In recent years, intermittent fasting has enjoyed growing popularity among those who aim to lose weight, increase energy levels, and “hack” their body’s physiology to make them either more fit or more productive. It’s generally regarded as safe for the normal population and those who do it tend to be happy with the results.
But post-op bariatric surgery patients have a different set of considerations, particularly early into their recovery. It’s not as easy for bariatric surgery patients to get their required nutrients, particularly protein. Could intermittent fasting be harmful for those who just underwent bariatric surgery? Let’s find out!
Intermittent fasting has less to do with what you eat and more to do with when you eat. A person doing intermittent fasting has a set time interval in which they consume meals. Outside that interval, they abstain from eating, entering a fasted state. The fasting interval revolves around the person’s sleeping schedule.
For example, a person may decide to do 16:8 intermittent fasting. This means that the person fasts for 16 hours a day and allows themselves food for 8 hours a day. When and how often they eat meals within that 8-hour period is up to them. There are other intermittent fasting intervals, such as 20:4 (20 hours fasting, 4 hours eating) or 13:11 (13 hours fasting, 11 hours eating).
The idea behind it is that insulin levels spike after a meal, and then slowly return to a baseline. When insulin levels are high, it’s more difficult to burn fat. If a meal is eaten before insulin levels can return back down to baseline, insulin will spike up again, keeping the patient in a higher insulin state. Intermittent fasting allows for the dieter to stay in a fasted, low-insulin state for most of the day, making it easier to burn fat when eating at a caloric deficit.
The answer is yes, but with some caveats. First, it must be understood that not all doctors will agree on the benefits of intermittent fasting for bariatric surgery patients. Second, intermittent fasting must take a back seat to making sure that you get all your nutrients, meet your protein goals, and stay hydrated.
Intermittent fasting is an excellent tool that post-op bariatric patients can use to continue their weight loss and develop a healthy way of eating. It’s a good way to control your eating times and restrict overall caloric intake without placing too many restrictions on meals.
It’s important, though, that bariatric patients continue to eat frequent small meals within their eating interval. Patients should also make sure that they’re meeting their protein goals daily, as well, to allow for continued recovery and weight loss.