By: Jennifer Davis and Jessi Treadaway
Immediately after surgery, you know exactly what to do with your nutrition and exercise as there a clearly defined rules of what you should or shouldn’t do. Food choices and portions are still extremely limited, nutrition guidelines are easy to follow, and exercise might be totally new and exciting to you!
Then the honeymoon phase passes, and within the blink of an eye, you are a few years down the road. Portions may be slightly larger, food choices are vast, and exercise may have gotten boring or non-existent. You may even wonder, what exactly am I supposed to be doing with my nutrition and exercise so far out from surgery?
Thankfully, there are a few things to keep in mind to help keep you on track with managing your weight. Surprisingly, the core nutrition and exercise guidelines from immediately post-op are still very much applicable to later down the road.
- Aim for 4-6 high-protein, balanced meals. The Bariatric Plate method is a great way to structure your main meals! Portion sizes will be larger (around 1-2 cups of food for a meal) but that is to be expected and is completely normal.
- Always consume lean protein first, non-starchy vegetables second, and high-fiber carbs or a healthy fat source last.
- Try to consume at least 64 ounces of hydrating fluids. Avoid added-sugar drinks, carbonation, and excessive caffeine. Consume alcohol in moderation.
- Take your time with meals: eat slowly (20 minutes), chew food 20-30 times per bite, set utensils down while chewing, and don’t drink while eating.
- Have fun with your food! Experiment with new recipes and try new ways of cooking.
- Follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time, focus on consuming nutrient-dense, whole foods and the other 20% of the time, enjoy small treats and fun foods (in moderation). The weight maintenance period is more flexible (and fun!) than the weight loss stage.
- Aim for 3-5 sessions of intentional exercise each week.
- Your exercise should include both strength training and cardio.
- 60-70% of the time, focus on strength training.
- 30-40% of the time, focus on cardiovascular training.
- To build/tone muscle, you need to ensure you are doing the correct volume of exercises.
- Toning: 3-4 sets and 10-12 repetitions per exercise.
- Muscle building/bulking: 3-4 sets of 6-8 repetitions per exercise.
- Change your routine every 3-4 weeks. This will prevent your body from adapting and stalling out on progress.
- Do something you love! Consistency is key for maintaining your weight; something is always better than nothing.