Surgery is just the beginning of your weight loss journey. A successful outcome hinges on your lifelong commitment to follow a strict diet and exercise regimen post-surgery.
Your surgeon will discuss specific lifestyle changes with you, but here are some common ones.
In the first few months after surgery, the emphasis is on fluid intake. Sip small amounts of calorie-free fluids (water, diet ice tea) on an almost-constant basis. Drink at least 1 liter per day.
For the first two weeks following surgery, don’t be surprised if you have a partial appetite or none at all. Consume small meals, but don’t eat frequently. Whatever you do, don’t “force” feed yourself.
Eating three meals a day within a few weeks after surgery is optimal. Try to avoid eating six to eight meals a day. Known as “grazing,” this behavior may promote long-term failure following weight loss surgery. If you need a snack, eat a small healthy snack between lunch and dinner.
Immediately after surgery, your diet consists of full liquids, but your long-term goal is to eat normal meals and food. You can expect to encounter some type of food your body doesn’t tolerate well. Early on, common offenders include fresh breads, red meats and starches (simple carbohydrates).
After surgery, you should avoid these foods:
- Sweet carbonated beverages
Studies have shown that consumption of sweetened carbonated drinks in western society is one of the factors responsible for the extraordinary increase in obesity.
- Sugar and fat
Avoid foods with high fat content, fried foods and sugar-added foods. High-protein foods are encouraged.
Alcohol should be consumed in moderation or avoided altogether. Remember that alcohol is a significant calorie source.
You can resume normal physical activities once you leave the hospital but rely on common sense. Many people return to the gym as soon as one week after surgery.
Exercise is essential for long-term sustained weight loss. The more aggressively you exercise, the better the outcome. Here are some recommendations regarding physical activity:
- During your hospital stay, walk at least one mile per day.
- After discharge, walk at least one to two miles per day in addition to routine walking.
- After two weeks, start an exercise program.
- After surgery, you must exercise routinely, at least one hour per day, five times a week. Exercise should be vigorous enough to get your heart rate up.