Skip to main content
How to keep the weight off after bariatric surgery

How to Keep the Weight Off After Bariatric Surgery

Healthy meals are a good way to keep the weight off after bariatric surgery.
Healthy meals are a good way to keep the weight off after bariatric surgery.

Hundreds of thousands of people get bariatric surgery each year. Depending on the specific kind of surgery that is done, there might be modifications to your stomach, intestines, or both. What’s common to all these procedures is the changes to the volume of food your body can intake or how it takes food in.

Weight loss is usually very successful in such procedures, but there is always a risk of gaining some back. More than half of all bariatric patients get 5 percent of their overall body weight back in the first two years. Some get back even more.

Knowing how to maintain weight loss after your bariatric procedure helps you keep the weight off for good.

After bariatric surgery, you should always:
Eat Breakfast

Don’t trim too many of your calories from breakfast, though, and don’t skip this meal. Start each day with a bit of protein, a fruit or veggie, and some fiber. This will jumpstart your metabolism for each day.

Track Your Food

A food log of everything you eat sends your mindfulness and accountability through the roof. You’ll know where your problem areas are. Do this food log however you want. It can be paper and pencil, a digital spreadsheet, or through a website. Research has shown time and again that those who log their food intake usually lose twice as much weight as those who don’t.

Reconsider Your Food Relationship

Many bariatric patients have complicated relationships with food. You need to start looking at food as a source of fuel rather than emotional comfort. If your kind of food relationship doesn’t change, then the physical surgery and weight loss might not have a chance. If you have psychological or emotional issues causing you to eat, you might want to work with an addiction therapist privately in addition to your bariatric support group.

Emphasizes Fitness and Physical Activity

Get your body moving and keep it moving. Combine both resistance training with cardiovascular exercise. The combination will prevent boredom from setting in, and you’ll simultaneously build muscle mass while preserving it. Lean muscle tissue is a crucial component of a healthy metabolism. There are two keys to success in this. First, find something you love doing so you’re naturally more inclined to do it. Secondly, find someone to be active with for support and accountability.

Limit Your Liquid Calories

Liquid calories are often empty and nutrient-deficient, which means they can easily derail both weight loss and maintenance. They pass through you but don’t satiate you, with the possible exception of water. In fact, many liquids will actually flush solid food through you too quickly and make you hungry faster.

Find Post-Op Support

Joining a support group improves your chances of long-term success. Bariatric procedures are emotional roller coasters for most patients. Spending time with people going through the same experience can be a source of comfort and strength. You should also be able to find answers to a lot of your questions that actual surgeons might not actually deal with. Moral support is as valuable as the encouragement and inspiration you get from others in your shoes.

Put Together a Health Team

Keep in regular touch with your primary care physician. Also, find a registered dietitian and work with them on a consistent basis. The surgery is just one step but not a permanent or final answer on its own. You need to make permanent lifestyle changes, and working regular with the right experts can provide you guidance, knowledge, and accountability.

Wait for the Starches

Your appetite might come back anywhere from six to nine months following your surgery. This is when you might start craving starches more. These are foods such as sweets, cereal, chips, crackers, potatoes, pasta, rice, and bread. For the most success, stick to two servings a day at a half-cup each. Whenever possible, choose starches with whole grains and lots of fiber.

Go Easy on Grazing

Grazing is continuously nibbling or snacking all day long. It might make you feel good and keep you from being hungry, but it can also thwart all your hard work. The whole point of most bariatric procedures is letting you feel full after smaller meals. Aim for solid foods high in fiber and protein to stay fuller for longer. Plan out your meals at regular intervals. A portion of nuts with some fruit will keep you going for a while longer.

Take It Easy When Eating Out

Everyone’s busy these days, so eating while out is unavoidable sometimes. However, you should plan for it just like you plan your groceries. Always ask for nutritional information or get it off their website. Get these for your regular restaurants so you can circle and highlight the best available options. Moderation is something you can practice at any establishment no matter what they serve. Even too much healthy food is excess calories.

Form Lifetime Eating Habits

Your weight loss after your procedure will eventually slow down. This is a dangerous time where you might slip into old habits and take your focus off of dietary guidelines. Always prioritize foods dense in nutrients. Lean proteins are as essential a year after surgery as they are the first month. Never neglect fruits and vegetables either. In the years after your procedure, your stomach might start expanding slowly, and your appetite will go up. Using high-volume yet low-calorie foods, such as vegetables, is crucial to preventing your weight from coming back.

Eat on Schedule

Your breakfast needs to happen within an hour or two of waking up. You should eat every three to four hours after that. Work with your dietitian to come up with a plan for food shopping so that your grocery list becomes your easy eating plan.

Scale Your Calorie Intake to Your New Metabolism

The more weight you lose, the fewer calories you are going to need for daily sustenance and life. If you weighed 280 pounds before your surgery, you can’t keep eating that volume of calories if you drop to 180 pounds.

Don’t Stress When It Starts Coming Back

If you start to regain weight, don’t beat yourself up over it. Sometimes, it’s a natural response. It might even be the muscle you’re building. If it’s enough to bother you, reach out to your primary care physician, your support group, or even your bariatric team to figure out what’s going on. New medications might help that have come out since your procedure.

Some Weight Gain Doesn’t Mean You’ll Gain It All Back

Many bariatric surgeons define success in a specific way. Immediately after you have your initial procedure, you should lose a lot of weight. As long as you have kept half of that weight loss by the five-year anniversary of your surgery, you are considered a successful bariatric case.

Want to Learn More?

If you think that this kind of surgery might be a good way to get healthy, then do one of the following things:

You can also learn more by visiting the following resources used in cultivating this content: