A Complete Guide On Intermittent Fasting While Breastfeeding

A Complete Guide On Intermittent Fasting While Breastfeeding
Last Updated: 03 December 2020

The practices that involve abstinence from food have been part of many cultures since very ancient times.

However, today, we mostly worry about the effects of fasting on metabolism and about the general state of health: various protocols of food approaches have been studied (and still are), under the name of Intermittent Fasting.

How many types of intermittent fasting exist?

Intermittent fasting means to alternate moments in which to eat and moments in which to fast. However simple this may sound, there are actually many ways to do this:

intermittent fasting safety for nursing moms
  • The 16/8 method is the most common and also the one that can be applied most easily: it can be used, for example, by anticipating dinner and skipping breakfast the next day.
  • The acronym OMD stands for “One Meal A Day”, and it is a type of regime that allows the consumption of a single meal in the day. This leads to fasting for 23 hours in a row and having a hearty meal in 60 minutes.
  • 5:2 scheme (also called “Fast Diet”) in which calorie intake imitating fasting (around 500-600 kcal) is applied 2 days in a week, while the remaining 5 are normal;
  • “Eat-Stop-Eat”: a scheme in which you fast for 24 consecutive hours one or two days a week.

The benefits of intermittent fasting

The effects of intermittent fasting include numerous benefits on predictive health indexes and also contribute to weight loss, with:

  • Improvement of the level of insulin resistance
  • Decrease in systemic inflammation
  • Changes in the hormonal profile, with an increase in anabolic hormones that promote the mobilization of fats (cortisol, glucagon, testosterone, growth hormone)

All these combined factors result in a decrease in the risk of developing metabolic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and the prevention of certain types of cancer.

Is intermittent fasting safe for everyone?

If on the one hand there can be many benefits, on the other the abstinence from food for many hours will be stressful for the body, which will not always be able to adapt.

Healthy subjects may possibly try to follow the protocol for a limited period by monitoring their reactions, while for people with health problems or disorders (diabetes, weight issues, pressure problems) a medical consultation would be advisable before undertaking this practice since the metabolic profile can even get worse. Let’s now get to the bottom of it: can you do intermittent fasting while breastfeeding?

Is intermittent fasting while breastfeeding safe for the mom?

This is a difficult question to answer only with a yes or a no: every woman, every child, and every breastfeeding are different. It is important to evaluate the specific situation. Even from one son to another of the same woman, things can vary a lot.

intermittent fasting benefits

Effects on different biochemical values ​​should be expected only if fasting is uninterrupted for more than 24 hours: this means that if you fast only for part of the day there should be no significant variations.

It is also interesting to notice that the breastfeeding and fasting mother’s body brings into play metabolic adaptations so that milk is not affected. The fat content of breast milk, for example, remains unchanged even during long fasts.

On the other hand, fasting changes the body’s rhythms: daytime sleep increases, concentration levels lower, you become more irritable and it is easier to have minor accidents.

Is intermittent fasting during breastfeeding safe for the baby?

If you decide to try intermitted fasting and breastfeeding, it is important to keep in mind the age of the child. Especially if your baby is less than 6 months old and is breastfed exclusively, it is important to observe any changes. Does he seem more hungry? Irritable? Shaken? Watching what comes out can give you an idea of ​​what goes in! So keep an eye on the number of wet and dirty diapers: is it different than before fasting? Are there any differences? If you are worried about the growth you can decide to weigh him.

Intermittent Fasting Tips While Breastfeeding

  • If you’ll be doing intermittent fasting while nursing, it is important for you to rest, especially in the hottest hours. As with any mother with a small child, it is necessary to accept all possible help, take naps and concentrate activities in the first part of the day, when you have more energy. An extra feeding in the evening helps to calm a young baby when the mother is particularly tired.
  • intermittent fasting and milk supply
  • If you follow an absolute fast (without liquids) pay attention to the symptoms of dehydration, especially if it is hot or if the fast lasts many hours. If you feel very thirsty or your pee becomes very yellow, if you feel weak or even pass out, these can be signs of dehydration: you need to drink, to protect yourself and your baby.
  • An idea may be to try to fast for one or two days: if you continue to feel good and the child is well then excellent, it can work! Some mothers say that during Ramadan they were able to fast for a few days, then they stopped for a day and then resumed.


If you are still interested in intermittent fasting, consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss the pros and cons. Remember, that there are products you shouldn’t eat when breastfeeding.

You can use this method and still achieve your nutritional goals, but the way it affects your health and your milk supply may not be the same as what other women have experienced in their life.

Regardless of what you do, try to make good food choices and exercise – it won’t be hard on your growing baby – and in the end, your hard work should pay off.

Keep reading more about breastfeeding on!

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