The definition of maintain is: to keep in a specified state or position. You want to maintain a healthy weight, and to accomplish this you will need to adhere to a lifetime of healthy eating and exercise.
One of the many questions weight loss surgery patients ask when they have reached their goal weight is, “How many carbs can I eat?” Carbohydrates are nutrients that provide our bodies with energy. During weight loss, the body uses fat stores as the energy source as well as the nutrients from the protein foods and vegetables you are consuming. The protein you receive from your food is used to build muscles, maintain functions of your cells and act as enzymes and transport carriers to keep your body functioning. During weight loss you were consuming mostly protein source foods with some complex carbohydrates coming from beans and vegetables.
When you do reach a weight you want to maintain, you will continue to eat mostly protein foods to continue to provide your body with the building blocks it needs to function. To maintain a healthy weight you must never over eat your pouch or sleeve, and you must limit your portion sizes to 6-8 oz. per meal. Because of the small portion sizes it will require you to make wise food choices so your body receives good nutrition. Wise food choices include lean protein foods as well as complex carbohydrates and vegetables.
Incorporating additional complex carbohydrates into your diet must be done gradually and in small amounts. Examples of complex carbohydrates include whole grain pastas, whole grain cereals and brown rice. Adding carbohydrates, especially simple carbohydrates may cause you to regain your weight. Simple carbohydrates are to be avoided or extremely limited in your diet. Examples include: white bread, crackers, chips, ice cream and candy of any type. Remember not to sacrifice protein needs as you are adding more carbs to your meal plan.
Begin with only 5% of your meal consisting of a complex carbohydrate such as whole grain pasta, brown rice or whole grain bread. This could mean 70% protein, 25% vegetable and 5% complex carbohydrate. For a person who is eating approximately 8 oz. per meal, their maintenance meal plan could look like the following:
¾ cup cottage cheese (70%)
1 tbsp. diced strawberries (5% carbohydrate)
3 tbsp. grated carrots (25% vegetable)
¾ cup black beans with grated cheese (70% protein/complex carbohydrate)
1 tbsp. cooked brown rice (5% complex carbohydrates)
3 tbsp. steamed green beans (25% vegetable)
4 oz. or ½ cup lean hamburger/steak with 1-2 tbsp. lima beans (60-70% protein)
½ cup mixed Italian vegetables (25% vegetables)
1-2 tbsp. cooked whole grain pasta w/ diced tomatoes (5-10% complex carbohydrates)
Adding whole grains, pastas and other complex carbohydrates into your meal will require you to increase your physical activity to maintain a healthy weight. Weight yourself often (at least weekly) to monitor any weight regain. If you begin to see a pattern of weight gain, realize you likely have surpassed the amount of carbohydrates your body can tolerate without gaining weight. Limit the amount of carbohydrate foods or increase the amount of calories you burn by increasing exercise.
Adding carbohydrates, especially simple carbohydrates, to your diet and/or overeating may cause weight regain. Avoid letting carbs replace protein. Remember, for weight loss surgery patients, every meal should include a high percentage of lean protein.
Maintaining an exercise program, using portion control and having an increase awareness of hunger cues are vital skills to have when maintaining a healthy weight. If you need help with meal planning, portion control, diet education, etc., feel free to contact our education department. Your diet questions will be answered. For nutritional counseling, we can direct you to registered dietitians who can assist you with food related issues and help you maintain and manage your weight.
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