4 Practical Tips to Avoid Weight Regain after Bariatric Surgery

A common misconception surrounding weight loss surgery is that it is a permanent fix. Although surgery can help patients lose weight at an otherwise faster rate than they would with diet and exercise, it will not keep the weight off forever—patients must maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

As a bariatric surgeon, I have seen many patients who are confused about why they have regained their weight after bariatric surgery. In most cases, patients are partaking in unhealthy lifestyle habits that they are entirely unaware of. In last week’s blog, we talked about the steps you can take to avoid regain from a wellness perspective, and this week we will dive into the more practical tips to help you achieve long-term weight loss success. 

1. Follow Up with your Bariatric Care Team.

Some of the most successful bariatric patients are the ones who frequently attend their follow-up visits after weight loss surgery and maintain regular contact with their weight loss provider. Patients who attend their post-op visits have the chance to meet one-on-one with their surgeon and dietitian to evaluate their eating and exercise habits. 

By attending follow-up visits with your physician, you are likely to mitigate the bad behavior and avoid weight regain. Similarly, your physician will be able to identify any possible medications that are preventing successful weight loss. 

The most common reason an individual fails to get help after weight loss surgery is feelings of embarrassment and a sense of failure if and when they have regained the weight. We want our patients to know that weight regain is not a sign of failure. Most of the time, the patient’s overall health is still significantly better after surgery, which is one great accomplishment in and of itself. It has been proven that when patients are held accountable, they are more likely to succeed. So be sure you are scheduling your visits to stay on track and avoid significant weight regain. 

2. Stick to the Program

Following your weight loss program’s recommendations may seem obvious. Still, we know from experience that patients tend to follow their own dietary guidelines soon after surgery (within the first 6 to 12 months). It’s human nature to fall back into the old habits that contributed to obesity in the first place.

At Bariatric Centers of America, we teach bariatric patients the “food test rule” to make regular healthy food choices. The “food test rule” focuses on filling your plate with high-protein foods, aka anything that walks, swims, crawls, or moves in any form. Next, fill up on non-starchy vegetables – preferably green vegetables because they are low in carbs and have lots of vitamins and minerals. If you are looking to lose weight, you can still eat carbohydrates (in moderation) but focus on complex carbs such as whole grains, brown rice, beans, etc.

The consistent application of our “food test rule,” along with thinking of food differently, helps our patients apply these weight loss principles to their everyday life to make healthy food choices that will help them maintain the weight they lost.

3. Find Support

Many studies have proven that physical and emotional support will ultimately help patients become more successful with their weight loss. Support can come in all forms, but regardless of the type or the degree of involvement you would like your “mentor” to have, you must find encouragement to meet your goals.

A healthy support system consists of people who celebrate your successes and love reminding you when your stated desire to live a healthy lifestyle does not match your actions. Find someone or a group of people you can lean on that will walk this weight loss journey with you. 

For patients seeking to lose weight, we encourage them to find a workout/accountability partner, lean on family and friends for times of encouragement, or to get involved in online communities such as a bariatric support group. Regular support group attendance has been shown, in many studies, to improve patients’ long-term outcomes after weight loss surgery. A properly run support group provides an informal way to maintain contact with the patient’s weight loss provider while at the same time providing ongoing education about proper nutrition and lifestyle changes.

4. Recognize Obesity is More than a Food Addiction

As the prevalence of obesity continues to rise, doctors and society alike have begun to look at obesity as more of a metabolic problem than a social problem. In many cases, obesity is not a sole result of overeating food but is also a result of hormonal imbalances. 

With that being said, you may need to look outside your bariatric office to seek treatment. This may include following up with your GYN (ladies) or even visiting an endocrinologist to get your thyroid tested. If you are experiencing weight regain and you have been adhering to a healthy diet and exercise regimen, we suggest you schedule an appointment with your bariatric surgeon so they can help you get to the root of the problem. 

At Live Healthy, we are on a mission to help patients live healthy, not just one-year post-op, but for the rest of their lives. We emphasize the importance of having a bariatric care team that will walk with you through your post-op journey. So, even if you had surgery elsewhere, we encourage you to fill out a form on our website and get connected with a provider in your area that can support you on your post-op journey to success.

