Dr. Lee, the Healthy Professor

Postpartum Weight Loss

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One of the most prolific “postpartum” conversational topics, besides the new baby, is weight loss. It can be one of the most frustrating experiences and some statistics indicate very low success rates.

Health survey reports have shown that up to 45% of postpartum women weighed in at 10 pounds heavier than pre pregnancy weights one year after delivery. There is also evidence that weight gained during pregnancy and retained after pregnancy correlates with the development of obesity.

The following ”consideration” for optimal postpartum weight management and optimal health are offered as a starting point that should lead to healthy lifestyle choices

  1. If breast feeding, (a highly recommended practice) be patient about weight loss. You need your nutrition and you must keep up your energy so drastic caloric restriction and excessive exercise will be counterproductive to good health for both of you.
  2. Breast feeding requires an extra 500 calories per day. So you need to eat that many more extra calories to provide adequate nutrition for you and your baby.
  3. Be sure to eat enough high quality protein. I am a big fan of protein in every meal and every snack - no exceptions. Chicken, beef, fish, eggs, cheese, milk and strategic use of soy protein isolate supplements are all implicated.
  4. Exercise is very significant and possibly the most important weight loss tool at this time. Exercise for strength improvement and that leads to better muscle tone all over. Muscle likes to burn fat. Those with more muscle burn more fat. Seems un-fair doesn’t it? Slow and steady cardiovascular exercise burns more fat and for awhile that exercise should be “weight supported” until the muscle tone returns. (Weight supported examples are bicycle, stair climber, swimming).
  5. Fat loss rates of ½ to ¾ pound per week should make you happy. That will be 2-3 pounds per month or 12 to 18 pounds in 6 months and you will be sure it is fat loss and not lean tissue nor water.
  6. Essential fatty acids (EFA’s) are very important parts of the diet. EFA’s are building blocks to a multitude of hormones and hormone controllers. You also need EFA’s to help metabolize other fats. They are also responsible for anti-inflammatory actions in the body and therefore prevent migraines, asthma, arthritis, eczema, psoriasis and joint aches and pains. You get EFA’s from nuts and seeds, cold water fish and supplements like lecithin, GLA from borage seed or evening primrose, and Flax seed oil.
  7. If you experienced some signs of Gestational Diabetes and many do, consider concentrating on low glycemic index carbohydrates in your meal plans. Avoid simple and processed carbohydrates. A Glycemic index explanation and complete food list is available on the web at www.mendosa.com. Low glycemic index foods will help to control insulin levels and aid in the prevention of type II Diabetes.
  8. Other wise supplement choices are (I contend that to maintain optimal health, responsible supplementation is not an option): B complex for energy, Acidophilus and bifidus (friendly bacteria) for a healthy colon and complete digestion, Calcium for bones, milk production and muscle cramp prevention and Soy protein supplement for optimal hormone development, milk production and muscle repair following exercise.

Remember that your are eating for two even if you are not breast feeding because the extra activity of care taking another human will place big demands on your nutrition. If you eat well, supplement responsibly, exercise regularly and rest peacefully you will be healthier and by the way, if you need to you will lose fat.

Enjoy your special journey.