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Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Nov;54(5):788-98.

Longitudinal assessment of the components of energy balance in well-nourished lactating women.

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  • 1MRC Dunn Clinical Nutrition Centre, Cambridge, UK.


The mechanisms by which well-nourished women meet the additional energy costs of lactation were studied by measuring energy intake (EI), basal metabolic rate (BMR), total energy expenditure by doubly labeled water (TEE), physical activity plus thermogenesis (TEE-BMR), changes in body fat stores, and milk energy transfer. Ten women were studied at 36 wk gestation; 4, 8, and 12 wk lactation (L4, L8, L12); and when nonpregnant and nonlactating (NPNL) after weaning. At L4, L8, and L12 the energy transferred in milk averaged 2245, 2225, and 2217 kJ/d with an additional 445 kj/d (106 kcal/d) estimated as being necessary for synthesis. EI was 1360, 1740, and 1275 kJ/d higher than the NPNL values, representing 56% of the costs of lactation. The remaining 44% was met by a reduction in TEE (-945, -688, and -826 kJ/d vs NPNL) caused largely by a reduction in physical activity because BMR was essentially unchanged (+29, -12, and -218 kJ/d). The energy-balancing strategies adopted by different women varied markedly.

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