7 Ways To Overcome A Weight Loss Stall After Gastric Bypass

7 Ways To Overcome A Weight Loss Stall After Gastric Bypass

It is not uncommon to hit a plateau in your weight loss at some point following gastric bypass surgery. Stepping on the scale for the first few months after surgery can be immensely satisfying. As you see, the numbers decrease. But at a certain point, many people encounter a bariatric weight loss stall, where you are no longer losing weight. Surprisingly, stalls can happen even in people who diligently follow their diet and exercise routine. If you stop losing weight despite your best efforts, try these 7 ways to overcome a weight-loss stall after gastric bypass.

#1 Figure out if you have hit a gastric bypass weight-loss stall

We base so much of our gastric bypass weight loss progress on what the scale reads. Sometimes, the numbers do not budge for a few days to weeks, even months, which can be expected. To figure out if your consistent weight measurement is a stall, take a look at other factors.

Firstly, ask yourself if you are diligently following your diet and exercise plans.

Secondly, take a look at other ways to measure health improvements. While the scale may not be changing, other forms of measurement can reveal a lot of information about your overall health. For example, if you have diabetes, are you seeing consistent or even better control in your blood sugar readings? Or do you find that you are having an easier time breathing?

Thirdly, measure other areas of your body, such as your biceps, thighs, and waistline. You may be shedding fat content, but the scale is not yet detecting changes your tape measure captures. Additionally, people who are diligent with exercise may encounter a plateau because they are building muscle while simultaneously losing fat.

Progress can be measured in several ways, aside from the scale.

Often, we focus solely on what the scale reads, but we can measure progress in many ways, even when the scale won’t budge. If you are adhering to your diet and exercise regime, and your other obesity-related conditions are well controlled, you are likely in a true gastric bypass weight-loss stall.

#2 Go back to counting calories

People often hit a bariatric weight loss stall 6 months to one year after surgery. Following gastric bypass surgery, people need to track their food and caloric intake to decrease the risk of unpleasant side effects and nutritional deficiencies.

Once people become more comfortable with their diet and what they can and cannot eat, keeping a food log becomes often becomes less necessary. However, starting to track your food intake once again can be extremely useful if you have hit a stall. Not surprisingly, it can become more accessible to snack more frequently or eat different foods after your digestive tract has had time to heal.

Food logs can help you identify any unusual patterns, habits, or food choices that may be hindering your progress.

Start keeping a food log again and record your calories to keep track of any foods that may be preventing your progress.

#3 Switch up your exercise regime

Doing a variety of exercises can target tissues in other areas in your body. However, people who consistently do the same exercises may not maximize their weight-loss potential with physical activity. For example, if you walk the same path each day, you may benefit from switching up your circuit to include more inclines.

A combination of different exercise forms is best for helping you shed weight and target other regions of your body. If you like walking, try to add strength or resistance training to your regime. If you are interested in weight lifting, try water aerobics or some other form of whole-body cardio to challenge different muscle groups. The more variety you have in your exercise habits, the more likely you can overcome a weight-loss stall after gastric bypass.

Taking care of your body post-workout is also essential. Remember to stay hydrated by drinking at least 64 oz. of fluid each day. Stretching each morning and night can also help prevent injuries and joint and muscle soreness.

Try switching up your exercise routine every month or so, or work different exercises into your workout routine each week.

#4 Do a diet overhaul

Protein is essential for everyone, but gastric bypass patients need to emphasize protein intake in their diet. The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery recommends gastric bypass patients get at least 60-80 grams of protein each day. (This number may vary based on your individual needs per your doctor’s recommendation).

Protein is especially crucial for gastric bypass patients because your post-surgery stomach can only accommodate so much food each day. Therefore, that food must be high in protein to support your body systems.

Once people get comfortable with their bariatric diet, it is easy to increase your carbohydrate intake slowly. Try to limit carbohydrates and return your focus to lean protein sources and vegetables. Furthermore, it is also normal for your body to adjust to your new diet because your metabolism has shifted. Changing your diet can shake up your metabolism and give it the jump to continue your weight loss journey.

#5 Check in with your stress levels

Stress has a funny way of creeping in and settling in our daily lives. Yet, chronic stress can affect your metabolism and stunt your weight loss efforts. As our population becomes more chronically stressed, we are beginning to see the long-term effects of stress on our bodies. Some studies find that stress plays a significant role in the development and maintenance of obesity. Thus, stress makes it harder to beat obesity.

Stress can lead to obesity and also gets in the way of meeting weight loss goals.

#6 Sleep is important

While we view sleep as a time of rest, it is a hectic time for our mind and body. Sleep gives our body time to repair tissues, form memories, and regulate hormones. It also helps to ward off disease. Without adequate sleep, we are not able to function optimally. According to the Sleep Foundation, most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. If you are not getting enough sleep to feel rested each day, consider making some habit changes, including:

  • Creating and sticking to a bedtime routine. For example, go to bed simultaneously each night and do relaxing activities to help your mind slow down before bed.
  • Make an environment that is ideal for your sleep. Adjust the thermostat and make sure lights and sounds do not interrupt your rest.
  • Treat sleep apnea. People who are overweight often have obstructive sleep apnea. This condition can interrupt your rest, even if you are not waking up. Additionally, it places stress on your body. Talk to your doctor about doing a sleep study, or if you have a CPAP machine, be sure to use it correctly each night.

#7 Re-connect with your bariatric surgery support team

If your weight doesn’t budge despite making lifestyle changes, don’t hesitate to reach out to your support system. This group of people may include your bariatric surgeon, nutritionist, therapist, trainer, and bariatric support group. Weight loss stalls are standard, and often it takes several different things to help you get back on track to losing weight.  

Staying connected with other people who have had gastric bypass surgery can help you stay motivated and develop fresh ideas on making progress with your weight. Because staying accountable with regular diet and exercise is key to shedding pounds, consider banding together with someone else struggling with a bariatric weight loss stall. Together, you can try new exercise programs each month, take classes, or share meal plans.

Find support and encouragement in your community of people who are helping you achieve your weight loss goals.

Finally, remember that your bariatric surgeon is an excellent resource for helping you identify any roadblocks that may be hindering your progress. In some cases, your doctor may recommend making surgical changes if you are unable to overcome a weight-loss stall after gastric bypass.

Julia Rae Walker, RN, BSN, BA


Julia is an experienced critical care nurse with a background in pediatric and adult patient populations. Her passion is helping patients maximize their quality of life.

Gintas Antanavicius, MD, FACS, FASMBS


Dr. G is a co-founder of BariBuilder. A US-based expert surgeon with over 10 years of bariatric experience, he regularly publishes research in medical journals like SOARD, Obesity Surgery, etc.