any sort of grumbling stomach or anything like that. It’s okay to have that once and a while, but you don’t want to be having so much hunger that you’re like dizzy, or you can’t even think straight, or you feel like this huge urge to binge on sugar.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Or just nuts, or something that’s super high calorie.

And also I want people to pay attention to how their sleeping. Obviously your sleep is already kind of getting impacted by having a new baby and so the sleep that you’re able to get and if you’re actually trying to fall asleep, if you’re struggling with that at all, or if you’re waking up just because your body kind of woke yourself up, or you woke up hungry, or anything like that, then you know that your calories are too low.

Don’t go so low that it affects your sleep, and don’t go so low that you’re feeling massive sugar cravings or wanting to binge out, or just like can’t function became you’re so hungry. But a little bit of hunger is okay when you’re in a calorie deficit.

Kelsey: Right, that’s to be expected.

Laura: Right, that’s kind of the basic calories guidelines. Do you have anything to add to that, Kelsey?

Kelsey: I don’t think so. That was great. The next thing I would get to from here is sort of how she is breaking down her macronutrients.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Kelsey: Once you’ve figured out how many calories you should eat to lose weight while breastfeeding, so your maintenance level like Laura just mentioned for if you weren’t actually breastfeeding, that’s what you want to eat.

From there, you should probably figure out what you’re macronutrient ratios should be like. This person mentions that she’s got a higher appetite for carbs, which is really normal during breastfeeding. You kind of do tend to need a little more carbohydrate in most cases. If you are now eating the right amount of calories, you want to play around with increasing the percentage of calories coming from carbs versus protein and fat.

Typically what can happen if you’re not paying attention, is that when you start to increase carbs, you don’t then decrease fat as well. That is a recipe for over eating because you’re simply adding food onto your plate, you’re not taking anything away. If you have noticed that about yourself that your diet didn’t change all that much other than having this higher appetite for carbs and you just added carbs to your diet, it may mean that you are eating over your caloric needs right now for weigh loss. Given that, of course go back to what Laura just said, figure out the calorie level that you need to eat. But then from there, if you are feeling that higher appetite for carbs, increase the ratio of the carbs that you’re getting as opposed to fat and protein.

Protein is going to be pretty standard. I would recommend aiming for at least about 20% of calories from protein. But you can also just see where you tend to fall if you’re doing the tracking. Like Laura just mentioned, this is the amount of calories I should eat, I’m going to track for a couple days to see where my macronutrient ratios are falling. You will likely find that you’re probably falling somewhere between 15 and I’d say 25% of calories from protein, which is pretty normal.

But 20% is a good goal to aim for because it’s going to help you just feel more satiated especially when you’re eating at a deficit. 20% is a good place to start. You can probably go a little bit more higher than that if you feel like you need to or if that would help you. Especially when you’re going on the lower fat side of things, I do tend to find that having a higher protein level works really well combined with a higher carb intake too. About 20% of calories from protein, you can go a little bit higher, but I’d say at least 20%.

Then carb intake can vary. That can be anywhere from 20% to 50% of calories from carbs usually. Again, you can go outside of those ranges. But especially if you have a higher appetite for carbs, you’re going to be more on that higher side of things I would say just in terms of what’s going to work out well for you. That range really depends on the level of insulin resistance that you have. If you have a history of insulin resistance, or you just can kind of tell that you do a little better with a lower carb level, then of course you’re going to go more toward that 20-30% range. For this person, it sounds like they’re tolerating carbs well, they obviously have the appetite for carbs, so they are probably going to be more on that 40-50% range from carbs.

Someone who tolerates carbs well, a lot of people don’t know what that means exactly. The way I like to describe that is first of all, there’ not a lot of GI distress that happens. If there is GI distress, that can be something that happens as you add them back in, but it should dissipate. That’s okay, if it only lasts for a couple days and then afterwards you’re fine, perfect. If it lasts longer than that, you do want to check out some gut issues and just make sure there’s no microbial imbalances going on that are causing you to not be able to tolerate carbs from a GI perspective.

