After you undergo gastric sleeve surgery, you will most likely lose a significant amount of weight. People who undergo this procedure have to follow a strict diet to promote stomach healing. That, coupled with the reduced stomach size, means you will lose a lot of weight in the first few months after surgery.
Some patients tend to regain their lost weight, often due to unhealthy eating habits, stress, or lack of motivation. The following guide will help you understand how to lose weight after gastric sleeve surgery and maintain your results.
Start With a Doctor’s Consultation
It’s always better to have a professional’s opinion on your weight loss journey. Before starting any diet or exercise plan, make sure to consult with your doctor. They will assess your current health status and recommend a personalized weight loss plan.
Your doctor may also suggest working with a registered dietitian who has experience in helping patients after gastric sleeve surgery.
They can help you create a safe and sustainable meal plan that meets your nutritional needs while promoting weight loss.
Similarly, if you plan to follow a workout regimen, your doctor can advise you on which exercises are safe for you to do.
Follow Your Post-Op Diet Plan
Your post-op diet will change as weeks go on. Here’s an overview of the first few weeks.
In the first week post-surgery, you will only be allowed to have clear liquids. It’s the same diet you followed before surgery.
A clear liquid diet helps prevent complications like gastric leakage, bowel obstruction, dehydration, and constipation. It also gives your body some time to heal.
You can drink water, broth, sugar-free jello or popsicles, and non-carbonated drinks like tea.
Avoid drinking caffeinated or sugary drinks. Carbonated beverages can cause bloating, so they’re also off the menu.
Now, you move on to a full-liquid diet. You can consume:
Chunk-free and cream-based soups
Thinned cereal or oatmeal
Non-fat Greek yogurt
Fruit juice without pulp
Your appetite will increase during this time, so you may have urges to eat solid food. Don’t give in to them just yet.
At this point, you need to intake more proteins. You can also eat pureed or soft foods like the following now:
Plain Greek yogurt
Mashed vegetables (avoid stringy ones)
Cooked white fish (pureed)
Soft-boiled or poached egg
Again, no caffeine or chunky foods. Also, use little to no seasoning, as they may upset your stomach and cause heartburn.
Your body can now handle a regular diet, but nothing too heavy or greasy. Start introducing solid foods back into your meals but in small portions.
You can try the following:
Soft cooked vegetables
Soft fruits like ripe bananas and avocados
Soft grains (rice, pasta)
Cooked lean meats or fish
Now, you can eat normally. But that also means you could go back to your usual eating habits. We discuss the tips to avoid any future problems in the next section.
How to Maintain Weight Loss After a Gastric Sleeve?
By the 5 to 6-week point, you should have gotten some hang of your dietary restrictions and changes. Now, you can continue a regimen to lose weight.
Avoid Liquid Calories
You were off sodas and caffeinated drinks during the initial few weeks. Make sure you don’t bring them back into your life afterward either, as they pack a lot of calories without providing any nutritional value.
Instead, you can try low-fat milk, unsweetened tea or coffee (no sugar), and lots of water. If you crave sweet drinks, try infusing your water with fruits for a natural flavor.
Track Your Intake
With portion sizes being so small after surgery, it’s easy to overeat and not realize it. Keep a food journal or use an app to track your meals and drinks. It will help you stay accountable and ensure you’re not consuming more than recommended.
Tracking your intake can also help identify any patterns or triggers that may cause you to overeat or make unhealthy food choices.
Avoid Sugary Foods
High-sugar foods are a double-edged sword. One, they are high in calories and can lead to weight gain. Two, they raise your blood sugar levels and result in hunger pangs. In some gastric sleeve patients, sugary foods can also cause dumping syndrome, which can cause nausea and diarrhea.
If you see an ingredient list where sugar is among the top three ingredients, stay away from it. Instead, opt for protein or fiber-rich foods.
Eat More Protein
As you’re losing weight, protein will provide the much-needed muscle mass. It will also keep you full for longer and suppress your appetite. Make sure to include lean proteins in every meal, like chicken, fish, eggs, and tofu.
Develop an Exercise Routine
While gastric sleeve surgery significantly reduces your stomach size, it doesn’t stop you from consuming high-calorie foods or living a sedentary lifestyle. That’s where exercise comes in.
Talk to your doctor or a certified trainer about the right exercise routine for you. Start slow and gradually increase the intensity. Walking is an excellent, low-impact exercise. Once your body heals a bit more, you can incorporate strength training and cardio into your routine.
Let Go Of Caffeine
Yes, it’s hard. But caffeine needs to go. It is a diuretic, meaning it can cause dehydration and constipation. Plus, caffeine in coffee or soda can also trigger acid reflux after gastric sleeve surgery. In some situations, it can also put you at risk of a stomach ulcer.
Eat Minimally Processed Foods
Processed foods include fast foods, packaged snacks, boxed items, and sugary drinks. They are high in calories, unhealthy fats, added sugars, and sodium.
While it’s okay to indulge in these once in a while, make sure to limit their intake. Instead, incorporate whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins in your diet.
Enroll in a Weight Loss Program
Doing everything on your own can be overwhelming and challenging. A weight loss program under a doctor’s supervision could provide you with the necessary support and accountability.
At Family Doctors Medical Center, we offer three weight loss program options for you to choose from. Our program starts with a doctor consultation, vitals check, EKG, an InBody 520 Body Composition Analysis, and a weigh-in.
Then, you come in for weekly follow-up visits, during which we assist you in weight loss through progress tracking, fat-burning injections, weight loss-enhancing medications, and more. Each program is customized to individual needs and goals.
Staying on track towards a healthier weight after gastric sleeve surgery could be challenging, but it’s not impossible. You just need the right mindset, eating habits, support, and professional guidance to achieve your desired results.
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Recovering from Bariatric Surgery. UCSF Health. Accessed 11/20/2023.