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Even Gastric Bypass Patients Hit Weight Loss Plateaus

Sometime, during the phase of rapid weight loss after gastric bypass surgery, many patients may find their weight loss is stalled. Talk about discouraging. The daily ritual of weighing and celebrating another pound gone has turned into depressing torture because the scale just won't move- the dreaded plateau has arrived.

One reason for the plateau is physiological. The body reacting to the restrictive caloric intake sends out a signal to start burning less stored fuel. In other words, the metabolic rate (the rate at which the body burns fuel) is reduced as the body attempts to conserve fuel in reaction to a state of famine. Your body is hanging on for dear life to it's beloved fat.

Face Down The Dreaded Plateau:

There are things we can do to face down the dreaded plateau. The first is to avoid beating up on ourselves or regretting the decision for WLS. Simply accept that a plateau is part of the natural course of weight loss and this too shall pass. Plateaus can last two to four weeks. Try to be patient and consider your body is simply taking a rest from the hard work of losing weight.

Avoid snacking during the plateau. Old eating habits that caused obesity may resurface as we comfort our disappointment with extra snacks or make unhealthy food choices. Try to avoid this type of self-sabotage. Keep in mind, a plateau is a difficult time emotionally. I can recall feeling, "I really didn't deserve to lose all this weight anyway, so I may as well eat this or that." Avoid the self-pity trap.

Re-examine your commitment to healthy eating and exercise. Sometimes a plateau can be busted simply by returning the very basic principles of living after gastric bypass. One nurse-dietician suggests a return to pure protein for 48-hours. That means eating only eggs, low-fat cheese, chicken, tuna, turkey, etc. - nothing processed. The science behind that is the intake of pure amino acids (protein) will boost metabolism and force the body to burn stored fat.

Another way to feel proactive in plateau busting is to kick-up the exercise program. Add an extra half-mile to a walk or an extra set of repetitions to the strength training program. Any little change will catch the body off guard and it just may respond by dropping a pound or two.

And of course continue to drink clear fluids, specifically water, to flush the body of toxins and fat.

Counterfeit Plateaus:

Now, What about the plateau that lasts longer than four weeks and you still have lots of weight to lose? These are referred to as "Counterfeit Plateaus" in the health community. Most counterfeit plateaus result from miscalculations or forgetfulness on the part of the dieter. For example, maybe we are forgetting to avoid starchy carbs or processed snacks. Maybe we are eating a tiny dinner and an hour later eating another tiny dinner? Perhaps we've fallen out of the habit of exercise. Little slip-ups or forgetfulness can become quite costly if we let it go too long without correcting the behavior. Take a hard look and find ways to improve habits and boost weight loss.

Water/Fluid Retention Plateaus:

Too much salt in the diet will cause a water retention plateau - avoid prepared soups or other foods that have excessive salt. A fluid retention plateau is the result of insufficient water consumption so the body retains fluid to compensate. Remember, drink the water.

Plateaus are Temporary:

Remember, plateaus are temporary. As discouraging as it may seem at the time it will pass and it is a natural part of the weight loss journey.

Copyright 2005 Kaye Bailey - All Rights Reserved.

Kaye Bailey is a weight loss surgery success story having maintained her health and goal weight for 5+ years. An award winning journalist, she is the author and webmaster of and

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