Breastfeeding boosts your baby's immune system.
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Your body expends about 400 to 500 calories daily breastfeeding your baby, reports MayoClinic.com. Although you can safely lose weight while nursing, you still require enough calories to keep your milk supply high. Losing about 1 pound per week is safe but effective when you're breastfeeding, according to La Leche League International.
Nursing women's calorie needs for weight loss are highly individualized. Many women require 1,500 to 1,800 calories daily to lose weight safely while breastfeeding, according to Le Leche League. However, if you're losing more than 1 pound per week and your milk supply decreases, slightly boost your intake.
Another way for nursing moms to lose about 1 pound per week is by reducing their food intake by 500 calories a day, or by burning an additional 500 calories daily by increasing physical activity. A breastfeeding mother who weighs 155 to 185 pounds will burn 670 to 800 calories in an hour using an elliptical machine, and 520 to 622 calories per hour biking at a moderate pace for one hour, according to Harvard Health Publications.
Meeting your carbohydrate, protein and fat needs helps keep your milk supply high while losing weight. The Institute of Medicine suggests nursing moms eat at least 210 grams of carbohydrates, consume 71 grams of protein and obtain 20 to 35 percent of their calories from fats each day. Since fat provides 9 calories per gram, a nursing woman eating 1,600 calories a day should aim for 36 to 62 grams of fat daily. Choose nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, plant-based oils, nuts, seeds, lean meats, skinless poultry, egg whites and low-fat dairy products.
1,600-Calorie Meal Plan
Using a meal plan can help you plan healthy weight-loss menus. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Daily Food Plans for Moms creates individualized meal plans based on your height, weight, activity level and weight management goals. A sample 1,600-calorie meal plan provided by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 includes 2 cups of vegetables, 1.5 cups of fruits, 5 ounces of grains, 5 ounces of protein foods, such as lean meats, eggs, poultry, nuts, seeds and soy products, 3 cups of dairy foods, 5 teaspoons of oils and 120 additional discretionary calories each day.