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Diet and Exercise Changes after Bariatric Surgery

Dietary and Exercise changes after bariatric surgery are likely some of the most significant long-term behavior modifications that you will ever undertake. As a bariatric surgery patient, you have made a commitment to your health. The procedure that you have elected to undergo is meant to change your lifestyle from one of unhealthy behaviors to one of healthfulness. The reality is that no bariatric or surgical procedure can be effective without a proper diet and exercise regimen.

Dietary Changes

Changes in your diet will ideally begin before the procedure is even performed. During your seminar and subsequent consultation with Dr. Gornichec, you’ll learn more about the principles of proper food intake. We’ve seen time and time again that patients who begin their dietary journey before the procedure not only set themselves up for a safer procedure but an easier transition into their new lifestyle.

The foundational principle of a post bariatric surgery diet is moderation. We do not expect our patients to set aside every food that tastes good because they need to save a calorie here and there. Rather, we prefer that patients eat healthy and nutritious meals that they like, but in quantities significantly lower than what they were used to before surgery. The bottom line is that eliminating simple carbohydrates like sugar, white bread and white rice as well as saturated fats, most often contained in processed foods, is key to the new lifestyle. These diet busting foods should be replaced with nutritious fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and good fats such as avocados and healthy oils (olive, for example). Fast foods, of course, are out of the picture. However, desserts, especially those sugar free delicacies, can still be consumed – again in moderation.

There will be times, usually around the holidays, where thinking about your diet becomes difficult, if not impossible. We understand that situations like these will arise and we hope that during these times of indulgence you remember the principles of getting back on track. Remember, our practice is available to you during times that you feel you have wandered off the path to your goals.

Exercise Changes

It is likely that before your bariatric surgery, you had performed little or no significant exercise. Indeed, the very nature of obesity makes it extremely difficult to perform everyday activities, let alone strenuous ones. As you begin to lose weight and excellent progress begins to take shape, you will begin to enjoy exercise. Further, you will be able to set tangible and realistic goals. You may only be able to run a few yards when you first start, but in a short few months you may be running A 5K, 10K or even a half marathon. Exercise becomes an outlet for stress relief, but also a time to reflect upon your achievements and get ever closer to your goals.

It’s easy for someone who is making huge strides in their exercise regimen to overdo it. For those patients considering straying from their exercise guidelines and accelerating their program, we do not suggest you do so. Is very important to ramp up slowly – you will be prone to injury after surgery. If indeed you do injure yourself, it could take weeks if not months to recover and much of that excellent progress you have made will vanish.

Your exercise regimen will primarily consist of cardiovascular, fat burning activities such as swimming, walking, stationary bicycle and more. You may also begin to start lifting weights (start slow), since strength training builds muscle, which in turn burns more calories than the same amount of fat. As you start out your exercise program, you may find that you actually gain weight rather than lose it. This is because as your muscles are building and taking on additional water– much of the weight is as a result of this. Also, muscle is heavier than fat, so as you build muscle you may look better but the scale may not change. Eventually, after a course of consistent exercise, you will begin to see the pounds melt away and you’ll find that you can perform your daily activities and exercise will be an enjoyable part of your everyday life.