Are you looking for an easy postpartum diet plan you can follow that isn’t overly restrictive?
Do you want to eat healthily but don’t know where to start?
You are in the right place!
In this post you are going to learn:
- The best postpartum diet for new moms,
- What foods you should avoid, and
- The fastest way to lose weight after pregnancy.
Let’s dive right in.
What is the best diet for postpartum?
The best type of diet in the postpartum period is one that is varied and has adequate amounts of all 3 macronutrients.
Those macronutrients are:
You might think that in order to lose weight fast, you have to do low carb, become vegan, do intermittent fasting, or put your body into a state of ketosis.
The good news is:
You don’t have to do any of these!
In fact, doing these diets can be detrimental to your health and well-being- especially for new mothers!
Instead, you must focus on consuming a balanced diet consisting of real, whole foods, with minimal processing is the best diet you should consume postnatally.
Let me show you how.
An Easy Postpartum Diet You Can Follow
So now let’s go over the postpartum nutrition diet plan. There are only 5 rules you have to follow.
Here are the rules.
1. You must eat at least two servings of whole grains per day
Carbohydrates are the macronutrient for energy. This is the food group that will keep you going, throughout the day.
The key is that they must be whole grains. These include:
- Brown rice
- Steel-cut oats
Don’t be afraid of these carbohydrates. They contain many vitamins (like the B vitamins) that you cannot get elsewhere!
2. You must consume at least two servings of lean protein per day
Protein is probably the most important macronutrient of the three.
It is the macronutrient that keeps you satisfied the most, and is responsible for the development and maintenance of lean muscle tissue.
This is especially important if you exercise regularly (which I’ll get to in a bit.)
The best protein sources include:
- Lean chicken breast
- Wild-caught salmon (limit to 1-2x per week if you are breastfeeding)
- Greek yogurt
If you could only focus on one thing for postpartum recovery, protein would be it.
3. You must consume at least two servings of healthy fats per day
Fat consumption is not something you should be afraid of.
It is a necessary nutrient that is vital for hormone production, hormone absorption, and cell membrane support.
For example, Vitamin D, one of the most essential nutrients for postpartum women is a fat-soluble vitamin.
However, it’s important that you consume the right kinds of fat.
In general, you should avoid trans fats at all costs, and keep your saturated fat intake to a minimum. Unsaturated fats tend to be the healthiest, especially the omega-3 fatty acids.
Here are the best sources of healthy fat:
- Nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios)
- Fatty fish (limit to 1-2x per week if you are breastfeeding)
- Chia seeds
I recommend keeping red meat intake to a minimum.
4. Add fruits and vegetables wherever you can
Everyone knows that they need to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
But the key is, you actually have to do it.
There is no way to satisfy your nutrient needs without these important food groups.
After reading this post, go ahead and make a list of fruits and vegetables you are going to eat every single day…
… starting today.
5. You must avoid liquid calories
Did you know that you could lose a decent amount of baby weight and improve your diet significantly if you stopped drinking your calories?
There are so many calories in soda, juice, milk, coffees, etc. If you simply cut all of these things out of your diet, you would see a big change in the way you look and feel.
What should you replace these drinks with?
Add a slice of lemon in your water to make it fancy :).
Bonus Rule: Enjoy life a little
The last rule in the postpartum trainer’s diet is to break the rules once in a while. In life, you don’t have to be perfect at everything.
Why expect to be perfect with your diet?
I recommend that you stick to your diet 80% of the time.
Every once in a while (~20% of the time), enjoy those cheesy nachos with a glass of wine…
… because you deserve it!
Your mental health depends on it!
What can you not eat after giving birth?
If you are breastfeeding, it is best to avoid:
The reason you should limit your consumption of fish is because of the high levels of mercury contamination present in some types of fish.
The types of fish with the highest levels of mercury include shark, tilefish, swordfish, and tuna.
You should do your best to keep your fish consumption to a minimum (once or twice weekly.)
Alcohol should be avoided/kept to a minimum as this could be passed on to your baby in breast milk.
If you absolutely need to have a glass of wine, go right ahead, but you must wait a few hours to breastfeed or pump so that it can be cleared from your system.
As a breastfeeding mother, you should also do your best to keep your caffeine intake to 200mg per day or less.
Studies confirm that caffeine can be passed to your baby via breastmilk, which can disrupt their sleep cycles.
200mg is about the size of one cup of coffee.
I know it may be difficult to only have one cup of coffee with a newborn- but do your best.
To learn more about the different types of healthy food you should be consuming while breastfeeding, check out, The Definitive Breastfeeding Meal Plan.
And if you are not breastfeeding, all food is fair game.
With that being said, try your best to consume whole, real food that is not processed.
Does breastfeeding make you lose weight faster?
Breastfeeding can definitely help you lose weight faster if done correctly.
That’s because the act of breastfeeding alone can burn up to 500 calories.
But understand that breastfeeding alone won’t cause a significant amount of weight loss.
You will need to couple breastfeeding with a healthy diet.
This diet will have to be one that places you in a slight caloric deficit.
This just means that you are eating or drinking fewer calories than your body requires to maintain your current body weight.
It is important that you don’t drop your calorie intake too much as this often results in suboptimal nutrient intake as well.
You still need an appropriate amount of nutrients to support fat loss while maintaining your supply of breast milk.
Is there a specific postpartum diet I Should Follow while breastfeeding?
It is important that you avoid any sort of “diet” for at least two weeks after having your baby.
You need to give your body time to heal and adjust to all the new changes it is experiencing.
The last thing you want to do is add the stress of eating less than your body requires, too soon.
Additionally, excessive dieting or starting a crash diet in the immediate postpartum can adversely affect your health and well-being (as well as your milk production and milk supply.)
