For many people that have gone through bariatric surgery their relationship with food changes including forgetting to eat at all. So combining weight loss surgery, fitness and nutrition can be an added challenge. I bring this up because over the years I have had clients that come into a session with me and within 30 minutes they’re fading quickly. Most of the time that lack of energy comes from them haven’t eaten much or at all. So I thought I would put together a quick post on eating, bariatric surgery and exercise.
Before You Exercise
In my interview with Hilary Rounds a Registered dietitian with Rose hospital’s bariatric clinic points out that “there are no hard–fast rules” that need to be applied every time concerning nutrition and physical activity. However, she does recommend that “there are some things you should do before, during and after your workout.”
This includes fueling up 2 hours before any exercise. Of course the more intense the workout session the more important it is to make sure you have eaten.
That is the ideal situation. You need to drink water (as you should be doing anyway), and eat a meal with healthy carbohydrates such as whole grains or pasta, vegetables and fruits. There are pre-workout drinks that you can use, but be careful of the high sugar content. This is really important if you’ve had gastric bypass so you can avoid dumping. Avoid Protein before your workout. Protein takes longer to digest, and could cause some discomfort while you exercise.
If you only have 5 to 10 minutes before you workout you should still eat something. Try a banana, apple or some other “easy to digest” fruit or vegetable to provide healthy needed carbohydrates.. If, in the worst case, you have nothing to eat and your workout is going to be fairly intense then the best strategy would be to do something less strenuous. Maybe a slower walk on a treadmill or not overly heavy weight training.
Eat While You Exercise
Again this depends on your workout. If the workout is going to longer than an hour, like a long hike or bike ride then getting your eating right is important. If the session is going to be an hour or less and you have eaten a few hours before there is not need to eat more. Back to the longer workout sessions. How do you fuel for that?
First you should aim for 100 to 200 cal for every hour of exercise and try to keep the fuel high in carbohydrates. I know that goes against what you get told when it comes to eating post weight loss surgery. That is protein is king and carbs give you less room to get your protein in. But in this case your body needs the carbs to keep you fueled and like I wrote above protein takes longer to digest and can slow you down. If don’t really know where to start and having a bad reaction to simple carbs an 2 hours into a hike isn’t a pleasant thought, then start simple. Take a separate smaller water bottle with you that is a 4:1 ratio of water to a sports drink. It should still give you the energy you need without the change of dumping.
Eating After You Exercise
When your vehicle’s gas tank is empty, you are going nowhere. The same is true with your body. You need to re-fuel your tank after exercise. Drink lots of water after your workout is over. You also need plenty of carbohydrates and proteins. Of course with a smaller pouch than non – WlS people make sure you go for the protein first post-workout. The protein is doubly important at this stage first if the workout was long and needed to be heavy with carbs then getting back to the protein is important. Secondly protein is essential for your recovery period, which is when your body grows stronger and builds more muscle mass.
As for timing of your post exercise meal, there isn’t a consensus but if you can try to eat between 30 and 60 minutes after exercise.
Getting the proper fitness and nutrition can lead to a long, healthy and happy life. Just remember that these general guidelines may need to be tweaked for the unique way your body works. Use the exercise eating tips above, adjusting them as needed for the best results in your life.
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Geof has been working with bariatric surgery clients for over a decade. His goal with Coaching For Bariatric Success is to give you the tools to make your weight loss successful for the long term.