So you just had a baby, and now you’re wondering how to get rid of baby fat?
Well, it won’t happen from doing curl-ups and other ‘ab toning’ exercises.
To lose baby fat, you need to improve your nutrition, include certain nutrients in your diet, breastfeed regularly, and engage in the right kind of exercise.
Let’s go over each one in detail.
Are you ready?
Although I am a doctor, I am not your doctor. This information is for informational purposes only and should not substitute the advice from your healthcare professional. Please read my full Disclaimer for more information. Also, this post may contain affiliate links: meaning I may receive a commission if you use them.
Ok, moving on.
Why Do I Still Look Pregnant?
It is a common misconception to think that your belly will become flat as soon as you deliver.
Sadly, this is not the case. It took your body 37-40 weeks to get to where it is. It won’t reverse back to normal right away.
Here’s why you still look pregnant after you deliver.
First of all, your uterus expands to 20x its normal size
A normal uterus is smaller than a deck of cards.
By the time you give birth, it grows to the size of a watermelon!
That’s why you still have a pooch after delivery. Your uterus won’t go back down to it’s a normal size for at least 4-6 weeks.
That’s the first reason why you still look pregnant.
Second of all, pregnancy fat is stubborn
The fat you gain in pregnancy tends to be stubborn fat.
Because of evolution.
Your amazing body had to find a way to store energy to feed your baby, if there was ever a famine.
Baby formula didn’t always exist. The survival of your baby depended on your ability to breastfeed consistently.
That’s why we tend to hang on to fat during the pregnancy and postpartum period. Your baby and the continuation of our species depends on your fat reserves.
So unless you focus on losing that baby fat, your body may be reluctant to lose any of it.
Third of All, Your Body Is Primed To Store Fat
It also doesn’t help that pregnancy is associated with high estrogen and progesterone levels. These are necessary hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle as well as the pregnancy.
But estrogen is a hormone that can cause water retention, and progesterone is associated with weight gain. These hormones are still circulating in the early postpartum period.
As a result, you may find that you gain weight more easily.
So when can you expect to start getting rid of baby fat?
When Does Baby Fat Go Away?
Baby fat doesn’t necessarily go away on its own. If you were naturally very thin before pregnancy, then you may start to lose fat within 4-6 weeks.
But for many women, this isn’t the case.
If you gained more weight than what was recommended, or you carry more weight at baseline, then we need to get to work.
If you follow the guidelines below, you can expect to start losing baby fat after 6 weeks.
But first, let’s go over a few other misconceptions.
How Do I Get Rid of Baby Fat On My Face?
Unfortunately, there is no specific way to get rid of baby fat on your face. To lose baby fat anywhere, you will need to lower your body fat percentage as a whole.
You won’t be able to control where the body fat is lost from first. But that’s okay.
Losing excess body fat, regardless of where it is, is always a good thing.
How Do I Get Rid Of Baby Fat on My Belly/Stomach?
Similarly, you won’t be able to specifically lose baby fat from your belly either. You must focus on losing body fat altogether, and not just from one specific area (pubmed study).
Every woman is different. You may or may not lose weight from your belly first- but as I said before: any excess fat loss is good.
So don’t get discouraged!
How Can I Lose Baby Fat Fast?
So there are four different things you need to do to lose baby fat fast.
If you google how to lose fat, you will find a lot of articles talking only about exercise.
Exercise is a great way to help and I’ve written an entire article to help women get fit after pregnancy, but it is not the most effective way.
Your diet is way more important than exercise!
Here’s what you need to do.
You must focus on improving the quality of your diet first
To lose baby fat, you need to eat fewer calories, and you need to eat some key nutrients.
Thankfully, when you focus on eating the right kinds of foods,
- you will eat fewer calories
- and you will give your body what it needs
What foods are these?
Nutrient-dense foods contain a high number of healthy vitamins, minerals, and are generally low in calories.
So which nutrients should you consume?
Omega 3 Fats
Omega 3 fatty acids are a critical nutrient because they are important for your immune system, for improving your metabolism, and for brain development.
This is an important nutrient for both you and baby, especially if you are breastfeeding.
Omega 3 fats are also very filling, helping to decrease the number of low-quality foods you might eat in your diet.
Omega 3s can be found in salmon and other fatty fish, walnuts, chia seeds.
