Breastfeeding and Weightlifting
My Green Yummy Protein Shake
It's been almost 12 weeks since April's birth and for 9 of those weeks, I've been lifting, teaching boot camps, doing interval training and walking as much as I can. But, for anyone with kids knows, sometimes getting time for yourself, especially to exercise, can be challenging. Plus, in my world, I work a lot from home on the computer, so many times when baby is sleeping, I use that time to work.
So, overall, I get in about 3 to 4 days of a good workout per week, compared to my previous workout routine of 5 to 6 days per week. On the days I don't exercise intensely, I still get out and walk my dogs while pushing the baby stroller. At least it's something...
During this time, I've had other women ask me about breastfeeding - Am I doing it? Is it exclusive? Am I losing any milk from exercising so much? Am I eating more calories than normal? etc. So, I'm going to answer those questions here:
1. Am I breastfeeding? Is it exclusive?
Yes, I am breastfeeding, and yes, that's all my daughter gets.
2. Do I have any problems producing milk because I exercise so hard? (I lift pretty darn heavy in the gym, and I do some intense interval training about 3 to 4 days per week).
No. If anything, I have too much milk. I have to wear bra pads during the day because I often leak ( ... and let me tell ya, fogetting those pads is a bit embarrasing) and when I pump, I can produce 10 oz in 10 mins! In the middle of the day, I at least get 4 oz.
3. Am I eating more to keep my milk supply going?
No and yes.
For no, I'm not eating more than I ate while I was pregnant. When I was pregnant, I'd eat pretty much whenever I wanted, and kept it to pretty good choices (I did eat more "free" food though, I will admit that). I mostly ate more natural fat and carbohydrate foods (coconut oil, hemp butter, fruit, sprouted grain bread, corn, peas, rice, etc), while my protein was just a bit higher than usual. Now, I've cut back on both fat and carbohydrates, even though they're still in my diet (egg yolks, hemp seeds, less fruit, less starches).
Compared to before I was pregnant and nursing, I'm not eating more caloires. Sometimes my intake is about the same as pre-pregnancy, but you have to rememeber though I wasn't "dieting" in the traditional sense before I was pregnant. I just ate well all the time... I don't ever like to starve myself for any reason. My caloric intake for a healthy eating day is about 1500 to 1900 calories, depending on my activity for that day.
The only thing different now is that breastfeeding does tend to make you pretty hungry sometimes, and, I don't deny that hunger - I just don't let it make me eat sugary foods or empty calories. If I'm hungry, I eat fresh berries or vegetables (I love raw carrots), whey protein, or hemp seeds straight from the package. I keep it real and healthy. :)
4. Should a woman eat more calories to maintain her milk supply?
Yes and No.
Unless you were a really restrictive eater prior to pregnancy, yes, you should eat more. Not just for the calories, but for the nutrients you want to pass to your baby through your breast milk. Choose highly nutritious foods for both you and baby.
However, if you are a reasonable woman and know what eating well is, you don't have to necessarily eat more than what a healthy diet contains.
Plus, you probably have some body fat to lose from your pregnancy, so why not get that off by keeping calories, carbohydrates and fat reasonable?
5. Can you diet and lose body fat/weight when you're breast feeding?
Yes, but you can't be too restrictive. Like I said before, you still need to choose the most nutritious foods possible - those foods will feed your baby, remember, and give you the energy you need to exercise hard when you have the time to.
In the last few weeks, I've actually been keeping a closer reign on my diet. My goal is to lose the extra inch or so I've gained around my waist. The rest of my clothes fit pretty much the same way they did before I was pregnant, but there are a few pairs of pants where the waist is a bit snug. So, to do that, I'm sticking to a 2 to 3 hour eating schedule, but focusing mostly on vegetables, berries, proteins (eggs, pork, turkey), some sprouted grain bread, and fats (olive oil, egg yolks, coconut oil, hemp seed butter and oil). I'm just not over-eating anything and stay away from flour products (breads, pasta, that I started to eat when I was pregnant).
I did try to do an all-protein, vegetables and some fat lower calorie diet just recently, but I just couldn't stick with it. I felt like crap and didn't want to move. I also got really irritable, and my husband didn't like that too much. I was aiming for about 1100 to 1300 calories, but it wasn't worth it. If I stick to 1500 to 1900 calories each day, I'm still losing fat, but leave myself with lots of energy to exercise and care for the baby. Interestingly, my milk supply was NOT affected when I cut back on calories.
The most important part of your diet for breastfeeding while you're exercising is to eat a lot of highly nutritious foods.Focus on vegetables (spinach, kale, carrots, salads, green beans, etc), berries and fruits in season, unprocessed proteins (fish, turkey, pork, eggs), some grains (sprouted grain bread, brown rice), and plenty of healthy fat (nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocado, egg yolks, coconut oil and the fat in protein foods).
One of my recent loves is a yummy shake I make during the day which is rich in protein, healthy fat and loads of antioxidants and vitamins. Pictured above is what the finished product looks like.I have this at least once every other day for a meal and it makes me feel great.
Here's the recipe:
Green Yummy Spinach Protein Shake
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup Unsweetened Hemp Milk
1 scoop Vanilla Whey Protein Isolate
2 tsp Ground Flaxseeds
Big bunch of raw Spinach (gives it the green color)
1 Tbsp Hemp Oil
1/4 fresh-cut Pineapple
330 calories, 28 grams protein, 15 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 18 g fat, 1 gram omega-3 fat, 15 mig cholesterol, 70 mg calcium. 2 mg iron