After you have completed your gastric bypass surgery it is now time to continue to be careful with your diet. Now is not the the time to fall back into old ways. Here is how to restart your weight loss after gastric bypass.
How to Restart Weight Loss After Gastric Bypass
Gastric bypass surgery reduces the size of the stomach by forming a small pouch at the top. This severely limits the amount of food it can hold so it’s not surprising many people experience rapid weight loss during the weeks and months following their procedure.
The problem is, the stomach has an incredible ability to adapt and stretch so after it heals, it can be very easy to fall back into bad habits.
Good bariatric surgeons provide their patients with structured post-operative guidelines. Following these guidelines should help provide a solid foundation to build healthier eating habits and avoid pouch overload.
Just after surgery, any attempt to overeat would cause severe discomfort and additional problems. So, at that stage, it’s relatively easy to walk the straight and narrow and “be good.”
However, the flesh of the stomach has special folds, called rugae, that allow the stomach to expand in response to the presence of food and contract as the stomach empties. It’s a very adaptable organ and once the inflammation goes down after surgery, and the scar tissue heals, it’s all too easy to retrain your stomach to hold more food than you need.
Needless to say, if you stop following the recommended guidelines and throw caution to the wind, you can soon be back to square one.
You may be surprised to learn estimates suggest 10–20 percent of gastric bypass patients regain most of their weight. (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00464-011-1723-0).
So, if this has happened to you, you are not alone. Don’t worry though. There are a couple of things you can do to restart your weight loss after a gastric bypass.
The first option is to undergo revision surgery. A better alternative is to do a bariatric pouch reset.
Revision Surgery Vs. A Bariatric Pouch Reset
As you may have guessed, during revision surgery, bariatric surgeons rectify the area of stretched stomach by further reducing the size of the pouch. This makes it possible to restart weight loss after the original gastric bypass operation could be said to have failed. As with any form of surgery, the procedure is not without risk.
A relatively new procedure, called StomaphyX is less invasive than traditional bariatric revisional surgery. Although general anesthesia is still required, there is no cutting involved.
During the StomaphyX procedure, the surgeon guides a special StomaphyX device into the stomach via the mouth, while monitoring the operation with an endoscope.
The device utilizes suction and, when it’s inside the stomach the surgeon sucks sections of flesh into a special opening and create folds of tissue (plications) that resemble pleats.
The StomaphyX device is multi-functional so, after the surgeon has formed the plications they can fasten the flesh and hold it in place with staple-like suture fasteners.
Patients typically require multiple plications but, by the end of the procedure, the stomach pouch is much smaller.
Of course, if patients make the same mistakes, it will be easy to stretch the pouch again. Bariatric surgery, of any type, does not provide a get out of jail free card for people who wish to pursue unhealthy eating habits.
For many people, a bariatric pouch reset is likely to be a preferable option. Instead of forcing further changes on the stomach, it takes advantage of the organ’s ability to adapt to less food and grow smaller.
A bariatric pouch reset does not entail any of the risks surgery presents and is more likely to encourage future good habits.
Understanding the Different Types of Gastric Bypass Procedures
Gastric Bypass is a type of weight loss surgery that involves the stapling or bypassing of one or more small or large bowel muscles. The purpose of this surgery is to reduce the amount of food that can be absorbed by the body. In addition to reducing calories, the bypass allows people to lose a great amount of weight in a relatively short period of time. There are currently three main weight loss (and bariatric surgery) surgeries being done across the United States. They are Roux-en-Y and adjustable gastric banding, banded pouch gastrectomy and sclerotherapy. All of these surgeries do have pros and cons to them, which is why each one is being investigated and discussed by patients who have had them.
Roux-en-Y is a type of weight-loss surgery that involves the blocking or restricting of a person’s entrance to his stomach. If he were to eat, the food would then go into the small intestine where it could be absorbed into the body. However, if the person were to eat after his stomach was full, the amount of food that can be absorbed into the body is decreased. It may also cause a decrease in the amount of insulin in the bloodstream, as well as decrease the ability of the patient’s digestive system to absorb nutrients into the body. As with most types of bariatric surgery, people who have undergone this procedure may need to take certain medications to help them return to their normal diets later on.
Adjustable gastric bypass surgery involves the gradual reduction of one’s stomach size. This means that over time, the size of the stomach will decrease until eventually it is much the same size as the upper portion of the small intestine. After the stomach becomes too small, there are fewer amounts of calories absorbed into the body. This can lead to a decline in weight loss and an increase in the risk of developing serious medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and some forms of cancer. Some patients will even experience a slowing of the metabolism. Some may develop severe heart disease as a result of the procedure.
The primary purpose of having adjustable gastric banding or a gastric bypass is to allow a patient to achieve a greater weight loss. This is achieved by decreasing the rate at which food is digested. By doing so, the risk of developing health conditions related to an overloaded stomach is greatly reduced. However, this type of weight-loss surgery can sometimes also lead to health complications that are associated with other weight loss surgery options such as bypassing the lower portion of the esophagus.
Patients who are considered to be a good candidate for a gastric bypass surgery are individuals who are moderately over-weight and have difficulty losing weight. They must also have an increased risk of developing conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, gallstone formation, among others. Individuals who suffer from a smaller stomach or who have experienced recent surgeries involving the removal of the lower portion of the esophagus should also consider the benefits of a Roux en-y gastric bypass procedure. In addition to a shorter hospital stay, patients experience a much lesser chance of developing complications during the recovery period.
