How Many Calories Should I Eat Breastfeeding Calculator


How many calories should you eat while breastfeeding? You’ve learned that losing weight while breastfeeding is hard. But did you know that you’re given a FREE Diet Analysis to help determine how many calories you should be eating, automatically? There are other important applications with this tool, as well, including helping you improve your weight loss and improving your overall health.

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.

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. A healthy woman can produce as much as 2,000 to 3,000 grams of milk per day when nursing twins or triplets!

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

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
  • 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 precisely the same and requires identical amounts 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 weightRemember 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.
    • 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.

How Many Calories Does Breastfeeding Burn?

The amount of calories you need while breastfeeding depends on a few things:

  • Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) = how many calories you burn at rest (this depends mostly on your body weight, height, age and gender)
  • Your physical activity level (PAL) = how much you move throughout the day (not just exercise, but daily activities like washing dishes as well)
  • How much milk you produce (exclusively breastfeeding moms produce around 725 ml (24 to 25 oz) of breast milk per day, while partial breastfeeding moms produce less)
  • The energy density of your milk (there are around 65 calories in 100 ml of breast milk, or 19 to 20 calories per oz)
  • How much energy it takes for your body to produce milk (the metabolic processes involved in milk production)

It’s complicated math, which is why I developed a calorie calculator down below to give you an estimate. However, please note that calorie calculators are always *just* estimators. Each of us is individual in how much energy we burn exactly. Some of us have a faster metabolism than others; some of us have a higher muscle mass, which also ‘burns’ more calories.

The amount of breast milk you produce while exclusively breastfeeding *one* baby is around 725 ml (24 to 25 ounces) per day, although this number can be higher if you pump in addition or breastfeed multiples. It can be lower if you supplement with formula or your baby has already started solid foods.

The energy density (= amount of calories) in your breast milk varies, too. It’s mostly dependent on the fat concentration in your milk, which is highly variable. It changes throughout the day, within a feed and is different from mom to mom. However, a number of studies have estimated that the average calorie content of breast milk is around 65 calories per 100 ml, or 19 to 20 calories per ounce.

Taking all of these numbers and variables together, exclusive breastfeeding burns around 500 to 670 extra calories per day! That’s about as many calories as you’d burn on a 45 minute run. While this may not sound like much, consider you’re going on this 45 minute run.

Breastfeeding calorie burn calculation formula

We can modify the formula from above to take the production efficiency into account in the below breastfeeding calorie burn calculation formula.

 (# of oz * 20)/0.8 = Total Breastfeeding Calories Burned

Let’s go though an example.

Say you pump 20 oz over the course of a day:

(20 oz * 20 calories)/0.8 = 500 total breastfeeding calories

First, you would multiply the 20 oz by the 20 calories that is in the milk, which would give you the 400 calories that are in the breast milk.

Then, you would divide that by .8 (the production efficiency), which gives you 500 – the total calories burned by breastfeeding, including the milk you make (400 calories) AND the energy you burned making the milk (100 additional calories).

Another way to think about the production efficiency thing – which can be confusing – is that, in this example, your body devoted 500 calories to making breast milk. Of that, 400 (80%) made it into the milk, while 100 (20%) was used by your body.

Here’s the metric system version of the breastfeeding calorie burn formula:

(# of ml * .68)/0.8 = Total Breastfeeding Calories

How Our Calorie Calculator Works.

For Exclusive Pumpers

For those mothers who are pumping exclusively, this amount is more easily calculated. You would take the amount of milk pumped in ounces and multiply it by 20; this is because there are 20 calories in every ounce of breast milk. For example: if you produce 40 ounces of milk per day, the calories of the milk would be equal to 800 calories. (40 * 20 = 800)

You would then also need to consider the amount of energy needed to produce that milk (calories burned from breastfeeding). Production efficiency is 80%, therefore, this would be your calculation: 40 * 20 = 800 / 0.8 = 1000. That’s a total of 1000 calories needed extra per day to produce 40 ounces of milk.

But, your metabolism is tweaked during nursing to help you use your calories more efficiently, and therefore you need fewer calories.

Once you have this amount, we need to subtract the postpartum basal metabolism (you get more out of your calories when breastfeeding). The following are average amounts.

  • 0 – 4 months = 300 cal
  • 4 months = 400 cal
  • 6 months and onwards = 500 cal

So, for example, an exclusively pumping mother with a 3-month-old baby who expresses a total of 30 ounces per day:

30 * 20 / 0.8 = 750 – 300 (basal metabolism) = 450

Therefore, this mother would add an additional 450 cal to her expended calories for the day when working out how many calories she burns altogether.

baby being weighed, baby on scale

How Many Calories Breastfeeding Mothers Burn When Exclusive Breastfeeding

Weigh your baby before and after every feeding over a full 24 hour period. Subtract the before weight from the after-feeding weight to determine how much milk your baby has taken in during each feeding. At the end of the 24 hours, add up all the amounts to determine the volume taken in during 24 hours. Use the same calculation above. For example: if your newborn baby drinks a total of 30 ounces daily: 30 * 20 / 0.8 = 750 cal – 300 = 450

OR a few additional examples:

If your 4-month-old baby drinks 30 ounces per day:

30 (ounces of milk) * 20 (calories in milk) / 0.8 (energy to make milk) – 400 (metabolic increased rate for mother with 4-month-old) = 350 (the extra needed calories for breastfeeding)

If your 8-month-old baby drinks 32 ounces per day:

32 * 20 / 0.8 – 500 = 300


The number of calories you consume will also depend on your

1. Activity level

2. Current weight

3. Nutritional status

Most lactating women will be a little more peckish than usual; you need to listen to your body.

Calculating How Much Formula or Breastmilk a Child Should Be Eating

Energy Requirements or Calorie Intake for Infants, Children, and Adolescents

-Formula and Breastmilk each has 20 kcal/oz. That is, 1 Oz of formula or breastmilk has 20 kcal of energy.
-30 ml = 1oz.
-Look at an energy requirement’s chart to get the energy requirement in Kcal/Kg/day for each child’s age, gender, and exercise/activity level.

1) the child’s weight in Kg, and
2) the estimated daily energy requirement in kcal/kg/day for the child’s age, gender, and exercise/activity level. Get this from an energy requirements chart.

You can determine how many calories (kcal) the child needs in one day. Knowing that 1 Oz of formula or breastmilk is 20kcal, you divide the total estimated daily energy requirements to determine the number of ounces the child should eat in one day. The split them into the appropriate number of meal frequency for the child’s age.

Estimated energy requirements

-For 0-2 months is 100 kcal /kg/day
-For 3 month baby is 95 kcal/kg/day
-For 4-35 months is 82 kcal/kg/day
-For children who are 3 years and older, see Energy Requirements chart or Calories Need Each Day from

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