Does breastfeeding enhance weight loss?

Q: Does breastfeeding really help you lose weight?

A: It can. Many breastfeeding moms are pleasantly surprised by how quickly the baby weight comes off during the first few months of breastfeeding. That's because the energy demands of producing milk can burn up to 500 calories a day (depending on things like how often you nurse, the size of your baby, etc.). But remember that breastfeeding won't make up for unhealthy eating habits. Bottom line, if you eat more calories than you burn -- nursing or not -- you won't lose weight. It's also never a good idea to cut calories too much while breastfeeding, since you need enough energy to produce the milk and care for your baby (on very little sleep, no doubt.) Aim for about 1,800 to 2,000 calories a day, and round out your plate with whole grains, fruits and veggies, and lean protein.

Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.