Like everything in life, balance is key.
To learn more about dieting while breastfeeding, check out my post on how to lose weight while breastfeeding.
What about if I’m NOT breastfeeding?
If you are not breastfeeding, you can follow any diet you desire. However, it is important that you wait at least two weeks before starting any specific diet.
What is the fastest way to lose weight after pregnancy?
To lose weight fast after pregnancy there are several things you must take control over.
You must control your caloric intake
Increased caloric consumption is the number one reason why most women gain weight postpartum.
It’s extremely easy to eat and drink above your recommended daily caloric intake.
One Starbucks drink can contain upwards of 500 calories!
You must make a conscious effort to be aware of what you are consuming.
As cliché as it sounds, you have to do your best to stay away from processed, nutrient-poor foods.
- ice cream,
- soda, etc.
These foods are full of calories and contain very little nutrition. For more information on healthy snacks that you should and can consume postpartum check out my post here.
This leads to my next point.
You must keep your hunger under control
Hunger is one of the biggest reasons why you might overeat on a daily basis. The opposite is also true.
The less hungry you are – the less food you are likely to consume.
That’s why it’s important for your diet to include foods that keep you full.
You can do this with 3 things.
#1 Increase your consumption of nutrient-dense foods
Nutrient-dense foods are ones that have the greatest amount of macro and micronutrients with the least amount of calories.
You get the best of both words- the nutrition that your body needs to thrive while keeping your caloric intake low.
These include foods like fruits, leafy greens, other vegetables, whole grains, fish, and legumes.
#2 Eat more fiber
I’m sure you’ve heard the advice – “eat more fiber.”
It’s timeless advice, and something we all need to pay more attention to. Fiber is one of the healthiest nutrients you can consume.
It helps keep your digestive system healthy and supports regular bowel movements while preventing constipation.
This nutrient also helps to keep you satiated for a long time, decreasing the likelihood of your over-consuming calories.
One of my favorite fiber-rich foods are sweet potatoes.
#3 Drink more water
Increasing your water intake is one of the easiest ways to lose weight postpartum.
Just like fiber, each and every one of us has to do a better job of staying hydrated. Don’t worry so much about achieving a specific number of ounces to drink.
Instead, just look at the color of your urine throughout the day.
If your urine is a dark yellow, you are dehydrated and need to drink more water.
Aim for a pale yellow urine color.
One tip you could try is drinking a tall glass of water right before each meal to further decrease your risk of overeating.
If you follow my postpartum diet above, you will be covered!
The last strategy to lose weight fast postnatally is…
You must engage in regular exercise
Exercise is quite possibly the healthiest thing you can do for your body.
You might be afraid to start exercising postpartum, but if done properly – it can be a great addition to your postpartum diet.
This can be done in 30-minute sessions 5x a week or multiple 10-20 minute sessions.
You may find the following articles on exercise in the postpartum period helpful.
- Postpartum Weightlifting [How To Begin Lifting Again After Baby]
- How to Exercise After C-Section [Slowly But Surely]
- A Simple 20 Minute Postpartum Workout for Beginners
- How to Exercise Before 6 weeks Postpartum [If You’re Eager To Start]
- Exercises to Avoid Postpartum [To Ensure You Keep Your Body Healing]
What About A Healthy Pregnancy Diet?
All of the advice featured here doesn’t have to apply only to postpartum women. Following a healthy pregnancy diet is also very important.
In particular, a healthy diet during pregnancy can help you:
- Maintain normal weight gain during pregnancy
- Increase your energy levels
- Optimize the growth and development of your baby, and
- Return to your pre-pregnancy weight faster.
I actually have an entire post on a Fit Pregnancy Diet you can follow here.
Other Related Questions
How long after birth can you diet?
It is best to wait at least 2-3 weeks postpartum before attempting any sort of diet.
This is to give your postpartum body enough time to adjust to not having a placenta to feed anymore.
Plus you will be full of emotions, fatigue, and possibly vaginal (or incisional) discomfort.
How can I make my tummy flat after delivery?
Getting a flat tummy after delivery can be done, but it is not easy.
To get a flat tummy you will need to:
- lose fat and
- strengthen the abdominal muscles.
But you must be careful that you do not have diastasis recti. If you do…
Here is a list of 100 exercises you could perform postpartum to build your core.
Which fruits are good after delivery?
The best fruits after delivery are the ones that you will consume on a regular basis.
Fruits are an amazing food group because they provide your body with:
- excellent nutrition,
- sugar for energy, and
- water to keep you hydrated.
Some of the best fruits include oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, and cantaloupe.
Other fruits you should eat after having your baby are ones that act as a natural laxative.
This is especially helpful if you had a cesarean delivery and are experiencing constipation.
These fruits include prunes, apples, pears, papaya, and melons.
Can I eat bananas after delivery?
Bananas are an excellent fruit to consume after delivery.
They are loaded with potassium, vitamin C, iron, and fiber.
They have also been shown to help control blood sugar levels and digestive health.
A Science-Based Diet For Postpartum Women
If you enjoyed these tips and are ready to start consuming more healthy foods so that you can look and feel great, check out the Postpartum Trainer’s Nutrition Guide.
It goes over additional nutrients you need to maximize your health, fix your hunger cues, and improve your energy.
Final Words on Postpartum Dieting
Dieting in the postpartum period can be very stressful.
This is why I recommend giving your body the time it needs to heal and recover before attempting any dietary change.
Once you feel ready, be sure to follow the guidelines I mentioned above.
Now I want to hear from you.
Which tips are you most excited to try?
Comment below and let me know.
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Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT
Brittany Robles is a full-time OBGYN physician, a NASM certified trainer, and a prenatal and postnatal fitness specialist. She holds a Master 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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