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Status:Closed    Asked:Feb 22, 2013 - 04:10 PM

Is there a recommended essential body fat percentage to maintain while breast feeding?

I have a client who is a competitive athlete who just gave birth. She is breast feeding and is at 25 percent body fat. She would like to reduce her overall body fat to get back to her pre-pregnancy physique. I am wondering if there is a recommended essential body fat percentage for breast feeding specifically. Thank you in advance for your time!

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There is no minimal standard for breast feeding per se , but women should avoid going below the essential level of body fat required for normal functioning (10–13% body fat). The studies conducted in this area have mainly looked at women who were undernourished (e.g., due to poor living conditions or psychological disorders, such as anorexia) and who did not consume the additional 500–600 calories per day required to sustain breast feeding. Researchers have found that food restriction during lactation could result in suboptimal breast milk quality. That is, poor maternal nutrition is associated with less volume and lower fat content in breast milk.

Fortunately, exercising women who have nutritionally adequate diets do not need to worry that their physically active lifestyle will negatively influence breast feeding. Research on the quantity and quality of breast milk in physically active women has found no affect on volume (adjusted for infant’s weight), energy density or energy composition (protein, lipid, and lactose) of breast milk in non-overweight women training vigorously or in overweight women randomly assigned to an exercise and calorie-restriction intervention. These investigations also found no differences in body weight or growth among infants whose mothers were in either the exercise or control groups. As a result of anecdotal reports from mothers who claimed that their babies often had a difficult time breast feeding post-workout, researchers examined the levels of lactic acid accumulation in breast milk after exercise. Lactic acid may have initially been targeted among other metabolites that increase with exercise (e.g., hydrogen ion and ammonia) because it readily diffuses into the water compartments of the body (making it likely to diffuse into breast milk). Research in this area has been inconclusive due to inconsistent reports of lactic acid concentrations in breast milk, and study results showing that infant acceptance of breast milk is not reduced after submaximal or maximal exercise.



Feb 22, 2013 - 04:11 PM

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