After gastric sleeve surgery, you will experience rapid weight loss. However, you need to remember that at some point in your recovery process, this speed may significantly slow down. This condition is called weight stall after gastric sleeve or gastric sleeve plateau. You should know this is a common situation and there is absolutely nothing to worry about.
Don’t get demotivated by thinking that all the efforts you made were for nothing. It’s just the beginning of your weight loss journey, so stay patient and learn some valuable tips on how to handle your gastric sleeve plateau.
What is a gastric weight plateau?
A gastric sleeve weight stall is a temporary lack of progress in your weight loss, which may occur weeks or months following the surgery. It will most probably happen sometime after your procedure. Remember, your weight loss journey is a long-term process, and it has its ups and downs.
Are you hitting a plateau in losing weight after the gastric sleeve and wish to learn more about it? Let’s first have a closer look at the causes of your stall after the gastric sleeve.
What are the causes of weight stalls?
There are a few reasons for stalls after gastric sleeve surgery. What’s important, your body starts to burn much fewer calories as a reaction to lower caloric intake according to your diet, so it tries to save as much energy as possible. As a result, your body adapts to the new diet and protects the fat from burning, so your metabolism slows down.
Another reason is not enough physical activity. Remember having more muscle mass leads to a faster metabolism. Therefore, when you start exercising you burn more calories in the long run. Weaker muscles result in difficulties while your sports activities, so keep in mind to build your muscles with some strength and cardio workouts, not too intense due to your post-operative recovery period. You can increase the intensity gradually.
Plateau after gastric sleeve surgery may also be the cause of some of the food choices not fully matched to a post-op diet. Remember that some foods need to be excluded from the diet, and others should be included. It’s very important to follow these instructions given to you by a dietitian.
Keep in mind that it’s crucial to stay hydrated. Dehydration makes you eat more because it takes away the thirst signals and sends hunger signals instead. What’s more, you won’t make enough digestive juices, therefore your metabolism is going to slow down. It’s worth mentioning that when you drink more water, it leads to a process called lipolysis. It’s the breakdown of lipids or fats, which is necessary for losing weight.
When do you plateau after gastric sleeve?
It varies. Some patients will experience these stalls weeks, three months, six months, or even nine months after the procedure. However, it’s particularly common around 3-6 months after your gastric sleeve surgery. You must know that a weight plateau right after the gastric sleeve doesn’t generally happen. Just the opposite, during the first weeks following your sleeve gastrectomy you will be losing weight really quickly.
How long does a stall last after gastric sleeve?
Usually, a weight plateau can last from a few days to a few weeks, even though you’re trying to stay on track. It might happen at any time in your weight loss journey. Keep in mind that the longest gastric sleeve weight stall probably won’t last more than 3 weeks. If it does, don’t hesitate to consult with your dietitian, so that you can get their advice and support.
How many times does it happen?
You can expect from one to three weight stalls in the first year following your weight loss surgery. Every time a gastric plateau happens, you must consistently continue to follow your dietary instructions. If the plateau lasts long, then you must reflect on it and identify your possible mistakes. Remember that you will still continue to lose weight until 12-18 months after your sleeve gastrectomy. (1)
5 tips on how to break a stall after gastric sleeve
While trying to work on your weight stall after gastric sleeve surgery, keep in mind that every patient is unique and therefore every weight loss journey differs. Tactics and strategies that work for some of the sleeve gastrectomy patients might not necessarily be an effective way for you and your individual situation.
But don’t get demotivated, because there are many ways you can restart your weight loss. Here are some useful hacks on how to get out of a stall after a gastric sleeve.
Make some dietary changes
Even when you consider all the advice of your doctor, your diet after the sleeve surgery might not be enough to break the weight stall after gastric sleeve. Firstly, a balanced, healthy diet may still need some readjustments, like adding more protein and fiber sources. You may also need to decrease your calorie or carbs intake. Try to monitor and evaluate your eating habits, and always consult any diet changes with your dietitian.
Your meals need to provide protein, fiber, vitamins, and complicated carbs without lots of calories. Add poultry and fish, eggs, vegetables, and some fruit to your diet. Cut down on meals with no nutritional benefits, such as sugary or energy drinks, as well as packaged, modified foods. Keep in mind to always have smaller meals more often, so that you don’t overeat when you feel hungry. Take small bites and eat slowly, with no drinking while having your meal.
Be more physically active
Another way to break a stall after a gastric sleeve is to start being more active. You won’t be able to start exercising straight away after your surgery. You will start your daily activities with short walks, and only some weeks later your doctor will allow you to go swimming, as well as to do some yoga and add other light activities to your exercise routine. These exercises will help your heart, and lungs, as well as your overall strength and health. It is also going to help you start losing your excess weight again.
Increase your water intake
Within the first weeks after your surgery, you probably won’t feel like drinking the required water amount. Recommended 2 liters per day might be difficult to achieve, but you need to try consuming as many fluids as necessary to avoid dehydration and later on, to keep your weight stable. Remember to drink water between meals, NOT with them – this will help to avoid flushing the food down too quickly. Drinking water will fill up your stomach, so you won’t be feeling that hungry. Also, drinking with your meals may lead to dumping.
Sleep, sleep, sleep
It’s crucial that you get enough sleep after your weight loss surgery. Lack of good quality sleep makes it more difficult for your body to burn calories. What’s more, you are also going to be more likely to experience food cravings during the day. For this reason, you need to get some quality sleep every night to avoid weight gain. Studies show that sleep plays an important role in fat loss during calorie restriction. In a study of people undergoing 14 days of calorie restriction, patients lost less weight when they slept 5,5 hours compared to those who slept three hours more. (2) Sleeping eight hours per night and keeping a set schedule, even on the weekends, will benefit you notably.
Remember, patience is key!
During the first weeks following the procedure, your body will be changing really fast. You will be losing your excess kilograms really quickly, so a sudden weight loss plateau may scare you off. In these moments remember to keep your balanced lifestyle and follow the tips we gave you. The most important thing you can do is to trust the process. Keep in mind that your weight loss journey is a life-long decision and commitment. Stay motivated and follow all this useful advice regarding diet, staying active, and other lifestyle changes that will improve your life after gastric sleeve surgery.
(1) Tettero OM, Monpellier VM, Janssen IMC, Steenhuis IHM, van Stralen MM. Early Postoperative Weight Loss Predicts Weight Loss up to 5 Years After Roux-En-Y Gastric Bypass, Banded Roux-En-Y Gastric Bypass, and Sleeve Gastrectomy. Obes Surg. 2022 Sep;32(9):2891-2902. doi: 10.1007/s11695-022-06166-x. Epub 2022 Jul 16. PMID: 35842505; PMCID: PMC9392686. Link
(2) Papatriantafyllou E, Efthymiou D, Zoumbaneas E, Popescu CA, Vassilopoulou E. Sleep Deprivation: Effects on Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance. Nutrients. 2022 Apr 8;14(8):1549. doi: 10.3390/nu14081549. PMID: 35458110; PMCID: PMC9031614. Link