Weight Loss Stall After Bariatric Surgery & How to Beat It

Weight Loss Stall

The scale has come to a complete stop after your bariatric surgery. Now, what are you supposed to do? The whole reason you underwent surgery was to drop the excess weight. But when you still haven’t achieved your weight loss goal, and the scale stops moving, does that mean the surgery failed?

Not so fast.

While it’s easy to panic when the pounds stop falling off, the fact is, losing weight isn’t such an easy affair, even after weight loss surgery.

To lose weight when the scale has stopped moving, it first becomes important to discover why the weight loss has ceased. Once you have figured that out, the next step is to fine tune your lifestyle habits so that you can jumpstart your weight loss once again.

Here are some tips to follow the next time you experience a weight-loss stall following bariatric surgery.

What Causes Weight Loss to Stall After Gastric Sleeve?

Before we get to the advice for reinvigorating your weight loss efforts, let’s look at some causes of weight loss stall. These include:

Body Adjustment

Weight loss surgery alters your digestive system to some degree. With gastric bypass surgery, your stomach is made smaller, which forces you to eat less. Your smaller stomach is then rerouted to the middle part of your small intestine. Not only are you forced to eat smaller portions and tinier meals, but because your digestive system is rerouted, you are forced to absorb fewer nutrients from the foods you eat. This helps you lose weight safely, quickly, and permanently.

The gastric sleeve isn’t as invasive as the gastric bypass and it only involves the shrinking of your stomach. Still, the gastric sleeve, like the bypass, is effective at helping you lose the excess weight quickly, at least at first.

As the weight begins to come off following surgery, you will notice the scale moving quickly. The pounds will seem to melt away. At some point, however, your body and metabolism will begin to adjust to the changes made during surgery. This makes weight loss stall not only likely but inevitable.

Your Diet Isn’t Dialed In

Your bariatric surgeon will give you tips on how to eat healthily as you recover from your weight loss procedure. The advice could include eating bite-sized portions and consuming smaller meals. You’ll also be told which foods to consume and which you should stay away from. For example, you will be told to fill your plate with foods rich in protein and fiber while refraining from foods high in saturated fat and sugar. While this can take some work to get your diet up to par, you’ll find that weight loss surgery in many cases curbs your cravings and makes you less hungry overall, helping you eat the right types and portions of foods for significant weight loss.

As your metabolism adjusts after weight loss surgery, and the weight loss stall begins to take effect, you may have to play around with your diet. Talk to your bariatric surgeon for suggestions on how to tailor your eating to achieve your weight loss goals. You may be told to count your calories or count your macros, which are your fat, carbohydrates, and proteins. Getting your diet right could be all you need to get the needle on the scale moving once more.

Not Enough Exercise

Many people incorrectly believe that weight loss surgery is akin to a magic wand, where the excess weight simply begins to disappear. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Not only do you have to watch what you eat following your bariatric procedure, but you also need to move your body. Getting exercise in the form of moderate walking or high-intensity interval training is a terrific way to force your body to give up those pesky fat stores.

As part of your bariatric treatment, your surgeon may put you into contact with a fitness specialist who can give you a workout program designed just for you. Sometimes, burning a few extra calories a day can be enough to melt those pesky extra pounds.

Not Enough Liquids

A woman drinking water from a bottle in a gym locker.

Your bariatric surgeon will instruct you not to eat and drink liquids at the same time once you have healed from surgery. This is because liquids can make you feel full, which could limit the number of calories you consume and absorb. With your stomach smaller and your digestive system altered, you need all the nutrients you can get. Therefore, try to drink your fluids between meals as much as you can muster.

Drinking lots of liquid (hopefully in the form of mostly water) will give your body what it needs to function properly. All that liquid helps the vitamins and nutrients you consume travel to all the necessary parts of your body. This is important for healing after surgery and dropping excess weight from that point forward. If you’re not losing weight on account of a weight-loss stall, try drinking more liquids. You may find that a slight flush is all that’s needed to kickstart your metabolism back into action.

Simple Tips for Overcoming a Weight Loss Stall

Your bariatric surgeon will be the best one to give you customized advice for beating a weight-loss stall following gastric sleeve or gastric bypass surgery, which are two of the most popular bariatric procedures. Your tailored program could contain some of the following tips:

Don’t Overwork Yourself

It seems counterproductive to want to take it easy once you notice you’re no longer losing weight. Your first instinct might be to take your workouts up a notch, but this could harm your efforts rather than help you lose more weight.

When you overtrain, which can come from over-exercising while not eating enough, you can begin to break your body down. You may feel moodier than usual, you may face injuries like an ankle sprain, and your metabolism could slow to a crawl. Instead of trying to kill yourself in the gym to force your weight loss to start back up again, try taking it easy for a few days, then get back to it once you feel more refreshed.

Add More Dietary Protein

You might think that adding food to your plate is conducive to gaining weight, not losing it, but that’s not the case with protein-rich foods like lean red meat and poultry. Adding protein-rich foods can contribute to more muscle growth. The more muscle you’re able to add to your frame, the more calories you will burn at rest, which could be enough to help you drop the excess fat.

Don’t Forget the Fiber

Beet salad with walnuts and oranges.

In addition to protein, fill your plate with foods high in fiber, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Fiber-rich foods can help reinvigorate your metabolism and regulate your gut flora, giving your body what it needs to beat weight-loss stall.

Ease Your Mind & Body

Stress will do nothing but hinder your weight loss efforts. The more nerve-racked you are, the more your metabolism slows. This means that if you want to revive your weight loss, you should do your best to relax your mind and body. Take a vacation to get your mind off work. Adopt a habit of meditation and practice mindfulness a few times per week. Get out in nature, try deep breathing, or pick up a hobby that relaxes you. There are many ways to keep the stressors of life at bay. Give some of them a try and you may find that your weight loss starts back up when you least expect.

Assess Your Mental Health

Are you an emotional eater? Do you tend to suffer from ailments like depression and anxiety? If so, you may want to get a handle on those if you hope to lose the most weight. Most bariatric treatment plans involve a psychological evaluation to determine if mental health contributed to your obesity in the first place. Without first treating your mental health issues, your weight loss stall could become permanent. With the help of psychological professionals, however, you could find yourself easily adopting the necessary habits that contribute to long-term weight loss.

Track Your Macros

There are several mobile apps that allow you to keep track of the foods you eat each day. In addition to calories, these apps can help you calculate macronutrients like fat, carbohydrates, and protein. By increasing protein and regulating fat and carbs, you could succeed in boosting your metabolism for greater weight loss.

Work Your Muscles

Cardiovascular exercise is not the only way to drop a few excess pounds. Muscle-building exercises, too, can help in your fight against weight loss stall. Weightlifting and bodyweight exercises can both give your body a metabolism boost. You don’t have to lift heavy weights to gain benefit from weightlifting. Small dumbbells can give you enough resistance to work those muscles and force them to grow. Don’t forget the protein in your diet to give your muscles the nourishment they need to expand. Bodyweight exercises like pushups, pullups, and squats can also help to strengthen your body, no weights are required. Ask your bariatric surgeon or a fitness professional about a weight training program you can adopt that’s perfect for your health and body goals.

Start a HIIT Workout Program

A woman doing yoga on a yoga mat with dumbbells.

A high-intensity interval training workout program is a terrific way to get leaner following weight loss surgery. HIIT is all about hard work with short rests in between. The typical program will have you performing exercises in short bursts, such as pushups for forty seconds, followed by a rest for twenty seconds, rinse and repeat. This helps to improve your strength and endurance.

The best way to approach HIIT is to warm up for ten minutes, then perform exercises like pushups, jumping jacks, lunges, squats, jump roping, knee-ups, and burpees by doing ten or so rounds of 40 seconds each with 20 seconds of rest in between. Try this program and you may find that your metabolism kicks into high gear, helping you beat your current stall.

Get Outside and Move

If you are accustomed to training in the gym every day, try to switch it up. Get outside and go for a long walk or try a light jog, whatever your body is most comfortable with. With the sun on your face, you’ll get a healthy dose of vitamin D, which is critical for health. Exercising also releases endorphins, which is excellent for boosting your mood. Give it a try and you just might see that exercising outside is just what the doctor ordered for beating your weight loss stall.

Drop the Alcohol

Bariatric surgery patients are warned against drinking too much alcohol. The reason is that your tolerance for alcohol can plummet after surgery due to the alterations of your digestive system. The buzz could hit you faster and harder, which could be dangerous in some situations. Not only that, but when you drink alcohol, your body will strive to clear it from your system before it gets busy burning fat. That means that, by consuming wine, liquor, or beer, you could be inadvertently creating a weight-loss stall. Try teetotaling for a bit to see if that gets the scale moving again.

The Dreaded Weight Loss Plateau = No Reason to Be Alarmed

Weight loss stall doesn’t just happen to bariatric surgery patients. The issue can pop up for anyone who is actively trying to lose a significant amount of weight. That means that you should never panic when your BMI refuses to fall as fast as you expect.

The best way to counter the phenomenon of weight loss stall is to identify the cause of the issue. Check your diet, exercise program, and whether you are overtraining to see if maybe that’s why you’re not losing as quickly as you’d hoped. Then try to follow the above advice by eating more protein and fiber, getting outside and exercising for a change, and trying a HIIT regimen. These tips can make your fat loss success. All it takes is a little effort on your part and collaboration with your bariatric surgeon.

Get Your Weight Loss Questions Answered by Scheduling a Consultation

Bariatric surgery can help you lose up to 50% or more of your excess weight. Just know that, for whatever reason, you could experience a weight-loss stall somewhere along the way. That doesn’t mean your surgery didn’t work. It only means you need to do a little troubleshooting to get your body shape goals back on track.

Get answers to your questions about bariatric surgery and how to lose the maximum amount of weight by scheduling a consultation at Healthy Life Bariatrics in Los Angeles, California. Call (310)861-7844.

Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki
August 9, 2021
Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki
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