Intermittent Fasting After Weight Loss Surgery
by Anthony Benjamin on Oct 12, 2022
Intermittent Fasting After Weight Loss Surgery
As a popular trend in the health and dieting industry, intermittent fasting is everywhere. From social media to television, everyone is talking about it – but does that mean it’s right for you? If you have a history of weight loss surgery, the answer may surprise you.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting refers to the specific cycling of fasting and eating, by scheduling specific times for both during the day or spreading them out over a week.
Whereas dieting is complicated, intermittent fasting is simple. Instead of restricting what you can eat, it limits when you can eat.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
To be specific, intermittent fasting allows the body to use stored energy – typically, by burning excess body fat, which is food energy stored by the body. If your body is unable to store food energy, it will “eat” its own fat for energy instead.
The body uses insulin to store food energy for future use. When people eat, insulin rises and helps store excess energy in two ways. Carbohydrates are broken into individual glucose units, which can be linked into chains to form glycogen, which is stored in the liver or muscles.
Unfortunately, there is limited living space for carbohydrates. Once the limit is reached, the liver reacts by turning excess glucose into fat. While some of the fat is stored in the liver, most of it is transported to other fat deposits in the body. In fact, there is no limit to the amount of fat that can be created.
In a fasting period, the process is reversed. Insulin levels will fall, which means the body will begin burning stored food energy.
Blood glucose levels will also fall, which means the body will be forced to release glucose for energy. By repeating this process regularly, the body will experience weight loss.
The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting can provide your body with powerful benefits. Some of benefits include:
- Weight loss
- Improved blood cholesterol
- Cancer prevention
- Insulin resistance
- Lower risk of type 2 diabetes
- Improved heart health
- Brain health
- Anti-aging benefits
Intermittent Fasting After Weight Loss Surgery: Is it Recommended?
Is intermittent fasting after weight loss surgery recommended? Currently, there is not enough data to support intermittent fasting as a safe practice for weight loss surgery patients. We do not fully understand the effect that timing of food throughout the day has on a person’s overall health, not just their weight. Be forewarned that the positive results of bariatric surgery could be compromised by intermittent fasting.
Immediately after surgery, fasting is not recommended. The best plan for weight loss is eating on a schedule to keep your body well hydrated and nourished with vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. The primary danger of fasting is low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, and dehydration.
The following are the more common methods by which one can do intermittent fasting.
The 5:2 Diet
This diet regime involves eating normally for five days with two days of restricted intake of typically 500 calories or fewer. The fasting days do not have to occur back-to-back. For instance, you may follow your normal diet every day of the week except for Tuesdays and Fridays. On these days, you eat two small meals of 250 calories each.
The 16/8 Method
This fasting method requires fasting every day for 16 hours and restricting your eating window to eight hours. The 16 hours of fasting may include the time you spend sleeping. During the eating window, you can fit in two, three, or more meals. For example, you may have your first meal at 11 a.m. and your last meal at 7 p.m.
During the fasting period, you can drink water and other zero-calorie beverages, which can help to reduce feelings of hunger
Alternate-day fasting involves a 24-hour fasting day once or twice a week when food intake is either completely restricted or partially reduced. During the fast, daily energy requirements are limited to 60-80%. Each fasting day is followed by a 24-hour feeding day when food is consumed at will (“ad libitum”).
The Warrior Diet
This diet requires eating small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables during the day and eating one larger meal at night. Another approach is fasting for 10 to 12 hours each day and eating a modest meal or a few snacks.
Incorporating Fasting into Your Schedule
After you have transitioned back to normal food and are used to eating a healthy diet, intermittent fasting may work for you. Keep in mind that studies about intermittent fasting are in the early stages, and with time, associated dangers to this practice may be identified.
Ask yourself, what is realistic for me in the long-term? Some people like rules and respond to a strict regime of eating between certain hours or on certain days. Others may struggle with a rigid structure or their lifestyle might not make a fasting schedule realistic. If you “fail” and eat outside of the timeframe, feelings of shame and regret can surface.
If you are considering intermittent fasting, find the balance between what research is uncovering about food timing and metabolism and how it relates to your personal lifestyle. As with any eating plan, consistency is the key to long-term success.
Alternatives to Intermittent Fasting After Weight Loss Surgery
If you are a post-bariatric patient who is considering intermittent fasting, you should know that there are other options available. From physical activity to eating healthy foods, you can live a healthy lifestyle without sacrificing your weight loss surgery results.
Follow a Healthy, Normal Diet
Instead of intermittent fasting, eat a healthy diet that is tailored to your needs as a post-bariatric patient. You should eat 60 to 90 grams of protein per day and monitor your sugar and fat intake. You may also want to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your diet.
Additionally, you may have to modify your diet to suit your recovery needs. Some foods may initially irritate your stomach, while other foods become more tolerable as your stomach continues to heal.
Develop New Drinking Habits
Soft drinks and alcohol offer excessive calories and little to no nutrition, which means you should avoid certain drinks after bariatric surgery. Instead, save your calories for whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, and proteins. You should also drink a lot of water.
Exercise Every Day
If you want to maintain weight loss, you should exercise for at least 20 to 30 minutes per day. Consider physical activity such as walking, light running, or bike riding. You can even walk the dog!
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