How to Lose Weight After Pregnancy

Losing weight after pregnancy is possible if a series of good habits are established and maintained over time. Keep reading to learn more.
How to Lose Weight After Pregnancy
Saúl Sánchez

Written and verified by el nutricionista Saúl Sánchez.

Last update: 12 March, 2024

Losing weight after pregnancy may not be an easy task for all women. In this period, you tend to gain quite a few pounds of fat mass, which is why you may experience alterations in metabolism and in the use of nutrients that will have to be solved later. Now, if you’re clear on a series of key points, you can achieve success.

Before beginning, we must emphasize that during the pregnancy period, it’s best not to neglect yourself excessively. Not only to prevent disorders such as gestational diabetes but also to minimize weight gain from adipose tissue. Subcutaneous fat is a problem, but above all, visceral fat is the most dangerous.

Where to start to lose weight after pregnancy

One of the principles of weight loss is the genesis of a hypocaloric environment that allows you to spend more calories than you ingest on a daily basis. Otherwise, it’ll be impossible to efficiently mobilize and oxidize fat to promote improvements in your body composition. Now, you shouldn’t go too far either. Otherwise, muscle mass could be lost. A deficit of 250-500 kcal a day will be more than enough.

In the same way, and with the aim of retaining the highest percentage of lean mass possible, you’ll need to guarantee that your daily protein requirements are covered. These can exceed 1.4 grams of protein per kilo of body weight per day in the case of frequent exercise. This is evidenced by research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

At least half of the protein in your diet must be of animal origin. These proteins have high biological value, that is, with all the essential amino acids inside. Their digestibility or level of use is high, so they’re sure to satisfy your body’s needs in an efficient way. Then, you can complete your protein demands with those of a vegetable origin. In this case, it’s best to combine different foods to configure nutrients of the highest possible quality.

Now, the fact that we should emphasize protein consumption doesn’t mean that you should leave carbohydrates and fats aside. Carbohydrates are especially necessary if you exercise regularly, which is something that’s completely recommended. A consumption of 3-4 grams per day per kilo of weight can be positive. At the same time, fats are necessary to guarantee a good environment at the hormonal level. It’ll always be necessary to prioritize cis fats and those that come from oily fish and nuts.

Beware of toxins

When it comes to losing weight after pregnancy, you’ll have to be very careful with toxic substances. During the gestation period, the consumption of alcohol is completely prohibited. However, many women go back to including this substance in their routines after giving birth. This is something that’s very harmful to the body, as there’s no safe dose when it comes to alcohol in the medium term.

We’re talking about an element that has been shown to generate side effects regardless of the dose consumed. Not only does it increase the risk of developing chronic and complex diseases, but it also alters the hormonal environment and provides a large amount of empty calories. When it appears in the diet, losing weight becomes much more difficult. It could even increase the risk of injury in the context of sports.

The same happens with other substances that can act as endocrine disruptors. If the production of hormones is altered, metabolic alterations and difficulty losing weight may be experienced. Some items we use every day, such as plastics, have disruptors inside. Therefore, it’s best to avoid using plastic to wrap or store food. Even plastic food containers and bottles can generate problems.

The importance of sports

Taking care of your diet is essential, but to lose weight after pregnancy–or to lose weight healthily in any context–it’s extremely important to exercise regularly. Above all, strength work must be prioritized, guaranteeing considerable intensity. In fact, this should increase, ensuring a progression in the approach. Otherwise, the body could get used to it and spend less and less energy on the same activity.

As a complement to strength training, it’s positive to include certain HIIT sessions in your routines. This high-intensity interval training favors physiological adaptations and the mobilization and oxidation of fats. This is confirmed by research published in the journal Nutrients. It also has a great advantage in that it doesn’t require much time. With just 10 or 15 minutes of HIIT exercise, you can get a sufficient stimulus to start important metabolic processes.

Of course, to consolidate good results over the years, you’ll need to focus on muscle hypertrophy. After all, lean tissue is the most metabolically active tissue in the body. In other words, it’s the tissue that spends the most energy, even in the context of rest. For this reason, it’s always best to ensure its presence in adequate proportions. It also performs endocrine functions, modulating inflammation in the internal environment.

In order to stimulate the hypertrophy pathways, it is necessary to guarantee that the previously mentioned protein requirements are covered. Likewise, it will be necessary to guide a volume of work of sufficient strength, focusing on the different muscle groups. All this always in a compensated way to avoid injuries and pain over the years. The best thing in this case is to be guided by a professional.

Some supplements that can help you lose weight after pregnancy

As you’ve seen, the keys to losing weight after pregnancy are diet and exercise. However, there are a number of supplements that can be consumed to enhance the results. The first of these is caffeine, one of the ergogenic aids with the most evidence. It’s capable of modifying the use of energy substrates to burn more and more fat, thus saving glycogen.

Another option to keep in mind is green tea extract. This compound is capable of improving insulin sensitivity, thus allowing fat to be mobilized and oxidized in a much more efficient way. According to a study published in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, it’s an efficient supplement that helps you lose weight and keep it off over time.

Now, what will really make the difference is the creatine. We’re talking about a substance that has been shown to significantly increase sports performance, especially in strength and power work. Therefore, greater adaptations are achieved at the muscular level and efficient hypertrophy, which translates into greater energy expenditure at rest. In any case, it must always be consumed in the context of physical exercise.

What must also be taken into account is that these substances can’t always be ingested after giving birth. You’ll need to consult a specialist if you’re breastfeeding your baby. Otherwise, they could pass into the milk and reach the newborn, which can be harmful. Of course, if you don’t breastfeed or you’re already past the breastfeeding stage, these substances can be included in your diet to stimulate weight loss without problems.

The importance of other good habits

To really make weight loss after pregnancy happen, it’s easy to maintain a series of good habits together. Among them, the need to sleep adequately every night stands out. At least 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep are necessary to achieve a good physiological and hormonal environment that stimulates improvements in the state of body composition. Otherwise, good results may not be achieved.

In the long run, not getting enough sleep negatively affects the metabolism, making it slower. It can even modify the sensation of appetite, causing people to feel a greater need to include sweet or low-quality foods in their daily routine. This is harmful to health, as they promote insulin resistance and hinder the mobilization and oxidation of fats later on.

However, during the first months after delivery, it may not be easy to fall asleep or get a good night’s rest. For this reason, good routines must be prioritized. It’s clear that disturbances will occur during the night or awakenings to breastfeed. Even so, it’s always beneficial to go to bed early and avoid exposure to blue light from screens before going to sleep. Otherwise, the production of melatonin could be altered.

Even considering a small nap of about 20 minutes at noon could be clearly positive. This stimulates hormonal regulation, enhancing the synthesis of sex hormones and lowering cortisol levels in the body, a substance with a markedly catabolic nature. Thanks to this, the defects in nocturnal sleep could be partially compensated, especially during the first months of breastfeeding.

Losing weight after pregnancy is possible with a series of good habits

It’s possible to lose weight after pregnancy if you consider a series of healthy habits. Above all, you’ll have to focus on strength work and a hypocaloric diet, but there are more things that are also important. For example, in no case should exposure to sunlight be neglected. Otherwise, the synthesis of vitamin D would be jeopardized, which would impair muscle strength levels.

Finally, it should be noted that the weight loss process isn’t linear or fast. Patience, consistency, and a certain level of effort are required. The best thing is to propose a type of lifestyle that’s sustainable in the medium term. The same goes for diet. You have to be comfortable with it. Otherwise, anxiety will soon appear, which will lead to subsequent abandonment. And, from here, the rebound effect is only one step away.

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