I’m sharing how I’ve gotten finally (almost) back at my pre-pregnancy weight through the keto diet!
Everyone always says that breastfeeding will help you lose all the baby weight so easily. I was under the impression all those extra pounds would just fall off effortlessly. Well, everyone was wrong. Breastfeeding actually makes me hold on to excess body fat. Here’s my post-pregnancy weight loss story so far!
Isaac was born in March and due to a really rough labor and delivery, I did not start exercising again until he was around four months old. I did not start dieting at that point either because I wanted to make sure I kept my milk supply up when I went back to work. If you exercise and diet all at once, you can cut your calories too much and essentially cause a dip in your milk supply. So, I started exercising again in July. Once I got my body used to moving again, I began dieting. Specifically, the keto diet.
Before I found out I was pregnant, I had a lot of success with the keto (aka ketogenic) diet. What is keto? It’s essentially a low carb, high-fat diet (it is actually sometimes called low carb, high fat or LCHF). On a normal high carb American diet, your body uses carbs to produce glucose with glucose being the primary “fuel” for your body. When glucose is being used for fuel, it causes your body to store fat instead of using it as an energy source. When you deprive your body of carbs, your body begins we produce ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver. Then, your body uses ketones as the primary fuel rather than glucose. This helps you burn fat fast rather than it be stored. Basically, your body begins to use fat as fuel rather than glucose.
Now, when I started back keto in September, I cut my calories way too much. I had to up them to around 1800 calories a day in order to keep my milk supply up. The most important thing when doing any kind of diet while breastfeeding is to make SURE you’re getting enough calories. Breastfeeding takes a ton of energy, so you have to give your body fuel.
I gained a total of 35 pounds while I was pregnant. My original goal was to lose those plus an additional 10 pounds. A ton of weight seemed to fall off when I got home after delivering Isaac. I’m guessing a lot of that was water weight. I lost about 15 pounds in the first two weeks after having Isaac. I started keto at the beginning of September with about 20 pounds to lose and since then, I have lost almost 20 pounds! I’m sure I could’ve lost more by now if I would’ve been more consistent in my diet (I’ve had a few off weeks here and there, including a vacation which always gets my off track) and in exercising. BUT, I’m still proud of my progress so far and I plan to continue until I’ve lost these last few pounds. So, how did I get started? I’m going to share with you a few steps you need to take to get started with keto, lose the baby weight, and still continue breastfeeding without a hitch.
How to Get Started
1. Calculate your macros and set your goals in My Fitness Pal
What are macros? Macronutrients (macros) are protein, carbohydrates, and fat. You’ll want to calculate your macros using a macro calculator that is keto focused. This one is my favorite! BUT, for breastfeeding, you’ll want to calculate your macros a little bit different to keep your calories up higher than someone who is not breastfeeding. To do this in the calculator I linked above, you’ll need to enter that you are “moderately active” even if you are not exercising. If you are exercising or have a super active job, I would put that you are “very active”. For very strict keto, you should keep your carb amount to 25g or less. For me, I’ve found I need to keep my carbs a bit higher to keep my milk supply steady. In the calculator, set your carbs to 50g if you’re breastfeeding. You can start with this and if it works for you, keep it there. If the scale doesn’t budge at 50g (I bet it will!), then try to lower it by 10g of carbs until you get to 25g. This way, you can watch your mill supply and make sure everything holds steady in the milk department. I also up my protein to the max amount allowed (it will tell you this figure in the calculator) since you need extra protein when breastfeeding. At the end of the calculator, I do a 0% deficit so I can keep my calories a bit higher for breastfeeding.
Now, once you get your macros calculated, you need to get My Fitness Pal and enter all of your macros in and start tracking! Go to “goals” in MFP and then click “calorie & macronutrient goals”. From here, you can enter your calorie goal as well as the percentages for each macro. Luckily, the macro calculator gives you percentages for each macro but you can also pay $10 a month to MFP and you can customize your macros down to the gram. I do this, but only because I’m a little OCD. You can easily just use the free version and enter the percentages.
My biggest tip with MFP is to turn your screen horizontally on the food diary screen and you will see your macro totals so far for the day at the bottom. Make sure you’re tracking fiber intake and from there you will subtract fiber from carbs to get “net carbs”. That is the total amount of carbs you’ve had for the day!
2. Meal Plan and Grocery Shop
There are TONS of awesome keto recipes out there, just check Pinterest (should I share a few of my favorites here on the blog?). You can also just keep it very simple and do meat and veggies. My favorite easy keto meal is grilled chicken topped with melted cheese, bacon, and avocado. I really like having that with Mexican Cauliflower Rice. You can get the frozen packs of cauliflower rice at the grocery store now which makes it super easy! You can really throw together some easy meals with keto, just keep your fats high by cooking with healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, butter, and/or avocado oil. I make sure to always cook my vegetables with lots of oil! Eating higher fat cuts of meat helps keep your fat levels up as well such as pork and beef.
My favorite way to meal plan is through Plan to Eat. You can upload all of your recipes into the tool then drag and drop onto days on the calendar. From there, it creates a shopping list for you based on the recipes you plan to make that week! Such a timesaver! You can also sync it to your Google calendar which makes it easy to see what you have up on the menu for dinner that night. I think it’s about $5/month to use Plan to Eat but it’s so super convenient that I don’t mind paying per month. You can try it for free though! There’s also an app!
Once I enter everything into Plan to Eat for the week, I make a Kroger Clicklist with all of my ingredients from my Plan to Eat shopping list and anything else I need. If you haven’t tried Kroger Clicklist or Walmart Grocery Pickup, you have to try it! It makes life so easy!
3. Drink Plenty of Water and Stay Hydrated
Keto depletes your body of lots of water weight, so you need to make sure you’re keeping your fluid intake up. Breastfeeding also depletes your body of fluids, so double whammy. I drink 120+ oz of water a day. I try to 1 oz for every pound of weight. I also drink lots of Powerade Zero which is an absolute staple for breastfeeding and keto! Make sure you stock up. I normally drink at least one Powerade Zero per day.
4. Track Your Meals
That’s really all you need to do to get started with keto! Make sure you’re tracking your meals every day in MFP. It’s very important that you meet your goals for the day and keep your calories up! If you’re falling behind on calories, make sure you get an extra snack in. I like to snack on cheese, avocado, and or salami/pepperoni if I need to get in a few extra calories/grams of fat for the day.
I hope you try this diet and love it! It’s really the most sustainable diet I’ve tried (and I’ve tried a lot). Be sure to let me know if you have questions in the comments or on social media and I’ll try my best to help!
Now that the new year is upon us, I plan to stick with keto and work out at least 3-4 times per week. My goal is to lose another 15 pounds within the next few months. Wish me luck!