So you have been losing weight successfully after WLS and then all of a sudden the numbers on the scale seem to stop moving. We’re not talking about those ‘very early days’ post-op small blips where the body is simply re-calibrating, but longer term when you begin to doubt the loss will happen again. What next?
It’s true that when we’re actively trying to lose weight; early days out of surgery; and feel almost invincible (the tool works!), we do all the right things – we eat well, hydrate excellently, exercise often, cut out snacks and grazing; don’t drink half an hour either side of a meal; and we get great results. Then, the weight loss slows down, or we find that the number on the scales doesn’t seem to be moving anymore or it might go slightly north. Cue MASS PANIC! We look to exercise more, restrict all food groups or indulge in one or two that we hope will have miraculous fat-shifting abilities.
So what do we mean by a ‘weight loss plateau’? The term refers to when your body no longer responds to your current diet and/or fitness regime. Plateaus are often the result of the body developing a tolerance to the weight loss techniques that we are using, allowing the body to adjust and recognise the stresses caused and to slow down, or even halt, the effects and results. If you think you have hit one, there are 5 common signs to look for:
- The scales aren’t moving north or south, up or down.
- You’re doing the same things, but not achieving any new results.
- You’re bored with the food you’re eating (or eating the same things monotonously) and fed-up with your workout or exercise schedule.
- You find your exercise regime a trifle easy or you’re not breaking sweat or feel like you haven’t had a proper work out.
- You lack motivation and aren’t bothered about your meals or activity.
Sound familiar? Then what can you do …
4 THINGS TO TRY WHEN YOU HIT A PLATEAU
1. MONITOR YOUR WEIGHT LOSS OFF THE SCALES
Rather than focusing on weight loss, why not try checking your progress by something else more meaningful, such as a transformation photo with measurements recorded? You can take these every 4 or 6 weeks, and it will give you a better picture of what is going on without the stress and or trials/tribulations of getting on the scales daily or weekly. Wear the same clothes and you will start to see if they fit better, look baggy or look different on a developing new shape.
2. SWAP CARBS AND FATS FOR PROTEIN
Another option is to replace some calories eaten through carbs or fats with calories from protein. Upping the protein does seem to help most WLS patients. However, we can’t stress enough the ‘some’ part of this, as carbs are a necessity for a balanced diet. Protein helps with fat reduction, as it requires more energy to be broken down in the stomach, therefore increasing your metabolism. Protein also helps to suppress Ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite. Protein also, as many tag-lines on products now say, ‘helps you feel fuller for longer’.
Try to spread your protein intake out throughout the day. Protein requirements will be unique to the individual and the surgery you have had and it’s hard to also calculate when malabsorption also comes into the mix; but aim for 20-25 g as a minimum of protein at each meal (and duodenal switch patients aim for much more – perhaps as much as 35 g). The former 20-25 g can be found in a 100 g/4 oz chicken breast or a protein shake for example.
3. MIX UP YOUR WORK OUTS AND EXERCISE REGIME
When it comes to working out or exercising, muscles can become familiar with the same old thing, making your regular routine less effective. If you find that you are doing the same old, same old, it might well be time to get out of your comfort zone and try something different or change it up a little bit – make it more challenging or introduce something new with a higher intensity.
4. BE SUPER STRICT WITH YOUR MEASURING, PORTION CONTROL AND SNACKING
Don’t let portion creep be the real winner here. Measure your food by weighing it, checking it’s volume, or assiduously putting on a bariatric portion plate so that you get the quantities and proportions correct. If you’re upping the protein (as in recommendation 2) then make sure you use the full half protein portion of the plate and ‘trespass’ into the carbs area too, until things get moving into loss again. And, whilst you may well return to the 1-2 day healthy snacks (mainly to boost protein), give them a rest for now and just stick to your main meal regime.
At Bariatric Cookery we have found this is a great way to jump-start things and get things moving again. Our core portion control products can also help you to get losing weight again and beating stalls/plateaus and regains. You can START NOW, and START HERE.
Consider the Bariatric Portion Plate for effective portion and proportion control (details here)
Use our Portion, Cook and Serve Measuring Cups alone or with the plate (details here)
Portion control your food away from home with our Bariatric Bento Box (details here)
And slow down your eating with our Portion Control Cutlery (details here)
Or consider a portion-control package (there are several to choose from for the UK and worldwide) – see here