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A Role For Exercise After Bariatric Surgery?

I honestly love to learn and I am constantly reading studies on how exercise can be beneficial for everyone, but specifically for bariatric surgery patients.

This is the study I read this morning and I took some notes that I thought I would share with you!

I know these studies can be hard to read and not everyone has the time, so I'll do it for you!

This article asked the question: Are there benefits of exercise after bariatric surgery?

The answer: YES!

Turns out, exercise plays a major role in reaching both your short-term and long-term health & fitness goals.

Here are the KEY points of the article:

If you feel like geeking out, go read the article yourself!

  • First off, bariatric surgery is an effective treatment that results in PROFOUND weight loss and improvements in metabolic health.

  • With that said, not ALL patients achieve similar weight loss or metabolic improvements.

  • The data indicates that most bariatric surgery patients do not exercise enough to reap all of the health benefits.

  • Recent evidence suggests that exercise may provide further improvements in metabolic health compared to surgery-induced weight loss alone.

*So YES, you will lose weight post-op WLS regardless of whether you exercise or not but exercise can help you with sooo many other benefits.

  • Did you know that obesity is classified as a disease according to the American Medical Association? And bariatric surgery is an effective treatment option for many people.

  • REAL TALK: A number of reports suggest that 10-30% of bariatric surgery patients experience suboptimal weight loss.

  • Here are a few reasons that could be: *greater BMI at the start *age *type 2 diabetes *personality & mental health

  • KNOW THIS: Exercise by itself has NOT been shown to cause substantial bodyweight reduction (AKA = you can't out-exercise your diet!)

  • In fact, exercise alone typically results in weight loss of less than 3% initial body weight.

BUT!! Exercise alongside an appropriate diet DOES produce a more significant reduction in weight.

  • A systemic review suggested that loss of fat-free mass (your muscles, bones, organs) accounted for ~31% of weight loss. (This was done with RNY patients) This is undesirable for bariatric surgery patients.

  • Fat-Free Mass (FFM) plays so many roles, the most important being that it accounts for how many calories you burn all day. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even when you're asleep or sitting at your desk.

  • So you don't want to lose your fat-free mass!

  • ACTUALLY, loss of FFM may put you at a risk for weight REGAIN.

  • Loss of bone density can also occur during weight loss post-op bariatric surgery which has a negative impact on your physical function & overall quality of life.


  • One study done on duodenal switch patients actually showed that patients who exercised for 30 minutes 3 days a week had 28% higher loss of FAT and 8% higher gain in lean MUSCLE mass compared to those who did not exercise.

  • To date, the published data support a potential role for exercise to elicit positive changes in body composition following bariatric surgery.

  • DID YOU KNOW: Maintaining weight loss is a well-recognized problem among bariatric surgery patients. One report suggests that 12-18 months following initial weight loss, 30-55% of initial weight loss is regained.

  • HOWEVER: Exercise has been shown to be beneficial for long-term weight loss maintenance.

  • Moderate intensity exercise (minimum of 150 minutes a week of cardio & resistance training) lowers your risk of regaining significantly.

This article and these studies describe the POWERFUL effect of exercise to improve metabolic health by impacting multiple organ systems which provide additional benefits to bariatric surgery patients & their weight loss & health journey.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

Did you know I just launched my Online Exercise Library?! I am so excited about this! Honestly, on some level, I put this together selfishly because I really have PAGES AND PAGES of written down workouts and exercises but I really needed to put them into some kind of digital format so I can easily access it to create workouts for myself.

But I'm always encouraging YOU to create your own workouts as well! So this exercise library gives you soooo many options for all different kinds of exercises.


Kas Sub
Kas Sub
Feb 15, 2022

Thank you for your reply. I have one more enquiry to make

In addition to my last enquiries/points:

4) can resistance training maintain or increase lean mass, even if protein intake is much lower than the recommended requirements?knowning that Resistance training with very little protein means no growth of muscle mass?


Kas Sub
Kas Sub
Feb 15, 2022

This article is extremely helpful . Thank you for your efforts.

Having said that, a couple of things the article fails to cover is:

1- the physiology of baraitric patients is different from the norm. Resistance training and excersise causes more hunger. Bariatric patients did the surgery to reduce thier hunger pangs ( whether physical or psychological hunger) so that they can keep away from over eating, snacking and junk food. The question here is, WHEN should a bariatric patient begin excersising post surgery? Shouldnt they wait until hunger returns? ( known to return after 8 months).

2) if a bariatric patient begins resistance training without being able to eat enough protein ( im 6 months in and i can…

Replying to

You are totally right!! Those topics are so so important too!!

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