Skip to main content

Breastfeeding or low body fat?? hmmmmm

I have been flucuating on my body fat scale
this past week. Getting a bit frustrated, I have been averaging about a 21.6% body fat. I consider this way too high for my own personal standards. My weight of 115 is great, but the body fat is telling me I need to start working a bit harder. BUT I have a big question running in my mind.  Does breastfeeding hold on to that last bit of fat I am trying to shed? I am fitting in to all my pre pregnancy clothes but I want my super lean look back!

Most people say breastfeeding helps you lose weight. Which initially I agree with. I am definitely not trying to make excuses, but I think nursing causes you to hold on to a certain amount of fat. Back in the days in order for the baby to survive when the food was scarce, I believe the mother was designed to hold on to a certain amount of fat, to make sure milk could still be produced for the survival of the baby. I have spoken to many many women who breastfed and said they dropped about 5-7 pounds after they weaned their child. So what do I care about more? My lean physique or my baby getting the healthiest nutrition a mother can give?

The answer to that question is easy. I choose my babies healthy nutrition. The benefits of nursing are so incredibly wonderful it would be selfish for me to choose my body over the health of my baby. I am most certainly not bashing those women who have chosen to formula feed from the beginning. It is obviously not for everyone and some women have to go back to work full time. The milk would stop coming as soon as the mom is away from the baby for too long. I am actually a formula fed baby myself, and turned out just fine. I have become a purest over the years and feel overjoyed I can give my healthy milk to my little girl. Knowing every thing I eat and drink goes right to her through my milk makes me that much more cautious of what I put in my body. It's just so amazing how a little being can solely live off just MY milk. I am also very fortunate to have a work schedule that allows me to feed her when needed.

With that being said I have decided to change my goals. I plan on breastfeeding as long as I feel the need to do so. Could be 6 months, 1 year, or even 2. Being a mommy is such a learning experience and I will not know until I reach the day it's time to wean her. I will continue to work out hard and eat super clean. I may drop 1 or 2% body fat but will not restrict myself until the time is right. My new goal is pure strength. Getting stronger and building dense lean muscle will be my focus. I will have to tell myself not to stress over my body fat. Which I admit will be difficult for me to do that. I just know I have to keep on doing what I am doing and look at my baby and know it's all worth it!

Snatching the 20kg kettlebell. Weight 110b. Still nursing here but my baby was now eating solids. The weight just falls off if you continue to nurse after they add solids plus if you have been working on putting muscle and strength during your postpartum recovery stage. My point is start your strength training and don't worry too much about "cardio" yet. Walking with your baby is a perfect component along with reasonable healthy balanced eating. The workouts I did during this time were very similar to the workouts you'd find on this program Ultimate Body Sculpt and Conditioning with Kettlebells DVD, which was filmed 3 months after this photo was taken. Pound for pound I was strong and still able to produce milk since I wasn't restricting my intake too much. 


Franz Snideman said…

this could turn into an article for sure! Interesting question and I'm sure there must be something to it. Perhaps the body does need a little more bodyfat while breastfeeding. Makes sense!
magawisca said…
you have made a wonderful choice. after you stop breast feeding you can get your body back--although your breasts will never be the same again. enjoy every aspect of being a new mother. you will only have this experience once.
magawisca said…
i mean you will only be a new mother to your first child once.
Lauren Brooks said…

This subject is touched upon in my pregnancy article that will be coming out in Lisa's magazine. There is not too much research on body fat and nursing. Still trying to find a figure competitor or body builder that competed in a contest that actually was breastfeeding at the same time. I just don't think they exist.
Lauren Brooks said…

Thank you. I am so glad I made this choice. I am cherishing every minute I have with her at this time. Just like you said, I'll NEVER have this new mother feeling after this. I am so lucky to be able to experience this wonderful feeling.
Tracy Reifkind said…
1%, 2%,I mean really, does it matter?? Your daughter is worth so much more, and you know that! Besides you look awesome, no one can argue that.
Lauren Brooks said…

I'm thinkin more on the lines of 4-5%. Which makes a difference in my book. I know you can understand out of all people. 1 pound can make a difference to some people as well. Before I got pregnant I bounced around between 14-18% and was fine with it all. But being 21% isn't my favorite. But all I have to do is look at her and smile. I am almost positive, once I stop nursing, I will be able to get rid of that last bit of body fat. What can I say? I like the super lean muscular look? Can't argue with that!
Christine said…
My body definitely hung onto extra fat reserves with all 3 kids while breast feeding! Your body needs it (as do the baby!!!) I dropped as much as 10 pounds after weaning the kids. It's frustrating, but if you lose too much body fat, I guarantee the quality and quantity of your milk will decrease.

