Enjoy the honeymoon phase of bariatric surgery while you can! The phase of rapid weight loss doesn’t last forever, and eventually (unfortunately, really), you’ll hit a stall or even gain some weight. I’ve also been frustrated by these stalls and weight regains. However, I see so many bariatric patients regain a significant portion of their weight or get discouraged when they’ve hit a stall. Many of you may want to reset your pouch by trying a fad diet, like a pouch reset or intermittent fasting. To save you the trouble, I’ve tried out both with mixed results. These diets aren’t going to “fix” your pouch at all. While a reset may help you lose weight initially, it won’t shrink your pouch. Instead, you need to do a mental reset, and I’ve just got the tips for you to do so!
Why “Reset” Your Pouch
Many bariatric patients think they need to reset their pouch because they can eat more now than they could right after surgery. They think they have somehow stretched their pouch out so much and now they have to consume more calories to get that full-feeling. However, that’s generally not the case. If you have literally stretched out your pouch, you need to seek some medical care. It’s beyond what I can assist here on this blog. Let me just remind you that I am not a medical professional at all. Everything I present on this blog is based on my own experience and research. Always listen to your doctor’s advice first and foremost.
How to Know if Your Pouch is Working
According to Bariatric Cookery, if you feel satisfied after eating food that fits on a side plate, including protein and a small amount of grains and vegetables, your pouch is perfectly fine. However, your issue is that you are probably eating too many simple carbohydrates, drinking too close to your meals and not exercising enough. Since patients aren’t feeling full as long, they think they’ve stretched their pouch and need to reset it.
Some patients turn to a popular five-day pouch reset or intermittent fasting to restart their weight loss. While they can help lose weight initially, they don’t have the long-term sustainability of lifestyle changes. It’s why so many patients, including me, have turned to weight loss surgery. The fad diets aren’t permanent fixes. Neither is weight loss surgery, but it provides a tool to help us lose weight that no other program has been able to give us. If you want to restart your weight loss, you need to look at your habits and commit to the lifestyle changes required of bariatric patients.
Five-Day Pouch Reset
Let’s look at the five-day pouch reset more closely. Kaye Bailey, a gastric bypass patient, developed the plan in 2007. She, like many of us, had regained some of her weight and expressed her frustrations to her doctor. He encouraged her to get “back to basics,” but gave no direction on how. She then developed a plan and tested it out on herself to see how well it worked. It mimics your post-op diet, just condensed to five days. The first two days are liquid proteins, like protein shakes, broth, sugar-free gelatin and sugar-free pudding. The third day is soft protein, like canned fish and eggs. The fourth day is firm protein, like ground meat. The fifth day is solid protein, like chicken, beef, steak or pork. For more detailed information, check out her Web site here.
The idea behind this diet is that your body detoxes from the simple carbs you’re consuming. Additionally, you’re eating more protein, which makes you fuller. If you also take your time and eat more slowly, savoring each bite, you’ll start to experience that feeling of fullness more quickly than before. While I don’t believe that this diet will shrink your pouch by any means, I do think it may be helpful to get away from the simple carbs and start focusing on protein again.
Another popular method to get the weight loss moving again is intermittent fasting, which has been around since Biblical times. According to Healthline, intermittent fasting is not a conventional diet. You can pretty much eat anything you want within your “feasting periods.” The most popular types of intermittent fasting are:
- 16/8 Fast – Fast for 16 hours and eat three meals during an eight-hour period. For example, eat between noon and 8 PM, and fast between 8 PM and noon.
- 24-Hour Fast – Fast for entire 24-hour period, for example from 5 P.M. one day to 5 P.M. the next day.
- 5/2 Method – Consume only 500 to 600 calories on two non-consecutive days during the week, and eat normally the other five days.
The Healthline article lists many benefits to intermittent fasting, including weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity and cellular repair. However, Penn Medicine does not recommend bariatric patients do any type of fasting. According to an article, fasting could lead to dehydration, poor caloric intake and vomiting. Your dietary intake is already limited due to surgery. If you’re doing the 16/8 fast, you may not be able to consume enough calories in the eight-hour window. A 24-hour fast isn’t recommended at all, as we need calories each day to sustain our lifestyle. If you do the 5/2 method, on those two days of eating only a few calories, you could be doing more damage to your body than good.
