Why Can’t I Lose Weight with Diet and Exercise Alone? Bariatric Surgery Can Help

Why Can't Lose Weight with Diet and Exercise Alone

Losing weight is hard. When you have finally had enough of the weight gain and the detriment to your life that packing on the pounds has brought, the first step is to make a conscious decision to change. From here on out, everyone attempts to drop the excess pounds in varying ways. Some cut calories, while others eat radical like keto or the Mediterranean diet.

Conventional wisdom tells you that exercise must be added to the mix to maximize weight loss. Yoga, walking around the block, martial arts, and joining the local gym are all ways you can burn calories to cause the fat to melt away.

At least, that is how weight loss is supposed to work. But what happens when you cut the calories and work your butt off only for the scale to show the same numbers week after week? This isn’t fair, you might think. You’ve done everything right, and still look the same and feel the same (albeit hungrier than ever), and worked your body and muscles but to no avail.

Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

Why does this happen? Have you ever asked yourself, “Why can’t I lose weight?” Despite doing everything the right way, this post is for you.

The fact is millions of Americans are in your exact shoes. They are tired of being overweight or obese. Despite trying, they either stay the same weight or gain more weight than they lose.

The good news is that all hope is not lost. Bariatric surgery could be the answer between remaining heavier than you would prefer and attaining the body of your dreams. Bariatric surgery can not only help you drop the excess pounds quickly, but your health will surely improve. Keep reading to learn more about why weight loss is so difficult. You will learn about the various bariatric procedures and how they help you lose weight. You will know how to determine if a particular weight loss procedure may be right for you.

Why Dieting Is Not Working

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Dropping your calories day after day can make you hungry, and weight loss is not always guaranteed. If you have tried countless diets or calorie-restrictive eating plans and nothing seems to work, the disease of obesity may be to blame.

According to Harvard researchers, over a third of people are on a particular diet at any time. Whether it’s low carb, keto, intermittent fasting, or any other special diet, studies show that many popular diets do not work for most people.

The systematic review was published in the British Medical Journey. It analyzed 121 trials where nearly 22,000 overweight and obese individuals were enrolled. These dieters followed 14 popular eating plans. They included Weight Watchers, the Atkins Diet, and the Mediterranean diet for an average of six months. While weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure generally improved over the six months, results at the year mark were considered disappointing. Most weight was regained, and health improvements tended to return to unfavorable conditions by the time the studies were concluded.

The problem may lie in calling these eating plans “Diets.” To successfully lose weight, a complete lifestyle change needs to be made. Losing weight too quickly and returning to previous eating habits can cause the lost weight to come flooding back and may end with more pounds gained than lost overall.

Why Exercise Fails to Work

Experts suggest that successful weight loss should include cardiovascular exercise and resistance training. Yet, there may come a time when the body reaches a plateau where exercise may no longer burn extra calories. This finding was backed up by a study published in Current Biology. It found that there may be a physical activity “sweet spot.” While too little exercise can make you unhealthy, too much can push the body to make major adjustments to adapt, thus preventing more energy from expending.

The translation is that no matter how hard you work out, you may see a decline in weight loss or even a reversal within a few months.

What Role Do Hormones Play in Weight Loss?

Even if you do everything correctly, including diet and exercise, your hormones may hinder your weight loss efforts. Several conditions can hinder weight loss or cause weight gain, including:

  • Leptin: The hormone that makes you feel full. When you become obese, leptin does not work the way it should. This fact can make weight loss impossible, even if you are eating right and exercising.
  • Insulin: This hormone tells your body to store fatty tissue. Insulin levels can spike after overeating and when consuming sugary foods, even if you are not battling diabetes.
  • Cortisol: The stress hormone that, when rising too high, can make weight loss difficult.
  • Estrogen: The female sex hormone can cause weight gain when abnormally high or low.

Other Conditions Related to Hormones that May Hinder Weight Loss

A woman standing on a scale with her feet on it.
  • Chronic stress: Floods the body with cortisol on a continual basis, making weight gain likely and weight loss difficult.
  • Cushing’s syndrome: This condition is also caused by too much cortisol and leads to a buildup of fat in the face, abdomen, and upper back.
  • Hyperthyroidism: This condition slows the metabolism down, making weight loss more difficult, and is caused by an underactive thyroid.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): This condition that afflicts 5 million U.S. women is caused by a hormonal imbalance and leads to acne, irregular menstrual bleeding, excessive facial hair, thinning hair, and difficulty getting pregnant, not to mention weight gain caused by excessive eating.
  • Female hormonal changes, which are caused by puberty, pregnancy, or menopause can lead to weight gain.
  • Alcohol, including beer and wine, can raise blood sugar and insulin levels, contributing to a gain of excess weight.

Am I a Candidate for Weight Loss Surgery?

When weight loss remains unaffected by diet and exercise, and when hormone imbalances prevent the excess fat from budging, bariatric surgery can help. Scientists have devised a way to alter the shape and function of your digestive system to make weight loss easier.

Bariatric surgeries can help you lose weight and manage medical conditions related to obesity, such as type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, and high blood pressure. The various procedures available can also make you less susceptible to risk factors for stroke and heart disease.