Your baby is darling!
Royce said…
Great post, and great choices. Your baby is so worth a few % points in BF. Plus you look just fine.
Lauren Brooks said…
Christine, thank you for sharing your experience about your 3 kids. It must have been worth it to you to do it 3 times. I noticed when I was losing weight too quickly my milk almost stopped. So I had to up the calories and start pumping to get the milk going again. It's crazy how the female body works.
magawisca said…
the same thing happened to me when i was breastfeeding my daughter. i wanted my body back so i went too low on calories and worked out hard. my milk just stopped. i was terrified! that was when i realized that my responsibility was to her growth and development. my doctor told me that some women actually go into ketosis while they are breast feeding which literally poisons the milk. high quality milk is the name of the game.
Anonymous said…
Hey lauren,
I just came across your blog and have had some difficulty finding info on this topic. I have been breastfeeding my daughter for 7 1/2 mos now and I cannot seem to lose this last bit of fat. I have always been athletic worked out and RAN during my pregnancy and gained 27lbs. Now that it is one year later have you found that that last bit came off after weaning?
Lauren Brooks said…

I actually found that after 3 months of breastfeeding the weight started coming off. I breastfed up to 13 months but lost most of my weight from 4 months on.

I was also less hungry and changed was able to change what I ate after 3 months. So breastfeeding started helping me later on. Every women responds differently so don't be discouraged. You may want to look in to what you are eating. Feel free to email me at to talk about your eating and exercise.


Lavender said…
I'm now reading this article a few years after you posted it and dealing with the same issue as you a few years back. So, I'm wondeirng if your daughter is weaned by now (April 09) and if so, did you get your body fat to your desired range after weaning? I want my rockin 6 pack back but still am 26% body fat and have a ways to go to your 21% as of a few years ago. However, if I get to that point and look as good as you did, I think I'll be content for the time being. I'll check back periodically to see if you responded, unless Google notifies me via email. Looking forward to hear of your experience with it all.
Lavender said…
So, since I'm now reading this a few years after you posted it, and going through the same dillema as you back then, I'm wondering if your little girl is off the breast at this point and if so, did you get your "competition" or "figure contest" body back? I'm so ready to have my rockin 6pack back but not sure how low I can go on the body fat scale while breast feeding!? I'll check back periodically to see if you responded. And I must admit, If I looked like you right now, I'd probably be happy enough (unless my but was still sagging, then I'd be anxious to lower the body fat
Lauren Brooks said…
Hi Lavendar,

Thanks for writing. My 2 year old was off the breast 13 months. My 10 week old is currently nursing around the clock. I took my body fat and it is 19.7% right now,which is high for me. I believe that after 4-6 months of having your baby, the body is able to finally regulate the hormones, even with nursing, to allow the body to let go of a lot of the fat. I would say that 8 months post partum with my first was the lowest my body fat has ever been and I was still nursing. But when they start eating food your body is not producing as much milk. But you still get the benefits of the extra calories burned from nursing, without the crazy hunger. At least that was my experience.

Feel free to email me to speak about it more!

Take care,

shadoweloc said…
I know this is quite old, but darn do I wish I'd had it around when I was struggling with this same problem. I was working so hard, and eating so well, but yet I couldn't lose tummy fat. I lost almost no fat until 3 months post partum and then lost a bunch. After 9 months post partum, and still nursing my son, I was still holding onto it. I didn't lose the rest of it until this past summer after my son weaned at 22 months. I thought I was crazy because I had very defined arms and legs, but stubborn hip/tummy fat. People just told me that I wasn't doing it right and trainers gave me the canned, "Breastfeeding actually burns fat!" response whenever I brought it up.

