It is very common for me to hear a client say “I am so scared of putting my weight back on” when they have lost their weight after Weight Loss Surgery (WLS).
I actually really like to hear this as I hear appreciation of the success they have achieved and the benefits it’s has brought to their life. I also hear realisation that their weight could go up (weight regain) if their behaviours and habits return to what they were pre-surgery.
So, I wanted to share the key behaviours and habits I see people (clients) practice post WLS to keep their weight off in the long term. Most of these won’t be new to you (or hopefully are not new to you) but are highly impactful when mastered and become your new ‘norm’.
So what are they?
1. Consume adequate protein
Yes, these clients continue to consume enough protein each day in the long-term and it’s such as key part to weight maintenance.
We do not store protein in our bodies (we store carbohydrates and fat) so we need to consume enough every day. Protein is so importance for a range of metabolic functions int the body, including maintaining and building muscle (our lean body mass). The other attribute of protein is that it keeps us fuller for longer, it’s a high satiety nutrient. So, let’s harness the POWER of PROTEIN.
Note I have said consume adequate protein as I include protein we can eat and drink, think high protein shakes. If you do not know (or can’t remember) how much protein you should be aiming for each day it sounds like it’s time to touch base with your friendly Bariatric Dietitian 😊
2. Regular meals
They continue with regular meals and don’t ‘skip’ meals.
After your WLS you will not be able to eat enough at a meal to sustain you for many hours so you do need to eat regularly. In the early days I work with clients to have 5 meals per day but longer term that can come down to 4 meals. Also, your meals need to be nice and distinct, meaning you stop eating when you are satisfied or if 30mins has passed since you started eating. I do not see grazing or snacking behaviours in clients who maintain their WLS success as these behaviour’s help us gain weight.
Semi related is the habit of finishing eating at dinner time. Eating after dinner or ‘night eating’ is associated with weight regain so best avoided.
3. Drink low energy fluids mostly
Low energy fluids are mostly what they drink each day.
It’s so easy to drink our calories. Therefore, having range of low energy drinks which are your main fluids is super key. Be vigilant about that extra latte, OJ or glass of wine/ beer sneaking into your diet on a regular basis.
4. Move their body
Activity is a key part of their life.
Whether it’s a formal exercise routine or engaging in more active work I see clients being much more active after surgery. They have changed their lives and lifestyle to build in more activity which in turn helps them be the WLS rockstar they are!
5. Reach out for support
This should really be number 1. The people who maintain their weight over the long-term post WLS touch base regularly with their support team, think dietitian, GP, psychologist etc.
Do you think once your bariatric surgery is completed you need to take your journey on your own? If so this thinking could sabotage your long-term success. It is very normal to have old habits start sneaking back in and to put on some weight, it’s actually part of the journey. That’s when you need to reach out or reconnect with the expert who can help you overcome your challenges, support your behaviours changes and be your own personal cheerleader.
All the best to you on your health journey.
Written by Jane Stoltze, Accredited Practicing Dietitian
Bariatric Nutrition Coach