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When your baby is still just a few weeks old, you may not feel up to much physical activity aside from caring for your newborn and maybe some walking. But you can definitely take some steps toward eating a balanced diet.
To help you make the most of your time in this trainer, I've outlined some simple strategies you can use to add some predictability to your eating during a crazy time. I'll talk about the old "eating for two" myth, and outline a nutritional approach to help you feel your best and work your way back to fitness.
Watch The Video - 09:10
Nutrition for nursing moms
Giving birth is hard on the body. It takes time, rest, and plenty of calories to recover. And if you're breastfeeding, there's extra demand being placed on your body for milk production. When a mom is breastfeeding, she needs additional calories, protein, and other nutrients to both maintain her body and provide protein in breast milk for her baby. On average, a nursing mother needs about 35% more protein a day than a non-nursing mother.
If a nursing mother doesn't eat animal products, she may need extra vitamin B12 as well. Other crucial nutrients that new mothers sometimes find themselves deficient in include iron, calcium, and vitamins C and D. Eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, protein, whole grains, and dairy product should be adequate to ensure that a nursing mom gets all that she needs. But stay in dialogue with your doctor to make sure you're avoiding any deficiencies.
That may sound like a lot to keep in mind, but post-pregnancy rehabilitation expert Dr. Sheila Dugan says you can stay on top of the game by keeping these principles in mind:
- Prioritize protein at every meal
- Eat whole foods more often than highly processed ones
- Prioritize nutrients and macronutrients more than calories
- Plan ahead
- Surround yourself with what you know are good foods.
Better planning, better food, better health. That sounds a lot more approachable, doesn't it?
The Magic of Meal Prep
Where do I get my extra calories?
I'm a fan of protein-rich snacks. To get your extra calories for the day, just pick any two of the snacks on the meal list below, or just follow the sample meal plan for your day of the plan!
I knew that once my baby was born, I wouldn't have much time for cooking. So my goal while pregnant was to cook in bulk and freeze individual portions so I'd have healthy meals ready and waiting after we brought the baby home. It was a lifesaver!
Of course, meal prep doesn't sound like much fun if you've never done it before. But here's the key: Don't let it sneak up on you. Pick one day a week—preferably on the weekend—and assemble your team and your supplies. You can knock out a week's worth of dinners in a single afternoon.
Heading into the store when you're exhausted and in a hurry to get home to your baby is a guaranteed way of forgetting what you need and grabbing lots of stuff you don't want. Instead, have several of your favorite healthy meal recipes printed out and ready to go, so when you go to the store, you'll be sure to get exactly what you need.
You may take this approach out of necessity at first, but that could change. Once you get into my training plan and start to see your body change, don't be surprised if you stick with it—because it works!
How much should I eat?
When you were pregnant, you probably heard the old saying about "eating for two." Unfortunately, this isn't quite true. During pregnancy, your caloric intake only needs to increase by around 300 calories a day—although it can sure feel like more than that when you're having a craving!
So what about after pregnancy? The general guideline is that you need to take in an additional 200-500 calories more than normal to support milk production. Here's a calculator to help you determine what that number looks like for you.
Minimum caloric intake ***
Note: Don’t count calories too strictly during this time. Listen to your hunger cues and make sure you’re eating enough, especially while training.
If you aren't breastfeeding, Dr. Dugan advises, you can get back to your regular pre-pregnancy calorie count once you're done healing from the birth and pregnancy. However, once you start training more intensely, consider raising your calories by about 500 per day, as well as increasing protein intake to around a gram of protein per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight.
But bear in mind, these numbers are only guidelines. If you feel hungry, eat more—especially while you're breastfeeding. I did! This isn't the time to count every calorie. The goal instead should be to make every calorie count. Try to eat the most nutritious foods possible at all opportunities.
What types of foods should I eat?
Whether you're breastfeeding or not, make every effort to eat wholesome foods that have been minimally processed. Focus on nutrient-packed vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, and healthy fats. The approved foods list from my LiveFit trainer will work perfectly for you here as a reference.
Note: I've also included sample meal plans for every day of the trainer, so when you go to get your day's workout, you can see those, too.
But if recipes are your thing, here's a comprehensive list of the healthy options listed in the daily pages of the Post-Pregnancy Fitness Trainer. Try them all; there are hundreds of ways to combine these foods into a healthy daily menu!