But other than that, you will mostly find that if you tolerate carbs well, you get better energy, you get better performance during your workouts, and you just overall feel a little bit better when you are getting a significant amount of carbs. That can mean sleep looks really good for you, it can mean anxiety levels decrease. I find a lot of people tend to not get that like dizzy or headachy kind of feeling when they start to eat enough carbs too. Any other symptoms that you can think of, Laura?

Laura: I’m trying to think. I mean I feel like the sleep piece ends up being the bigger one for most people. A lot of my clients are doing high intensity activity, so drop in athletic performance or just strength in general tends to be pretty common.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: I’m just trying to think if there’s anything else. These are preliminary issues. We’re not talking about long term carb deficit, like calorie deficit issues. But maybe just more mood swings.

Kelsey: Mm hmm. Good one, yep. That like hangry feeling I think is pretty common when you’re not eating enough.

Laura: Yeah. Either that, or maybe just reacting more strongly, which feel like postpartum because you’re under so much stress and probably hormones are somewhat wacky, you’re potentially going to be having mood issues anyway.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: But that doesn’t mean that some of that might not be contributed by inadequate dietary intake of certain things.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: If you’re feeling extra unhinged, maybe look at your diet and make sure that you’re not malnourished or not eating enough of certain things.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Which carbs can be one of those.

Kelsey: Definitely. What I recommend is first figuring your calorie needs. Then start tracking for a couple days without paying attention to your macronutrient ratios, but try to eat within that calorie level that you’ve just found for yourself and see where your ratios lie. Start there. If you feel like maybe at that level you probably could eat a little bit more carbs, but you’ve been not doing it because you’re trying to lose weight and you just don’t want to add anything without changing it up overall because obviously it’s not working at the level that you’re eating, then I would say you probably want to increase the amount of calories coming from carbs, and decrease the amount of calories coming from fat so that you’re ratios are a little bit different from what you started off with.

Ratios are something to be experimented with. Don’t feel like you have to eat 20% of calories from protein, and 50% of calories from carbs, and the rest from fat, and that’s like it, that’s what you’re supposed to do. You do usually need to experiment with it a little bit to see what works best for you. You can do that overtime. It doesn’t have to be perfect right off the bat. You will find that your body will give you clues as to what is going to work best for you. We just went through a bunch of symptoms that could indicate that you’re either not eating enough or not eating enough carbs. And that’s a hint to increase your carbs, or increase your carbs and your calories and see what happens.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Kelsey: Remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect from the start, just start somewhere and then tweak it from there and see how you feel. You will eventually find a level that really works for you. Then things change, you’re going to stop breastfeeding at some point and then you can revaluate it at that point. These things are not stagnant and like I said, they don’t have to be perfect right off the bat because they’re always going to change. But you can usually find what’s going to work for you for at least the next few months and get that nailed down and feel like you’re very confident in what you should be eating.

Laura: Yeah, and I feel like that is obviously a kind of intense process, but the good news is for a lot of people that can be enough to see the changes that you’re looking for. Especially if you’re on a whole foods diet and kind of already eating pretty nutrient foods and all that, just tweaking calorie intake and macro ratios to get kind of an optimal amount for you to see progress is usually pretty effective.

Now there’s a couple of other things that people can focus on if they feel like they’ve already done that, and it’s not helping, and they’re not seeing the progress that they want to see. One thing I hear a lot of new moms complaining about or telling me that they’re struggling with is that they forget to drink water throughout the day because they’re really distracted and busy, and just not focusing on their own needs, and maybe not even paying attention to their thirst. So making sure that you’re getting water throughout the day. Not that drinking water is going to automatically make you lose weight, but if you’re dehydrated, that can affect your appetite, and it can cause you to not feel so good, and maybe not sleep well.

