How To Lose Weight After A C Section [17 Easy Ways To Do It]

Today you are going to learn 17 easy ways to help you lose weight after a c-section.

Specifically, you’ll learn:

  • How to incorporate healthier foods into your diet,
  • How to begin exercising safely, and
  • How to keep up with your milk production!

Because the truth is, losing weight after a c-section doesn’t have to be difficult. 

You just need to know how to do it.

Let’s get started.

how-to-lose-weight-after-a-c-section

Disclaimer

***READ FIRST***

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. All kinds of exercise and dietary changes are potentially dangerous, and those who do not seek counsel from the appropriate health care authority assume the liability of any injury which may occur. 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.

How to lose weight after a c section – 17 Easy Tips

Okay, let’s get to the strategies on how to lose weight after a c section.

One systematic review and meta-analysis found that women who monitored their diet and exercised regularly were able to lose more weight than women who didn’t after a delivery.

This isn’t surprising.

The key is to find strategies that you can stick to.

So here are my top 17 tips you can use to achieve your weight loss goals!

Let’s get started.

It is important to be patient 

The very first tip for weight loss after a c section is to be patient. Weight loss isn’t a fast process.

Oftentimes it can take months to achieve your long term goal.

Anything that is worth having, takes time. You didn’t gain all your pregnancy weight in one week!

Beautiful things take time. Be patient and stick it out.

Here is a detailed article on what you should expect for your postpartum weight loss timeline week by week.

Breastfeed regularly

One of the best post-delivery weight loss tips is to breastfeed. Aside from giving your baby all the nutrition it needs, breastfeeding uses up a lot of energy. 

breast-feed-to-lose-weight-postpartum

Think about it. Your body has to create nutritious breast milk from scratch every single day. To do this, your body burns energy in the form of calories. 

So if all other things are equal, breastfeeding will help you burn calories, and lose fat.

By the way, here are 7 easy things you could do to lose weight while breastfeeding.

Eat more of this filling micronutrient

The best way to lose weight postpartum is to include more whole foods into your diet that are:

  • low in calories,
  • nutritious, and
  • filling

Well, one of the most filling nutrients you can consume is fiber. Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate that helps regulate your digestion.  That way, you can be satiated, and decrease the likelihood of post c-section constipation.

Fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains are the best sources of fiber you could find. Just pick 2-3 of your favorite fruits and vegetables and eat them every day. 

protein-powder-with-fruit-and-vegetables

These are the best foods to help you lose weight postpartum.

*Be careful with fruit juices, as these can often have the fiber stripped out!*

Focus on the most important MACROnutrient

Another important nutrient that you should eat postpartum is protein.

Protein is one of the three major macronutrients and the one that helps your body build and maintain lean muscle.

As you are losing body weight, you want your body to lose fat and not muscle. Protein will help your body preferentially burn fat.  

Also, protein is one of the most satiating nutrients. This means that foods high in protein will help keep you full longer than foods high in carbohydrates or fat.

The best protein-rich foods are:

  • lean meat (like chicken breast),
  • salmon,
  • turkey,
  • greek yogurt,
  • edamame, and
  • tempeh

Minimize liquid calories

Cutting back on juice and soda is the best thing you can do for weight loss.

These drinks are full of a lot of calories with very little nutrition.

Instead, you need to drink MORE WATER!

Water is the most important “nutrient” in the world.

It can help keep you hydrated, energized, and satiated. Water has also been shown to have a thermogenic effect- meaning that it helps you burn more calories (although this effect is small).

Do your best to drink at least 3 tall glasses of water every single day.

A simple way to tell if you are drinking enough water is to look at the color of your urine. It should always be a pale yellow color.

If its dark, drink more!

hydration-level-in-pregnancy

Include fats strategically 

You might have heard that a low fat diet can help you lose weight. But what if I told you that you could also lose weight consuming moderate amounts of fat? 

It’s true.

The difference comes from the type of fats you include in your diet. You see, fat is necessary to help you absorb certain vitamins, to produce certain hormones, and to help create insulation for your body. 

If eaten in moderation, fats can also help curb your appetite.

healthy-fat-to-lose-weight

The best fats to include in your diet are

  • avocado,
  • seeds,
  • nuts, and
  • whole eggs.