Wellness Based Tips to Avoid Regain after Weight Loss Surgery

The journey to weight loss surgery is long and requires a lot of effort, possibly even a lot of money, so regaining weight after surgery can feel entirely defeating. According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, more than 50 percent of patients will end up regaining a small percentage of their excess body weight within two years of their procedure. Unfortunately, other patients will end up regaining most, if not all, of their weight back after bariatric surgery. 

This is most often a result of resorting back to old eating habits while not incorporating physical activity into their everyday life. Within the first year after surgery, patients are diligent about their portion sizes and the quality of food they are consuming, yet they may begin to slack off over time.

At Live Healthy MD, we are on a mission to help patients live healthy, not just one-year post-op, but for the rest of their lives. In this blog, we give you our six wellness-based tips to avoid regain after weight loss surgery, that if followed, will help you reach your goal weight and maintain weight loss long term. 

Tips to Avoid Weight Regain after Bariatric Surgery

1.  Drink Lots of Water

Our bodies are made up of about 70% water, and therefore it is an essential substance we must consume for optimal bodily function. When you do not drink enough water and are dehydrated, you will experience adverse effects within your body, including your organ function, mental clarity, and overall health.

Drinking water is a great defense mechanism against fighting diseases and viruses. We all have mucus membranes in our eyes, nose, and mouth that catch germs before they enter our body. Yet, the mucus membranes are essentially ineffective if they are dried out. Similarly, water is essential in flushing out toxins from our bodies.

Water is also effective in helping you maintain a healthy weight as it acts as an appetite suppressant and helps your body metabolize fat. To experience all these benefits, you want to drink at least 64 ounces of water a day. Try adding a slice of lemon or mint to your water to add variety to your hydration schedule.

2. Get Enough Sleep Each Night

Getting a good night’s rest is an essential aspect of achieving overall wellness and functions as a time for your body to heal and repair itself. Sleep impacts many of your bodily functions, including your mood, mental clarity, immune system, weight, and overall health. Over time, sleep deprivation will negatively impact your physical health. When we talk about being sleep deprived, we refer to not going through enough REM and non-REM sleep cycles, which ultimately affects your ability to function at your optimal point throughout the day.

When you do not get enough sleep each night, your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, arthritis, an overactive thyroid, and obesity increases significantly. Many studies have found that sleep deprivation increases a patient’s risk of developing heart disease by nearly 50 percent and triples the risk of having type 2 diabetes.

3. Increase Daily Activity

Exercise is a key component of a healthy living plan. Exercise makes us feel better, reduces depression, and improves heart and lung function. Exercise increases our lean body mass (muscle mass), which increases our resting metabolic rate, the rate at which our body consumes glucose (carbohydrates). While exercise is a foundation for a healthy, happy life, it plays a relatively minor role in weight loss compared to focusing on your diet. However, it is beneficial in weight maintenance and helping patients avoid regain after weight loss surgery. The key to starting any exercise program and making a habit out of movement is to start slow.

Tips to creating an exercise regimen that you stick to are:

  1. Find something you enjoy doing and makes you feel comfortable
  2. Get a workout/accountability partner
  3. Know your “why” – understanding your primary motivator is key to your long-term success
  4. Set attainable goals that will keep you motivated along the way

4. Make a Grocery List

Grocery shopping can seem like a chore, especially if you are buying for a family or even trying to eat healthier in a world of uncrustables and cookies. If you have recently had Bariatric Surgery or are on a weight loss journey, navigating the grocery store can be overwhelming. Therefore, we always encourage our patients to make a grocery list before heading into the store.

Benefits of Making a Grocery List: 

  1. Saves Time: A grocery list saves you from wandering up and down the aisles, wondering what you will eat for the next few days.
  2. Saves Money: Grocery lists give you guidelines for what to buy based on the meals you plan to eat that week, eliminating your spending on unnecessary food items.
  3. Healthier Choices: Most unhealthy decisions are made impassively. Therefore, a shopping list keeps you from making last-minute, unhealthy food choices and ultimately avoid regain after weight loss surgery.
  4. Planned Meals: Prior to going to the grocery store, you can review all of your meals and add ingredients to your shopping list based on what you plan to cook for the week.
  5. Minimize Waste: A grocery list ensures you only buy what you intend to use, therefore saving you from buying too much food that will end up going bad and being thrown out.

