Breastfeeding Calorie Calculator


Workout = 15-30 mins elevated heart rate.
Intense = 45+ mins elevated heart rate.



This is the amount of calories to consume daily to bring about gradual weight loss

If you are underweight, or did not gain sufficient weight during pregnancy, then you should NOT be using this calculator.

If you failed to gain sufficient tissue stores during pregnancy, then all lactation needs must be met through diet alone. In this situation you should be consuming more food.

This calculator is a rough guide. Please consult your physician or nutritionist for a more accurate approach that takes into account your own particular situation.

How This Works

Mean weight gain during the 9 months of pregnancy is 26 pounds (12 kilograms). Some of this is for the development of the baby, and some is for maternal energy stores to be used throughout lactation.

Provided that a well-nourished woman has gained this amount of weight – then fat stores accumulated during pregnancy may be used to cover part of the energy cost of breastfeeding. The remaining energy will be met with diet.

The calculator determines daily calorie needs for maintenance, adds the energy cost of lactation, then substracts a factor of 15%. Therefore, gradual weight loss should occur.

How Many Calories Should a Breastfeeding Mother Consume?

Earlier Research

Additional energy needs for an exclusively breastfeeding woman is approximately 670 Calories per day [1]. If gradual weight loss is required – then this should be 500 Calories per day.

Research of healthy breastfeeding women has shown that – while lactating – women have a greater energy output (~2718 Calories) than when lactation has ceased (~2528 Calories). This increase in energy output is from milk production – BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) remains largely the same whether breastfeeding or not [2].

Where energy input from diet is not enough, tissue stores will be mobilized.

It is generally not necessary to consume extra fluids, following your body’s natural cues is sufficient to meet lactation needs (source). Although assumed, caffeine does not generally lead to a diuretic affect (reseach is inconsistent). However, caffeine can be found in breast milk, so consumption of coffee and energy drinks should be managed carefully.

Recent Research

The most recent and thorough set of research concludes that [3]

For exclusive breastfeeding through 5 months postpartum, the energy cost of lactation (based on mean milk production) is 454 Calories per day (over non-pregnant, non-lactating women). This amount takes into account the energy released from tissue stores.

Weight Loss

A review of over 17 studies [3] found that mean rates of weight change in the first 6 months postpartum are greater in well-nourished women (-0.8 kg or -1.76 lbs per month) than in undernourished women (-0.1 kg or -0.2 lbs per month).

Changes in BMR

Research into changes of Basal Metabolic Rate during breastfeeding has proved contradictory and ambiguous. Most studies have shown similar BMR in the lactating and non-lactating state.


  • KG Dewey – Annual Review of Nutrition, Vol 17: 19-36, 1997 – Annual Reviews (abstract).
  • NF Butte, WW Wong, JM Hopkinson. Energy Requirements of Lactating Women Derived from Doubly Labeled Water and Milk Energy Output, – Journal of Nutrition, 2001 – Am Soc Nutrition (abstract).
  • NF Butte, JC King, Energy Requirements During Pregnancy and Lactation, Public Health Nutrition, 2007 – (abstract).
  • Lawrence R, Lawrence R. Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession, 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Mosby, 2005: 325-326.