Even after losing weight via bariatrics, many weight loss surgery patients fear they will gain the weight back all over again. It was that never-ending cycle of weight loss and regain that spurred many patients to seek out bariatrics in the first place. You may be thinking, “is it really possible to gain all the weight back after losing weight through gastric sleeve or a similar surgery?”
How Common is Weight Regain After Weight Loss Surgery
While it is possible to lose around 50% of your excess weight (which can amount to 100 pounds or more), some weight regain is possible. A recent study observed weight regain in 50% of patients among those diagnosed with super morbid obesity (body mass index (BMI) of 50+). For instance, if you are 4’10” and weigh 239 pounds, you would be considered super morbidly obese.
Weight regain is not guaranteed, however, and you can minimize the amount of the weight that comes back. These tips will help you adopt the necessary habits that come with significant and long-term weight loss following bariatric surgery.
Lifestyle Habits to Adopt to Avoid Weight Regain
Eat Lean Proteins
Filling your diet with healthy proteins is vital to your overall health. Protein helps your body build up your blood, bones, muscles, and skin. When it comes to weight loss and keeping the weight off, protein helps you feel full faster and longer.
When shopping at the grocery store and eating out, fill your shopping cart and order off the menu as many protein-rich foods as you can. Examples include plain Greek yogurt, white-fleshed fish, lean beef, lite tofu, eggs, non-fat milk, low-fat cottage cheese, and skinless, white-meat poultry.
Track Your Protein Intake
Studies show that tracking your food helps you lose up to twice as much weight as those who don’t track their calories. Using an app makes protein tracking easy. You will only need to search for the food and the app will calculate the amount of protein you’re eating for you. This can be especially handy when eating out (more on that in a bit).
How much protein should you eat? The CDC recommends that you get 10% to 35% of your calories from protein. That amounts to roughly 56 grams of protein for adult men versus 46 grams for women.
Humans have been eating whole grains for tens of thousands of years. So don’t pay attention to the unfortunate trend of thinking that all carbohydrates are bad. Eating healthy amounts of whole grains give you the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you need to remain healthy. Whole grains also contain fiber, which reduces your risks of cancers, heart disease, and diabetes.
Whole grains include quinoa, faro, bulgur, and brown rice. Some cereals are also acceptable, as long as they contain at least five servings of fiber per serving.
Stay Away from Milk Products
You may find that you are lactose intolerant after weight loss surgery. For that reason, instead of milk, your bariatric surgeon may recommend that you consume soy milk and low-lactose milk alternatives, like Lactaid, instead.
During meals or between meals, reach for high-fiber fruit options such as raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, pears, apples, oranges, and avocados. For a healthy snack that is full of fiber and protein, consider adding a serving of protein-rich Greek yogurt or cottage cheese to one serving of fresh fruit.
Stick to low-carb veggies, which are packed full of fiber, flavonoids, and antioxidants. By filling your plates with these vegetables, you’ll consume fewer calories while eating more food. Delicious vegetables to fill your plate with include broccoli, asparagus, green beans, cauliflower, bell peppers, tomatoes, and spinach.
Avoid Sugary Foods
You will want to avoid eating foods high in fat or sugar if you are concerned about weight regain. To achieve optimal weight loss results, push the following poor food choices away from the table when they are offered to you.
- Milk Shakes
- Soft Drinks
- Ice Cream
Select Low-Fat Foods
Eating low-fat foods can help prevent heartburn, elevated cholesterol, and weight regain. Foods to fill your fridge and pantry with include beans, legumes, sweet potatoes, garlic, mushrooms, white fish, chicken breast, and egg whites. You can also use small amounts of low-fast condiments to boost the taste of your meals, such as non-stick cooking spray, reduced-fat salad dressings, and light mayonnaise.
Eat Smaller Meals More Often
Instead of eating three mega meals each day, stick to mini-meals. Eat these tinier portions more often and you’ll remain full all day long. You’ll be less likely to overeat and it’s not snacking if it’s an actual meal!
Smaller, more frequent meals can also boost your metabolism, helping you lose weight and keep it off. Eating smaller meals becomes easier if you can manage to plan each meal in advance. Meal prepping is one method you can use.
Pick a day each week, such as Sunday, to prepare your meals for the week. Use plastic containers with partitions for small portions you can use to pack fruits, veggies, protein, whole grains, and the occasional condiment. Put these containers in the fridge to keep them within easy reach the next time you need a meal that’s ready to eat.
Create New Eating Habits
While many people refer to their eating patterns after weight loss surgery as their “post-surgery diet,” this is a mistake. Don’t think of your eating habits as a diet or you’ll be more likely to think of it as a temporary change. For long-term weight loss success, you should aim to form entirely new eating habits.
To make healthy habits easier to adopt, toss out the junk food in your home and stock your kitchen with the foods listed above. Prepare your meals and eat four to six small meals per day. Don’t skip or delay meals and always strive to eat while you’re relaxed as opposed to stressed, which can cause you to overeat. Finally, drink water instead of juice, which can be incredibly high in sugar.
Practice Portion Control When Dining Out
You may have your health habits on lock while at home, but it’s eating out when things can easily become derailed. Restaurants are known for serving gargantuan portions. This is not a myth. Restaurant serving sizes have been found to contain 2.5 times larger than standard serving sizes. Some meals contain up to eight times larger than average.
