I wrote the following article for a guest post and book giveaway at The Practically Perfect Baby website. (PracticallyPerfectBaby.com) The site is an awesome resource for new parenting tips and tricks, and I’m honored to partner with them!
Pregnancy is a beautiful testimony to how eating, storing, and using fat, are necessary and natural processes promoting health and happiness. When you grasp the mechanisms of fat use in the body, both during pregnancy and afterwards, you can understand how easy shedding post-pregnancy weight gain can be! It’s all about teaming up with your body, rather than fighting it. Team body fat for the win!
FAT BURNING IN MEN VS. WOMEN
In the fat-burning battle of the sexes, men and women exist on different playing fields. In general, women use and store fat more freely (including during exercise!) than men, and in a healthier manner! Since the female body is essentially prepping 24/7 to reproduce, which requires vast amounts of nutritional energy, it naturally favors a “fatty” mode!
For example, men tend to store potentially harmful visceral fat around their internal organs, while women favor more benign subcutaneous fat beneath the skin. Men also feature more disease-promoting waist fat (the “apple” shape), while women tend to lock away excess fat safely in their thighs (the “pear” shape). Women also preferentially store more good Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fatty fish and flaxseed) than men. A woman’s thigh fat is even specifically “reserved” for pregnancy, explaining why it’s difficult to burn lower body fat: it’s a special trust fund for your future kid!
PREGNANCY AND BODY FAT
Pregnancy is an “anabolic” state, meaning you’re growing something. (Oh hey baby!) This doubles the energy requirements for a woman, so fat use and storage during pregnancy ramp up considerably. Women gain an average of 7.3 pounds of body fat during their 2nd and 7th month of pregnancy, supplying around 30,0000 calories of energy, with an additional pound or so of fat going into the actual baby! After the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, the amount of fat in the blood is 20% more than in a non-pregnant woman, and around 300% more by the time she gives birth!
During pregnancy, the body will do whatever it must to ensure adequate fat reserves. It can adjust how it uses and stores nutrients, and may even extract more “calories” from food than normal. (So much for a calorie is just a calorie!) If the mother is too thin when she conceives, the body will down regulate the metabolism to assure ample energy. This is also why low body weights can instigate amenorrhea, or lack of menstrual cycles. In other words, your body knows how much fat it needs to bear a child: no way around it. But this is a good thing, because fat supports life!
LOSING PREGNANCY BODY FAT
Even though fat storage during pregnancy is healthy and necessary, perhaps you’d like to see some of the extra stuff go, after all’s said and done? Just like you teamed up with your body to produce your child (congrats!), the best way to lose body fat after birth and breastfeeding, is also by teaming up with your body. Your body was super controlling with body fat while pregnant, and it’s still super controlling after you give birth. As such, if you do silly things like restrict calories or eat sugary, processed diets, your body will resist all your efforts to burn body fat. The secret to blasting away body fat, is creating a constant fat-burning mode in which your body willingly burns fat, no questions asked! Enter Paleo and/or Intermittent Fasting, a la The What When Wine Diet!
Today’s sugary, carbohydrate-filled diets raise the fat storage hormone insulin, which “tells” your body to store fat! On the other hand, a lower carbohydrate diet rich in whole foods, encourages your body to burn fat! In a Paleo diet, you eat an abundance of delicious meat, vegetables, fruits, and healthy oils, while avoiding toxic grains, legumes, processed foods, and (possibly) dairy. This transforms your body into a fat-burning machine free of cravings and toxins, while preventing weight gain and degenerative disease!
Another dietary trick you can use (which may just become a lifestyle for you!) involves an intermittent fasting (IF) protocol. This is where you restrict the hours that you eat each day, rather than the amount of food you eat. IF yields effortless fat burning, allowing you to eat all you want to satiety in your eating window! It also boasts other health benefits like enhanced protein synthesis, nutrient use, longevity, increased immune system, and better energy! Plus, you lose the hassle of constantly worrying about meals, and gain more time to invest in other things, like your baby!
Chances are, you may be hankering for a glass of the stiffer stuff after months of teetotaling. Well guess what? Contrary to popular belief, a glass or two of wine can easily fit into your weight loss plan, and even boasts health benefits! As you adopt your Paleo and/or Intermittent Fasting lifestyle, you can enjoy your glass of wine as well!
If all of this seems a little too good to be true, a little scary, or a little bit of both – have no fear! That’s why I wrote The What When Wine Diet: Paleo and Intermittent Fasting For Health and Weight Loss, which explores the science behind all of this stuff in simple language. It also provides helpful tips and tricks for adopting the lifestyle, and addresses the many questions you may have.
You really can have your steak and wine, and eat and drink them too!
Avalon, Melanie. The What When Wine Diet: Paleo And Intermittent Fasting For Health And Weight Loss. Los Angeles: Incandescent Expressions, 2015. Print.
Taubes, Gary. “The Carbohydrate Hypothesis, II.” Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health. New York: Anchor, 2008. 398. Print.