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Will a Gastric Bypass Diet Work Without the Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Low Calorie Snacks on the Go, Very Low Calorie Diet

You lose weight after a gastric bypass surgery because you’re restricted to a very low calorie diet (VLCD). Does that mean a VLCD could be used as an effective alternative to surgery?

After bariatric surgery, you can only eat tiny portions because your stomach is much smaller. Some high-calorie foods high in sugar and fat cannot be eaten because they cause nausea and vomiting., and since part of the digestive tract is bypassed, your system has less ability to absorb nutrients and calories.

If you’re looking for a safer alternative to gastric bypass, you might consider a doctor-supervised very low calorie diet (VLCD), without the surgery. VLCDs have been shown to result in weight loss of up to 15 to 20 percent of the patient’s initial weight in three to six months, but follow-up therapy is needed to maintain the weight loss and prevent the patient from sliding back into old eating habits.

The diet itself may require hospitalization or a stay in a treatment center so your physician can monitor your progress and health. This can be expensive, but there are some advantages over gastric bypass surgery. Although there are some risks, a very low calorie diet is far safer than surgery when the patient receives regular care from a physician.

The diet usually consists of liquid shakes or bars that have been specially formulated to include all the vitamins and minerals the patient needs. Using the pre-made shakes and bars makes it easy to regulate the number of calories without sacrificing nutrition.

Unfortunately, few health insurance companies now cover any obesity treatment other than surgery. Obesity treatment was scourged from most policies after the diet pill scams of the 80’s and 90’s. Some health insurance companies are now looking into the possibility of covering alternatives to gastric bypass surgery, but it may be years before this becomes an option on most policies, and any doctor-supervised treatment will tend to be expensive. There are enough risks involved in VLCDs that they should never be attempted without the supervision of a doctor who is familiar with these risks.

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A VLCD diet contains around 800 calories a day and the typical patient can lose up to 44 pounds in three months. In past studies it has been found that most obese patients who reduce their weight through doctor-supervised diet will regain much of the lost weight unless they receive ongoing behavioral therapy and nutritional counseling. This is also true for some post-gastric bypass patients.

There are always side effects associated with major changes in diet, and patients on a very low calorie diet may experience fatigue, constipation, nausea or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually temporary. The fast weight loss can also trigger one of the major complications associated with gastric bypass surgery – gallstones or gallbladder infection. Medication is available to reduce this risk, but it is important to become aware of the symptoms of gallstones and seek immediate treatment if the symptoms appear.

It is possible that a low-calorie diet of 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day may be just as effective for long-term weight loss as a VLCD. The weight will drop more slowly, but the diet is easier for most people to accept as a long-term lifestyle.

Behavioral changes are the most important aspect of any obesity treatment, either surgical or dietary. The weight will only stay off as long as new, healthier diets are maintained. Regular exercise is equally important.

Behavioral modification and nutritional counseling can help, and your physician or the obesity center at a local hospital should be able to give you a referral to a qualified counselor. The obesity center should also be able to assist you in finding a physician who can provide the necessary medical supervision if you decide to try a very low calorie diet as an alternative to gastric bypass.

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