tips for long term weight maintenance

Basic Recommendations

Separate fluids from food: Limit fluids 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after eating. Potentially this is 1 1⁄2 hours of not drinking at each meal. Following this rule consistently is essential for long-term success.

Protein first, non-starchy vegetables second, starches third: Eat the protein on your plate first to meet your daily protein needs and help prolong the feeling of fullness.

Avoid fried & high-fat foods: Fried foods are high in saturated fats, trans fats, and calories which contribute to weight gain. These foods are not always well tolerated. Continue to limit these foods for long-term weight loss success.

Limit Starches: Eliminating starches will maximize weight loss. Starch foods can also swell in the stomach and can cause you to become full before you are able to meet your protein needs. To maximize weight loss remain below 50 grams of total carbohydrates daily or eliminate starch choices entirely.

Calories: The number of calories for someone about a year after weight loss surgery varies between 800- 1200 calories for most people. This is a wide range, but everyone is different, at a different place in their weight loss journey, and at a different place in their exercise program. Someone who is at their goal weight and exercising will need more calories to meet their energy needs for exercise. There is no one answer to this question. If you are still trying to lose weight then you will need to eat less than someone who is trying to maintain their weight

Portion size: Always be aware of portion sizes. You will be able to eat more of some foods than others, particularly the softer foods such as yogurt and soup. These foods have a thinner consistency and move through the stomach quicker.

Caffeine: Limit intake to no more than 16 oz per day. Caffeine is a diuretic and stimulates gut motility. It is best to use caffeine-free products, particularly if you are having trouble meeting your fluid needs.

Vitamins/Minerals/Calcium+D: These are a lifetime commitment for optimal health. Follow up with your healthcare team for routine blood work and adjustments in vitamin and mineral recommendations.

Limit distractions: Focus on the meal, chewing, and eating slowly. This allows you to maintain the body-mind connection and recognize when you are comfortably satisfied.


Protein is used in our bodies to repair and replace tissue. Most people need 70-100 g of protein per day. In order to reach your protein goal it is necessary to focus half your meal on protein and eat your protein first at meal times. If you are focusing on this long term then you should be able to reach your protein goal with your meals, but if needed, continue to use protein supplements to reach your daily protein needs.Sugars/Carbohydrates:Avoid simple carbohydrates or white sugar/starch, especially in liquid form. Simple refined sugars are found in candy, pastries, cake, pasta, white bread, flour, chips, pretzels, cookies, ice cream, chocolate, flavored coffee drinks, juices, and smoothies. Simple sugars, especially in liquid form, can lead to weight gain. Foods high in sugar should be avoided because of the high-calorie count and poor nutritional value. The good complex carbohydrates should be kept to approximately 15-30% of your diet to avoid weight gain and maximize nutrition. Complex carbohydrates include the following: whole grain bread, brown rice, oatmeal, vegetables, and fruit. Fruit should always be consumed in its whole form, never blenderized or juiced. No more than 15 grams of sugar per day.


Avoid fried foods and foods that are high in saturated and trans-fat. Some fat is essential in your diet, but choosing healthy fats is important as well as monitoring the quantity. Become a label reader!

  • Avoid fast foods
  • Choose reduced fat dairy products
  • Avoid desserts (high in fat and sugar), especially those that are prepackaged
  • Choose lean meats (bacon and sausage are not lean)
  • Decrease or avoid adding butter, gravy, mayonnaise, or dressings to foods
  • Avoid “snack foods” such as potato chips, etc.
  • Avocados, nuts, and seeds are examples of healthy fats, however, be careful of portion sizes. 1⁄4 cup of nuts or seeds is about 200 calories and 1 Hass avocado is apx. 250 calories.


Adequate hydration is necessary for optimal health. Frequently, we mistake thirst for hunger, especially those hunger pangs between meals. So, if you think you are hungry, consider drinking 8 oz of water and see if the hunger pangs subside. Your fluids needs may vary if you are on a fluid restriction. Be sure to ask your doctor.Continue to avoid empty calories that come in liquid form. No matter how small your new stomach is, liquids will pass through fairly quickly without giving you any satiety or satisfaction. These drinks will slow down weight loss and contribute to weight gain. Some examples of such fluids include:

  • Juices
  • Smoothies
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages of any kind (including soft drinks, teas, lemonades, etc.)
  • Many flavored coffee drinks including Frappuccinos and bottled coffees
  • Sports drinks (including regular Gatorade, PowerAde, Vitamin Water, etc.)
  • Alcohol

ALWAYS check the nutrition label on beverages before you purchase them. Something can be clear and still have a very high amount of sugar. Also, carbonation should continue to be avoided. Many carbonated beverages contain excess sugar and because of their effervescence, carbonated beverages pull excess air into the stomach pouch. This can cause stomach upset, nausea, and excess gas. There is a risk of damaging the stomach pouch if extreme nausea occurs after the operation.


At this point, exercise should be a part of your lifestyle. Your compliance with a post-operative nutritional diet and exercise can significantly improve long-term success. Early on after surgery, we encouraged you to start reincorporating exercise into your lifestyle. Generally, this started as walking and slowly increased in intensity and frequency as tolerated. Not only does exercise improve weight loss, but it also helps maintain weight loss. It is shown that people who are most successful with long-term weight maintenance are the ones who have incorporated exercise into their daily life. Choose something you like to do. You are more likely to exercise if you are doing something you like.

Things to consider:

  • Exercise with a friend, making you accountable to someone other than yourself
  • Have several activities that you like to provide variety and prevent boredom.
  • Go straight to the gym or your workout location before going home.
  • Walk more. Walk the dog, go for a walk with a friend, a neighbor, or the children. Walk whenever you can.
  • Take the bus or car less often.
  • If you take public transportation, get off a few stops early.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Even if starting with going down and working towards climbing up.
  • Take a “walk break” at work instead of a coffee break.
  • During foul weather, get exercise by walking in the mall.
  • Park far away from the front door whenever you are running errands.
  • Check out exercise DVDs, apps, YouTube workout videos, etc.
  • Schedule exercise into your day just like you would an appointment or meal


Avoiding traditional snacking as much as possible will help maintain long-term weight loss. If you absolutely must have something, focus on a protein choice first and possibly pair it with a vegetable or fruit. Also, snacks can be a healthy part of the structured meal plan. The part of snacking that leads to trouble is grazing, unlimited quantities, and unhealthy foods. Snacks that are structured, healthy, and limited, can be a healthy part of any lifestyle. Remember portion size still applies even with snacks that are protein, veggie, and fruit-based.

Some examples:

  • String cheese or cheese cubes/slices
  • Hard-boiled egg or egg muffin cups
  • 1⁄2 cup Greek yogurt
  • Tuna, salmon, or egg salad lettuce wraps; made with low-fat mayo or plain Greek yogurt.
  • 2 oz turkey and 1 slice of cheese roll ups
  • Vegetarian burger patty
  • Cottage cheese with tomatoes and dill
  • Greek yogurt dip and fresh veggies
  • Steamed edamame
  • 1⁄2 cup Morning Star Farms Grillers Crumbles
  • Jerky (beef steak or turkey)
  • Olives, and pickles
  • Baked Kale or Zucchini chips with salsa
  • Cheese Whisps
  • 1⁄2 avocado with seasoning
  • Greek yogurt dip and a fresh cup of veggies
  • Side salad with light dressing and protein
  • PB2 powdered peanut butter and carrots
  • Sugar-free jello, pudding, popsicles

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