Chew slowly

Did you know that there is a delay from when you begin eating to the time your stomach realizes it’s getting food? The faster you eat, the more calories you will be able to consume in one sitting.

Have you ever seen those hot dog eating contests? Do you think they would be able to eat that much if they took their time and chewed each hot dog?

The slower you eat, the more likely you will get full, and the fewer calories you will consume.  

Take 20 minutes to eat each meal.

Eat to 80% satiety

This tip is simple. Many of us eat until we are full. If you really think about it, this is unnecessary. 

Your body generally does a good job of letting you know when to eat and when to stop. There is no need to go past the point where you are adequately satisfied. 

Aim for 80% satiety. You will satisfy your hunger and you’ll decrease your caloric intake.

Use smaller plates

Another similar strategy is to just use smaller plates. We have a tendency to always finish all the food on our plate, even if we aren’t hungry. 

You can bypass this problem by using smaller plates to decrease your portion sizes.

Eat a sufficient number of calories

This tip is counter-intuitive. Although its important for your to eat fewer calories than you’re used to – its important that you don’t overdo this.  

calorie-counting-postpartum

A bigger calorie cut is not better! 

Eating minimal amounts of calories to achieve rapid weight loss will damage your metabolism and increase your hunger signals significantly. 

This is what increases your risk of experiencing cravings and binging.

Plus, big calorie cuts can affect your milk supply!

So, make sure that you are eating enough calories to give your body the building blocks it needs to function optimally. You do not have to be hungry!

You don’t have to follow a diet

You might be tempted to go on a popular diet such as the keto diet, vegan, or intermittent fasting. The good news is, these diets/eating styles aren’t necessary.

Instead, you can combine parts of each one to create your own personalized diet, with your own rules.

Following a popular diet could often lead you to feel restricted.

That’s the opposite of what I want for you :).

This is why I have created The Postpartum Trainer’s Nutrition Guide. To teach you how to create a healthy diet for you and your lifestyle!

P.S. It is okay to eat junk food once in a while!

Keep your hormones regulated with this 1 tip

Sleep is one of the best ways to improve your health and decrease your risk of weight gain and fat retention.

Studies have shown that sleep deprivation is associated with elevated cortisol levels, insulin resistance, and increased caloric consumption.

I know that it’s easier said than done with a baby. All new moms experience a lack of sleep.

But do your best. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need to.

Do more of this simple exercise

If you could only do one exercise, it would be walking. It is the most natural form of movement, and the one we use to rely on before automobiles. It is the easiest way to burn calories consistently, on a daily basis.

It’s easy, free, and doesn’t need any equipment.

Try and go on a 10-20 minute walk every single day. 

postpartum-walking

Fidget more

Fidgeting is an underutilized way to stay active throughout the day to burn more calories. This has been proven in studies and has been coined NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis.

It’s a fancy way of measuring the number of calories you burn just moving around.

Fidgeting can contribute up to 10% of all the calories you burn in a day.

Get strong

If you can exercise, then I suggest you pursue strength training.

This is a form of exercise where you are specifically trying to get stronger at certain functional exercises.

Why?

Because muscles burn more calories than fat. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism, and the more calories you’ll burn throughout the day and while exercising.

postpartum-weightlifting

Write down your favorite meals

Many people who have successful weight loss after a c section usually have a handful of meals that they rely on.

Meals that are planned out and include fiber, protein, and healthy fats. You could even meal prep several servings of these meals to eliminate getting take out.

I suggest you find ~5 foods that you can cycle through and batch cook them one day a week.

See this as a lifestyle.

The last tip I have for you is to see these changes as a lifestyle and not a diet. Just like the tip of being patient, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

How much weight do you lose after A C section?

The average weight loss after a cesarean section is approximately 10 – 15 lbs.

A full-term baby weighs about 7 and a half pounds on average, while the placenta and amniotic fluid can weigh an additional 5-8 lbs.

However, you won’t lose the rest of your pregnancy weight right away. It will take some time for your body to reabsorb all the extra fluid it accumulated throughout your pregnancy.