Man, I wish I had seen this a couple of years ago.
Anonymous said…
I'm having the same problems at the momeent- i have a 19 month old who still has one breast feed a day but i am desperately trying to lose weight by exercise and cutting out chocolate but it just doesn't seem to be working at all. find it hard to believ that one BF a day could be stopping me but am starting to wonder if this is the case. I really want to lose weight but am still reluctant to stop this one feed even though he is 19 months old!
Nicole said…
I also am so glad to have found this article! I am at 24% consistently with my 9-month old even though I am eating well and doing cardio / strength training about 4 - 5 x a week. I had a feeling it's because we're still up all night breastfeeding and several times during the day as well. I figure, if the breasts are made primarily of fat, then the rest of the body must hold on to a little more of it as well. When I tried to cut more calories, milk production went down, and I'm not okay with that!
Unknown said…
Hi Lauren,
I am having the same problem my baby is 3 months i am breastfeeding her,i really want my body back ,i had a C-section too and came back to workout very hard 5 x a week,what can i do,please help me ???
HiitMama said…
See my post on this. I'm on baby #2 bfing. #1 I went two years and #2 just turned 9 months. Prolactin may be the key.
Anonymous said…
I'm currently nursing my third baby. I nursed all three of my kids for aproximately 18-19 months and I definatley belive your body holds on to that last bit of body fat to ensure healthy milk flow! Makes sense!
Natasha Kay said…
I appreciate this post and commend you for recognizing how important it is to prioritize your baby's health over your body fat %. I know it's not easy but you'll never regret the decision.
Amanda Schenk said…
Hi Lauren, my name is Amanda and I am a new mom to my beautiful 3 week old daughter. I have been a personal trainer and figure competitor for several years and was at a total loss as to what to do postpartum to get my old (lean) body back! I want to breastfeed AND compete again this year, can't a girl have it all?? I was happy to have lost the weight I gained already...but I'm "softer" than ever. Reading your blog helped me decide to focus on getting strong again and worry about body fat% later. It's great to see that I'm not alone but even better to see that it can be done!

Amanda Schenk, San Diego
Lauren Brooks said…
Hi Amanda, Congratulations on having a beautiful 3 week old baby and a girl! I love having 2 girls. Anyway, I found that my body fat dropped tremendously without even trying any harder than usually when the baby started eating solids twice a day, which was around 8-9 months. In fact I was never thinner in my life, almost too thin to be honest. Right now you need to make tons of milk to feed that baby. Once the baby backs off a bit and doesn't need as much milk your body won't make as much but you will then get the increased metabolism that breastfeeding offers. I bet you can have a figure competition at 10-12 months post partum. Enjoy the time with your baby and just work on getting your strength. Then the fat will fly off before you know it. ;-)

Most Popular Posts

What Doctor's don't tell you after a C-section

I have now been through 2 C-sections since writing this blog post and thankfully I've recovered beautifully from both with the appropriate progressions. For those who are new and are just finding me. WELCOME! First let me say I did NOT want a C-section. I did everything in my power to avoid the first and even the second. I'm a kettlebell fitness strength and conditioning coach who relies on her body to share, teach, educate, and I was under the impression that having to give birth via C-section would and could destroy my body and career. Boy was I wrong! If you're feeing the same way, start by reading this article I wrote many years ago that still applies today! Many people have asked and here is part of my experience.  I don't claim to be a medical expert but not only have I successfully healed my C-section, my abdominals are no longer numb, and I've successfully helped others who've had multiple C-sections (even some 20 years ago) find their core aga

21 Day Squat Challenge - #21DaysOfSquats

Welcome to the 5th Annual Squat Challenge!  Updated for JANUARY 1, 2020 **We are SWITCHING things up this year** Why Squat?  Squats are one of the most beneficial exercises to practice. I could sit here and tell you how squatting makes you stronger, more conditioned, firms your legs and butt, improves digestion, increases energy and mood, but I'm sure you know the endless amount of benefits. A few people who've participated in the past squat challenges chose to share their experiences which I've shared below.  So let's just get to squatting! Beginners are welcomed! Join our Challenge Today completely FREE  here  and read the easy rules below on how to win one year free access to Lauren's Playground.  Do you plan on doing more than the Squat Challenge? If you want a workout plan... hundreds of people in Lauren's Playground will be doing programs like Upper Body Bliss and the Tushy Toning Transformation in conjunction with the 21 Day Sq