While it has been said many times before, bariatric surgery is merely a tool. It is possible to not use that tool properly and see results that you would not prefer. We are talking about weight regain after bariatric surgery. Unfortunately, this is sometimes a problem, but there are ways to prevent it and manage it if you have already gained.
A common problem and one of the largest determinants of how well you will do with weight loss post-surgery is exercise. When you lose weight rapidly, you typically lose muscle mass, whether you notice it or not. If you do not exercise to build that muscle mass back up, your metabolism will slow down. So not only are you not burning calories from doing exercise, but you’re also burning fewer calories throughout the day due to a slower metabolism. Muscle is the most metabolically active tissue in the body, meaning that it burns more calories than any other tissue. This is why it is essential to incorporate a combination of cardiovascular activity and strength training for a minimum of 30 minutes a day 5 days per week. More exercise will likely produce better results.
Another very common problem is drinking with or too close to your meal. If you drink just prior to a meal, during a meal or after a meal, your food is mixing with liquid, becoming softer and ultimately moving through your pouch more rapidly. This leaves you feeling hungry and may lead to eating more. Eating more leads to weight gain. In order to prevent this, you are asked to stop drinking anything 30 minutes prior to your meal and not drink anything until 30 minutes after your meal. Even small sips can sabotage your efforts. Along with this concept, if you’re choosing many soft foods and liquids, you will find yourself hungry and able to eat more. The majority of the time, you want to choose solid foods for your meals as these will fill you up quicker and keep you full longer.
One other common problem is grazing or excessive snacking. Picking at foods throughout the day can add up to many extra calories. Grazing often doesn’t fill you up or satisfy you and is done out of boredom or because the food looks good. It does not make sense to eat if you are not hungry. It is best to go for a walk, write in a journal, call a friend or somehow otherwise distract yourself from the situation that is leading you to eat.
By controlling each of these behaviors, we can continue on the journey of weight loss and not worry about weight gain. After all, you had the surgery in order to lose weight, so let’s make good use of the tool that you have.