Not Losing Weight After Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery? Here’s Why

Not losing weight is a problem that can occur after undergoing bariatric Weight Loss Surgery, typically due to not following postoperative guidelines. A good bariatric surgeon will make sure that their patients understand all of the benefits and the risks associated with Weight Loss Surgery . When patients know what to expect before Weight Loss Surgery is performed, they are able to make realistic expectations for themselves. One issue that a patient may have is the lack of weight loss following their Weight Loss Surgery. There are five common reasons why a patient may not be losing weight after their bariatric procedure.


Reason 1: You are Not Eating Enough Calories

Yes, I know this is a mind stopper. It is hard to believe that not eating enough calories can contribute to not losing weight. After Weight Loss Surgery one of the major hunger hormones; ghrelin is removed so you don’t feel hungry and your stomach has just gone from the size of a flattened football to the size of your thumb. You have no desire to eat so you don’t. Many people think, the less I eat the faster I will lose weight. Unfortunately, not the case for many. When your body is not nourished properly, your body will start burning fat as well as muscle for energy.

The more muscle you lose the harder it is to keep losing weight and the increased chances of stalls or plateaus. Also, your body begins to think you are starving it so your body begins to work against you, making it harder to lose weight. It will hold on to every ounce increasing the number and time frame that you experience stalled weight loss.How many calories you want to aim for depends on how far out you are after Weight Loss Surgery. It is helpful not to force the food but to have goals. First, do not stress about your intake just be mindful of what you are consuming. You will not focus on calories until you are at least 3 weeks post Weight Loss Surgery. At three to four weeks assess where you are at and your first goal is 800 calories, 1,000 and 1,200 calories. Twelve hundred calories really are the baseline for everyone. Eating below this will slow down weight loss long term. Many of you will need more than this depending on your individual needs.


Reason 2: Lack of balanced meal planning

If you are four or more weeks out, it is important to slowly incorporate more solid proteins and healthy fats into your meal plan. The first step is to make sure you are getting enough protein. You can determine your baseline protein needs by taking your ideal healthy weight and dividing by 2.2. For example, if your goal is to weigh 150 pounds you would take 150 divided by 2.2 and your goal for protein would be 68 grams. Remember, this is a general baseline recommendation, for best fat loss results you may need a higher percentage of protein.After determining protein needs, look at the overall balance of macronutrients.

A common question many people ask is how many grams of protein, fat, and carbohydrates should I have for optimally fat loss. There is no exact number that will work for everyone so it is important to take theses general guidelines and play with the percentages until you find what works best for you. The general guidelines for recommended percentages for optimal fat loss are as follows: 10 – 35 percent carbohydrates, 30 – 40 percent fat and 35 – 50 % protein. Also, be sure that you overall total sugar intake is less than twenty-five grams per day.


Reason 3: Too many slider foods:

After Weight Loss Surgery , many people have a difficult time transitioning to whole food based solids. I often hear people say they can’t eat chicken or any solid protein foods. Over time they develop a food aversion to solid proteins. When this happens they end up choosing what I call slider foods. These are foods that are easy to go down like yogurts, potatoes, tomato or cream soups, ice cream, etc…  These type of foods lack balance and substance which cause you to feel hungrier faster and many times have more simple processed carbohydrates than lean proteins and fats. Look at your overall intake of foods and if you are predominately eating “slider based” foods, this may be affecting your weight loss.

Reason 4: Exercising too much too soon:

Once you make the decision to have Weight Loss Surgery, you are focused and ready to have this extra weight gone. You are eager to experience the fast results that you have read about in many cases after having Weight Loss Surgery. With this eagerness, you are ready to hit the gym and start running. Believe it or not, if you are not eating enough calories and you start an exercise program you may be hindering your weight loss. Walking post Weight Loss Surgery is always encouraged and helps you in many ways. Outside of a walking program, you want to make sure you are healed before starting any other forms of exercise. The general recommendation is to wait six to eight weeks post Weight Loss Surgery before you start an exercise routine.


You also want to make sure you are eating your baseline calories before you go into extreme exercise. If you are not eating a minimum of 800 calories I would stick to a walking regimen. Focus on increasing your calories at a minimum of 800 to 1200 and once your calories are in check then incorporate an exercise routine.

Reason 5: I don’t like to lift weights:

Although I tell people you can never out exercise a bad diet and that diet is at least 80% and exercises being 20% it still impacts the efficiency and the rate at which you burn fat. This does not mean just running on the treadmill. Building lean muscle increases your metabolism because it takes more calories to maintain muscle.

The more lean muscle you have the faster you burn calories. If you are six to eight week out and you are eating a proper amount of calories resistance training may be the thing you are missing to take you to that next level of fat loss. If you do not know anything about resistance training to build muscle it may be beneficial to hire a personal trainer for a few sessions to create a plan for you. If you do not like going to the gym you can create a home workout. If you are reading this and thinking, “I don’t want to get bulky”; trust me, you won’t. It takes a lot of work and a consistently balanced meal plan to build muscle.Overall you want to be patient with the process.


You did not gain the weight overnight and although for many this is rapid weight loss it will not come off overnight either. Stalls or plateaus are a normal part of the process. For many of you, you are weighing yourselves daily or every few days and if you don’t see the scale change you are quick to say, “I’m not losing weight”. Give yourselves a few weeks for your body to adjust and process the fat that has been utilized.

Patients is a very important part of this process.It is important to remember that each one of you is a unique individual with specific needs. There are general guidelines that can steer you in the direction for the optimal fat loss but there are many factors that can affect the rate at which you burn calories and fat.It is important to know that over time you will need to tweak this information to make it work specifically for you. There is no one specific diet that is perfect for everyone.Sometimes patients are discouraged when they aren’t losing weight as fast as another patient. It’s important to remember that everybody works differently and there are many differences that affect the weight loss rate.


Consult with your bariatric nutritionist if you have any specific issues related to your rate of weight loss after your surgical procedure.If none of the above seem to be the reason for not losing weight, then the Weight Loss Surgery may not have been Weight Loss Surgery for you. Revisions can be made with a second Weight Loss Surgery to make the stomach pouch even smaller or you may need a different type of bariatric surgery to fit your needs. A professional surgeon will work directly with the patient to ensure the safety of another procedure.