Bariatric surgery (also referred to as weight loss surgery), includes procedures like sleeve gastrectomy (gastric sleeve surgery), Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, and adjustable gastric banding (Lap-Band). While bariatric surgery is permanent, there are also non-surgical procedures, such as the gastric balloon.

To qualify for bariatric surgery, you need to meet with a bariatric surgeon, who will analyze your medical history and physical condition to determine your state of health and candidacy for the procedure.

General guidelines include:

  • A body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher or 35 or higher with at least one obesity-related medical condition
  • At least six months of supervised attempts at weight loss (diet and exercise)

For those qualified to undergo bariatric surgery, you will meet with a healthcare team. This team might include a primary care doctor, bariatric surgeon, anesthesiologist, dietician, weight specialization nurse, psychologist or psychiatrist, and other specialists depending on your medical conditions.

The role of all these specialists is to explain what to expect before and after your upcoming bariatric procedure. The various experts can also help you identify medical, behavioral, and psychological concerns that should be addressed before you are ready for surgery.

What is the Best and Safest Bariatric Surgery for Fast Weight Loss?

Gastric Sleeve

A woman is standing in front of a mirror.

Gastric sleeve surgery (also known as Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy) is the most commonly prescribed bariatric procedure in the United States and worldwide. The bariatric procedure involves the removal of 75-80% of the stomach. The remaining tissue is converted into a sleeve shaped like a banana. The procedure forces you to eat less. You also feel less hungry overall, making weight loss easier.

Read our article: Why Gastric Sleeve Surgery is Becoming a Favorite of Patients Worldwide

Gastric Bypass

Gastric bypass surgery is a more popular option for heavier patients and tends to lead to greater amounts of weight loss than the gastric sleeve. During the procedure, the stomach is separated into two parts. The portion where food is stored is converted into a pouch the size of a walnut, allowing for only about an ounce of food (the stomach can usually hold around 3 pints of food).

The bariatric surgeon then redirects the smaller stomach pouch to the small intestine. With this alteration of your digestive system, food bypasses most of the stomach and the first section of the small intestine. The food then enters directly into the middle portion of the small intestine, leading to a decrease in calorie and nutrient absorption and, ultimately, long-term weight loss.

Read our article: How Gastric Bypass Surgery Makes Weight Loss Easier


Laparoscopic gastric banding (Lap-Band) is a procedure that is temporary in nature. A medical device is cinched around the top of the stomach near where it meets the esophagus. This technique creates a small pouch that empties into the larger remaining part of the stomach. The band is connected to a port that is located underneath the skin of the abdomen. The port is used to inject fluid into the band, which allows for resizing and greater or lesser restriction. With the Lap-Band in place, you will be taught to enjoy smaller portions and greater control over your eating. Many patients also enjoy that the band can be removed if necessary.

Gastric Balloon

The gastric balloon is a non-surgical technique. It involves the placement of a medical device in the form of an inflatable balloon in your stomach cavity. There are a variety of balloon systems with names like Obalon and Orbera. Some are inflated with nitrogen gas, while others are inflated with saline. The balloons occupy your stomach for six months, whereby you are taught portion control and sensible eating.

Read our article: Not Ready to Commit to Bariatric Surgery? Why Not Try the Gastric Balloon?

How Much Weight Can You Lose with Bariatric Surgery?

Gastric Sleeve

The gastric sleeve contributes to an average loss of 60-70% of excess weight within one year of surgery.

Gastric Bypass

Gastric bypass surgery contributes to losing 70-80% of excess weight within 18 months after surgery.


Laparoscopic gastric banding contributes to 40% excess weight loss within two years of bariatric surgery.

Gastric Balloon

The intragastric balloon system contributes to 7-15% of excess weight loss, with a total excess weight loss of 30% to 47% over time.

How Much Does Bariatric Surgery Cost, and Does Insurance Cover the Procedure?

A calculator, glasses and money on a green background.

The average weight loss surgery cost can range from $7,400 to $33,000 before insurance coverage. Gastric sleeve surgery costs around $9,500, gastric bypass costs around $15,000, and gastric banding costs around $12,000—the intragastric balloon costs between $5,500 to $7,000.

If these amounts seem high, remember that you may spend more on healthcare costs over your lifetime by remaining obese. Adults with obesity tend to have higher medical expenses than their normal-weight counterparts ($5,010 annually versus $2,504). If you consider this overage, you could pay for a bariatric procedure in five years if you take the procedure’s total without insurance helping to cover any of the costs.

As far as insurance is concerned, most health policy carriers offer bariatric surgery coverage. The best way to find out if you are covered is to call your carrier directly by the number on the back of your insurance card. If you are not covered, you may want to consider obtaining a job with bariatric surgery benefits or medical financing with companies like Care Credit and Prosper Healthcare Lending.

Ready to Change Your Life for the Better? Book a Bariatric Surgery Consultation

Now that you are an informed consumer by understanding why diet and exercise don’t always work as expected, you may be an excellent candidate for bariatric surgery. To rule out underlying conditions and hormonal issues and determine if you are healthy enough for the various procedures available, you are encouraged to schedule a consultation with Doctor Babak Moein by calling Healthy Life Bariatrics in Los Angeles, California.

Doctor Moeinolmolki can help you decide if bariatric surgery is right for you. Book your private meeting and start on the path to improving your health and quality of life by dialing (310)881-8503.

Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki
November 7,2022
Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki
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