Breast-feeding and the Athlete

By Roberta Duyff, MS, RD, FAND
Breastfeeding and the Athlete

March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.

If you're an athlete, you can also provide your baby with the benefits of breast-feeding. With a doctor's guidance, most women can engage in sports or some form of regular physical activity if they're breast-feeding.

Mothers who breast-feed exclusively require approximately 670 extra calories per day. If gradual weight loss is desired, then an additional 500 calories per day for the first six months is needed and 400 calories per day for the second six months. With more physical activity, mother's may need more; the actual amount depends on the duration and the intensity of your workout.

For athletes and non-athletes alike, the USDA Food Patterns offer guidance for planning a varied, balanced and moderate eating plan during breast-feeding. There is also a "Daily Food Plan for Moms" on ChooseMyPlate.gov.

Fluid needs increase during breast-feeding, too. Without exercise, breast-feeding moms need about 8 to 12 cups per day from food, beverages and drinking water. When working out, drink even more.

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