Post-Pregnancy Weight Loss: What Experts Say

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Most women gain about 20 percent of their body weight during pregnancy, but did you know there's a good "window" after delivery for losing the baby weight?

Post-Pregnancy Weight Loss: What Experts Say

There's a saying about post-pregnancy weight loss: "Nine months on, nine months off." And now experts in Canada are confirming it's best to take some time to get back the "pre-baby body," but not too much time. While some major weight loss companies are quick to brag about their celebrity clients bounding back in record time, there's actually a perfect window for weight loss.

What researchers found is that not losing "baby weight" can cause health risks. Experts recommend that three to 12 months after birth is the best time to start losing weight gained during pregnancy. But taking longer than 12 months, or even gaining more weight post-pregnancy, are risk factors for higher blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.

Dr. Ravi Retnakaran, a diabetes researcher with Diabetes Care, led a study that found the typical pattern for losing "baby weight" is that more than 80% of women don't get back to pre-pregnancy weight by three months, but all women should be on a trajectory of weight loss before 12 months. Only during that period are women able to get back long-term metabolic and heart health.

It is normal to gain weight during pregnancy. In fact, the average weight gain during the course of nine months is about 20% of body weight. Of course, some of the things that make weight loss hard after delivery are lack of time for exercise and reduced energy due to sleep loss.

Though a woman's weight a year after delivery is a strong predictor of her being overweight 15 years later, the researchers suggest.

The reason, according to the study, is the cumulative effect of weight gained over subsequent pregnancies can contribute to a woman's risk for type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The study, which included about 300 women, tracked weight loss and monitored risk factors for disease, including blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and resistance to insulin. Most women did not lose weight immediately, and eight out of 10 women had higher weight three months after delivery than before they became pregnant, but between three and 12 months after delivery, 75% of the women lost weight.

The 25% of women who lost no weight, or gained weight, had a poorer risk profile for diabetes and heart disease.

What helps? Exercise, says the study. The new mothers who could achieve high physical activity levels, through classes, gym time, or sports, are healthier. It doesn't have to be all-or-nothing, say researchers, but it does have to be something.

Weight Loss->Goals & Monitoring
Mar 27, 2014
Ryan Newhouse - health writer, MyNetDiary

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