Is Intermittent Fasting Safe After Weight Loss Surgery?

A plate that is 40% full sits on a table next to a fork and knife. The words intermittent fasting are written on the other 60% of the plate.

Intermittent fasting is a diet strategy that involves extended fasting hours each day. For example, if you finish your last meal at 8 p.m. and don’t eat again until noon the following day, you’re technically fasting for 16 hours. Intermittent fasting is often used to help a person limit their daily calories in order to lose weight and visceral fat (fat that wraps around your abdominal organs deep inside the body).

Intermittent fasting allows you to stay in a low insulin state for most of the day, which keeps your body in a fat-burning mode (when eating at a caloric deficit). But is intermittent fasting after weight loss surgery safe? The answer is yes, but not right away.

Intermittent fasting and bariatric surgery

Weight loss surgery changes the size of your stomach and, in some cases, the way your small intestine digests and absorbs food. While these changes will help you lose weight, they will also reduce your body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients, like protein. Following a standard post-operative diet for people who just had bariatric surgery is necessary to help reduce risk of developing short- and long-term nutritional deficits. For this reason and more, intermittent fasting immediately following bariatric surgery is not recommended. The diet you’ll be required to follow before and after surgery is very specific and will last for several weeks to help your body recover. However, approximately 5 weeks after surgery, you will be able to put a new-normal eating plan into long-term effect, which may include fasting.

It’s important to work closely with your doctor and registered dietician to develop your new normal eating plan to ensure you’re getting the nutrients, proteins and fluids your body needs to stay healthy.

Benefits intermittent fasting after weight loss surgery

Intermittent fasting can encourage ongoing weight loss and help you replace late-night snacking with healthy eating habits. Talk to your doctor or registered dietician to find out if you’re a candidate for intermittent fasting. They can help you develop a healthy strategy and make healthy food recommendations to ensure you’re giving your body everything it needs to stay healthy.

Here are 5 health benefits of intermittent fasting:

  1. Weight loss
    Intermittent fasting helps you consume fewer calories throughout the day. It also helps insulin levels to return to baseline, which shifts your body into fat-burning mode. Without a significant pause in eating, your body’s insulin does not have enough time to return to its baseline and allow your body to burn fat.
  2. Reduced blood pressure
    Fasting lowers blood pressure by reshaping the gut microbiota, which plays an active role in causing hypertension.
  3. Reduced cholesterol
    Weight loss caused by intermittent fasting can not only lower but also help keep cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar levels low after weight loss surgery.
  4. Reduced insulin resistance
    Intermittent fasting encourages insulin levels to fall, which supports long-term type 2 diabetes remission following bariatric surgery.
  5. Increased longevity
    Eating in a 6-hour period and fasting for 18 hours may help your body switch from glucose-based to ketone-based energy, which can help increase stress resistance and longevity. It can also help lower your risk of diseases like obesity and cancer.

Fasting after bariatric surgery may not be right for everyone. It’s something you’ll need to discuss with your doctor when the time comes. If you’re interested in one of Dr. Wiljon Beltre’s weight loss procedures or would like to learn more about intermittent fasting and bariatric surgery, call Beltre Bariatrics at 321-499-6505.

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