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Diet and Nutrition

Weight loss after pregnacy

12/23/1998

Question:

I had a baby 9 months ago. I had him by c section. Every since then I have been trying to lose weight. I'll lose a couple pounds and gain them right back plus a little more. I exercise as much as I can, but work, school,and parenthood is very tiresom. I have tried to decrease my servings at meal,but it doen't work. I really love food. So what can I do to lose weight rapidly that will allow me to eat alot,and will fit into my busy schedule.

Answer:

Thanks for your question. Women often have trouble losing weight after pregnancy, so don't feel badly about your situation.

You did not mention whether or not you are breastfeeding, so I am assuming you are not. If you are, your calorie and protein needs are increased, and you should not be limiting your caloric intake.

The best advice for weight loss is to:

Number one: do it SLOWLY. Rapid weight loss usually results in water or lean body mass loss (protein), and easily regained weight. If you change your eating habits for life, you will be more likely to keep lost weight off for good.

Number two: cut down on high fat foods. High fat foods carry the most calories per gram. There are 9 calories per gram of fat, and 4 calories per gram in carbohydrate and protein fods. If possible, choose low fat dairy products and meats, less high calorie desserts and less fried foods. It is difficult for anyone this time of year to limit these foods, so at best, try to cut down. Alcohol is also a nutritional nothing. Alcohol adds extra calories to anyone's diet, without any nutritional benefit.

Number three: portions COUNT. Any calories eaten in excess (regardless of the source) will be turned into fat if they are not used up (burned off). Try to choose nutrient dense foods (foods that are high in nutrients, but low in calories). For example, broccoli is high in vitamin C, calcium, potassium, beta carotene and fiber, and a 1 cup serving is only about 50 calories. A 1 cup serving of mashed potatoes has similar nutrients (no calcium), but carries about 120 calories.

I am not saying you shouldn't eat potatoes or other grains, but try not to overdue it on ANY food groups. You shouldn't skip food groups in order to lose weight, but keep in mind that all calories count. In general, you should not go BELOW 1200 calories per day. Below this amount, your metabolism slows, and you will most likely not get all your vitamins & minerals if your caloric intake is too low. A good rule of thumb: take your weight in lbs, and multiply it by 10. This will give you your caloric needs for weight loss. So, if you weigh 150 lbs, you should start with approximately 1500 calories per day for weight loss. It is easier to start with higher calories, and work down if you get to a plateau.

I'm glad to hear you are trying to keep up the exercise. Dieting does aid in weight loss, but exercise helps maintain that loss. Exercise helps increase your metabolism, build lean muscle mass and keep you from snacking (since you can't really eat and exercise simultaneously!). It also aids in stress relief (which in your busy schedule is a must).

If possible, keep a food diary to keep your eating habits in check. People that keep food records are more aware of their eating habits, and more likely to spot "troubled areas" when dieting. Try to plan meals to avoid snacking (when stressed) or hurried eating. Try to keep low calorie snacks on hand (such as tossed salad with low calorie dressing), diet jello, soda or sugar free popsicles.

One other thing to keep in mind: Try to change only one bad eating habit at a time. If you try to change all your habits all at once, you are more likely to go off your "diet" and binge. If eating desserts keeps you from losing weight, try to eat them only 3 times per week (vs every day). If you become more aware of your eating habits, it will be easier to change them.

I hope this information helped you. For more weight loss information, check out the American Dietetic Association Website. Good luck!

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Response by:

Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
Adjunct Faculty
University of Cincinnati