- Shake & toast: 1 scoop Jamie Eason Signature Series vanilla protein in 8 oz. unsweetened almond milk, Ezekiel sprouted grain toast
- Black bean veggie scramble: 1/2 cup black beans, 4 egg whites, 1/2 cup mixed green and red peppers
- Sweet hash & eggs: 6 oz. sweet potato hash browns, 2 eggs
- Protein oatmeal: 5 egg whites in 1/4 cup oats with cinnamon, Truvia, 1/4 cup blueberries
- Sausage & fruit: Two 2-oz. Jamie's Turkey Breakfast Sausage (see recipe below) with 1/2 grapefruit
- Pancakes & fruit: 4 Pumped-up Protein Pancakes (see recipe below) with 1/4 cup strawberries
- Shake & fruit: Jamie Eason Signature Series vanilla protein shake with 1/2 banana and 1/2 cup strawberries
- PB Toast: 2 slices Ezekiel sprouted-grain toast topped with 2 tbsp Jamie Eason peanut protein mixed with water to make peanut butter + 1/2 banana (sliced), sprinkle with cinnamon
- Guilt-free breakfast sandwich: Ezekiel English muffin, 1 whole egg, 2 oz. Jamie's Turkey Breakfast Sausage (see recipe below)
- Pumpkin oat cake: 1/3 cup whole oats, 2 tbsp pumpkin puree, splash of water, 1 raw egg white, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice to taste. Mix in a bowl and microwave until cooked. Eat with 4 hardboiled egg whites
- Egg white omelet: 3 egg whites cooked with 1/2 cup sauteed tomatoes, 1/2 cup mushrooms, 1/4 cup onions. Eat with 1/2 grapefruit
- Breakfast burrito: 1 Ezekiel sprouted tortilla, 3 oz. ground buffalo, 2 egg whites, 1/2 cup salsa
- Pumped-up spinach pancakes: Just add spinach to the pancake recipe
- Ezekiel French toast: toast 2 slices, gently pour 2 oz. liquid egg whites on each piece, sprinkle with cinnamon, and microwave for 20-22 seconds. Add sugar-free syrup (optional).
- Bars: 4 LiveFit protein bars (cinnamon swirl/ lemon/ chocolate/ pumpkin)
- Nuts & cottage cheese: 1/2 cup cottage cheese with cinnamon and Truvia. Eat with 11 natural or spicy almonds
- Veggies & hummus: 1 cup baby carrots or celery with 3 tbsp hummus
- Shake & banana: Jamie Eason Signature Series chocolate protein shake with 8 oz. unsweetened almond milk and 1/2 banana
- Grapefruit & cottage cheese: 1/2 c cottage cheese flavored with cinnamon & Truvia, plus 1/2 grapefruit
- Apple & nuts or cottage cheese: 1 small apple along with 11 almonds or 1/2 cup cottage cheese
- PB yogurt: 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt mixed with 2 tbsp Jamie Eason Signature Series peanut butter protein
- Shake & apple: Jamie Eason Signature Series chocolate protein mixed in unsweetened almond milk with 1 small apple
- Peas & hummus: 1/2 c sugar snap peas with 2 tbsp red pepper hummus
- Chips & salsa: 2 corn tortillas microwaved until crisp, with 1/2 cup salsa
- Tomatoes & hummus: 20 grape tomatoes with 4 tbsp hummus
- PB toast: 2 slices Ezekiel sprouted-grain toast, plus 2 tbsp Jamie Eason Signature Series peanut protein mixed with 1 tbsp water to make peanut butter
- Eggs, nuts, & fruit: 4 hardboiled egg whites, 1 small pear, and 11 almonds
- Egg salad: 4 hardboiled egg whites plus 1 yolk, mixed with 1 tbsp nonfat Greek yogurt, Old Bay seasoning, and Dijon mustard
- Shake & nuts: Jamie Eason Signature Series chocolate or vanilla protein mixed in 8 oz. unsweetened almond milk, plus 11 almonds
- Edamame: 1 cup steamed edamame
- PB granola: 1/2 cup whole oats mixed with 1 scoop Jamie Eason Signature Series peanut protein, maple syrup, and pinch of salt, baked for 30 minutes at 300 degrees
- Shake, fruit, & cheese: Jamie Eason Signature Series chocolate protein shake made with water, plus 1 small apple and 1 low-fat string cheese
- Cucumber & hummus: 3 tbsp hummus with 1 medium cucumber, sliced
- Shake & PB banana: 1 scoop Jamie Eason Signature Series vanilla protein mixed in 8 oz. unsweetened almond milk, plus 1/2 banana and 1 tbsp almond butter or Jamie Eason Signature Series peanut protein
- Spicy roasted chickpeas: Drain 1/2 c low-sodium chickpeas, mix with 1 tbsp olive oil and cayenne pepper to taste, and bake at 450 degrees to desired crispness
- Turkey snack box: 4 oz. Boar's Head nitrate-free turkey breast, plus 11 almonds and 1 clementine orange
- Ezekiel English muffin pizzas: 1 toasted Ezekiel English muffin, 4 tbsp natural low-sugar pizza sauce, oregano, basil, and fennel seeds to taste, topped with 1/2 cup fat-free cottage cheese and 1 tsp parmesan, broiled for 3-5 minutes. Serving size is 2 pizzas.
