Gastric sleeve surgery is the most widely performed bariatric surgery in the United States and globally, and for good reason: This type of weight-loss surgery is associated with about a 40-70% weight loss within the first year after surgery, which is really good news for patients.
Of course, to achieve the best results, you need to adopt some new habits. At South Florida Surgical Group, Michael Renfrow, MD, FACS, and Steven Kanter, MD, FACS, work closely with every gastric sleeve surgery patient, helping them learn what changes they need to make — and stick to — to get the outcome they’re hoping for. Here are five habits we want all our patients to embrace.
#1: Get serious about meal planning
There’s an old saying: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. It’s simplistic, but there’s actually a lot of truth to it.
After gastric bypass surgery, you’ll need to adhere to new eating routines to avoid unpleasant side effects and, of course, to achieve your weight-loss goals. Planning your meals ahead of time ensures your meals are nutritious while also avoiding unhealthy food choices, including fast food and processed foods.
Meal-planning doesn’t have to be complicated. Having a stable of healthy recipes on hand — and stocking your pantry with their ingredients — makes it easy to stick to your goals and a lot less likely you’ll reach for an unhealthy alternative.
#2: Focus on protein
Getting enough protein is important for a couple of reasons. First, protein helps you feel full longer, so eating some protein with every meal works right alongside the hunger-reducing benefits of your surgery, preventing feelings of hunger that can lead to snacking between meals.
Protein also builds strong muscle. That’s important for preventing muscle loss as you lose weight. Muscle loss can lead to other health problems, and it can also make it harder to exercise and stay active, which means your metabolism will slow down.
To make sure you maximize these benefits, eat the protein part of your meal first, in case you feel too full to finish.
#3: Choose nutrient-dense foods
Gastric sleeve surgery dramatically reduces the size of your stomach. That means there’s a lot less room for food — which is good for weight loss. And there’s also a lot less room for nutrients — which can be bad for your health.
One of the best ways to avoid nutritional deficiencies is to maximize the nutritional value of your food. Avoid processed foods and focus instead of fresh fruits and vegetables and lean protein sources.
Most importantly, don’t get discouraged: If you’re used to snacks and junk food or fast food, it can be hard to break that habit. Adopting a healthy diet before your surgery can be a big help, but it’s also important not to be too hard on yourself — and to keep trying.
#4: Limit sugary drinks
Sure, sugary drinks might taste good. But they can also be a big source of unwanted calories. If you habitually consume sodas, fruit drinks, or alcohol (yes, it’s full of calories), it’s going to be a lot harder to meet your weight-loss goals.
What’s more, when you drink sugary beverages, you can wind up skipping meals, which means you’ll be filling up on empty calories without getting the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy.
#5: Stay active
Exercise is always important for managing your weight, but after gastric sleeve surgery, it’s especially important, because physical activity also aids in digestion. When your stomach is smaller, you might have some unpleasant side effects, like nausea or heartburn (at least initially). Exercise keeps food moving through your digestive system to help decrease those symptoms.
You don't need to run a marathon or even join a gym. Just adding some regular walking to your daily routine can help you meet your weight-loss goals faster, while optimizing your physical and emotional health, too.
Bariatric surgery: Lose the weight, improve your health
Gastric sleeve surgery offers tremendous benefits for patients who want to lose weight and enjoy better health. But successful outcomes depend a lot on you and your commitment to making key changes.
If you’re ready to take the next step and learn more about gastric sleeve surgery, book an appointment online or over the phone at our office in the Kendall neighborhood of Miami, Florida, today.