For an avid gym-goer looking to maximize their efforts, utilizing sports supplements is a no-brainer. But what are the effects of supplements on breastfeeding for those mommies looking to kick-start their weight-loss? Let’s find out.
Let me start by saying the following information are my opinions based on my own research and my own experience. If you disagree, that’s fine! But don’t put a hex on me – I’m just here to help shed some light.
Most sports supplements will disclose a warning on their label. The warning should address pregnant and nursing women by saying “Do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding”, or “Consult with a physician if pregnant or breastfeeding”. If the specific product is telling you not to take it, don’t even consider taking the product. The company put that disclosure there for a reason. However, if it says to ask a physician, this product may be a good fit for supplementation while nursing.
*Please ask your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about supplementation*
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of supplementation when it comes to fitness. Do I think they’re necessary? No. But do I think they are helpful? 100%, yes. That being said, being a mom of two and having nursed both kids, I had to decide if I wanted to use supplements during pregnancy and/or the 6-12 months after pregnancy while I breastfed.
Ensuring my babies aren’t being harmed is my number one priority, of course. But I was curious if there was a chance I would be able to jump-start my new post-baby-body journey with supplements (again, believing that supplementation truly is beneficial). So I researched, practiced some trial and error, and I discovered what seems to work for me to help keep me motivated in the gym while knowing my baby is perfectly fine.
So without further ado, here we go:
Multivitamin: It is always recommended to take a multivitamin supplement both during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. I personally took One A Day Women’s Pre-Natal vitamins with Fish Oil for both of my pregnancies and loved it.
100% Whey Protein: Most whey protein supplements are safe to take during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. It is a non-stimulant, powder based formula that can help you meet your daily protein intake, which is necessary for tissue repair, muscle building, hormone production, and more.
To help me meet my daily protein intake (1 gram per pound of body weight), I took a protein supplement while I was pregnant, and I am continuing to use Whey Protein while breastfeeding.
However, it is important to pay attention to how your baby reacts. If your baby seems to get an upset stomach, has green diarrhea, or is just fussy overall, he or she may not be able to digest whey protein the way that you can, and you should steer clear of it until you are done nursing.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s): Amino Acids are naturally produced by the body to help repair muscles. Because of this, most non-stimulant BCAA’s are okay to take both during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
Supplementing your diet with BCAA’s can be very beneficial during exercise to help accelerate recovery, reduce fatigue and muscle soreness, and to help trigger protein synthesis.
I rarely used BCAA’s while pregnant as a personal choice, but I have been using BCAA’s regularly while breastfeeding to help with muscle recovery. When pregnant and nursing, much of a mother’s nutrients are being given to the baby to help him/her grow. Using BCAA’s can be a good way to help ensure the mother’s muscles are being repaired while she is actively exercising.
Again, pay attention to the reaction of your baby. If he or she seems fussier than usual, it could be because they are not reacting well to the BCAA’s.
Creatine: Creatine is an amino acid that is also produced naturally by the body as a protein/muscle building block. See image below, sciencey af. It can be consumed in meat and fish as well, and is converted into creatine phosphate where it is stored to be used as energy by your muscles.
This was one supplement I couldn’t find much research on. From what I could find, this supplement would be safe to take during pregnancy and while breastfeeding considering it is already naturally made by the body.
However, it may be on a case to case basis depending on how much creatine your body naturally produces. As with most things, too much creatine could be a bad thing.
Because of the lack of research, I did not take this supplement while pregnant. I did just start implementing it into my diet at over two month’s post-partum. So far, there have been zero negative side effects neither for me nor my baby.
Pre-Workout: Pre-workout is a sports supplement that contains a stimulant, often caffeine, to help energize a person before and during a workout. Many pre-workouts will also cause a person to get a more noticeable “pump” while weightlifting due to extra blood flow to the muscles.
I did not take pre-workout during pregnancy. I would not suggest it to anyone who is pregnant because of the caffeine content. Generally, a doctor will say a cup or two of coffee per day is okay while pregnant, but if you can steer clear of caffeine all together, it’ll be your best bet.
When it comes to breastfeeding, this is where research gets tricky. Some research says to stay away from pre-workout all together because of the caffeine content. Other research says as long as it’s within your daily allotted caffeine intake (400mg on average for a healthy person), it may be okay to use.
From what I’ve found, when a woman stays within the range of 400mg of caffeine per day, the level of caffeine in the milk supply is less than 1% and the level of caffeine in the infant’s plasma is also low. That being said, even that small amount does accumulate in the baby. Something else to consider, the caffeine content in a mother’s milk supply is its highest 1-2 hours after consumption. (Information from http://www.llli.org/faq/caffeine.html)
All of that being said, I do use pre-workout while breastfeeding but not on a regular basis. On training days when I need the extra boost, I:
1) Make sure my caffeine intake that day (from coffee, chocolate, energy drinks, etc.) is low.
2) Nurse right before I take pre-workout/exercise.
3) Only take ½ serving.
4) Wait 3-4 hours after consumption before nursing again.
Pre-workouts contain a variety of ingredients, so it is important to look for a one that isn’t going to give you that extra “jittery” or itchy/flushed feeling. Oftentimes, these reactions are caused by pre-workouts that contain niacin and yohimbine.
Much of the decision to use or not to use pre-workout comes down to how the mother is feeling and how the baby reacts to caffeine. If the pre-workout you use makes you jittery, flushed, hot, etc., you need to assume that it will make the baby feel this way too and you should not be breastfeeding in that situation.
If you take a pre-workout and you’re within your daily allotted caffeine intake, I’d ultimately say it okay to continue to breastfeed. But pay attention to your baby’s reaction, and pay attention to how your feeling. If you are second guessing nursing at any point, pump and dump, and then stay away from that pre-workout.
Fat Burners: All research I found regarding fat burners leads to a Big. Fat. No. when it comes to pregnancy and breastfeeding.
The reason for this is the dangerous combination of stimulants (caffeine) and core-temperature raising components that generally help a person speed up their metabolism and burn excess fat. A baby’s metabolism does not need to be sped up. Their core temperature should not be raised, and they most certainly do not need to burn fat.
I know it’s tempting, but stay away from fat burners. Exercise and eat clean. You can worry about fat burners later.
I hope this was helpful! If you have any questions or comments to add, please do so, I’d love to hear from you. Good luck with your breastfeeding journey, Mommies! It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it in the end.
Till’ Next Time,