How long does it take to lose weight after a c section?

If you gained 25-35 lbs throughout your pregnancy, it could take anywhere from 3-6 months to lose your baby weight.

If you gained more than 25-35 lbs, (or had a high pre-pregnancy BMI) it will take longer, and might be more challenging.

In general, you can expect to lose about 3-4 lbs per month as your body returns back to its pre pregnancy weight.

Is losing weight after a c section harder Versus A Natural Birth?

Losing weight after a c-section delivery might be a bit harder than if you had a vaginal delivery.

The reason is that it will take longer to heal and recover from surgery than from an uncomplicated vaginal birth.

A c section is a MAJOR surgery.

Recovery might take 6-12 weeks.

During this time, you probably won’t be as active and you may find yourself spending more time resting up and healing.

After this time, you should be able to catch up by using the tips stated in this article.

What should I eat to lose weight after A C section?

It’s not so much what you eat, but rather how much you eat. One of the biggest determinants of your body fat levels is your caloric intake.

With that said, there are foods you can eat to help you lose weight after a c section.

In general, you should try and eat MORE foods that are 

  • low in calories,
  • very high in nutrition, and
  • are filling
food-to-lose-weight-after-c-section

When should I start to exercise after A C section?

After a c section, you can begin exercising ~ 6-12 weeks postpartum, provided you

  • didn’t have any significant postpartum complications,
  • have healed appropriately from your surgery, and
  • your doctor has cleared you to exercise.

However, you could begin different types of physical activity within 1 day of having a c section.

You can do gentle exercises like pelvic floor work on day 1 after your cesarean delivery, and you can begin walking shortly after.

Both of these types of exercise are extremely beneficial and important for all postpartum women.

How Can I Reduce My tummy after a c section?

The truth is, there are no special abdominal exercises that will help you reduce your tummy after a c section. 

Unfortunately, you can’t spot-reduce fat from your belly, or from any part of your body for that matter.

If you want to learn more, I have an entire post on how to get rid of a hanging belly after a c section.

The good news is, you no longer have to do hundreds of sit-ups in an effort to reduce your tummy.

So what should you do instead?

The best way to lose belly fat postpartum is to decrease your body fat levels. 

Why Do I Still Look Pregnant After My C Section Delivery?

You might be wondering if its normal to have a big tummy after a c-section.

It is!

You may feel that you still look pregnant after a c section or a vaginal delivery. The reason is that your uterus is still really big. 

It grew from the size of a deck of playing cards, to the size of a watermelon!

It doesn’t just shrink back to a pre-pregnancy size right away. It can take approximately 4-6 weeks to return back to normal size.

Another important thing you should keep in mind is that you might have Diastasis Recti after a c section. 

mommy-pooch-diastasis-recti

Diastasis Recti causes stretching of your abdominal muscles and a bulging of your inner organs – leading to what appears as a postpartum belly pooch. Check out my article: how to tell if you have diastasis recti to learn more.

Other Related Questions

Does a C section make you fat?

A common misconception is that c sections make you fat or lead to excess weight gain.

This is not true. A c section by itself does not make you fat. Studies have not found any evidence between cesarean sections and postpartum weight retention.

With that said, being post-op from a cesarean can increase your risk of gaining and storing fat.

This is partly because many women are less active after surgery and tend to consume extra calories to recover from the surgery.

What should I avoid after C section? (Do’s and Dont’s)

If you are within 6 weeks of your cesarean delivery, you should avoid any exercise that places direct pressure on your abdomen.

This includes crunches, planks, and any heavy lifting greater than 20 lbs. You want to make sure that your internal scar tissue heals appropriately to decrease the chance of developing a hernia.

It’s also a good idea to avoid any high impact activities such as jumping, twisting, and sprinting.

Otherwise, walking, training your pelvic floor muscles, and deep breathing exercises are usually okay in the early postpartum.

Does the C section pooch go away?

Many women are afraid that their c section pooch won’t go away. Sadly, this can be the case if you don’t make any effort to lose excess baby fat.

Some women note that they still have a lot of belly fat even 2 or more years following their surgery.

The very first thing you need to focus on is determining if you have Diastasis Recti. This is a condition that occurs when your abdominal muscles are stretched out and separated in the midline. 