- Bodybuilder's lunch: 6 oz. chicken breast, 3/4 cup brown rice, 1 cup green beans
- Meatloaf muffins & greens: 2 Turkey Meatloaf Muffins with lettuce leaves
- Meatloaf muffins & greens: 2 Turkey Meatloaf Muffins with Ezekiel pita
- Grilled chicken salad: 6 oz. grilled chicken, 2-3 cups lettuce, 10 grape tomatoes, 1/2 cucumber, balsamic and mustard dressing
- Chicken pita: 6 oz. grilled chicken, 1/4 avocado, 1/2 cup red pepper, Ezekiel pita
- Shrimp salad: 10 large boiled or grilled shrimp, 2 cup mixed greens, 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
- Tuna cakes: Mix 5 oz. canned tuna in water (drained), 1/2 cup quick oats, Old Bay or fish seasoning, and 2 egg whites, then pan fry
- Turkey salad pita: 1 cup Jamie's Turkey Salad (see recipe) with pita or Ezekiel bread
- Ezekiel turkey burger: 5 oz. Italian Turkey Burger with lettuce and tomato on Ezekiel English muffin
- Turkey wrap: 3 oz. nitrate-free Boar's Head turkey, 1/2 c quinoa, lettuce, 3 oz. avocado, 1/4 cup shredded carrots on Ezekiel tortilla
- Asian chicken lettuce wrap: 6 oz. grilled chicken, plus 2 oz. Thai peanut sauce (see recipe)
- Egg and pepper pita: 5 scrambled egg whites, 1/2 cup sauteed bell peppers and jalapenos, 2 oz. avocado, Ezekiel pita
- Chicken, beans, & veggies: 6 oz. grilled chicken, 1/2 cup black beans, 1/2 cup mushrooms, 1/2 cup peppers
- Ezekiel turkey burger: Italian Turkey Burger with lettuce and tomato on Ezekiel English muffin
- Grilled fish tacos: 8 oz. grilled or baked tilapia, 3 corn tortillas, 1 cup red cabbage, cilantro, lime)
- Squash spaghetti: 1/4 roasted spaghetti squash, marinara, 2 Italian Turkey Burgers
- Grilled chicken fajitas: 6 oz. grilled chicken, 1/2 cup onions, 1 cup mixed green and red peppers, 2 corn tortillas
- Steak & veggies: 5 oz. London broil, 1 cup steamed broccoli and cauliflower, 1/2 cup brown rice
- Chili & salad: 1 cup 3-Bean Turkey Chili with small salad (1 cup mixed greens, 8 cherry tomatoes, 1/4 avocado)
- Scallops & veggies: Pan-seared scallops with veggies and rice (6 oz. scallops, 1 cup roasted tomatoes and cauliflower, 1 cup green beans, 1/2 cup brown rice)
- Sweet & sour chicken: Simple Sweet and Sour Chicken, 1/2 cup brown rice, 1 cup sugar snap peas, 1 cup steamed carrots
- Meat & "potatoes": 5 oz. London broil, 1 cup cauliflower "mashed potatoes," 1 cup steamed green beans, 1 cup steamed carrots flavored with orange zest
- Bodybuilder's dinner: 6 oz. grilled chicken, 4 oz. sweet potato, 1 cup mixed veggies
- Barbecue turkey burger: Italian Turkey Burger, low-sugar barbecue sauce, Ezekiel muffin
- Beef and mushroom kabobs: 6 oz. London broil, 1 cup button mushroom, 1/2 cup steamed spinach, 1 cup herb-roasted sweet potatoes, seasoned with rosemary and garlic
- Salmon and avocado rice bowl: 1 cup brown rice, 2 tsp rice vinegar, 8 oz. sliced smoked salmon, 2 oz. avocado, 1/2 cup shredded carrots, plus low-sodium soy sauce to taste
Jamie's Turkey Breakfast Sausage
Extra-lean ground turkey breast 2 lb
ginger 3/4 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Cayenne Pepper 1/4 tsp
Black Pepper 1-1/2 tsp
- In a small bowl, mix all ingredients except for ground turkey.