Key Takeaway: Eat something high in omega 3s every single day
Protein is one of the most important nutrients you can consume postpartum. Studies have confirmed that keeping protein intake high can help you lose weight, preserve lean muscle tissue and promote feelings of fullness.
Protein can be found in animal products, such as chicken, lamb, and beef. But it can also be found in plant-based sources like tofu, legumes, seeds.
Key Takeaway: Eat something high in protein every single day
Another important nutrient you need to consume is fiber. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that your body cannot digest.
However, fiber can help improve your gut health, reduce your body fat levels, and keep you very full.
High fiber foods include fresh fruits, leafy green vegetables, and chia seeds.
Key Takeaway: Eat something high in fiber every day
Lastly, you need to hydrate. Not drinking enough water will dehydrate you, and make you feel fatigued. If you’re breastfeeding, it’s even more important to maintain good hydration levels.
Drinking plenty of fluids will help you stay full, improve your circulation, and keep you energized.
Key Takeaway: Make sure you drink at least 4 cups of water every single day
Which brings me to the next point.
Things To Avoid If You Want To Lose Baby Fat
Okay, so we talked about what foods you should eat.
Now let’s talk about what foods you shouldn’t eat.
The number one thing you need to do is…
Avoid Liquid Calories
Calories that come in liquid form are an easy way to overeat and gain weight.
Liquid calories are
- often full of sugar
- don’t fill you up, and
- don’t have any nutritional value.
It’s also easy to drink 500 calories in just 5 minutes!
Here are liquid calories that you should try to reduce:
- Coffee with Milk
You might be shocked at how many calories these drinks can have.
Of the four, alcohol is the worst. Especially because it can affect your milk supply.
More on that later.
So keep these to a minimum momma!
Keep Junk Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Everyone knows that junk food isn’t good for you.
But how do you avoid it? Especially when you’re postpartum?
As our hormones fluctuate from month to month, it’s normal to crave sugary treats.
This is evolution again.
We are programmed to crave sweets so that we can build up some fat stores.
That way, we can keep our offspring well fed, even during famines.
Nowadays, this isn’t a concern.
Don’t set yourself up for failure by keeping sugary foods that you crave, in sight.
Hide them, or keep them out of the house.
Instead, keep healthy foods visible in plain sight. Try keeping walnuts or fresh fruit like grapes and bananas on your kitchen table.
Other important nutrients To Consider
The last thing I will mention about diet is a few other nutrients you should consider.
It is common for pregnancy to make you anemic. If you had a postpartum hemorrhage, you are at even higher risk.
Anemia can make you feel fatigued and decrease your body’s ability to circulate nutrients.
The easiest way to combat anemia is to regularly consume iron.
The best sources of iron include
- Red Meat
Another important nutrient is folate. It’s ideal that you start consuming folate even before you get pregnant as it helps in the development of your baby’s neural tube.
Most prenatal vitamins already have folate in them, so if you take one, you should be covered.
Otherwise, here are some healthy food sources of folate:
- Leafy Greens like Spinach
- Citrus fruits
- Seeds like Chia and Flax
Are you noticing a pattern?
The last nutrient you should also focus on is calcium. Calcium is what helps keep your bones strong and is necessary for your heart and muscles to function.
The best sources of calcium include
- Cheese and Dairy
- Dark Leafy Greens
As you can see, legumes, leafy greens, and seeds keep coming up again and again.
By making sure that you get all your required nutrients, you will give your body the tools it needs to lose fat!
So do your best to eat these foods regularly.
Ok, now let’s move on to the other two ways to lose baby fat fast.
How BreastFeeding Can Help You Lose Belly Fat
Did you know that breastfeeding is a safe and natural way to help you lose baby fat?
Breastfeeding is a very demanding activity for your body.
You are basically creating food from scratch to feed your baby. And this requires a lot of energy.
That’s why women who breastfeed are encouraged to consume an additional 300-500 calories per day to keep up with the demand.
Given how energy demanding it is, you need to make sure that you have a good milk supply.
Here’s what you need to do
- Make sure you are nursing on demand or pumping regularly (every 3 hours)
- You are staying well hydrated, and
- You are eating foods that promote milk supply
Can you guess which foods they are?
- Leafy greens and other vegetables
- Oats which are full of fiber, and
- Protein-rich foods
That’s easy, right?
To help you stay on a 3-hour pumping schedule, you should also get a breast pump.