5. Focus on Food Quality and Quantity

Two behaviors that are almost always the culprit for weight regain are frequent snacking and the overconsumption of carbohydrates. Snacking between meals can lead to significant weight gain after weight loss surgery due to the quality and quantity of food consumed. Most often, snack foods are full of carbohydrates and sugar. They are considered “low density” food items due to the lack of nutrition. 

When you don’t sit down for planned meals, it is easy to overeat or eat foods that are not on your nutrition plan. Although we suggest bariatric patients eat five small meals a day, we also suggest they plan accordingly. Patients who recently had their bariatric surgery will notice they do not need more than the recommended 1 cup serving size to feel satisfied. However, as the years go by and you begin to eat more, your stomach will expand, allowing you to consume larger amounts of food. Therefore, patients must be highly aware of how much food they are putting on their plate at each meal. 

The second reason you may start seeing the number on the scale go up is due to the overconsumption of carbohydrates. Although the body needs a certain amount of carbohydrates to fuel itself, if you are not burning more than you consume, you will gain weight. Therefore, we recommend bariatric patients stay away from high-carb foods such as fruit, starchy vegetables, and grains (including pasta and bread). Your body will receive enough carbs from the other foods on your nutrition plan to function correctly and still help you lose weight. 

6. Keep a Food and Exercise Journal.

When patients start to regain weight and even hit a plateau, it is most often a result of consuming more calories than they are burning. When you aren’t keeping a close look at your food intake, it is easy to consume too many calories and experience regain after weight loss surgery. Therefore, we recommend bariatric patients track their food intake and energy expenditure for a week to see where you may be slipping up. 

Similarly, you want to be sure you measure out your food. Start using diligent portion control methods and scales to accurately measure and report on everything you are consuming. This will give you an idea of how much and how frequently you are eating and give you a look into your macronutrient breakdown between carbs, fats, and protein. When you schedule a follow-up visit with your surgeon, be sure to bring the food diary with you so you both can go over it together. 

The Hormonal Imbalances Causing Weight Gain

Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers produced by the endocrine system that regulate every function from breathing to eating and reproducing. In certain cases, an individual’s endocrine system will not function correctly, leading to a hormonal imbalance. When the hormones are out of whack, specifically for those weight-regulating hormones, it can make it harder to lose weight.

Continue reading “The Hormonal Imbalances Causing Weight Gain”

How to Overcome Weight Regain after Bariatric Surgery

Weight loss surgery is an excellent choice for individuals to lose a significant amount of weight and keep it off over time. Yet, some patients are concerned about regaining after Bariatric Surgery. The journey to weight loss surgery is long and requires a lot of effort, possibly even a lot of money, so regaining weight after surgery can feel entirely defeating.

Continue reading “How to Overcome Weight Regain after Bariatric Surgery”

5 Ways to Get Back on Track to Losing Weight

Labor Day marks the end of summer (unofficially) and that means the kids are back in school and vacations are over. With things calming down, you may be reflecting on your summer thinking “where has the time gone?”. If you are anything like the other million Americans, summer has probably derailed your weight loss goals. With long days, late nights, and multiple vacations, it can be hard to make the most healthy life choices.

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How to Avoid Regaining Weight

A common misconception surrounding weight loss surgery is that it is a permanent fix. Although surgery can help patients lose weight at an otherwise faster rate than they would with simple diet and exercise, it will not keep the weight off forever—patients must maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Continue reading “How to Avoid Regaining Weight”

Weight Loss Expectations

Many patients come to see us at Live Healthy MD because they have failed at pretty much every attempt to lose weight. As the prevalence of obesity continues to rise, more and more physicians and professionals in this field of study begin to recognize it as a disease. For many who have tried and failed to lose weight on their own or who feel as though their weight is out of control, weight loss surgery is the best solution for maximal and sustained weight loss. However, like any treatment, surgery is not fool-proof and results will vary based on each individual.

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How to Lose Weight and Keep It Off After Bariatric Surgery

Staying on top of your goals following weight loss surgery can be difficult. It may feel like the temptations around you are unbearable, especially as Halloween just passed and the holidays begin to roll in. As a physician who has practiced bariatric surgery and medicine for 23 years, I have seen many patients succeed and equally as many fail at their weight loss. So, what are those patients doing to successfully lose weight and keep it off?

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