Obesity is a disease that can negatively affect your quality of life, and it’s not only about finding fashionable and comfortable clothes to wear. Obesity is associated with a number of life-limiting comorbidities. Being obese also places a major strain on your organs and joints. Fortunately, bariatric surgery is the most effective method we currently have for helping people like you defeat obesity over the long term.
Yet, even with all the safety and success stories, many patients still fear the weight will come flooding back. Their fears are perfectly valid. They have been there, done that. When you are obese, losing weight becomes downright difficult. Even if you manage to lose a few pounds through extreme diets and physical activity, the pounds on the scale only eventually increase. You might even gain more weight than you originally lost. Talk about frustrating!
What you should know is that bariatric surgery has the highest rates of weight maintenance over the long term. Procedures like the gastric sleeve (laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy) and gastric bypass (Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery), have also been shown to decrease overall mortality when compared with healthier lifestyle changes alone.
Still, even after having weight loss surgery, weight regain is a possibility. Here is some food for thought with regard to bariatric surgery and long-term weight loss.
If you are currently obese and want to discuss options for improving your health and quality of life, book a consultation with Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki at Healthy Life Bariatrics in Los Angeles, California.
How to Keep the Weight Off Following Bariatric Surgery
Why does bariatric surgery work better than lifestyle changes alone? When you diet, your metabolism can slow down, making it more difficult to shed excess pounds. This is the pitfall many dieters fall into. They end up feeling hungry and deprived, and the weight still doesn’t budge. Or, the scale shows some progress, but the success is temporary.
Bariatric surgeries like the gastric sleeve and gastric bypass are not magic wands. They don’t suddenly cause you to shed the weight like the flip of a switch, but they do make long-term weight loss easier.
Bariatric surgery forces you to eat less, only you don’t feel deprived. That’s because these popular surgeries alter the way your brain perceives hunger. You no longer feel the constant need to eat, even between meals.
However, for bariatric surgery to be successful, you must do your part. Lifestyle changes are needed to guard against weight regain, which can happen if you’re not careful.
Read our article: How Do Bariatric Patients Gain Weight After Surgery & How to Guard Against It?
How Much Weight Can You Lose with Weight Loss Surgery?
On average, most people go on to lose between 50% to 70% of their excess weight.
Most patients shed weight quickly in the first year because the stomach is made smaller, and their caloric intake is limited.
At the two-year mark following bariatric surgery, your stomach can start to relax and stretch out, letting you eat a bit more. The weight loss will also slow or stop at this point. This can cause your motivation to wane, making it tougher to stick to your new, healthier lifestyle habits.
It is up to you to keep the weight off for life.
How Do People Gain Weight After Weight Loss Surgery?
Bariatric surgery is a procedure that aims to give you a new lease on life. For that to occur, you must pledge to live a healthier lifestyle. Bariatric surgeons are careful to only operate on patients that show such willingness to change their old, unhealthy habits, and enact positive change. This is why most bariatric surgery treatment plans include visits with dieticians, fitness professionals, and mental health experts.
Read our article: How to Emotionally Prepare Yourself for Weight Loss Surgery
Most patients are diligent with changing their lifestyle habits in the first year when the alterations to the body following surgery are still new. They eat healthy foods in proper portions and if they do eat out at restaurants, they bring most of their meals home in to-go boxes.
After experiencing some weight loss, it’s common for some patients to relax their dietary restrictions as they begin to tolerate a wider variety of foods. This can lead to eating more. If the person also starts exercising less, a weight loss plateau or weight regain can occur.
The thing you have to remember is that the more you weigh, the more calories your body requires to function. As you lose weight, you no longer need the same number of calories that you did at your heaviest. If you end up losing a hundred pounds, you need to adjust your daily caloric allotment accordingly or else you will gain weight.
A vast majority of instances of weight regain involve bad eating habits. These include eating when full, binge eating, out-of-control eating, eating continuously throughout the day, emotional eating, and the regular consumption of fast food.
How Can You Keep a Long-Term Weight Loss?
Gaining weight after a bariatric procedure may be common, but it doesn’t have to happen. You can maintain your long-term weight loss by keeping the following advice in mind. Many of these points will be covered by your bariatric surgeon before and after surgery as part of your bariatric surgical treatment plan.
Regular Visits with Your Bariatric Surgical Team
Annual visits with your surgical team are necessary for monitoring your blood work, nutrition status, and weight loss efforts. Your surgical team is as invested in your weight loss success as you are.
Studies also show that those who regularly follow up with a registered dietitian, and therapist specializing in nutritional eating experience greater weight loss and long-term success.
Practice Healthy Eating Habits
One of the keys to living a healthy lifestyle is to choose the right foods in their proper portions. As far as what foods you should eat, stick to protein and fiber, which stop you from feeling so hungry.
Foods that are excellent to eat include lean meats like chicken and turkey, fish, and egg whites. For dairy products, stick to non-fat cheese and cottage cheese. The rest of your plate can be filled with fruits like watermelon and cantaloupe, as well as vegetables like carrots, green beans, potatoes, and squash.
If your first thought is that those foods seem boring, it’s important to reframe your thinking. Try to reconsider your relationship with the foods you eat. Instead of seeing food as a means to gain emotional comfort, see food for what it is: fuel for your body.
