Bariatric Surgery FAQ

Bodybuilding After Gastric Sleeve

Bodybuilding After Gastric Sleeve - Bariatric Fusion

Exercise is essential after weight loss surgery to help promote desired weight loss. However, after gastric sleeve surgery, any kind of physical activity can be intimidating.

Since bariatric surgery is only a tool for weight loss, exercise and eating habits will need to change to see the full benefits of gastric sleeve surgery. Over time, that exercise can be specific to what makes you feel good. Most people focus on muscle building and toning to prevent loose skin after bariatric surgery, while others may strive for goals of bodybuilding. It is all very possible if you put in the work.

There are a few things you’ll need to take into consideration before you start with vigorous exercise after surgery.

We will discuss all of the precautions that need to be taken, as well as what needs to be done to make weight lifting or bodybuilding possible after gastric sleeve surgery.

What This Article Covers:

Is it Safe to Start Bodybuilding After Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

Yes, but you will not be able to start any kind of exercise immediately following surgery.

Typically, you will be recommended to refrain from any kind of strenuous activity for about 6 weeks. This can vary based on the individual, so you should be consulting with your healthcare provider for clearance to exercise.

Your doctor will provide direction on when lighter weights and resistance training may slowly be added into your routine. Starting with light weights will be advised before anything else. Over time, you will be able to start weight training more frequently in order to focus on certain personal goals.

Your body will tell you what it can handle. Do not push yourself, ease into it.

How Does Diet After Gastric Sleeve Surgery Influence Bodybuilding?

Food provides energy for the body, so you will require a bariatric diet tailored to your exercise routine and lifestyle. Protein will be a top priority after surgery and an even bigger deal if you are looking to start bodybuilding.

Weight loss surgery promotes rapid weight loss. However, with rapid weight loss, you are burning more than just fat. Rapid weight loss will tap into your water and muscle reserves in order to provide some kind of energy for the body. This is why hydration and protein are top priority after weight loss surgery.

High protein intake through foods and supplements will allow the body to build and maintain muscle mass. Hair thinning is also very prevalent for at least 6 months after gastric sleeve surgery. Consuming adequate protein can minimize hair loss after bariatric surgery.

In the early stages after gastric sleeve surgery, it is difficult to consume the protein you require on a full liquid diet. You will need to incorporate supplements like bariatric protein soup or high protein meal replacements in order to reach protein goals during the liquid phase.

It is important that this protein is coming from a high quality source, such as whey, egg or soy in order to receive all of the essential amino acids required to build muscle. Amino acids are the building blocks for muscle growth and will be beneficial for someone looking to be a bodybuilder.

You should also be taking the recommended bariatric vitamins and supplements after surgery to provide the necessary vitamins and minerals you are no longer consuming through food sources due to restriction and malabsorption.

A deficiency in any vitamin or nutrient may hamper muscle building and present with further adverse effects that can be harmful to your health.

Is It Easy To Build Muscle After Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

Slow and steady wins the race. It will take time, however, if you are putting in the work, you will see long-term results.

The idea is to find your rhythm. Once you start losing weight, bariatric weight stalls are likely to happen. If you are doing everything right and have not fallen back into old habits, patience will be key here.

There are different factors that cause a weight plateau. However, you may break a weight stall by increasing the intensity or frequency of your workout routine. Once you start building muscle, you are likely to see some changes in the appearance of loose skin as muscle will start filling it out. As long as you are consistent with your weight training, consume enough protein, and work with a dietitian in order to understand the proper caloric intake, building muscle shouldn’t be a problem.

Utilizing bariatric resources that are available to you, such as bariatric support groups, gastric sleeve forums, and your dietitian can provide support and the information you require to reach nutrition goals.

Outcomes of Gastric Sleeve Surgery That May Hinder Exercise

Acid Reflux

GERD is a digestive disorder where stomach acid, food and fluids can travel back up the esophagus. Some bariatric surgeries decrease the occurrence of acid reflux. Unfortunately, incidence of reflux may be increased after gastric sleeve surgery.

This is because intra-abdominal pressure is altered in the stomach due to surgery and may lead to weakening of the lower esophageal sphincter.

This can make exercising very unpleasant and may interrupt your routine, which may negatively affect bodybuilding results.

Tummy Tucks After Bariatric Surgery

Sometimes, a tummy tuck after weight loss surgery is for cosmetic appearance, while other times it may be required for health purposes. If it is required for health purposes, it is likely because of reoccurring rashes, infection, or skin irritation.

For the many perks of a tummy tuck, there are also some cons. Unfortunately, this means that you will be out of exercise for at least 6 weeks after the procedure. When you get back into exercise, you should do so slowly and as directed by your healthcare provider.

This will require a break from exercising and will delay your progress in building muscle.

Weight Gain

Although this happens very infrequently, weight gain after gastric sleeve surgery can occur. Bariatric surgery is only a tool for weight loss. You must stay consistent with healthy lifestyle changes in order to maintain long-term weight loss.

Weight gain as a result of increased fat mass, would obviously hamper bodybuilding due to the physical and mental repercussions it may have.

An increase in fat can make it harder to lift weights as you may become lethargic, lazy, and unmotivated. Mentally, this may also put you in a bit of a depression and decrease how often you work out.

Weight gain does not always occur because of resurfacing bad habits. There may be a surgical or mechanical issue, like a gastric fistula that would need to be discussed with a healthcare provider.


Obesity can be associated with reduced fertility. Gastric sleeve surgery, amongst other bariatric procedures, have been shown to increase fertility in both men and women. This fertility increase can result in an increased chance of becoming pregnant after bariatric surgery.

Generally, practitioners recommend waiting at least 12 to 24 months after a bariatric procedure before you try to conceive. However, experiencing pregnancy can delay strenuous work outs. Especially those interested in weight lifting, typically lifting over 30 pounds is not recommended during pregnancy.

You may be able to work with a healthcare provider and dietitian if you are pregnant after bariatric surgery and still looking to exercise to an extent.

Final Thoughts

Bodybuilding and gaining muscle mass after gastric sleeve surgery is very possible with patience and hard work.

However, the process may be prolonged for someone who has undergone bariatric surgery due to some of the common obstacles that can be seen.

It is important to have patience and to be consistent. By working with a dietitian on caloric intake and protein intake, weight lifting and bodybuilding should be very possible post gastric sleeve surgery.

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**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 physician or another qualified health provider with any questions in regards to a medical condition.

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