Usually you want to be getting at least, I mean around 8 cups a day is kind of the expectation. It’s not set in stone, but if you were aiming for 8 cups, that would be 64 ounces total. Which for a lot of my clients, they like to do a 32 ounce bottle and then try to drink 2 of those throughout the day.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: You can just try to do that. Or if you feel like you need to have water available in multiple areas of the house, then maybe having some water bottles in the nursery, and then having a water bottle in your diaper bag, and having water in the fridge, and just trying to keep water in various areas of the house or places that you might be going just to have it on hand so that way you’re reminded to drink and also that the water is available when you need it. Either of those options.

I mean I know people aren’t super thrilled about water bottles, and plastic, and all that. But if that’s the only option that you have, you have to kind of do what you have to do. Otherwise if you just have paper cups by the bathroom sink or something, I mean simple like that even if you’re just getting water out of the tap.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Get the water in as much as possible.

Kelsey: Yeah, I’m terrible with that. I swear if I didn’t have a water bottle with me at all times, I would drink like nothing. It’s like about having that, at least for me and I think for a lot of people, it’s about having that thing like right in front of you that’s like a reminder to drink water.

If you’re worried about the plastic though, a good option can be a quart jar, Mason jar. You can even buy caps that have the hole in it to put a straw in. That’s a really good way to get it at least at the house to not worry about plastic. Then of course you’re probably going to have to bring a plastic bottle elsewhere if you want to have water on you. But at least at home, you can have it in glass and it’s really pretty easy.

Laura: They do make portable glass bottles.

Kelsey: Yeah, they’re heavy though.

Laura: Yeah, I mean honestly, I think people just need to do what they can.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: And if that involves water bottles that are in plastic, you’re not going to save the world by never touching a plastic water bottle. Just do what you need to do to get the water in.

Then we were mentioning before about nutrient density. A lot of our listeners are Paleo diet promoters or whatever you want to call them. You’re potentially getting more micronutrients than someone who’s eating like mac and cheese or something. But that doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed to be getting the nutrients that you need. A lot of my clients all make sure that they’re on a multi vitamin while their breastfeeding because it just helps to make sure that they’re getting kind of the basics of nutrition. Especially because when you’re breast feeding, you might be not getting in the variety that you’d normally be getting because you’re busy or you’re stressed. Cooking in general can be tough when you’re dealing with a new baby. Maybe you’re just not feeling like eating certain foods. I mean I know it’s not going to be the same as being pregnant, but when you’re breastfeeding, you may just want comfort food because it’s a lot new stuff that you’re dealing with so you might not be eating the most nutrient dense foods.

Obviously we always talk about liver as being something that is nutrient dense, but not everyone is going to want to have liver while they’re breastfeeding. So if you can’t have something like that, then maybe doing some desiccated liver supplements. Also a lot of the RDs that we work with that are postpartum or just had babies, a lot of them will do bone broth which is great if you can do bone broth. I would think it could potentially be a little time consuming for someone who is having a new baby. If you can’t do bone broth, then doing collagen powder in some of your food, or hot beverages, or something just to get a little extra in your diet because sometimes with weight loss postpartum, it’s often not just about body fat. It can also be from just the structural changes that you experience when you’re pregnant. Getting a little extra collagen in your diet could potentially help you recover that elasticity in your skin and your tissues so that way your midsection can kind of move more towards your normal structure. It may not the same as it was before pregnancy, probably won’t be, but you can at least see more improvement if you’re doing some extra collagen.

Kelsey: Yeah, definitely. Another thing to think about here is the type of activity that this woman is doing. She does mention doing some weights for 30 minutes 2 to 3 times a week, and I’m just wondering what kind of weights. Is it light weight, high reps? Or is it heavy weight lifting? A little bit unclear, but I do think in terms of probably the best bang for your buck time wise, doing some heavy lifting if possible would be great thing even if it’s for the same amount of time.

