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Can You Do Intermittent Fasting While Breastfeeding?

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Is It Safe | How Fasting Affects Milk Supply | Which type of Intermittent Fasting can be Considered Safe | Effect On Baby | Tips For Weight Loss While Breastfeeding

Generally, it is believed that breastfeeding helps to lose pregnancy weight without the need for diet or exercise. However, often it doesn’t work, and we continue to gain weight while breastfeeding. If you are considering intermittent fasting as a weight-loss strategy while breastfeeding, you may have to consider several factors. How safe is it to do intermittent fasting while breastfeeding?

Intermittent fasting is an excellent diet strategy and is believed to bring significant weight loss. It is all about when to eat rather than what to eat. It is not a restrictive diet, and also there is no counting on calorie intake. 

But intermittent fasting while breastfeeding, will it affect the quantity or quality of your breastmilk? The answer to these questions depends on various factors; let us understand more about intermittent fasting while breastfeeding to know if it is the right choice. 

can you do intermittent fasting while breastfeeding?

Is It Safe to Follow Intermittent Fasting While Breast-Feeding?

Following intermittent fasting during pregnancy and breastfeeding is generally not recommended. Eating nutrient-dense food that contains whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, is essential while breastfeeding. According to the CDC, breastfeeding mothers must ideally take 1800 to 2000 cal if their baby is entirely dependent on breast milk. After starting the baby’s supplement food, you would require around 300-600 calories per day to supplement milk production. 

Few studies were conducted to evaluate human milk composition during fasting. Acute and chronic repetitive fasting, both types of fasting were studied. The results indicated that there were no clinically significant changes in macronutrients in breast milk during acute fasting. However, the study does not mention any changes in macronutrient composition. 

Including large amounts of proteins, iron, and calcium in your diet can enhance milk production and provide enough nourishment to the baby. Experts advise not to follow any fasting diets while your baby is completely dependent on breast milk. Once your baby is 6 months and above and started with food supplements, you may consider following less restrictive diet strategies. 

intermittent fasting breastfeeding

How Fasting Affects Milk Supply?

The concept of fasting is not entirely a new one; during Ramadan, many breastfeeding mothers fast. According to a Turkish study, mothers of children 6 months and above reported that there was a reduced milk supply while fasting. Some mothers also have said they started giving more semi-solid foods during fasting. 

Experts suggest that a low supply of lactation might be due to a lack of macro and micronutrients to support milk production. Currently, there are no long-term studies linked with intermittent fasting and breastfeeding. 

Some experts suggest that fasting once or twice a week does not impact milk supply or child health and growth much. Mothers should increase their fluid intake before they start the fast. They can consider eating foods that promote milk supply, such as meat, chicken, garlic, oat milk, papaya, eggs, and green veggies.

In fact, most of the foods that are linked with an increase in breast milk are of low calories and are rich in vitamins, proteins, and calcium. Hence, during your fasting days, you can plan your diet with foods that enhance your milk supply. 

Before you start any diet plans talk to your doctor; do not try highly restrictive diets as your body can’t support it. 

Need help with healthy meal plans for your intermittent fasting routine? Click here

Which type of Intermittent Fasting can be considered Safe?

Generally, intermittent fasting is not recommended while breastfeeding. But, if your baby is 6 months and above and is not totally dependent on breastmilk, you may try a less restrictive type of intermittent fasting. 

You can consider 5:2 intermittent fasting; in this method, you are fasting only for 2 days and are on a normal diet for the rest of the 5 days. During your fasting days, you can have some calories; if you are a breastfeeding mother, you can consider having 300-600 calories. You can choose Monday and Friday as your fasting days in a week: do not fast on consecutive days. 

To know more about the 5:2 diet, read A Full Guide On 5:2 Intermittent Fasting.

Fasting for short periods like following an overnight fast or 12/12 fasting does not affect your milk supply. Your body can continue to supply milk even if you are taking little or no calories. Fasting for longer periods or a restricted diet may not affect your milk supply, but it may have an impact on the nutritional quality of your breast milk. Make sure to provide nutrient-rich supplemental food to your baby to avoid any deficiency.

Choose an intermittent fasting type that is very convenient for you. You will require a lot of energy to take care of your baby. Hence, fewer calories, low nutritional food may diminish your energy level and health.

Can You Do Intermittent Fasting While Breastfeeding?

Does Intermittent Fasting Have Any Effect On Baby? 

Although fasting might not affect the macronutrients of breastmilk, studies have shown there was a decrease in the concentration of lactose, potassium, and the milk’s overall nutrient content. This entirely depends on each individual; many experts recommend that new moms should work closely with their healthcare providers and seek advice before following any diet pattern. 

You can also observe few changes in your baby during lack of milk supply or breast milk production, such as the baby is lethargic, cranky, and not gaining sufficient weight. Depending on the baby weight etc, you may want to take precautions and be sure its right for you. You want to be sure you are getting enough calories in your diet to meet the nutritional needs of your child. The calorie intake, along with the right essential nutrients, will be crucial for the development of the baby, and every breastfeeding mom should seek the guidance of a healthcare provider before fasting.

Tips For Weight Loss While Breastfeeding 

Most health experts advise you to lose weight slowly and steadily. You need the right approach towards your diet and weight loss strategy while breastfeeding. 

Here are a few tips to lose some pounds while breastfeeding:

  • Eat whole food grains, lots of fresh fruits, and veggies. These foods provide nutrition with fewer calories. 
  • Eat small portions each time
  • Avoid all the junk and processed foods; 
  • Start moderate exercise for at least 30 mins initially and make it a habit to do some physical activity for at least 1 hour. 
  • Eat plenty of healthy fats along with a healthy diet (avocado, olive oils, etc..)
  • Monitor the weight of yourself and your baby weight to be safe throughout the process.
  • Keep a daily routine or schedule.
  • Consume lean proteins, and monitor your blood sugar levels if they tend to fluctuate
  • keep a moderate activity level, don’t overly strain yourself while breast feeding too often.
  • Walking is amazing for weight loss, take regular walks this will cut the pounds fast. If you find yourself sitting too long, get up! walk around your neighborhood, park far away at the grocery store, have a standing desk you work on, there are lots of amazing ideas to keep the blood flowing!

Final Words – Can You Do Intermittent Fasting While Breastfeeding?

Losing pregnancy weight post delivery might take some time, for which you need to give a gentle approach. It is possible to follow some less restrictive fasting schedules without facing any nutritional deficiency. But every individual is different and based on your health; you might need a personalized diet plan. Therefore, if you want to try intermittent fasting while breastfeeding, it is essential to discuss it with your doctor. 

Whether you follow intermittent fasting or not, making healthy food choices and following a suitable exercise routine can help you achieve your weight loss goals.  The health benefits of fasting can be amazing if done right!

It’s a good idea to monitor your caloric intake if you are a pregnant woman and decide to embark on an intermittent fasting diet, with a strict eating window. There are potential risks if not done properly. An overall healthy lifestyle for a period of time (fasting period), can be beneficial in certain ways for new mothers. Short-term fasting and a nutrient-dense diet is the safest way to start, or alternate day fasting may work better to allow for a longer feeding window. Speak to a healthcare professional, or even a lactation consultant (yep it exists!) if you need further assistance.

To know why intermittent fasting is not safe during pregnancy, read – Intermittent Fasting While Pregnant: Why It’s Not Recommended. To at least weight the pros and cons. Pregnant women must take further precautions.

Pick the type of fasting that works best for you and your schedule – Types of Fasting article here.

Also need help fasting? Check out these Top 6 Fasting Mobile Apps we recommend to help you on your journey.

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