Creating a healthy relationship with food that is free of emotional baggage is one of the tricks to losing weight and keeping it off for life.
An effective way to ensure you always eat the way you should is to pre-plan your meals. You may have heard of the meal prep movement. This is where you choose one day a week to prepare the meals you will eat over the following days. Each meal is carefully chosen and measured to ensure you get the caloric and nutritional content you need without feeling deprived. Preparing your meals ahead of time will also keep you from reaching for snacks when you feel hungry. Having a number of plastic containers in the fridge and freezer makes meal-times simple for greater weight loss surgery success.
Read our article: Meal Prep Ideas for Weight Loss Surgery Patients
Eat Smaller Meals
In the initial days following surgery, you will find yourself pureeing the foods you eat. This is meant to help you acclimate to the changes made during your weight loss procedure. You will eventually graduate to solid foods.
Once you are back on solid foods, your surgeon will encourage you to eat several smaller meals throughout the day, each meal consisting of between a cup or half-cup of food. This might be a major change if you were used to eating three large meals daily.
By eating smaller meals, you learn to recognize the feeling of fullness. Ideally, you will stop eating the moment you feel slightly full, not stuffed. This requires both a physical and mental shift that you’ll have to commit to in the weeks after your bariatric procedure.
Get Enough Sleep
If you want to lose weight and keep it off for life, learn to prioritize sleep. You should be getting seven to nine hours of sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Obesity can be tough on sleep. The disease not only puts a strain on your body and is associated with over sixty comorbidities, but the condition is also known as a sleep disrupter. Sleep apnea, incidentally, is one of the weight-related ailments you have to worry about.
Read our article: What are Obesity Comorbidities?
Weight loss surgery can help with sleep apnea, allowing you to get a better night’s sleep. This is a must for weight loss. Giving your body adequate rest lets you recover from physical activity and the changes made during your bariatric procedure.
Keep Stress at Bay
When you become overly stressed, you end up flooding your body with the stress hormone cortisol. Too much cortisol can lead to weight gain and a greater amount of belly fat.
It is important as a bariatric patient that you learn ways of coping that don’t involve food.
Read our article: Lifestyle Tips to Help You De-Stress Without Alcohol or Food
Whether you practice deep breathing exercises, meditation, or diving into an enjoyable book or movie, learning to keep your stress levels at a minimum can boost your ability to maintain your hard-earned weight loss.
Continuous snacking can undo all your hard work at preventing weight regain. You’ll also want to watch any liquid calories you consume, such as coffee creamers, juice, other sugary drinks, and alcohol.
Eat Out Sparingly
If you lead a busy lifestyle, you might find it convenient to eat your meals away from home. Be careful, as many restaurants pack their foods with extra calories to make them taste better. Butter, sauces, and other high-calorie ingredients can cause you to gain weight, even if it doesn’t seem that you’re eating that much.
Just as you pre-plan your meals, you might want to create a plan for what you will eat when dining out. Many restaurants include nutrition information on their menus. One thing you can do is search online for the restaurants you like to frequent and find foods that are safe to eat. That way, you know automatically what to order at these places instead of being tempted by high-fat foods.
You can eat out as a bariatric surgery patient, as long as you do so once in a while. And when you do, don’t feel guilty. Part of maintaining your weight loss is learning about moderation and when it’s okay to relax the rules only slightly.
Exercise Every Day
As you lose weight following your bariatric surgery, you will find you need to exercise to a greater degree to burn the same number of calories. Working with a fitness expert can help you learn exercise routines that are both fun and challenging, not to mention effective for long-term weight loss. You don’t have to be a marathon runner, bodybuilder, or fitness expert to lose weight. You only have to strive to get an hour of exercise per day if you hope to achieve long-term weight loss management. Don’t forget your rest days, which are highly important for allowing your body to recover.
Read our article: Benefits of Working Out After Weight Loss Surgery
What If You Start Gaining Weight Again After Weight Loss Surgery?
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Many bariatric patients gain some weight back after their surgeries. Just because you’ve had surgery doesn’t mean the weight will automatically stay gone forever. You must work at it continually if you hope to be successful at weight loss for life.
If you gain a little weight, recognize the fact, get back on the horse, and try again. You now have several methods to help you continue your weight loss efforts for a long time to come.
Find a Support Group
Finding a group of individuals who have undergone weight loss surgery can be an inspiration. You might learn some tricks of the trade to help you keep your excess weight at bay. A support group can also help during those times when your emotions become upended.
How Much Weight Loss is Considered a Successful Weight Loss Surgery?
You are considered to be a weight loss surgery success story if you can manage to keep at least 50% of your excess body weight from coming back. Rarely do patients regain all their excess weight.
In closing, you can lose weight and keep it off by adhering to a plan of healthy eating, regular exercise, and keeping stress at bay. Get enough sleep, visit with your bariatric team regularly, and find a support group if needed.
Still, have questions about bariatric surgery and what it takes to make yours a weight loss surgery success story? Call Healthy Life Bariatrics in Los Angeles to schedule a consultation with Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki in Los Angeles, California.