The second most common type of gastric bypass surgical procedure is known as the adjustable gastric sleeve. A band is placed around the top part of the abdomen and across the top part of the chest wall. The stomach is then connected to a valve connected to a pump. The valve provides the medication required for the stomach to digest. This gastric bypass alternative is recommended for individuals who cannot tolerate the long-term effects of bariatric surgery or those who need a temporary weight loss of approximately 15 lbs in order to begin a weight loss regimen.
How to Restart Weight Loss with a Bariatric Pouch Reset
A bariatric pouch reset requires you to follow dietary guidelines that mimic the ones you should have followed after your gastric bypass.
However, the “reset” period is quite short. A normal post gastric bypass diet generally has four to five stages and has a duration of eight to 10 weeks. It should be possible to do a successful pouch reset in only eight to 10 days.
Doing a pouch reset will require you to severely restrict your food intake. It can be a bumpy ride so, although you could try and go it alone, it’s a good idea to do your reset with the support of your bariatric surgeon or a qualified dietitian.
A Typical 10-day reset diet will look something like this:
Day 1 (Clear Liquids Only)
- Decaf tea
- Decaf coffee
- Sugar-free Popsicle
- Sugar-free non-carbonated drinks
- Jell-O (sugar-free)
Days 2 and 3 (Full Liquids)
Thin creamed soups (no chunks of vegetable or meat)
Protein powder mixed with water or a sugar-free liquid
Soup with soft noodles
- Fat-free yogurt (No pieces of fruit or nut)
- Sugar-free pudding
- Sugar-free sorbet
- Very thin oatmeal
- Ice cream (low-fat + sugar-free)
- Carnation instant breakfast (sugar-free)
Remember, this is a reset so you will need to only partake of your chosen foods in very small amounts.
Days 4 to 6 (Pureed Foods)
- Soup (without chunks of vegetable or meat)
- Low-fat cottage cheese
- Soft cereals (Give the milk plenty of time to be absorbed)
- Scrambled eggs
Most pureed foods are also acceptable but it’s best to stay away from meat because it’s hard to digest.
Days 7 to 9 (Soft Foods)
- Mashed fruit.
- Soft cereals (Give the milk plenty of time to be absorbed)
- Vegetables (Steamed or boiled until soft)
- Soft cheeses (Use in moderation. Cheese is high in fat.)
- Ground beef or chicken (Use plenty of stock to soften the meat).
- Scrambled eggs
- Fish (steamed or boiled until it’s soft)
- Canned tuna or salmon (You could further soften the meat by adding low-fat mayonnaise)
These foods are not overly hard on the stomach but it’s still important to do plenty of chewing with options like fish and scrambled eggs.
Day 10 and Beyond (Healthy Food Choices)
From day 10 onward you can introduce healthy foods. You will need to watch your calorie intake and avoid options that are high in sugar or fat. It’s also important to stick to sensible portions. If you go wild it will be easy to undo all of your hard work.
At this point, it’s a good idea to place more emphasis on protein and vegetables when you are planning your meals. However, it’s a good idea to get some meal planning advice from your bariatric surgeon or a qualified dietitian.
Drinking liquids half an hour before and after your meals will help fill your stomach. This will help remove the temptation to overeat. It will also help keep you hydrated.
Stick to three healthy meals per day. Focus on eating slowly and do plenty of chewing. Allow around 30 minutes of eating time per meal.
Chewing your food well will make it easier to digest and help your body attain the maximum amount of nutrients and energy. It will also help you to take your time.
People who eat fast often overeat because their stomachs don’t have enough time to let the brain know they are full. When you are trying to restart your weight loss after pouch reset it’s important to get into good habits.
How to Restart Weight Loss After Gastric Bypass
Tips to Help You Make Sure the Weight You Lose Stays Off
If you don’t track your calories, it’s will be easier to gain weight than to lose it. Logging your meals and associated data in a food journal is one of the best ways to restart your weight loss and avoid sliding backward. There are also some very good apps you can use to track your calories.
It doesn’t matter how you track your calories. The main thing is to be aware of what you are eating and how much energy it provides.
If you feel hungry between meals, try drinking some water. It fills the stomach and has no calories at all. If possible, add some ice and drink your water cold. Your body will have to warm it up. This will increase metabolism and help you burn a few extra calories.
Some foods are more filling than others. Be aware of this when you are planning your meals. High-fiber foods are hard to digest. The same is true for lean meats like chicken and turkey.
Foods like these stay in the stomach longer. This helps keep hunger away. When foods are hard to digest the body needs to expend more energy to process them. This can work in your favor too because every extra calorie you burn helps move you in the right direction.
Drinking green tea is another goodway to restart your weight loss. It boosts metabolism, helping you to burn more calories regardless of your level of activity. If you don’t like the taste you could add some honey or lemon.
Another good way to restart your weight loss is to keep active. You don’t have to pull on your running shoes or go to the gym. Simple changes such as taking more walks and using the stairs instead of the lift will help you burn extra calories. Of course, if you want to take up sports or hit the gym, that will be better still.