After gastric sleeve surgery, patients start focusing on losing weight. Building muscle is a vital part of that journey. Much of the weight initially lost is muscle mass but retaining muscle mass is vital for long-term health. I’m Dr. Guillermo Alvarez of Endobariatric, one of just 12 surgeons worldwide certified as a Master Bariatric Surgeon. Here are ways to build muscle while losing weight.
Build muscle via strength training after weight loss surgery. In strength training, also known as resistance training, exercises apply resistance and your muscles must exert force. Strength training focuses on either weightlifting or resistance bands to gain muscle mass.
For the best results, join a gym or find a trainer providing basic instruction in weightlifting. Your surgeon can likely recommend fitness instructors. If those options are not practical, there are plenty of videos available online to guide you. Remember to start slowly with lighter weights and work up to heavier weights and more repetitions. Don’t rush the process. Overdoing it often leads to injury.
Wait at least six weeks or until the doctor clears you to start strength training after gastric sleeve surgery.
Low-impact, preferably daily aerobic exercise can generally start within a few weeks after gastric sleeve surgery. Walking is among the best types of aerobic exercise and it doesn’t cost a cent. Bicycling, swimming and yoga are other aerobic exercise favorites. Using an elliptical machine is a good way to ease into low-impact aerobic exercise that doesn’t strain the hips or knees.
Ease into a routine slowly but aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five times a week.
In addition to building and maintaining muscle strength, aerobic exercise boosts mood and metabolism.
Incorporate cardiovascular workouts into your exercise routine once your surgeon gives the okay. Remember that the heart is a muscle — the most important one in the body! While aerobic and cardio exercises are somewhat synonymous, specific cardio exercises tend to be more intense. They may include:
• Stair climbing
• Jumping rope
Dancing intensely to music is an especially fun cardio workout. Consider taking a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) class at a gym. HIIT includes weight training.
Eat Plenty of Protein
Consuming sufficient muscle-building protein is essential for strength training success. The good news is that diets for gastric sleeve patients feature lean proteins. Besides protein shakes in the early post-surgery days, add beans, lean meats and other lean protein sources into your meals.
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“Changing lives…one sleeve at a time”.