Weight Loss Surgery and Snacking

Beware:  snacking can be the death of any solid weight loss plan, but most especially if you’ve had weight loss surgery.

Although healthy eating between meals can control hunger, prevent overeating and help blood sugars from dropping too low, those calories from frequent snacking can quickly sneak up on you, sabotaging all those good plans.

If you’ve had weight loss surgery, here’s a friendly reminder on the do’s and don’ts of snacking.

How does weight loss surgery impact my appetite?

With the exception of the lap band, weight loss surgery that changes the stomach anatomy can also change your appetite. After sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass, or duodenal switch surgery, the hormone in your blood called Ghrelin is lower so you don’t feel as hungry!  Ghrelin increases your physical desire for food so that your brain doesn’t register that you’re “hungry.”  You are no longer fighting against your body’s physical desire for food:  one way these surgeries help with weight loss!

When should I include snacks after weight loss surgery?

Snacking is something that we do not encourage after surgery. The simple fact is that if you have had weight loss surgery, you can easily snack your way back into your weight. Snacks after weight loss surgery are usually added many months after the procedure, if ever.  You should seek the advice of your surgeon or dietitian and they will help you decide if you really need a snack or if you are battling head hunger.  For a few months after surgery, and even with exercising, you should be just fine on three squares a day, at 1/4 cup per meal.

How do I keep my energy levels normal without snacking?

The best bang for your buck:  drink enough water !  What’s the magic number:  a minimum of 64 ounces each day, and even more when you are exercising.  It can help with fatigue that you may experience while continuing to heal after surgery.

It’s also important to take a multivitamin, vitamin B12 and your calcium supplements, (and ADEKs if you have had a duodenal switch) each and every day.

Exercise also plays an important role in keeping your energy levels up. It also limits amount of muscle being lost as you lose weight.

Remember that diet plays a huge role in energy.  Keep your focus on protein.  Following any weight loss surgery, it’s best to eat protein foods first to keep your muscles and organs functioning. Your diet following weight loss surgery is designed to help you get the essentials. Skipping out on your protein can cause a you to feel tired and you can become malnourished very quickly.

In a nut shell (yep, pun intended!) protein is important for:

  • Proper wound healing
  • Keeping your hair, skin, bones and nails healthy
  • Forming hormones, enzymes and immune system antibodies to help your body function properly
  • Preserving the muscles you already have

There’s plenty to remember after having weight loss surgery.  But some of it goes straight back to the basics:  eat three square meals a day; take your vitamins; work up a sweat; and keep hydrated!


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