This post probably contains affiliate links, to items I am in love with, and I am confident you will too! For any health advice I give on nutrition and weight loss, make sure you check with your doctor, as I am not a health professional. I am just a mama with lots of health and fitness knowledge and experience.
Losing weight after baby arrives is exciting and frustrating at the same time. It is exciting to get back into shape and no longer be pregnant, but it is also really frustrating when the weight doesn’t just fall right off. If you’ve just had a baby, and summer is around the corner, there can be even more pressure to get that extra baby weight off.
I had to lose over 25 lbs after each baby, so I’ve learned what works well, and what doesn’t work. I breastfed all three of my babies, and I never let weight loss compromise my milk supply, which because of my very healthy, nutrient-dense diet, I lost weight quickly, without ever experiencing a low supply. One of my best tricks to do this is using protein shakes as a tool to help me get in the nutrients I need, along with the protein I need.
Why I Use Protein To Help With Fast Weight Loss For Nursing Mamas:
Protein is really helpful for weight loss because it keeps you full, and it actually takes additional calories to break down and metabolize. What happens when you eat your need in protein is your sugar cravings go down. Protein is an essential macro nutrient that our bodies need for cell functioning, muscle repair and maintenance, skin, hair and nails. Protein is the macro nutrient that is going to help you stay full, lose weight and keep as much muscle mass as possible. You want to preserve your muscle mass because that will keep you burning more calories at rest. I found this study interesting:
In one study of overweight and obese women, researchers evaluated dieters who consumed a high protein (30 percent), high dairy diet to a lower protein (15 percent), lower dairy diet. The high protein group lost more body fat and gained more lean muscle mass than the women who consumed the low protein diet. The low protein group lost weight, but they also lost more lean muscle mass.
I find this particularly important for breastfeeding mamas because there is such limited time for working out. I personally lost the weight super fast after my first baby, but because I wasn’t exercising, and just eating healthy, I lost all my muscle mass as well. When this happens, your resting metabolic rate decreases because your lean mass decreases. Then, you need even less calories to function, making it feel like you don’t have to each much at all. The healthier way to go, which I learned after that experience, is to keep your protein intake higher. I talk about how much protein a breastfeeding mama should eat in another post.
Calories still matter with a high-protein diet, but here’s where it really helps:
No matter what you eat, you have to keep your energy consumption lower than your energy expenditure to lose weight. There isn’t a diet that is going to get you around that factor. But, if you consume enough protein, you are going to feel more full, and help increase your energy expenditure because it takes more energy to digest protein. If you add healthy veggies and fruits to your lean meats and protein shakes, there isn’t a lot of room for fat. This makes weight loss go much faster. Now, I know you are wondering about the keto diet after I say that, so let me explain carbs and fats quick. Carbs and fats are both used for energy and stored as fat. If you take one out, and stay in a caloric deficit, you are only giving your body one fuel source. Protein can be used as fuel, but your body doesn’t prefer it to carbs or fat. When eating in a caloric deficit, your body runs out of fuel. It uses up all the carbs and proteins, and it will tap into fat no problem. If your meals have fat and carbs, your body is going to use the carbs and store the fat after that meal. So, in essence, you are adding fats back into your body, then it will need to use those later when fuel runs out. If you didn’t have fat, it will take the fat it needs from your cells. On the flip side, if you didn’t have any carbs at that meal, and just protein and fat, your body will use the fat you ate, then tap into more fat.
Basically, I am trying to simply explain to eat higher protein, healthy carbs and low fats for FAST weight loss.
The other reason I prefer protein and healthy carbs (fruits and veggies) is you are getting a lot of fiber with your protein. This is the BEST combo for satiation while breastfeeding. Hunger while breastfeeding is a big deal, and the hunger often turns into sugar cravings. Protein and fiber combined keeps you super full on less calories, while giving your body lots of nutrients. That is your basic takeaway from this in-depth explanation.
Why I Prefer Protein Shakes To Help With Weight Loss After Baby:
Protein shakes, if you choose the right kind, offer protein and a range of other nutritional benefits that will curb sugar cravings, give your body nutrients and vitamins it needs, in addition to being quick and easy.
Protein shakes are low in carbs and high, so I get to have something sweet and satisfying, while staying high in protein and low in carbs. Now that I’ve got this down, I lose the baby weight by my 6 week check up. I wrote more on how I do that as well.
Now that I’ve lost all my baby weight, I use the protein shakes for extra nutrition while running and breastfeeding. I am able to keep up my supply and run around 25 miles a week because I make sure I eat a lot of nutrients.
