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Weight Loss Stalls After Bariatric Surgery – Focus on the WHYs and HOWs

Weight Loss Stalls After Bariatric Surgery


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Hey, so there have been a lot of questions lately on the Facebook page about weight loss stalls and how to best jumpstart a weight loss stall after bariatric surgery. And so, I wanted to go into that in a little bit more detail.

Is it normal to experience weight loss stalls after bariatric surgery?

I’ve been stalled at the same weight after gastric sleeve at 7 weeks after leaving the hospital. What should I do?

Add in some exercise/resistance activities after bariatric surgery to keep your body working. Going off of diet alone won’t be enough long-term to keep losing and maintain the loss- Katelyn JM (US-RD Nutritionist)

There can be many causes of weight loss stalls following weight loss surgery. It is important to recognize the root cause and fight against it accordingly.

Fighting Weight Stalls Post Weight Loss Surgery

  1. Avoid the temptation to go back to clear liquids as that just causes a person’s metabolism to lower.
  2. Avoid Snacking. Usually looking at intake and making sure extra snacks aren’t adding up is a good start.
  3. Also, introducing more vegetables and fruits, depending on how far out someone is and their tolerance for such foods.
  4. Changing up the exercise routine and adding some resistance activity can make a big difference.

There are some things that I have learnt and so, I want to just go into that in a little bit more.

Factors Causing Weight Loss Stalls Post WLS

Pouch Resetting and Clear Liquid Diet Post Bariatric Surgery

So, a big thing that people will always tell is to go back to clear liquids and that will do a reset…reset your pouch. Well yes, you may lose some weight.

But, what really happens is that when you go back to clear liquids or do a kind of juice cleanse of some kind, you drink a lot of fluids and so, there are a lot of calories you are not consuming.

So yes, you have some weight loss just because of  the decrease in calories. But what also happens is that you are not taking as many nutrients, specifically sodium.

Causative Factors for Weight Loss Stalls After WLS

Lack of Sodium

One of the main functions of sodium is to act as a regulator for fluid balance in the body. The more sodium you take in, the more water you hold on to.

If you’ve had like a Honey Baked Ham or a lot of popcorn or something, you’re really thirsty for the next few hours. You wake up in the middle of the night…kind of parched and start guzzling water. Sound familiar?

  • The more sodium you have, the more water you have as sodium causes water retention.
  • As you take sodium out of your diet, which happens a lot with the pre bariatric surgery diet, you decrease your sodium and then, you will also eliminate more fluid.
  • It needs to be consumed in moderation.

Lowered Metabolism Rate

The other part of it is that when you decrease your calories so much, you are also lowering your metabolism.

Your body may have been used to running at 1200 calories after surgery.

Then, when you do one of these reset clear liquid diets, you go down to maybe 800 or 700. One thing your body is really good at is adapting to change.

  • So, it can adjust with the calorie level you bring it down to but you might be sluggish. And then, essentially all you are doing is lowering your metabolism.
  • And then, you start to add foods back in your diet.  During this process, you have lowered your metabolism, you lost some weight, some fat weight, some adipose tissue weight but you also lost some muscle.
  • Metabolism is specially affected if you weren’t exercising at that time. Odds are you didn’t have enough energy to work out because you weren’t taking enough calories.
  • So, you lose that muscle and then as you start to eat again, you are replacing the muscle with more adipose tissue, unless you are working out significantly.

So, that’s why, a lot of times people will lose weight on a diet and they regain all the lost weight and add another 2-3 pounds.

How to Break a Stall After Weight Loss Surgery?

Dealing with Weight Loss Stalls After Bariatric Surgery

Be Mindful of What You Eat After Bariatric Surgery

  • My basic recommendations are to write down everything you are eating or take pictures from your phone.
  • Just think of what you are bringing in your body. As we get a few weeks out from surgery, we can eat more, we have more tolerance for foods and that’s a good thing.
  • But we can also develop new habits or maybe bring some of those old habits back. So be mindful of what you are bringing in your body.

It is easy to grab an MNM here or eat an extra little bite of food there. So, just be aware of that. Develop new eating habits that will help you maintain your weight loss.

  • The other thing is to have more fruits and vegetables. I know it’s really cliché…the dietitians telling you to eat more fruits and veggies post WLS but eat more produce, fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, steam it, cook it, roast it, bake it.

So, yes, protein is important but it is not the end-all be-all if you are more than six months out from bariatric surgery.

Even if you are more than two or three months, it is not necessarily the only thing you need to focus on. A wholesome diet makes a huge difference to your weight loss.

A lot of times people will send me their food logs and they’re just not eating enough of fruits and veggies. That’s kind of the main stage of your diet. It should be the foundation.

Exercise after Weight Loss Surgery should be Routine

Finally, really try to increase your activity following your bariatric procedure or change up your activity…you are constantly doing the same exercise or the same daily activity in your garden or at work.

You have to shake things up. Your body is going to once again adapt to whatever it is you are doing.

  • If you are doing the same thing every single day, it is going to adapt and be able to run its business and do its thing on a little bit amount of calories because that’s what it has gotten used to.
  • You need to change the intensity of or change the resistance of whether it is…I am a big fan of putting ankle weights on or carrying hand weights if you are a big walker or runner.
  • The other thing you can do is change the incline on the treadmill. There are all sorts of ideas I can give you for your specific activities/exercises of choice if you need help in that regard.

So, I hope this helps and this is a long one. It is a big tangent, but I think this is an area that is very confusing and frustrating and once again there is not exact science to it.

We are learning more and more and it is one of those things where you have play with it…try one thing and then try another thing. So anyways, I hope that helps.

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