Gastric bypass surgery is considered one of the most effective solutions for weight loss in those with obesity that have struggled to lose weight. The surgery limits the number of calories a patient can eat, greatly reducing their hunger and automatically lowering their BMI. It’s typical for most patients to lose well over a hundred pounds during the one or two years that follow surgery, with an average of 60% excess weight loss.
However, after the initial weight loss, many have reported that their progress seemed to taper – or possibly even reverse. This is often attributed to their “pouch” – the smaller stomach created during the surgery – expanding because of eating too much. One popular remedy to this problem is known as a pouch reset.
Early plateaus in weight loss are normal after gastric bypass surgery. Usually, progress begins to pick up again after a couple weeks or a month. But after the prolonged period of losing weight, if your BMI begins going back up or you realize you’ve relapsed into eating too much, this is most likely not something that will reverse on its own.
Since it is believed that this is due to an increase in the size of the person’s stomach pouch, many people try what’s known colloquially as a “pouch reset” – a diet plan that gastric bypass patients use to “shrink the size of their pouch” back to the size it was after gastric bypass surgery so that they start losing weight again.
Most people tend to reset their pouch by adhering to the same diet their doctor assigned them following their gastric bypass surgery. The idea is that this diet – which is primarily liquid and involves a considerable amount of nutrients – will put less press inside of the stomach and allow the stomach to revert back to its smaller size.
Pouch resets usually take about five or six days. They begin with two days of liquid dieting where you can drink all the water and low-carbohydrate protein shakes you like. This latter element ensures you’re still able to consume vital macronutrients and should help stave off serious hunger.
On days three, four, and five, you’ll eat only protein. Begin with “soft” options like eggs and cottage cheese. Then move onto ground meats the next day, and, finally, chicken breast, small cuts of turkey, and fish.
You can modify these days slightly depending on your unique situation. Many people do a two-day version, but a number have also extended their past a week.
There isn’t much medical evidence that a pouch shrinks during a pouch reset. In some cases, there is minimal evidence that the pouch has stretched for some of these patients at all.
Yet many people do experience some weight loss and help when they consider a pouch reset. This occurs because:
It’s possible that the pouch reset actually works, and helps to shrink the pouch again. But the most likely benefit is more mental than physical. It is far more likely that those that undergo a pouch reset are putting themselves back in control of their diet again, and doing a better job keeping up with their pouch reset in the future.
If you have been struggling to meet or continue your weight loss goals after bariatric surgery or are concerned you have been stretching your pouch, a pouch reset may be something that can help you get back into your weight loss routine, and possibly shrink your pouch.
But it is also an extreme change in diet, so make sure you talk to your doctor about the pouch reset and make sure that it is the best choice for your health, and safe for you to do. There are also other ways to regain control of your diet that will potentially have a lasting impact on your long-term weight loss.