- Add spice mixture to the ground turkey in a large bowl and mix by hand until well incorporated.
- Heat a skillet coated with nonstick spray over medium-high heat. Form meat mixture into 12 patties using a 1/4-cup measuring scoop and pan-fry on both sides until brown and center is no longer pink.
Tip: Cover with lid when browning for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Be careful not to overcook.
Serving Size: 1 patty
Recipe yields: 12 servings
Jamie's Thai Peanut Sauce
low-sodium soy sauce 1/2 cup
Rice vinegar 1/2 cup
Juice of Limes 2
Peanut protein powder 1 cup
garlic 4 cloves
Minced Ginger 2 tsp
onion powder 2 tsp
Red pepper flakes 2 tsp
- Whisk all of the ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.
Jamie's Pumped-Up Pancakes
Oat flour 3 cups
vanilla protein powder 3 scoops
Coconut Sugar 2 tbsp
baking powder 2 tsp
baking soda 3/4 tsp
salt 1/2 tsp
Unsweetened almond milk 2-1/2 cups
Greek yogurt 6 oz
unsweetened applesauce 1/4 cup
vanilla extract 1/2 tsp
egg whites 4
- In a large bowl, mix oat flour, protein powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix almond milk, yogurt, applesauce, vanilla extract, and eggs.
- Add wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined.
- Use a 1/4-cup measuring scoop to measure out each pancake onto a preheated skillet.
- Cook approximately 2 minutes on each side.
Tip: I recommend adding a little bit of protein for a complete meal, such as two egg whites or a homemade chicken or turkey sausage patty. The pancakes freeze well and can be reheated in the toaster.
Serving Size: 2 pancakes
Recipe yields: 14 servings
Jamie's Turkey Salad
turkey breast 2 lb
Dijon Mustard 8 tbsp
Greek yogurt 6 oz
apple cider 4 tbsp
salt 1 tsp
Chopped green onions 5-6
Chopped Celery 6-8
- Add turkey breast to a medium-sized pot and bring to a rapid boil. Then, immediately reduce to low heat, cover with a lid, and let simmer for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, chop green onions and celery, place in a small bowl and set aside. In another small bowl add the Dijon mustard, Greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar, sweetener, and salt, mixing well until thoroughly combined.
- Next, shred or chop the turkey into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Finally, add the chopped onions and celery as well as the wet ingredients and stir until well combined.
- Refrigerate immediately. Salad keeps for about two weeks in the refrigerator and freezes well.
Serving Size: 1/2 cup
These recipes will give you a place to start, but it's crucial to remember that what you drink matters nearly as much as what you eat during this time. Dehydration can affect your milk production and hinder your recovery and weight loss whether you're breastfeeding or not. However, it can be hard to spot, so know the signs.
Dr. Dugan says some of the classic signs of dehydration include:
- Feeling lightheaded when you stand up
- Dry mouth
- Decreased exercise performance and overall energy level
Nutrition is key to your results
Nutrition can be intimidating for a lot of people, especially during a time as hectic as post-pregnancy. But with the steps I've outlined here and the information on this page, you can start yourself and your child off on the right path toward a fit future.
Before you start the plan, go watch the other videos in the series. After that, you'll be ready to get to work and start your transformation. Let's make it happen!