If you have this condition, then it is important that you perform corrective exercises to fix your Diastasis while using the strategies in this post to lose weight. 

Is it OK to wear a belly band after A C section?

It is okay to wear a belly band after a c section for the first week or so. It is definitely not necessary, but it may help you feel more comfortable walking around. This is a great belly band from Amazon.

With that said, it’s important that you don’t rely on the abdominal belt long term. That’s because you need to re-learn how to use your core muscles again. Especially while you are walking.

A belly band WILL NOT help you lose any excess weight or belly fat.

To learn more about belly bands, check out Waist Training After Pregnancy- Do You Need To Do It.

When To Consider A Tummy Tuck

I just want to say a few words about surgery.

If it has been over 1-2 years AND your c section pouch is causing you a lot of emotional distress, then you can consider getting a tummy tuck.

Always speak with your doctor first to see if this is a good option for you and do your research before making any decisions.

Final Words on Weight Loss After A C Section

Losing weight after a c section isn’t easy. It’s a long-term process that requires patience, and a plan.

This article provided you with 17 science-based tips you can implement in your day-to-day life!

Now I want to hear from you.

Which of these tips are you most excited to try?

Comment below and let me know.

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Related Posts On Weight Loss After Delivery

References:

  1. Gunderson EP. Childbearing and obesity in women: weight before, during, and after pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2009;36(2):317-ix. doi:10.1016/j.ogc.2009.04.001
  2. Demling RH, DeSanti L. Effect of a hypocaloric diet, increased protein intake and resistance training on lean mass gains and fat mass loss in overweight police officers. Ann Nutr Metab. 2000;44(1):21-29. doi:10.1159/000012817
  3. Andrade AM, Greene GW, Melanson KJ. Eating slowly led to decreases in energy intake within meals in healthy women. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008;108(7):1186-1191. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2008.04.026
  4. Johannsen DL, Knuth ND, Huizenga R, Rood JC, Ravussin E, Hall KD. Metabolic slowing with massive weight loss despite preservation of fat-free mass [published correction appears in J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2016 May;101(5):2266]. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012;97(7):2489-2496. doi:10.1210/jc.2012-1444
  5. Hirotsu C, Tufik S, Andersen ML. Interactions between sleep, stress, and metabolism: From physiological to pathological conditions. Sleep Sci. 2015;8(3):143-152. doi:10.1016/j.slsci.2015.09.002
  6. Levine JA. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002;16(4):679-702. doi:10.1053/beem.2002.0227
  7. Kapinos KA, Yakusheva O, Weiss M. Cesarean deliveries and maternal weight retention. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2017;17(1):343. Published 2017 Oct 4. doi:10.1186/s12884-017-1527-x
  8. Lim S, O’Reilly S, Behrens H, Skinner T, Ellis I, Dunbar JA. Effective strategies for weight loss in post-partum women: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Rev. 2015;16(11):972-987. doi:10.1111/obr.12312

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brittany-robles

Brittany N Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Brittany 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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4 thoughts on “How To Lose Weight After A C Section [17 Easy Ways To Do It]”

  1. Hey, I was wondering if you have heard of this Weight Loss program before? https://tinyurl.com/yxvkfejd It look like a great program to help people lose weight. I just looking for some options before I made my decision. By the way, I love the content you have been posting lately.

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hey Musa, thanks for the comment and I am glad you are finding The Postpartum Trainer helpful. Research has shown that using MCT to replace conventional vegetable oils (LCTs) can result in a modest reduction in body weight. In general, I think the effect is very small. Instead, I think you should focus on strategies that are much more proven such as caloric control, and consuming nutrient dense foods that are high in protein and fiber and increasing your water consumption. Hope this helps!

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi Jay,

      Thank you so much for your comment!

      The protein sources I recommend are:
      Pasture Raised Chicken
      Wild Turkey
      Wild Caught Salmon
      Shrimp
      Greek Yogurt from Grass Fed Milk
      Grass Fed Dairy

      If you are plant based you could try the following:
      Black beans
      Edamame
      Chickpeas
      Lentils
      Quinoa

      Hope this helps!

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