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Breastfeeding Calorie Calculator

Created by Łucja Zaborowska, MD, PhD candidate
Reviewed by Dominika Śmiałek, MD, PhD candidate and Steven Wooding
Based on research by
U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th edition: Chapter 5 - Women Who Are Pregnant or Lactating;; December 2020
Last updated: Jan 18, 2024


The breastfeeding calorie calculator equips you with the essential knowledge of the physiology of breastfeeding and the health of lactating women. 🍼

If you'd love to find out:

  • How many calories does breastfeeding burn?
  • How many calories are in breast milk?
  • How many calories do you burn pumping?

Keep on reading to become confident with your breastfeeding calories and diet and get to know how to properly use our calorie calculator for breastfeeding. If you wish to follow the subject even further, try the baby's milk intake calculator.

Breast milk and its ingredients

Mom's milk is everything a baby needs – it's easily digestible, contains all the vital ingredients, and protects against both viral & bacterial infections and allergies. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding as the sole source of food for children up to 6 months – we should also remember about the proper supplementation of vitamin K and D (depending on the climate).

So what makes breast milk so unique? 🤱

Lactating women produce different kinds of milk, depending on the time of lactation; the first milk, also called the colostrum contains more proteins and less fat than the substance created later on – it also acts as a mild laxative, allowing for an easier passage of the baby's first stool.

The milk "matures" two weeks following the baby's birth, changing along with the offspring's needs. When fully matured, it contains mainly:

  • Proteins – Immunoglobulins, lysozyme, and lactoferrin serve as a protection against infections;
  • Lactose – 1.5x more than in cow's milk;
  • Oligosaccharides – Work as a probiotic;
  • Fats – Deliver 40-55% of the baby's energy;
  • Minerals;
  • Growth factors;
  • Enzymes;
  • Hormones; and
  • Vitamins.

Want to know something more about the human breasts? Discover our other related tools:

Now let's move to the other parts of the calories burned breastfeeding calculator:

How many calories are in breast milk?

Human breast milk contains 70 kcal in 100 grams. When nursing twins or triplets, a healthy woman can produce as much as 2,000 to 3,000 grams of milk daily!

For comparison, a healthy 6-month-old baby needs around 90 kcal/kg and consumes 769 grams of milk daily.

How many calories do I need while breastfeeding?

The amount of calories burned with breastfeeding depends on the period of lactation; according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a healthy lactating woman needs:

  • An extra 330 kcal/day during the first 6 months of lactation; and
  • an extra 400 kcal/day after the 6th month of breastfeeding. 🤱

Does pumping burn the same calories as breastfeeding?

Yes, pumping burns the same amount of calories as breastfeeding. Whenever you nurse or pump, the milk production looks the same and requires the same amount of energy.

Suppose you want to know how many calories you burn while pumping. In that case, you need to remember how many months you've already been lactating:

  • ≤6 months – 330 kcal/day.
  • >6 months – 400 kcal/day.

How to use the breastfeeding calorie calculator?

All you need is five short steps!

  1. Input your age.
  2. Input your height.
  3. Input your weight. Remember you may choose from plenty of available units!
  4. Estimate your physical activity level:
    • Basal metabolic rate – computes your basic caloric needs without any physical activity included. (see: Basal metabolic rate calculator)
    • Little/ no exercise;
    • Exercise 1-2 times/week;
    • Exercise 2-3 times/week;
    • Exercise 3-5 times/week;
    • Exercise 6-7 times/week; or
    • Professional athlete.
  5. Enter your state
    • Lactation 0-6 months, lactation over 6 months;
    • Pregnancy in 1st, 2nd or 3rd trimester.

🙋 Our tool serves as a calorie calculator for pregnant and lactating women – this way, you may compare your energy expenses during and soon after pregnancy.

  1. That's it! 🎉 We've got it covered; the breastfeeding calorie calculator will show you the estimated amount of calories you need per day and a few tips regarding your diet.

How many calories are burned while breastfeeding?

Not sure how many calories are burned with breastfeeding? Here's the short answer!

  • During the first 6 months of breastfeeding, your body burns around 500 kcal extra per day; however, if we account for the postpartum weight loss in that period, the calorie count reaches only 330 kcal/day extra compared to what you would burn outside of a pregnancy.
  • During the 6-12th month of lactation, you may burn an extra 400 kcal/day by solely producing milk.

FAQ

How do I calculate how many calories I should eat while breastfeeding?

To calculate the number of calories you need per day while breastfeeding:

  1. Determine general daily calorie needs based on age, weight, height, and physical activity level.
  2. Consider the duration of your breastfeeding and add the corresponding calories to the number calculated in Step 1:
    • You burn an additional 330 kcal/day for the first six months.
    • From 6 to 12 months, you burn an extra 400 kcal/day.

How many additional calories do I need after six months of breastfeeding?

After six months of breastfeeding, you may need an additional 400 calories daily. If you want to know more about the estimated amount of calories you need per day and a few tips regarding your diet, you can visit the Omni breastfeeding calorie calculator.

What are the risks of consuming too few calories while breastfeeding?

Not consuming enough calories while breastfeeding can lead to adverse outcomes such as a reduction in milk supply and feelings of fatigue and weakness. Therefore, maintaining a balanced diet with sufficient calories and nutrients is essential during this period to support the mother's and the baby's overall health.

What makes breast milk unique and beneficial for the baby?

Breast milk is easily digestible and contains essential nutrients crucial for the baby's growth and development; it protects against viral and bacterial infections and allergies. Breast milk, when fully matured, includes proteins, lactose, probiotics, fats, minerals, growth factors, enzymes, hormones, and vitamins.

❗ We try our best to make our Omni Calculators as precise and reliable as possible. However, this tool can never replace the professional advice of a health care provider.

Łucja Zaborowska, MD, PhD candidate
Age
years
Height
ft
in
Weight
lb
Physical activity
Little/no exercise
State
Lactation 0-6 months
Daily energy needs
kcal
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