Trial and Error
Because I believe in helping out my readers, I tested both the five-day pouch reset and intermittent fasting for a week each. I wanted to see if there was any substance to the claims made by each of these “resets,” and if so, provide my recommendations. So I followed each plan as directed by several different web sites. I made sure I did my research before beginning. Here’s what happened:
My Five-Day Pouch Reset
For the five-day pouch reset, I was reminded of where I came from. Do you remember the days of eating sugar-free gelatin and broth during the clear liquid diet? How about eating pureed food? Those humble beginnings after surgery, when our bodies were just learning how to digest food again, were once again, humbling. I learned to appreciate being able to eat solid foods and did take my time eating. And honestly, the five-day pouch reset worked, as far as weight loss. I lost six pounds in those five days after my weight had been slightly stalled. However, the next week, I returned to my bariatric habits and regular diet. Guess what? My weight stalled again. So while it was helpful to detox from the simple carbohydrates, and my weight loss kicked up for a week, it didn’t provide the necessary lifestyle changes needed to continue losing weight.
My Intermittent Fasting
A few weeks later, I tried intermittent fasting. I was nervous about this one, mostly because I was terrified of not having my coffee in the morning. However, I read that as long as the coffee is under 100-calories, you won’t break your fast. I did the 16/8 hour fast, as it seemed the best option for bariatric patients. The important thing here is that I still drank plenty of lemon water during my fasting periods, as well as my coffee with skim milk.
It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and the time seemed to pass quickly during the fast. I fasted between 8 P.M. and noon each day. At noon, I’d break my fast with a protein shake, and I ate lunch around 1:15. I had a snack at around 4:45, and dinner around 7 P.M. I limited my caloric intake, and as a result, lost five pounds.
Again, when I went back to my regular bariatric habits, my weight stalled. So while these short bursts of limiting my diet did produce the weight loss I desired, it didn’t do anything for the habits that are necessary for success. Plateaus and stalls are a normal part of this process. What we need to do when these stalls happen is focus on the habits that produce weight loss and stick to them.
Get Back to Basics
So what does it mean to get back to basics? Bariatric basics are the habits you developed right after surgery. It’s things like waiting 30 minutes before and after you eat to drink anything, eating slowly, over a 20- to 30-minute window and eating protein first. It’s making sure you are getting some kind of physical activity each week. Basics are things like avoiding simple carbohydrates and focusing on protein, then vegetables and if you’re still hungry, some fruit or grains.
Track your food. I can’t stress this enough. If it goes in your mouth, it goes in your food journal. You’ll be surprised at how many calories you’re consuming if you’re not tracking your food. Make sure you get at least 60 to 80 grams of protein her day and try to aim for about 100 grams. Ensure you drink at least 64 ounces of water each day, and more if you are exercising more intensely. Get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Manage your stress without food.
These are the bariatric basics that will help reset your mind, and therefore, your pouch. If you’re doing all these habits, then change things up. Sometimes the body gets used to a routine, and just by changing something, like your workout or extra protein, it can shake the weight loss stall. I think this reason is why the pouch reset and intermittent fasting results in weight loss – it’s a change from what your body is used to having.
Reset Your Mind, Reset Your Pouch
I know what it’s like to be frustrated with stalls and weight regain. I know how frustrating it is to be doing all the right things and not see the scale move. While a reset may help you lose weight initially, it won’t “shrink” your pouch. You need a mental reset instead. Stay the course. Keep after your bariatric habits and avoid simple carbs. A pouch reset won’t shrink your pouch, but it may boost your metabolism and encourage weight loss temporarily. Intermittent fasting isn’t recommended for bariatric patients but can provide a difference in your weight loss. Reconnect with your motivation to lose weight, get back to basics, and don’t give up. You are so worth it!
If this article gave you some great ideas to incorporate into your life, just imagine what other amazing strategies I have for you! Share this post on social media by clicking one of the sharing buttons, and don’t forget to join my email list! You’ll be the first to get updates, access to my new products and lots of tips, inspiration and motivation to help in your bariatric surgery journey. Just for joining, I’ll send you a free Bariatric Beginner’s Guide to get you started, as well as some other pretty awesome goodies to keep you motivated. Join today!
You reset your mind. Change things up. Get back to bariatric basics like waiting to drink 30 minutes before and after your meals, savoring your meals over 20 to 30 minutes, consume at least 60 to 80 grams of protein each day, drink at least 64 ounces of water each day, sleep for seven to eight hours each night, get exercise for 150 minutes each week and handle stress without food.