Perth bariatric surgeon Dr Jon Armstrong explains how to maintain weight after bariatric surgery, keeping it simple after weight loss surgery.
Get in to exercise after weight loss surgery
If you have just had weight loss surgery, chances are you will be losing weight fast. Sounds great? Things might not be quite as they seem though.
If you have just had a sleeve gastrectomy or gastric bypass then you will be eating small portions and your body will be “looking for calories” to maintain all your body functions. It is fairly easy for your body to break down and get energy from your rich fat stores and that is great news. But, it is also possible that you may be breaking down your own muscle for energy in this period.
Everyone loses some of their muscle in the first year after surgery. Because you don’t weigh so much you will not need all that muscle to support you. Many very overweight patients actually have great muscle mass to start with because they have been carrying so much extra weight about for years. The really important thing is to try and maintain as much muscle as possible in this period of rapid weight loss. Your muscle is your metabolism. Your lean muscle mass equates to your metabolic rate.
If you can exercise with resistance training such as weights, strong yoga or pilates you are likely to maintain more muscle.
I see post weight loss surgery patients at 6 months and a year and I can tell you that those that are exercising will lose more weight overall and faster. It seems if you lose too much muscle you are also a sitter for early weight regain, presumably because you have lost too much muscle, metabolism is reduced and you are less able to burn up all your calorie intake and will start laying it down as fat stores again.
It seems that on average those that are not exercising will lose about 60% of their excess weight and people who exercise will lose about 85% of their excess weight at a year post surgery.
Eat a lot of protein in the first year post-op
Exercise is one way of maintaining muscle. The other way to stop muscle loss is to keep up your protein intake.
You need about 1 gramme of protein per day per kilo of your weight. Getting 80-100 gms of protein in, is not actually that difficult. In the early post-op weeks, you can do this with whey protein powders such as Boomers products. Admittedly they don’t taste fantastic but mix it in with a smoothy and it will work.
An egg in the morning, high protein yoghurts (we recommend Woolworths Skyr product) nuts as a snack, a protein bar (but watch for the free sugar content!), mincemeat, sushi,... it all should easily add up to allow you to reach your daily goals and will work to hopefully prevent muscle loss.
Avoid snacking and grazing
If you have been battling your weight for a long time your body is probably highly efficient now and really good at pulling calories out of food. After a weight loss surgery procedure such as a sleeve gastrectomy you will be eating smaller and will probably not feel so hungry but if you were to snack with highly refined sugars such as ice cream, lollies, biscuits, slices of bread,... you would definitely get weight regain. It might take a few years for this to occur but it will happen.
Most patients who undergo a sleeve gastrectomy will have weight loss over a year and then plateau for about 5 years. After 5 years it is not uncommon to see weight regain. To prevent this it is really important to avoid boredom snacking, such as grazing when watching TV, allowing sugary soft drinks to creep back into your diet. Reading labels on food and drink packaging is a really good habit to get in to. Concentrate on the free sugar/carbohydrate content per 100gms or 100mls of foodstuffs. Fat content is probably less important.
Our dietitians at Advance Surgical will be able to help you out with this and avoid some of the common pitfalls to prevent weight regain after successful bariatric surgery.
Perth bariatric surgeon Dr Jon Armstrong works with a team of dieticians who can assist you in your weight loss goals.