If you are struggling to lose the baby weight, and keep up your milk supply, I have a brand new program out, The Postpartum Cure, which focuses on a specific meal plan for breastfeeding mamas to lose weight, but keep their milk supply up. Protein is a key factor in this program, and I go over everything including a meal plan, recipes and grocery list. I also have some fabulous lactation desserts, which help you with sweet cravings! See what other mamas are saying, and it also comes in an app, which makes it super user-friendly and easy to navigate through the recipes, workouts and more. I also have an ab-rehab and pelvic core program to help you heal your mommy tummy!
First, you want to choose the right protein powder for your shake.
I personally like Vegan, plant-based protein powders because I don’t digest whey protein well. A pea protein powder has the complete amino acid profile, which means that there are no amino acids left out. Animal proteins and pea protein have the complete amino acid profiles. Other proteins like rice, soy, oat or some kind of plat do not contain the full profile. That is important to know when choosing a protein powder.
The Protein Powder To Use While Breastfeeding:
In my years of helping mamas lose weight while breastfeeding, there was a protein powder missing that was specifically designed for breastfeeding mamas to combat these sugar cravings and fully nourish mamas. I am a firm believer in nutrition for milk supply, so I created Milk Dust. Milk Dust is literally your best friend for lactation and weight loss. It has a milk-boosting herb blend, plenty of protein, sugar-craving-busting herbs like Tumeric, Cinnamon Bark Root and minerals like Chromium which have all been used to balance blood sugar. In addition to all these fabulous items. I hand-picked specific vitamins like Folate (L-Methylfolate) because folate is still important during lactation! Almost just as important as in pregnancy. I also hand-picked vitamin B12 for energy, and super foods like Chlorella, Spirulina, Spinach, Blueberries and more. The protein powder is free of soy, gluten, dairy and corn. It is NON-GMO, Vegan and plant-based!! I highly recommend you check it out if you are craving sugar. It is only sweetened with Stevia, Monk Fruit and Organic Cane Juice, which means there is very little sugar, but it is very sweet, so you still get to drink something like a milkshake!
There is no other clean, super nutrient-dense protein powders that are specifically made for postpartum healing, nourishment, lactation and weight loss. It will be out May 2019, and there are limited quantities, so I highly recommend you jump on the pre-sale list. There are thousands of mamas waiting for this to launch, and I am so excited to finally have a product that helps mamas nourish themselves while also losing weight.
I personally want to get as much nutrition in my protein powder as possible, and I wrote a post talking about the protein powders I think are best for breastfeeding moms because the extra nutrition is so important.
If you love whey-based protein powders, I suggest two that are super clean, organic and from grass-fed cows. Whey protein powders blend creamier, but they don’t always have the extra nutrients that the plant-based protein powders have.
Second, protein shakes aren’t meal replacements.
Most protein powders have only 120-150 calories per serving. Not sure about you, but that’s a small snack for me. If I blend it with avocados and bananas, like in my minty green lactation smoothie, that helps beef up the calories a bit. You can use a protein shake as a meal replacement if you get the calories up over 300, but because you are drinking and not chewing, you still may not feel as satisfied as you like. I personally use protein shakes as an in-between. It is a super healthy way to tide me over until I can get to a better meal, or a sweet treat after a run, or even a dessert. It keeps my hands from grabbing chips, goldfish, crackers or other snacks completely void of nutrients.
When you snack on foods that don’t have any nutrients, your body will keep telling you you are hungry. If you keep putting nutrients in your body, your system will start to function properly, and you can just eat good, highly nutritious foods when you are hungry.
Third, you want your protein to be in every meal, with green veggies and carbs like sweet potatoes.
If you are drinking protein shakes, then eating high fat or high carb meals, you won’t be successful. It is really important to stay focused on your protein and low carb intake. This will make sure that your protein shakes are a helpful tool, rather than just another treat.
Fourth, make sure you love your protein shakes.
This is really important. I so look forward to my shakes because they are so yummy! I never feel deprived, and my sweet cravings are managed because I blend my protein with either cocoa powder and frozen bananas (makes chocolate ice cream!!), or frozen berries and almond milk, or avocado and mint! I look forward to drinking something so yummy, and sometimes it is thick enough to eat with a spoon, which I like too because it is like dessert. I’ve got some great smoothie bowl recipes you can try, and some wonderful protein powder snack recipes that will give you some inspiration!