To keep yourself from overeating the next time you’re ordering from the menu, ask your server to halve your plate and box the rest up to go. You can also share your meal with another person you’re dining with or try ordering from the kid’s menu.
Learn Some Easy & Nutritious Recipes
While Healthy Life Bariatrics has no affiliation to these brands, recipe sites like delish.com, eatwell101.com, ifoodreal.com, and tasteofhome.com are excellent sources for healthy homemade dishes. Use the handy search functions to find recipes that contain your favorite low-fat, high-protein foods. These sites should help to give you ideas for meal prepping and family meals to keep you on track while eating your fill of deliciously nutritious foods.
Scarfing your meals down is a sure way to consume more calories than you should. Make time to eat so that you’re never rushed. Most importantly, practice mindful eating. Mindless eating is to eat in front of the television, where you become almost hypnotized as you raise the spoon or fork to your mouth. Eating mindfully means savoring each morsel. Chew with purpose and take fifteen to twenty minutes to finish each meal. Doing so will make sure you eat what you need when you need it, and only that amount to keep weight regain at bay.
Drink Your Fluids Between Meals
Weight loss surgery makes your stomach smaller. This fact means it takes less food to make you feel full. Make sure you are filling your stomach with food during meals and not liquids. Drinking while eating can fill unnecessary amounts of stomach space with water or whatever else you’re drinking. You may not get the calories or nutrients you need, and you might become hungry faster after meals. Instead, drink your water and other low-calorie liquids between meals and spend your mealtime only eating solid foods.
Drink from the Glass, Not a Straw
It’s advisable that you refrain from using straws when drinking. Doing so forces you to consume your liquids more quickly, which can then give you a stomachache. You might also increase the amount of air in your stomach, which can cause even more discomfort. Drink from the glass instead to control how much you drink at any given time.
Don’t Drink Too Many Calories
After bariatric surgery, your doctor will limit you to a certain number of calories per day. Once again, an app can ensure you are keeping to your calorie allotment. If you notice, certain drinks are high in calories when entered into a calorie counting app. Some sodas, for instance, can contain 150 calories or more per 12-ounce bottle or can. You’d be much better off drinking calorie-free drinks or, better yet, plain water so you can save your calories for nutritious foods like protein, vegetables, and fresh fruits.
Avoid Alcohol & Caffeine
Alcohol is packed with empty calories that provide little to no nutritional value. Alcohol can also contribute to stomach ulcers, which is already a risk on account of weight loss surgery. Weight loss surgery makes you more sensitive to alcohol, so a little goes a long way. It’s best to avoid it completely if you’re worried about weight regain.
Caffeine is another substance you may want to avoid. Caffeine is considered the most used drug in the world. You may not think of caffeine as a drug, but it does have side effects like other drugs. Caffeine boosts your mood, it’s a diuretic, and it increases your heart rate. Caffeine can also combat your efforts to remain well-hydrated throughout the day. Drinking or consuming caffeine in other ways can also make you more at risk for stomach ulcers.
Take a Multivitamin and Mineral Supplements
Your bariatric surgeon may worry that you’re not getting enough nutrients from the foods you eat. This is why many weight loss doctors prescribe supplements to post-surgery patients. By taking a supplement, you can get all the iron, calcium, and potassium you need, in addition to the foods you eat.
You will maximize the amount of weight that is lost – and how long it stays gone – by exercising regularly following bariatric surgery. The time to begin exercising following a bariatric procedure is as soon as possible. The moment you feel able, get up and walk around. Even if you can’t get far, move around the room. When you feel up to it, venture outside (or walk slowly on the treadmill). Walking regularly after bariatric surgery helps to prevent the risk of complications like blood clots and pulmonary embolism. Exercise also burns calories, which can help to prevent weight regain.
Find Healthy Ways to Cope
Exercising your muscles with physical exercise is one thing. But what about your mental health? After weight loss surgery, you should be working on that too.
Adopting healthy coping skills can help you quickly calm down whenever you feel stressed out or overly anxious. If you are a nervous or stressful eater, not being able to cope can derail your healthy lifestyle habits. Instead, try to relax when life has you firing on all cylinders. Coping exercises to try include reading, gentle exercise, deep breathing, meditation, and spending quality time with friends.
Get a Reliable Support Group
Weight loss surgery is very common. Around 230,000 people undergo various bariatric procedures every year. That means it should be easy to find others experiencing the same things you are. Finding a weight loss surgery support group can help you mingle with others who are also in recovery and who also worry about weight regain.
Sharing stories and offering emotional support (and receiving the same level of support) can be invaluable in helping you maintain a healthy weight, and healthy eating habits to boot. Online support groups are also available if you can’t find any in-person meetings in your local area to attend.
Take the Time to Find the Best Bariatric Surgeon
These lifestyle habits and other tips will help you lose a significant amount of weight and keep it off for good. Some weight regain is possible, but you can minimize or completely mitigate the issue by following your bariatric surgeon’s directions for healing properly after weight loss surgery.
You can ensure long-term success before, during, and after bariatric surgery by choosing the very best bariatric surgeon you can find. That professional is Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki of Healthy Life Bariatrics in Los Angeles, California. A Los Angeles native, Dr. Moeinolmolki has an excellent track record performing common bariatric procedures like the gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and the non-surgical gastric balloon.
Whatever your weight loss and body health goals happen to be, Dr. Moeinolmolki and his surgical team can help you achieve them. Call today to schedule a consultation and start on the path to healthier living with bariatric surgery (310)694-4486.