Many new mothers wonder about combining the Atkins Diet and breastfeeding in order to lose the excess weight gained during pregnancy. Although there isn't a real consensus on whether you can safely use the Atkins diet while you're nursing your newborn, there are several facts you should know about losing weight while nursing.
Your body actually needs more nutrients than ever before when you're nursing; you are, after all, still eating for two. Your rapidly growing baby needs all the nutrients he or she can get, so restricting calories or certain foods too much can impact your baby's nutrition.
The only phase of the Atkins program that everyone agrees about is the Induction Phase. Doctors, dietitians and even the authorities at Atkins all agree that the Induction Phase of the diet is too restrictive, particularly since you should be getting plenty of dairy products while you're nursing.
You should also be aware of the calorie limitations. Most people are consuming significantly fewer calories during induction. While nursing, you should be getting at least 1500 to 1800 calories, and in some cases more. The Induction Phase of the Atkins diet may not give you enough daily calories. As a result, your body will pull from other sources, leading to fatigue, headaches and other problems for the mother. You don't want to have a lack of energy while you're caring for and breastfeeding your new baby!
Here is where disagreements arise. Some people feel that new breastfeeding mothers can safely use the ongoing weight loss phase of the Atkins diet to lose weight fairly rapidly (although 5-6 pounds a month is the maximum amount recommended). Others feel that this phase is still too restrictive, particularly because carbohydrate consumption is still minimal. Because carbs are a good source of energy, some moms really need these to combat fatigue.
If you're careful and aware of what you eat, however, the Atkins Diet and breastfeeding can be compatible. Make sure you drink lots of water so that you don't get dehydrated and take a multi-vitamin supplement every day. It's also crucial to take folic acid in some form while you're breastfeeding.
Even nutritionists and ob-gyns agree that the maintenance phase of the Atkins diet is safe and effective for new mothers. While this is considered a long term, healthy eating plan rather than a weight loss program for most people, you can use it to help you lose weight. Simply add about a half hour of exercise each day and follow the eating plan, slightly reducing your calorie intake to around 1500 per day.
The most important thing to remember is that while you're breastfeeding, you don't want to lose too much weight, too rapidly. While any nutrition deficits will affect the mother before the baby, it's never a good idea to allow your body to suffer from insufficient nutrition. Remember, you're the primary caregiver, and having enough energy to truly enjoy caring for your child is important for both of you. If you still have concerns about the Atkins diet and breastfeeding, talk to your obstetrician, gynecologist, or a licensed nutritionist for more guidance.