Managing Plateaus and Weight Regain
Weight loss surgery is a fabulous tool to help support significant weight loss, however it does not guarantee you will reach your goal weight, or make you immune to weight regain. How much weight you lose and more importantly, how much weight you keep off, will be affected by how much you focus on long-term lifestyle changes and work with your surgery.
From the outset it is important that you have realistic expectations of your weight loss and set a goal weight that is both achievable and maintainable. Whilst it can be appealing to think otherwise, this is often a weight that sits above your ‘healthy weight range’ on a BMI (body mass index) chart. The ‘average’ weight loss of those who have had surgery in Australia is around 30% of body weight. An average means some will lose more and some will lose less and it is important to consider where you
- Feel good
- Have improved health and fitness parameters
- Can maintain your weight with a degree of ease, meaning not constantly dieting.
The checklist below can be useful if your weight plateaus for more than one month and you haven’t reached your realistic goal, or when you start to experience a weight regain.
Back on Track Checklist
- Are you still engaged with your weight loss surgery team? It is so important you attend your scheduled consultations to ensure you are on track and working towards your goals.
- Are you seeking the support of friends and family to help you stay on track?
- Are you controlling your portion sizes? It can be useful to re measure again to check how your portions are looking. Get out your measuring cups, small plates and scales if you need to check. Longer term, approximately one cup or a bread and butter plate of food is a good amount.
- Are you eating beyond the point of satisfied? Try not to see how much you can fit, but rather how little you need to feel satisfied. Feeling satisfied is a neutral feeling. You could eat more if you decided to, but you do not feel hungry.
- Are you eating too quickly? It can be hard to stop at ‘satisfied’ if you eat too quickly as you can miss the subtle cues your body gives you. Remember a small meal should take you at least 10 minutes.
- Are you spending too long over meals? Eating over an extended period can lead to larger portions consumed, as food can pass through into your intestine, leaving room for more. Try not to graze at a meal any longer than 20 minutes.
- Are you drinking with meals? If you have a sleeve or bypass it is important to keep fluids at least 30 minutes away from mealtimes or it can ‘wash’ food into your intestine leading to poor satiety and potential overeating.
- Are you including at least three core meals each day? It is important to eat at least three times a day to prevent getting over hungry and ensuring adequate opportunities to get the nutrients your body needs. Remember, between meal snacks are also important if you are hungry, or you find you are getting too hungry by your next mealtime.
Food and Fluid Types
- Are you consuming adequate protein? It is important to include a minimum of 60g of protein each day to support weight loss (your individual requirements may be higher than this and a dietitian can help you with this). Use an App such as Easy Diet Diary or My Fitness Pal to check how much protein you have each day.
- Are you spreading your protein foods out over the day? Each time you eat, try to include a source of protein to ensure maximum absorption and help keep you feeling satisfied for longer.
- Are you relying on soft, wet dishes (such as casseroles and stews) and liquid meals? These foods pass through to your intestine faster, therefore are not as satisfying as more solid foods.
- Are you minimising slider foods? Slider foods are crunchy, soft or sloppy processed foods, with little nutritional value. They are very easy to overeat and don’t keep you satisfied for long.
- Are you including plenty of vegetables, salads, legumes and lentils? As your capacity naturally increases, over time, the smaller meals that once satisfied you may no longer do so. These foods will help boost your fibre intake and keep you satisfied for longer.
- Are you including excess indulgences? Little treats such as chocolate and lollies don’t take up much room but can easily provide excess calories so take care to limit your intake.
- Are you including at least 1.5L of low energy fluid each day?
- Are you drinking your calories? Try to limit all calorie containing fluids such as juice, cordial, sugary hot drinks and alcohol as these are quick to consume, don’t leave you satisfied and can make weight loss a challenge.
- Are you grazing? It is so important to avoid grazing following weight loss surgery. Calories quickly add up in each of those small mouthfuls, but your body doesn’t give you the cue to stop. Ensure all food is plated and you sit down to eat.
- Are you eating to manage emotional challenges? Remember, if the problem is not hunger, the answer isn’t food. Food only masks the emotion short term; try to use non food comforts when you are experiencing hard emotional times.
- Are you including regular exercise? Ensure you are focusing on both incidental and planned exercise – using a fitbit/jawbone/pedometer etc. can be useful. Include both cardiovascular and resistance.
If this list has helped you identify areas of your lifestyle you need support with, be sure to check out our Support Options. We offer support anytime, anywhere and from any surgeon.