As a postnatal fitness specialist, I’m asked this question often by my clients! It usually comes sometime during our first or second session together. There’s a long pause, followed by: “SO, is nutrition really all that important for my postnatal fitness program?” I always answer with an emphatic, “Yes, it absolutely is!” And, this. couldn’t. be. more. true. Really! The next question is almost always, “well, then what should I be eating?”
Have you ever heard the term, you are what you eat? Well, it’s true, you really are! I’m going to get a little scientific for a minute, so bear with me. Your body literally breaks down the foods that you eat to rebuild cells & tissues, and to perform a whole host of other metabolic processes in the body. There’s very little your body could actually do without food. So, yes it tastes good and we all love to eat it. But, fundamentally food is a necessity for our health and well-being. This is especially true during the postpartum period and if you’re breastfeeding.
There are SO many fad diets out there that tell you to eat more of this or less of this macronutrient (carbs, fats, proteins) to lose weight. In the short-term, many of them can be effective, but there is really no substitute for developing a healthy eating plan that’s based on your body’s actual biological needs for long-term benefits. We all need carbs, fats, and proteins (in the right combination, of course) to survive, so eliminating one type of these macronutrients isn’t sustainable (or even really healthy) over the long term. Each one of the macronutrients has many functions in the body.
It’s also really not healthy or effective to lose too much weight too quickly. One pound is equivalent to about 3500 calories. If you’re losing weight too fast, you’re losing mostly water weight or drastically cutting food out of your diet. Neither one of these are healthy options. Healthy, sustainable weight loss takes a time commitment.
So, what is sustainable? Learning the right way to choose foods that both nourish your body and promote a healthy body weight. It’s important to learn what your body needs in terms of carbs, fats, proteins as well as vitamins & minerals. Every body is different! After learning your needs, it’s important to learn the difference between nutrient-dense and energy-dense food choices so you’re getting the most out of the food you eat.
The REAL Truth is:
1. Some carbs, fats, and proteins are better choices than others! Focus on complex carbs, mono & poly unsaturated fats, and lean & plant proteins. Also, omega 3 fatty acids are your friend. Of course, there’s more to it than this, but it’s a great starting point.
2. Make sure you’re getting the right combination of carbs, fats, and proteins. Too much (or too little) of any one of the macronutrients can have adverse affects on the body and your health, especially over the long-term.
3. There is really no need for supplements. You can get all of the macronutrients you need (even if you’re working out vigorously) from natural food sources. So save your money. And, actually you’re body is able to process nutrients more easily from natural food sources too! Win, win.
4. Your body does need additional calories, fat, and protein to sustain breastfeeding. But, you really don’t need to be eating as much as you think.
5. Nutrition facts panels on food labels can be VERY misleading. It’s important to learn how to read them. Food labels are created for marketing purposes to sell food products, enough said.
6. A key to losing weight while you’re breastfeeding (beyond the first 30 days) is to make sure you’re getting enough water! Your needs increase dramatically during this time and your body will hold on to water if it isn’t getting enough.
7. Eating healthy CAN taste great!
If you’re hungry for more information, check out my virtual or in-person health coaching services here.