The other thing that she could consider is doing high intensity interval training which is going to get her some cardio, it’s going to get her some strength building in a very short amount of time. You can do stuff like that at home in 10 or 20 minutes. You can even break it up throughout the day if you need to do smaller chunks than that. I think that for a lot of my clients that stay at home with kids and have very young kids that they kind of need to always need to be keeping an eye on, that works really, really wonderfully because they can break it up into whatever small pieces that they can do throughout the day, but they’re still really getting a pretty good workout overall.

Laura: Yeah, I mean the frequency and intensity of the workouts can definitely affect weight loss speed. She might be doing enough now already and maybe just the calorie and macro adjustments will fit the current activity levels really well and then she’ll see some weight loss. But if you’re still kind of hitting a wall, then increasing intensity can be helpful.

Finally just the whole sleep and stress management piece, which again is always important for anyone trying to lose weight. That’s something where postpartum you tend to kind of lose a lot of your self-care practices, and lose sleep, and your stress levels up a lot of the time. Just keep that in mind that you’re probably not going to be getting the typical recommended 8 hours a night necessarily. If you can, that’s great. But understand that there’s probably going to be times when you’re missing sleep, or you’re not sleeping as well as you’d like to.

But prioritizing sleep, taking naps, improving your sleep hygiene so that way when you are sleeping, you’re sleep quality is improved. Part of that is light and dark exposure, getting light during the day and keeping dark at night, keeping lights low and using orange glasses after dark, having a cool room, and just doing everything you need to do to maximize the quality of the sleep that you do get. Then if you can get 8 hours a night, that’s great.

Kelsey: Right, unlikely.

Laura: Right, just realizing that you can make the quality improved even if the quantity is somewhat stuck. Then with stress, I feel like you’re always going to be under stress in this novel situation, especially if it’s your first child. But just do what you can to keep stress low and increase you’re stress management practices. Even if that’s 10 minutes a day of mediation adding in, that can definitely help keep your stress levels low even while you’re in this stressful situation.

Some of the signs that stress is a problem is if you’re having these increased sugar cravings even if you’re eating enough carbs and calories. If you, again, are having sleep issues or having mood dysregulation, just pay attention to stress. Especially because stress raises cortisol which can promote belly fat storage and make it hard to lose weight if you have too high of cortisol. Just keep that in mind. That’s kind of like cherry on top to some of the diet and exercise stuff, but it can make a big difference if you’re not dealing with appropriately.

Kelsey: Yeah, and like you mentioned, I think that’s just one of the things that tends to fall to the wayside when you have a newborn, which is completely understandable. But if you are trying to lose weight and you feel like you really got everything else going very well, or even if you don’t, paying attention to stress and sleep, and those kind of things really can make a huge, huge difference. For a lot of people it tends to be like that last missing piece that really allows them to lose weight finally.

If you feel like you’re not paying enough attention to your self-care, this is a good time to really make sure that those practices are in place. They don’t have to take a long time, it doesn’t need to feel like it’s your only focus. But having those kinds of habits in your life especially during times of stress like this is going to serve you well for the rest of your life and you’re going to feel a lot better because you feel like your stress is managed much better.

Laura: Then the whole experience will just be more enjoyable than it would be if your stress is not under control.

Anyway, I think that covers the basic recommendations, so hopefully that’s helpful. Like we said, kind of focus on calories and macros first with the diet. Then if that plus the activity levels that you’re doing aren’t working, then there may be some extra things like sleep, and stress, and water intake, and micronutrients that can be effective.

But if you’re still struggling, I think working with someone one on one can defiantly be helpful to see where you’re missing in anything in your current routine. But otherwise, I really feel like getting your calories to an appropriate amount is kind of the first step of weight loss in postpartum.

Kelsey: Definitely.

Laura: Anyway, that’s it for today. Thanks for joining us, everybody. If you have a question you want to submit, feel free to go to TheAncestralRDs.com and click the contact tab and submit your question for the show that way. Otherwise, we’re happy to have you here and we’ll see you here next week.

Kelsey: Alright. Take care, Laura.

Laura: You too, Kelsey.

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I'm a women's health expert and a registered dietitian (RD) with a passion for helping goal-oriented people fuel their purpose.

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