By Ayotunde Adeyeri, M.D., FASMBS, Medical Director
Hitting a plateau or weight loss “stall” is common for just about everyone. While it’s certainly frustrating, it’s important to understand this is just temporary.
The good news is it usually happens after you have lost a significant amount of weight—so congratulations!
During your post-op weight loss, the body will eventually need a ‘time out” to stabilize itself and adjust to your lower nutrition intake, smaller size and increased calorie burn due to exercise.
It can happen at any time in your weight loss journey, but is particularly common 3-6 months after bariatric surgery.
Generally, stalls can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, even though you’re staying on track. Expect from one to three plateaus in the first year following weight loss surgery.
Why do weight loss stalls happen?
You can blame your body’s metabolism—
When you lose weight rapidly, you are losing lean body mass (muscle) and fat. Muscle plays a big part in the burning of calories by keeping your metabolic rate high, so you want to hold onto muscle and strive to build more! (This is one of the reasons we ask you to take in so much protein).
A weight-loss plateau usually occurs when your metabolism slows down. Now that you’re thinner, the activities you’re performing may not be resulting in as much caloric burning.
An increased metabolic rate is not the only reason for keeping muscle. You want to keep muscle so you can use them to exercise and burn even more calories. Weak muscles make exercise more difficult, so build muscle with strength training and cardio workouts.
Eight tips to overcome bariatric weight loss plateaus and boost metabolism
1. Increase the intensity of your exercise.
2. Weigh yourself less often.
3. Keep food journaling to ensure there are no negative nutrition issues creeping in.
4. Eat all that protein to help retain muscle, even in shake form.
6. Drink 64 ounces every day.
7. Sleep eight hours nightly and keep a set schedule, even on weekends.
8. Talk to your Sterling Surgicare team during the plateau for support, tips and guidance.
Keep in mind…
If you are weight training, consider that muscle weighs more than fat; while you are building muscle, you are still losing inches (girth) even though if it isn’t reflected in pounds lost.
Use your support network
Remember there are several layers of people supporting you during your road back to good health:
- Me (!)
- Your Holmdel and Old Bridge-based administrative team
- Sterling Surgicare bariatric dietitians and nutritionists
- Your Raritan Bay Medical Center and CentraState Medical Center support groups
- Online bariatric support group networks such as ObesityHelp.com
If a plateau lasts more than a few weeks, call us at 732-217-3897.
Stay positive and celebrate how far you have come in a short time.
This is a very brief traffic jam on your highway to success.