Okay, now for the third strategy for losing baby weight.
Get Enough Sleep
Did you know that being sleep deprived can increase your risk of weight gain?
If you don’t sleep, your body is constantly in sympathetic mode.
This basically means that it’s always revving up to produce the energy needed to keep you awake.
This is associated with high stress, high water retention, and fat gain.
Don’t get me wrong. You’ll likely be sleep-deprived after giving birth. Especially if you are nursing every 3 hours.
But you must find a way to squeeze in some sleep as well.
Sleeping will help reduce your stress levels, boost your energy, and allow your body to recover.
All things that are necessary for fat loss.
So how do you do this?
- Don’t be afraid to nap. Take a nap or two throughout the day. Nap whenever the baby is napping.
- Ask for help. Having someone to take over one or two of your tasks can help free up some time to take care of yourself.
- Do some type of exercise. Studies show that people who exercise regularly tend to sleep better at night.
Which brings us to the last point.
How should you exercise?
How To Exercise Effectively To Lose Baby Fat
As you can see, I included exercise as the fourth and final way to lose baby fat.
That’s because exercise isn’t as important as taking care of your diet and your sleep.
With that said, exercise is great for many other things.
You should still find time to do it- even if it’s just 10-15 minutes a day.
The American College of OBGYN recommends that women can begin exercising shortly after delivery. But just to be safe, make sure your doctor clears you for exercise!
When starting out, take it slow and see what your body can handle.
I have a lot of articles on different ways you can exercise in the postpartum.
You can find them all below.
But here’s how you should start.
Walking is the best form of exercise. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
Start your postpartum period by walking as often as you can. In fact, we encourage any postpartum woman without complications to start walking on postpartum day #1.
I discuss the benefits of walking in the postpartum period in my post Getting Fit After Pregnancy.
This is the easiest way to stay active. And don’t worry, it’s difficult to overdo it with the walking.
Yoga is another simple way to get active and help you lose baby fat.
Yoga has many benefits such as stress relief, muscle development, and flexibility. Anything that gets you more active will help burn calories.
In fact, I have an entire post on Yoga in the Postpartum Period that you can check out.
Strength Training Exercises
Lastly, I recommend that you do some type of strength exercise. Strength training is a great way to keep your bones strong and your muscles supple.
Developing more muscle tissue means higher metabolism, which equals more calories burned at rest.
Here are the best three strength exercises you can do.
Squats develop and strengthen all of the big muscles in your legs.
I have written a lot about how to do it correctly. Check out my post on
- When Can I Squat Postpartum,
- Easy Leg Exercises For Pregnant Women
- How to Get Your Bum Back Postpartum
Pushups are another great strength exercise that you can do while pregnant.
It strengthens the muscles of the chest, shoulders, and arms. Here’s how it looks like, with three different modifications you could do.
The third exercise is the row. There are many ways to do this exercise, but I recommend you do it with external resistance.
The easiest way is to buy a resistance band. They are affordable, portable and versatile!
Here’s how the exercise looks.
Lastly, you have to strengthen your core.
I have an entire post on how to train your core postpartum.
But don’t forget, core exercises alone won’t help you lose belly fat.
Your nutrition is far more important!
Does postpartum belly binding work?
For fat loss, no. Using binders or wraps will not help you lose belly fat. In order to lose belly fat, you must improve your nutrition, get quality sleep, and lower your stress levels.
If you follow the advice in this article, you will be on the right track.
What About Cardio For Fat Loss?
Cardio is another way that you can exercise to get rid of baby fat.
I have written an entire post on running postpartum and how to get started.
Personally, I am not a fan of cardio as it doesn’t burn as many calories as you might think. It also doesn’t help you build or develop any muscle.
Getting rid of your baby fat isn’t easy.
But here are four strategies that can help you get started.
Don’t jump right to exercising.
Always begin by addressing your nutrition, your self-care, and then exercise.
And don’t forget, breastfeeding can go a long way.
How much baby fat do you want to lose?
Which of these strategies do you need to improve the most?
Comment below and let me know!
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Brittany N Robles, MD, MPH, CPT
Brittany N Robles is a full-time OBGYN, a NASM certified personal trainer, and health & fitness expert. She holds a Masters of Public Health degree in maternal health with a special interest in exercise and nutrition. She is also the co-author of The White Coat Trainer. Learn more about her here.
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