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Low Energy After Weight Loss Surgery
Getting the pep back in your step after Gastric Sleeve or Gastric Bypass
Have you had weight loss surgery and find yourself just dragging through your day?
Before having Gastric Sleeve or Gastric Bypass surgery you probably dreamed of all the energy you were going to have. Why? Because that’s what everyone says after surgery! “I have SO much more energy now!”
But what happened? Where is your energizer bunny pack?!
Energy after surgery can be related to many, many things. But yes in general…you should expect to have more energy after losing weight. So what’s going on? Why isn’t this the case for you?
The #1 most common reason for low energy after surgery is…….
You’re low on water.
Even a mild dehydration can make you feel super sluggish.
If you feel like you might be behind on water or if you’ve wondered if being low on water can slow down your weight loss, you’ll want to watch this video on Mild vs Severe Dehydration.
We mostly think of dehydration as the time to go get IV fluids, which can happen, but mild dehydration may not be severe enough to need fluids…yet.
Post-op weight loss surgery patients ARE more prone to dehydration and not only is it best for your progress to get in 64 to 96 ounces of water, it’s also important to keep you from getting to the point of needing fluids.
BUT! If you feel like you’re doing fine on your fluids, let’s move on to some other options.
Another common reason for lower energy after surgery is….
You’re still in your healing phase.
Everyone recovers from surgeries in different ways. Some people are up and walking without trouble. Some people really struggle with nausea. Others are left very lethargic and sleepy.
Even if it’s been a few weeks since your surgery, don’t feel bad if you still feel low on energy. After all, you DID just have a major surgery! Get rest, get water and give yourself some time. Surgeons I’ve worked for have said the healing phase after surgery is eight weeks. If you have not reached the eight week mark, your energy may have yet to return but is on it’s way!
And another reason could be….
Your sleep schedule.
It’s easy to blame surgery for being tired but when you think about it, you haven’t really had a set routine on sleeping. Perhaps you’ve been staying up late or having patchy sleep through the night. This is a very difficult reality for many.
There are different tactics to having more success at sleeping at night including not using phones or looking at other screens before bedtime. Also, keep you bedtime consistent each night as well as your morning wakeup time.
For me, writing down the worries that are on my mind before bed help me to sleep well because I know I won’t forget what I need to do in the morning. The list will be waiting for me! Make sure to invest in this area of your life to gain the energizing benefits of losing weight.
Sleep issues are a complex thing and it does help to read books, talk to professionals, ask around for advice. Not unlike weight loss, it may take finding the right strategy for you but it does matter to keep trying.
Oh wait, here’s another one…
Over-doing it on your exercise plan.
If you’re super excited about hitting the gym but feel super exhausted throughout the day, you could be hitting it a little too hard.
When you work out at a higher heart rate (running, heavy lifting, aerobics) your body starts burning from carbohydrates instead of from stored fat. However, if you’re following a bariatric diet you probably aren’t eating much for carbohydrates. The result? You feel tired and hungry.
The best way to burn fat when exercising is to keep your heart rate lower like walking, light pool aerobics or light bike riding. Make sure you can keep a conversation when you’re working out. Metabolic testing may help you know what heart rate is best for you, although it takes a bit of research to know who offers this testing in your area.
Okay one more….
If starches or sweets are sneaking back into your diet, you could experience drastic spikes and even drops in your blood sugars (yes, even for non-diabetics) which can leave you lethargic. Sticking to lean proteins and non-starchy vegetables will keep your body burning from fat which traditionally keeps you in a great place with energy.
Wait we actually have one more thing to talk about…
Have you had your labs checked lately?
Every bariatric surgeon is a little different on when and how often then want labs checked. Many patients are quick to think low energy is vitamin related when it is not.
However, it’s important to have your levels check if you had surgery more than a year ago and haven’t had your labs checked in a long time.
Vitamin deficiencies can be slow to come around. In fact, sometimes lab values in a normal range feels like permission to miss some vitamins here or there.
You may want to see my blog post (and video) covering What Vitamins a Post-Op Really Needs for a review on what vitamins are recommended and for how long after surgery.
Low levels of iron, Vitamin D, B12, thiamine or others can be the reason for fatigue. In my experience, patients are run down more because of water than vitamins but it shouldn’t be ruled out especially the further you get from surgery.
There are plenty of other reasons fatigue can plague you after surgery.
For the same reasons it can before surgery! Look back at what other factors may be dragging you down. Stress? Work? Snoring spouse?
If you’re feeling run down:
Drink more water.
Consider having your labs checked if it’s been a while.
To help push through it, turn on all the lights and turn on some music.
Go for a walk.
Use different practices that tend to help perk you up, even if just for the moment.
If you have the luxury of grabbing a nap, go for it. But set a timer in your phone so it doesn’t goof up your nighttime sleep pattern. Naps are okay on occasion, but even better if you can get to the root issue and find a way to solve your “out of gas” problem.
Review which item might be the reason for your sluggishness. Then make a plan. Do you need to read a book on sleep habits? Buy a new water bottle? Give yourself more space to heal since your surgery?
Perk up buttercup! It’s a beautiful day…seize it!