How many calories does breastfeeding burn?

Breastfeeding is a great thing for mom and baby. It helps your child grow up to be healthy and strong. What are the benefits for you?


Breastfeeding burns calories! But, just how many calories does breastfeeding burn? A breastfeeding woman can burn 350-500 calories per day based on their weight, which is equal to an hour of running or two hours of walking.


So how do you lose weight while breastfeeding without causing an issue with breast milk supply?


Let’s find out the science behind calorie burn and breastfeeding.


*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link. I only recommend products I love or would personally use.


How many calories does breastfeeding burn each day?

A breastfeeding mom can burn up to 500 extra calories per day. This is equivalent to about 30 minutes worth of moderate exercise or 60-minutes on the elliptical or stationary bike. The energy expenditure increases as your baby grows and drinks more milk in one sitting. When you breastfeed, it’s not only good for your baby but also good for you.


The exact number of calories burned is dependent on how much breast milk your baby consumes, so it varies widely. The average calorie loss for moms that exclusively breastfeed their babies without any formula or solid food consumption ranges between 350 to 450 per day, but some research has found that women who drink lots of fluids may lose more than 500 due to the production of higher levels of hormones in order to stimulate lactation (the process by which breasts make milk).


It also depends on your weight gain during pregnancy and whether you are nursing one baby or two since nursing twins can increase your caloric expenditure.


The calories burned also depend on how long your baby is at the breast, and whether it is a full feed from both breasts at once or just one at a time.





What should a woman eat while breastfeeding?

When you’re breastfeeding, you should be eating the recommended 1,800 to 2,000 calories per day, plus an additional 300 calories because you’re breastfeeding. The important thing to note here is that you shouldn’t be eating junk food, but rather healthy foods that help you produce breast milk.


Here are some healthy foods for moms to eat while breastfeeding:

 -Fresh fruits and vegetables with a low glycemic index (i.e., foods that digest slowly) are good choices because they provide sustained energy.


-Starchy carbs like potatoes, rice, or pasta can be eaten in moderation as long as you’re monitoring how many calories you’re taking in per day.


-Lean protein sources like fish, poultry, and lean beef are also good choices for building muscle that will help with milk production.


-Omega fatty acids can help decrease the risk of postpartum depression for women. Some examples of foods high in omega fatty acids are salmon, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseed.


-Fluids are important too for hydration so be sure to drink the recommended amount of water or other fluids per day.

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-While you’re breastfeeding it is very important that your dietary intake meets requirements for vitamins A, C, D, and E as well as calcium.




Does the amount of calories you burn while breastfeeding change as your baby gets older?

The number of calories you burn while breastfeeding does change as your baby gets older. Here are some things to consider as you’re thinking through this question.


As your baby gets older, their stomach is able to hold more breast milk. This means they’re likely eating more. When you talk with your pediatrician they should be able to give you an idea of how much breast milk your baby is getting per feeding. Take that number and multiply by the number of feedings per day. This will give you an idea of much milk they’re consuming. If there are 20 calories in an ounce of breast milk, you’ll be able to figure out how many calories you’re burning.


So the bottom line is that there is a peak point where you’ll be burning the most calories. Once you begin to introduce solid foods and you start to reduce the number of nursing sessions, the number of calories you’re burning will also begin to decrease.




Does the number of calories burned while breastfeeding change if you pump instead?

This question can vary a lot. The most important thing to consider is your supply. If you have an oversupply, you’ll be burning more calories. But in general, the idea is that the number of calories you’ll burn while breastfeeding or pumping is truly more dependent on your milk output than anything else.




Does every woman lose weight from breastfeeding?

Menstrual cycles and pre-pregnancy weight often play a role in whether or not you’ll lose weight while breastfeeding. If your BMI is below 30 before pregnancy, then chances are you will lose some weight from nursing – but of course, it depends on how much milk your baby consumes each day. Women who have higher BMIs tend to find that the number of calories they burn during lactation isn’t as high because their body has more fat mass which means there’s less energy expenditure when producing breastmilk.




What’s the best way to burn calories while breastfeeding?

As your body is recovering from childbirth, make sure you aren’t rushing back into a rigorous exercise routine. As a mom, I totally understand the desire to “get your body back”. But, don’t do too much because you could throw off your milk supply, or worst-case scenario, your milk could dry up completely.


If you’re wanting to burn some extra calories while breastfeeding, consider taking a brisk walk several times per week. This is a simple exercise that you can do and bring your baby along.




 How can I safely lose weight while breastfeeding?

 There are a few things to keep in mind when trying to lose weight while breastfeeding.


-Be sure you’re getting enough calories to supply your personal physical needs, as well as the nutritional needs of your nursing infant.


-Eat plenty of lean protein, Omega fatty acids, and vegetables.


-Remember to drink the recommended amount of water – at least 8 glasses of water per day. I personally have the 40 oz Simple Modern Stainless Steel bottle and I try to fill it at least twice per day.

amazon link to purchase a simple modern stainless steel water bottle 


And finally, keep in mind that it’s a delicate balance between eating enough calories for your body and your baby and still limiting calories so you can lose weight. It’s a tricky balance, but it is possible to eat enough calories – just in ways that are more wholesome than if you weren’t breastfeeding!




How many calories are in an ounce of breast milk?

Each ounce of breast milk contains around 20 calories. This means a baby who eats 4 ounces at a feeding gets approximately 80 calories during that time. If you feed your baby a total of 25-30 ounces per day, then it’s safe to assume you’re burning close to 500 calories each day while breastfeeding.




What are some other awesome health benefits of breastfeeding?

 –Reduced risk of breast cancer


-Boosted immune system


-Protection against postpartum depression


Lowered risks for childhood obesity, gastrointestinal infections, allergies, asthma


-A decreased risk of diabetes for both mother and baby (even if the woman is overweight or obese)


-Improved brain development for the baby


A lowered risk of ovarian cancer and endometrial cancers in mothers


-Not to mention, breastfeeding is one of the most economical ways to feed your child! It saves families around $1500 per year on formula costs alone.



Breastfeeding is one of the most incredible things for both mom and baby. And, breastfeeding is a great way to burn calories. But, chances are, you came here because you wanted to know how many of those extra calories you’re consuming are burned while breastfeeding. I get it!


It’s possible to lose weight while breastfeeding as long as you’re careful with your diet and don’t try too hard. When it comes to physical activity, it is best not to over-exercise if the goal is weight loss since there are limited opportunities for exercise when a person is nursing. With that said, consider doing things like yoga or light jogging instead of HIIT workouts if the goal is weight loss.



MORE Awesome Breastfeeding Tips!

Tips for Breastfeeding While Sick

The Best Nursing Bras for Breastfeeding

How to Continue Breastfeeding a Teething Baby

How to QUICKLY Increase Breast Milk Supply 

Leaking Breasts- How to Stop the Leak!

The Best Shirts for Breastfeeding


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