Breastfeeding has long been said to burn calories at a rate that leads to weight loss. Is it true? Yes, says Rebecca Romijn (X-Men), who claims it as the very best diet she's been on. Angelina Jolie says it helped her regain her slim figure after giving birth to her twins, as well. But is it really true?
A study of 36,000 Danish women found that the more a woman breastfeeds, the more weight she loses. An important factor is that Danish women tend to nurse their babies much more and much longer than women in the US do. On the flip side, a smaller study in the US showed that non-lactating women lost more body fat than lactating women did. So it seems that what works well for some does not hold true for others.
One thing is for sure - it takes about 500 calories to produce milk, according to Cheryl A. Lovelady, a nutrition professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. So that much we know - that a nursing mom burns 3500 calories a week, which amounts to about one pound of weight loss per week for those whose caloric intake does not exceed the amount of their body's needs. In addition to all the other great reasons to breastfeed, a pound-a-week weight loss is one many new moms are glad to add to the list.