Is Safe & Successful [Radical] Weight Loss while Nursing Possible?

Long time T-Nation reader, first time posting.

My Wife’s 30yrs old, 211lbs and 5’ 6". She was probably 20-30lbs overweight when we got married and wanted to lose weight. But we prioritized having children. She’s had five children in the past seven years.

Now, she’d like to start a weight loss regimen, but she’s nursing. I can’t really seem to make sense of where to begin. She’d like to commit to high-intensity training 4-5 days/wk. (Obviously working herself up to that volume over a period of time her body adjusts to it comfortably). Based on the fact nursing mothers need 400-500kcal/day additionally I can’t tell where her deficit will truly lie.

Now I know this ain’t really T-Nation readers expertise. Perhaps You’ve been through this situation Yourself or can simply offer some ideas of how to think through these weeds. That’s all I am asking, and I greatly appreciate it.

For now we’re going to start monitoring her caloric intake. (We eat about as healthy of a diet as folks can these days. We have livestock, plenty of red meat and eggs, fresh produce, etc.) I’ll start to monitor her caloric intake, her milk output, and she’ll begin regular exercise with a measured approach. For anyone who might be interested in the future I’ll update this thread in a more organized manner over the course of this endeavor.

Take care and keep making gainz,

Why are you posting instead of your wife?

As a rule… These things don’t usually end well. Good luck!

I wouldn’t want you doling out my calories if I had to keep up with 5 kids. :woman_shrugging:


5 kids on the farm! That’s livin’ the good life! Congratulations man!

Now that that’s out of the way;

No! There is no safe, radical weight loss while nursing!

If you start blasting away with 5 high intensity workouts in a deficit there will be Big problems. Please don’t do that!


I’m going to be as generous and kind as I can with my response, but dude, what the fuck? She just had a kid and is nursing and you’re asking about caloric deficits?

Is this your first rodeo (since you said “she’s had five,” not “we’ve had five.”)? Her caloric deficit is going to pass down to the baby. Let her eat what she wants. Make sure it’s a diet high in healthy things like fats and protein, but don’t micromanage for her. If she wants cake, you get her cake and rub her feet also.

Weird. Don’t do it.


I think its great that your wife wants to get back into training and taking care of herself.

And it’s awesome that you want to be supportive and help.

Plus it was a good idea for you to come get some information.

And monitoring milk output is probably a really good idea. If that drops, calories are too low. Just like dairy cows. That works.

I think you just alarmed everyone with the word “radical.”

Anyway, moving forward, you just want to start easy and go steady without rushing.

My woman got a little crazy with diet and exercise after our baby. She ended up really exacerbating her “post partem depression” or “mom brian” by messing up her hormones in the deficit and trying to get tons of workouts in. And she lost like 25 pounds in 6 months, then gained back like 20 over the next 6 months.

After that it took Months to get her back on track.


And now that i reread your post it says you plan to start with a measured approach, while carefully monitoring to decide how to proceed.

That actually sounds pretty good.

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following. wife has also troubles losing fat and is still nursing. kid is 2y5m old now so its probably time to stop, but letting this happen naturally as with our first 2.
the biggest success she had so far was on pure carnivore. she lost 6lb in 1 month, but I would assume 4 of that was water due to being in a ketogenic state. strict carnivore is not something she can sustain however.
I wonder if there is some other issues, like hormones etc which prevent fat loss while nursing. wife is late 30’s and also on HRT.

Oh, I forgot it was in the title. Yeah, that may have triggered some folks who can’t stomach reading a short post which clarifies any doubt they have about whether an approach to exercise is safe or not. I told her it will be probably 2-3 months before she’s doing even one high intensity workout. Keep in mind, as fit as I am, I never sprint. I wouldn’t sprint tomorrow. My body is just not use to it and the movement needs relearned if I ever want to do it again without rolling an ankle or wearing out my back, knee, etc.

The most common opinion is simply, because pregnancy/nursing + exercise is so complicated and potentially dangerous, to wait until one is done having children to focus on their own well-being. Well, we have always opposed every form of contraception and never intend to contracept and hope to have many more children. So it’s out of the cards for her to take care of her body after she’s done having children because by then she’ll be, what, 45? 50?

I’ll continue updating this. Maybe I had all the ideas I needed at the start already. It’s pretty simple. Start walking, count calories, monitor lactation. Slowly decrease calories, slowly increase intensity of exercises.


I appreciate everyone’s ideas. Some of Y’all might have mistakenly overlooked details such as:

*“Obviously working herself up to that volume over a period of time her body adjusts to it comfortably.” And,
*“She’ll begin regular exercise with a measured approach.” And,
*“Perhaps You’ve been through this situation Yourself or can simply offer some ideas of how to think through these weeds. That’s all I am asking, and I greatly appreciate it.”

To reiterate, she’d wants my help losing weight and I think the best way to go about it while nursing is to count calories (to have an idea of how much one is consuming), record milk production (she already does this anyway), and to begin walking, etc., in order to prepare her for when she is able to do more intense exercise.

If that doesn’t make sense then I don’t know what to tell You. But I didn’t come here to argue.

