One of the biggest fears about bariatric surgery is that you may regain some of the weight you lose. While most patients experience dramatic weight loss after bariatric surgery, regaining the weight is a valid concern. Achieving and maintaining optimal weight loss depends on how well you adhere to your bariatric diet. Committing to healthy lifestyle changes is another important factor to sustain weight loss.
The following strategies can help you avoid gaining weight after bariatric surgery:
- Focus on the protein. Begin every meal with your protein. Foods high in protein help you feel full for longer. Adequate protein intake is also critical post-surgery to maintain muscle mass. You should aim for around 60g of protein per day, evenly divided between meals.
- Make smart food choices. You will have a limited number of calories with your new diet after bariatric surgery. You should make sure that every bite is as nutritious as possible. Some of the best options include lean meats, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
- Make time for meals. You won’t be able to eat as much in one sitting as you used to after bariatric surgery. To ensure you receive adequate nutrients, you should make time for three to four meals throughout the day. You should practice mindful eating as well, as this will help you avoid overeating.
- Look beyond the calories. While reduced calorie intake is a significant part of a bariatric diet, you will also want to scan the rest of the nutrition label. Avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar, as they can contribute to dumping syndrome. Given enough time, these foods can also contribute to post-op weight gain as they offer little nutritional value.
- Exercise. Bariatric surgery helps expedite weight loss, but it’s by no means an easy fix. You will still need to commit to lifestyle changes, including being more active. For many bariatric patients, the excess weight made exercise difficult, painful, or impossible. As you begin to lose weight, you will have more workout options. Start with low-impact exercises, such as walking or using the elliptical, and build up your stamina over time. Start with an interval of time that challenges you without overtaxing you. Increase the duration of your workouts steadily until you can perform 150 minutes of exercise per week. For example, 30 minutes of exercise five days per week will achieve this goal.
Foods to Avoid After Bariatric Surgery
The quality of the food you eat can help with long term weight loss success. Food with limited nutritional value can derail weight loss or contribute to weight gain. To prevent this issue, you should avoid the following foods:
- Ice cream
- Fried foods
- Cakes and other sugary baked goods
- Milkshakes and other high-calorie beverages
- Soda (the carbonation can cause problems for bariatric patients as well)
A bariatric diet doesn’t need to be boring, and it doesn’t mean a lifetime of only eating salads. You can enjoy flavorful meals by making smart substitutions to reduce fat, sugar, and calories (e.g., swapping sugar for zero-calorie sugar substitutes or swapping mayo for Greek yogurt). You can also enjoy a sweet treat from time to time so long as it’s not a habit and doesn’t upset your stomach.
Losing weight after bariatric surgery and keeping it off requires a commitment to overhauling your diet and exercise habits. Following your doctor’s post-op instructions can help you achieve long term weight loss success. Contact Dr. Waldrep to learn more about bariatric surgery for weight loss.