8 Steps to Healthy Weight Management
Guest Blog by: Dr. Lillian Craggs-Dino, DHA, RDN, LDN
The decision to undergo metabolic and bariatric surgery (MBS) is not easy. Although surgery supports your weight loss efforts, lifestyle changes are required for long-term weight management.
After undergoing MBS, you work hard to maximize your outcomes and reach your goals with dietary changes, physical activity, high-protein, and taking multivitamin and mineral supplements for life. While our goals are personal, most strive for better health and quality of life.*
This article discusses eight tips for healthy eating habits and lifestyle choices throughout your weight loss journey for long-term success.
Healthy Body Composition
Weight loss is the primary outcome of undergoing a bariatric procedure, such as gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy; however, don’t forget to include favorably changing your body composition for the longevity of weight loss, well-being, health, and quality of life. While some body fat is needed for a balanced diet and body functions, too much body fat is harmful.
A balance between fat and muscle is essential in keeping obesity-related health risks at bay. Larger waists and higher body fat percentages have been linked to cardiovascular and gastrointestinal conditions, diabetes mellitus, and some reproductive concerns. (1)
Body fat percentage is measured utilizing body fat and muscle mass. The chart below shows typical body fat percentages for men and women based on age. Another good measurement for tracking and self-monitoring your weight loss efforts is your waist measurement. An important goal is reaching a waist measurement of no more than 40 inches for men and no more than 35 inches for women to support overall health.
Types of Dietary Fat
We need healthy quantities of dietary fat, so eliminating it from your bariatric diet is impossible. Currently, there are no bariatric guidelines regarding fat intake, so we reference the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The dietary guidelines tell us to keep total fat intake around 30% to 35% of total calories daily and consume less than 10% of saturated fat daily.
Saturated and trans fats are considered “bad” since too much can diminish your health. These fats are found in processed foods, bakery items, fatty meats like bacon, full-fat cheeses, and dairy. Unsaturated fat is the “healthy” fat found in nuts, seeds, seafood, and oils like olive, canola, and avocado. These heart-healthy fats should regularly be included in your diet.
8 Healthy Lifestyle Choices to Support Your Bariatric Journey
To burn body fat, follow these lifestyle and food choices as you progress through your bariatric journey.
1. Read Food Labels
Look for options that are low in total and saturated fat. For example, choose egg whites more often than whole eggs.
Focus on leaner cuts of protein, including turkey, chicken, filet mignon, and white pork. Also include seafood and shellfish as a source of omega-3 fatty acids.
2. Protein Sources to Consider
Protein sources don’t always have to come from animal-based products. Try vegetarian options, such as tofu, edamame, nuts, and seeds. Tofu is a high-quality protein and a source of “good” fat. Nuts are also a great addition to the diet, but limit to a 1 oz serving to practice moderation.
Too much of anything can be harmful, including “good” fats.
3. Healthy Cooking Methods
Certain cooking methods can add unnecessary fat to a healthy meal. Focus on air-frying, sauteing, baking, broiling, grilling, and poaching foods. Try to steer clear of deep-fried foods, as additional fat is added while cooking.
4. Physical Activity
When given clearance, start slowly incorporating more exercise. Aim to exercise most days of the week by including aerobic, high-intensity, strength, and resistance exercises while understanding your limitations.
5. Stay Hydrated
Dehydration is one of the most common but preventable causes of readmission to the hospital after metabolic and bariatric surgery. Fluids help digest food, support nutrient absorption, and flush waste from the body. Drink 64 to 72 ounces of water daily.
As your healing progresses, tolerance generally improves, making your recommended daily ounces of fluid more manageable.
6. Prioritize Protein
Getting enough protein in your diet before and after metabolic and bariatric surgery can be difficult, especially when it’s recommended that you get a lot more than you’re used to.
A typical recommendation is 60 to 80 grams of protein daily for women and 80 to 100 grams daily for men. Protein supplements are available to support your dietary intake after surgery.*
A higher protein intake may be required based on medical conditions and individual needs. Protein is essential for supporting lean muscle and healing, making it a critical part of your weight loss journey following surgery.*
7. Bariatric-Specific Supplements*
Metabolic and bariatric surgery patients have a higher risk of nutrient deficiency due to the anatomical and physiological changes induced by surgery and changes in food intake and tolerance.
To support optimal vitamin and mineral levels after weight loss surgery, continue taking all of the bariatric supplements recommended by your healthcare provider and dietitian.*
8. Long-Term Follow-Ups
No matter which bariatric procedure you have undergone, always attend wellness checkups and get annual lab work done to ensure that you are taking supplements suitable for your needs.
Utilize your bariatric team to assess, guide, and support you.
It’s okay to admit that dietary changes can be overwhelming. These changes include diet phases post-surgery, such as full liquids, pureed, soft foods, and regular foods with smaller portions, which support a healing journey for successful weight loss. Thankfully, you have a support system of bariatric practitioners, including dietitians, to assist you in your food choices and health efforts.
Take advantage of support groups to learn from other patients and practitioners. Nothing worth achieving comes easy, but it is much more rewarding when you put in the effort and see results. Remember to appreciate and enjoy your journey.
- Scientifica (Cairo). 2022; 2022: 1310030 [PMID: 35036024]
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
This blog is for information and education purposes only. This information is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your bariatric surgeon or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions in regards to a medical condition. A qualified healthcare professional can best assist you in deciding whether a dietary supplement is suitable based on your individual needs.
Dr. Lillian Craggs-Dino is a retained consultant for Bariatric Fusion.