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I like the approach of one change at a time, monitoring health markers (and lactation, in this case). You just have to factor in the human element and be willing to pull back if you do start to see an issue - that can be emotionally hard


Wow! Nursing for 2-1/2 years! :joy:
Man a lot of folks would call that crazy, and I’m sure You’re no stranger to their remarks, but I think that’s awesome. The longest any of our children have ever gone was 18 months. Our children just “give it up.” One of my boys ate a slice of pizza for his first solid food at six months lol. Your wife sounds awesome.

yeah…my no 2 did it for nearly 3 years. he typically came down to our bedroom for his ‘breakfast’ with his little ‘blankie’. one morning he came down, sucked for 5sec and said ‘i’m all done now’ and never came down for his breast again. will see how it goes with no 3;) pizza at 6m is definitely an achievement

Im not entirely sure the “500 cal surplus daily” advice is as accurate as it sounds. The female body is really good at making babies. So good that it literally breaks it’s own hip to deliver. I think her body will still produce milk while at maintenance calorie intake, and i think it likely that her body will even produce milk at a mild deficit, considering your wife’s bodyfat stores.

My point here is that the last 2,000,000 years of humans were never as fat as we are today, and I’m sure nursing mothers would have to be in a scarcity induced deficit on occasion. Im also quite sure that the babies didnt die of starvation the second mom went into a deficit. My evidence? Every single mammal in the world, except humans, doesn’t get their food from a supermarket.

Anyways, I think a good way to go at this is to adjust food sources - primarily via macro adjustment. Increase her protein and veggies, decrease her carbs, change her fat sources to high EFA sources (EVOO, etc). Cut out sugars, condensed carbs, and liquid calories.

I also like the approach of getting her training while nursing. Whether losing weight or not, adding muscle to her frame is going to help in the long run. Higher TDEE, better discipline, better looks, etc.

The best way you can help her isn’t to tell her what to do, its to motivate her and to get in shape yourself. Be her husband and leader.

Pro tip: have her take pictures of herself every month to monitor progress. The scale is fickle for guys, its worse for girls, but the mirror doesn’t lie. It also helps you not be the bad guy, which a good coach has to be - on occasion. She will be very proud of herself to see the progress looking back.

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As a nursing mother of five it’s hard for me to imagine that closely monitoring diet (much less milk output) (??) would be necessary.

Are the elder two riding bikes yet? Throw two of the littles in a double stroller and one in a single and go rollerblading, with the bigs biking along.

Play tag in a playground.



In other words, go out and play. You have enough kids for it to be fun. People who haven’t chased a 6yo up a slide carrying a baby don’t know what a good time is!

Then add in some reasonable beginner training and cardio for her.


I’m right there with You man, and I really appreciate this comment because I have always suspected such things as You have said, and never heard them said. May sound like a disingenuine reason to give thanks, i.e, I only like hearing it because it is my own suspicion. But if You’ve ever hired midwives and been a part of the process You know too well how common sense like this is lacking from the equation. And to be fair, it is my third son’s own nutrition I am conscious of also. At the end of the day, all things considered, I still wouldn’t feel comfortable with a caloric deficit not developed over time with close monitoring. In fact, even if she were to develop a small deficit over the next, say, 3 months, there is the added concern that even by burning fat environmental toxins could be more abundant in the milk.

Women in times past must have suffered caloric deficits while nursing. I think the only concern today is that, our metabolisms having become adjusted to constant indulgence, we may run the risk of decreasing milk supply altogether by it. Even folks who fast regularly are nowhere near the ability to fast as many of their ancient fathers. We are nearing the middle of Lent, for example, and for the first few centuries it was universal practice for adults, barring extraordinary circumstance such illness or nursing, etc., to fast completely 40 days.

I’m also curious about Your recommendation to increase vegetables. Perhaps it is for the trace nutrients and not much else? She eats vegetables with every meal however, so nothing will really change there. Since birth it has been mostly red meat + dairy + eggs + veggies for her.

I’m really encouraging her to test and discover her body and what it responds to. I know from working out and dieting the last 10 years what my body demands and if I ever marketed it folks as is I think a few might benefit but the rest would either be dead or overweight and dead lol.

Anyway, I’ll update this thread with some experience You might find interesting. I hope for her sake we discover that the deficit didn’t negatively impact her quality of life, the baby’s QOL, her milk supply, etc., and that her metabolism is supercharged to burn fat and she’s feeling greater and healthier. Our expectations ain’t set here lol, but there just ain’t much study on the topic. Worst case scenario? Had to exercise very little and I only have a newborn baby boy and happy Wife to show for it :joy:

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This isn’t the case. Your metabolism doesn’t slow because you eat more food.

It’s easy to fast when food is scarce.

It’s satiating and leaves less room for foods that will throw off a dietary goal.

Has your wife started exercising yet?

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You’re right about the body being Super Charged for fat loss. After pregnancy growth hormones levels will be high, making it easier to burn fat. And oxytocin & prolactin levels will drop, causing a loss of excess fat accumulated during pregnancy.

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