It’s something nearly every new mom worries about— will I ever lose the baby weight? The good news is that you can get back your pre-baby body with a healthy diet and exercise.
Experts say there are some good-for-you-foods that will curb hunger, burn fat and give you enough energy for all those feedings, diaper changes, and sleepless nights. Here are 10.
“For breakfast, you want to start out with a really hearty meal,” said Leah Keller, a pre- and post-natal fitness expert and founder of the Dia Method.
Eggs are a quick and easy way to get your protein in before the day starts. Be sure to eat the yolks, too, since studies show our bodies don’t metabolize the protein without it. Don’t worry about the cholesterol because it won’t raise your blood cholesterol. Plus, after birth your body is recalibrating hormones and “cholesterol helps regulate sex hormones and reproductive hormones,” Keller said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 9 percent of women of childbearing age have iron deficiency, or anemia, which can cause sluggishness and fatigue. Beans and legumes are excellent sources of iron and are also filled with protein and fiber which will give you slow, steady energy and keep hunger at bay so you’re less likely to overeat.
3. Whole milk yogurt
Nix the low-fat or fat-free and go for plain, whole milk regular or Greek yogurt instead.
“Any naturally occurring animal fat is healthy for you,” Keller said.
Whole milk varieties will make you feel more satisfied and will give you the healthy fats to get your hormones back to normal so you can burn fat. Full-fat yogurt doesn’t need a sweetener but add some berries for a fiber boost and to keep your blood sugar steady.
4. Leafy green vegetables
Studies show that a lack of folic acid may be linked to depression, which can also deplete energy. Leafy greens like broccoli, kale and spinach are all rich in folic acid and iron. They’re also filled with fiber and low in calories. Add greens to an omelet, a smoothie or sauté them for dinner.
Three ounces of salmon has a whopping 19 grams of protein, which makes it a great choice.
“Fat and protein help keep blood sugar steady and help you feel satisfied with less,” Keller said.
Look for wild salmon, which is higher in omega-3 fatty acids and lower in toxins than farm-raised. Also, eat the skin because it helps your body metabolize the protein, she said.
6. Whole-grain cereal
Instead of refined “white” grains, whole grains are a better option because they have fiber to keep you full and give you energy, said Melinda Johnson, a registered dietitian, nutritionist and clinical assistant professor at Arizona State University. Whole-grain cereal for breakfast is easy and filling or try experimenting with different grains like quinoa, which also have protein.
7. Coconut oil
The jury is still out on coconut oil’s effect on weight loss, but one thing is clear: “It has an emphasis on medium-chain fatty acids which your body uses as energy almost immediately,” Keller said.
Use coconut oil in place of olive oil when cooking, or add a teaspoon to herbal tea or coffee for a delicious treat.
Almonds are a good source of protein and iron, can curb hunger and give you an energy boost. Plus, a recent study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that snacking on one and half ounces of almonds every day can reduce belly fat. Fat and calories can add up quickly so be sure to portion them out to avoid mindless eating, Johnson said.
9. Grass-fed butter
Grass-fed butter is higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than grain-fed and can help your body burn fat for fuel. It’s also higher in omega-3 fatty acids which will make you feel more satisfied. Add a pat of butter to steamed vegetables or whole grain toast.
“Even when we’re mildly dehydrated, we start to sag in energy,” Johnson said.
A good indication that you’re drinking enough is that your urine is a pale yellow color and you’re going at least every three hours. If not, fill up a water bottle and start drinking.
Julie Revelant is a health journalist and a consultant who provides content marketing and copywriting services for the healthcare industry. She's also a mom of two. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com.