After a bariatric surgery, you may be wondering what the next steps are to reach your weight loss goals. When patients place exercise and muscle building as a top priority, they often have more energy, lose weight at a faster pace and get better results from their surgery. With the right diet and exercise regimen, patients can achieve the weight loss and muscle building results they want after a sleeve gastrectomy.
Why is it important to build muscle?
Building muscle after weight loss surgery will give you more energy, boost your weight loss journey, and make physical activity easier. It also helps patients maintain a healthier weight once they’ve achieved their weight loss goals.
One of the great benefits of exercise is that it increases the metabolism (how quickly your body burns energy/calories). Your fat cells hold onto energy, whereas your muscle cells use energy. When someone has gained muscle, their body speeds up the rate at which they use energy, leading to a greater amount of calories burned.
This is great news for bariatric patients. When exercise is a part of your lifestyle, you’ll be burning more calories--even when you’re not exercising!
The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn (even at rest). This means more weight loss. Not only will patients reach their weight loss goals faster as a result of exercise and muscle building, they’ll feel better too.
How to build muscle after sleeve gastrectomy
If you want to increase your muscle mass after a sleeve gastrectomy so you can get the most out of your surgery, you’ll need to adjust your diet and exercise routine. Patients should incorporate high quality, low fat protein into their diet in order to maintain the muscle they have and build new muscle. In general, women need about 64 grams of protein daily, while men need about 80. Your doctor or nutritionist will be able to give you a better idea of what your specific protein needs are.
During the recovery phase, one way patients can begin adding protein to their diets is by drinking protein shakes. Once they’ve adjusted to their weight loss surgery and have fewer dietary restrictions, they can re-introduce whole foods and protein into their diet. Tracking your protein intake can be a great way to ensure you are consuming the right amount. There are many resources available to help track your food consumption (such as sites and mobile applications), which can help give a more accurate representation of your protein intake.
Exercise is the most important aspect of building muscle after a sleeve gastrectomy. Some patients are new to exercise and are concerned about how to exercise and how often. If you’re not experienced with exercise, start slow. At first, you may only be able to exercise for 5 minutes a day, that's alright! Patients should add an additional 5 minutes of exercise each day until they’re able to exercise for 45 minutes a day, most days of the week.
With fitness, consistency is key. Think about your goals, and why you are wanting to achieve them. Some patients find it helpful to choose a specific time of day that they can consistently workout at to stay on top of their fitness goals. Others find it helpful to write down their workouts, or even use a calendar to track their progress. Before the week begins, choose which days of the week you will be working out and write down what exercise you will be performing each of those days. Motivation might be difficult at first, but if you stay on track and work hard, success will come!
Patients should also use a combination of cardiovascular, strength building, and flexibility exercises in order to raise their fitness levels and build more muscle. Cardiovascular exercises (like running or swimming) will benefit your heart, lungs and circulation while strength building exercise is where most of the muscle building happens. Strength building exercise (weight lifting or body weight exercises) make your muscles and bones stronger and increase your metabolism. Patients should do cardio most days of the week and weight train two to three days weekly.
While exercise can give you excellent weight loss and muscle building results, your body still needs time to recover from surgery. You’ll typically need about 4 to 6 weeks to heal before your doctor says it’s safe for you to start exercising. You shouldn’t start any type of exercise until you receive your doctor’s approval.
Bariatric surgery increases your ability to lose weight and create the fit, strong body you want to achieve. If you want to improve your health while losing weight after a sleeve gastrectomy, building muscle should be one of your top priorities. With the right mindset, goals, diet, and exercise regimen, you’ll be able to see some amazing results.