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Overcoming the Weight Loss Plateau for Bariatric Patients

Close up on a pair of feet standing on a scale with a white background, an orange bar lines the top of the images with the Illinois bariatric center logo in the top left corner

When undergoing a weight loss journey, many patients find that they eventually hit an abrupt period of slowing down or stopping altogether. This can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you are continuing to follow your diet plan, exercise routine, and consulting with your doctor. Weight loss plateaus are common, even for patients that undergo bariatric surgery.

It might be surprising to know, but weight loss plateaus sometimes have nothing to do with your activities and eating habits. The delay on your weight loss journey might even be necessary to lasting, healthy weight loss success.

Why do we plateau during weight loss?

A weight-loss plateau is a period of stalling or even weight gain after you begin your weight loss journey. Sometimes, weight loss patients will plateau because they give up on healthy habits. It’s is very important to keep up with your new routine. You’ll only continue to lose weight if you stick to your plan.

Our body’s natural response

As your body adapts to dramatic weight loss, it may feel the need to defend itself against losing any more weight. After you undergo gastric weight loss surgery, the body’s natural defense system will work to maintain steady health when it is put under stress. The dramatic weight loss that’s involved in Laparoscopic weight loss surgery may result in the body working to maintain fat and energy stores.

The set point theory

No weight loss journey is completely linear. Some scientists believe that a temporary plateau is necessary for lasting, healthy weight loss. This might be best understood with a process called “set point”. Our bodies naturally want to remain around what it determines is a healthy weight. We may fluctuate by a few pounds more or less, but our bodies naturally seek to return to what it determines is our ideal weight. This set point, however, can change over time. If you gradually gain weight over time, your body goes from thinking your set point is much higher than it should be.

It’s estimated that the average person has a set point of 5-10% of our body weight can be gained or lost without much resistance. Beyond that. Our body naturally seeks to return to its perceived natural state. This is why after significant weight loss your body seems to hit a wall. It’s also why it’s important to make lasting, lifestyle changes like the Lap-Band Program instead of short-term weight loss fads that don’t provide lasting results.

How to get past the plateau

Each weight loss journey is different. On average, a plateau might last a couple of weeks to up to a few months, but it does not always mean that your new lifestyle changes stopped working. It’s important to give your body time to rest, relax, and get used to its new normal without stopping any of your new habits. Stay patient, keep up your new healthy diet, and talk to your doctor.

Your weight loss journey might not always be a straight path. For more tips on staying motivated and keeping on track, visit our Living Banded blog page.

Beth Reeser