If you’ve ever struggled with your weight, then you’ve probably heard a lot of pretty typical advice. Eat fewer calories than you burn, and exercise to burn more calories and improve muscle tone.
It’s good advice, and it does work, but it’s not so straightforward as “just diet and exercise”. The specifics of diet can be confusing, and there are so many diets out there.
As a result, most people try diet after diet, one exercise regimen after another, and never get anywhere. At best, they’ll have lost a little bit of weight and gained it back in short order.
Weight loss surgery is a good option for people who have had trouble using diet and exercise as a weight loss plan. People lose a lot of weight rapidly and they tend to keep it off.
So what does weight loss surgery do differently from diet and exercise? Let us explain how weight loss surgery tends to outperform diet and exercise.
Diet & Exercise vs. Weight Loss Surgery
Exercise actually has a negligible effect on caloric deficit, and in some cases can spur eating in excess. For example, a typical exercise plan for an overweight person would have them doing about 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of weight training. Doing so with typical effort exertion will burn approximately 400 calories. Sounds good, except that 400 calories is about the same amount of calories as one McDouble from McDonalds. It’s the same as one and a half doughnuts, or 6 Oreo cookies.
As a result, it’s really the diet that’s doing most of the legwork. But what is it about diet that makes it so effective? Diet is where you can control the amount of food (and thus the calories) taken in by the body. So the answer is simple: eat less and lose weight, right?
Well, not so much. It turns out that diets rarely work because people don’t stick to them long enough to see results. The most effective diets are the most restrictive ones, and the most restrictive ones tend to be harder to stick to.
For diet to work properly, it needs to be a lifestyle change. The pressures of emotional regulation, social realities, economic realities, and the sheer availability of food are simply too much for many people to overcome. This is where weight loss surgery comes in.
Why Weight Loss Surgery Works
Weight loss surgery still aims to address the caloric intake part of the equation. There’s nothing secret about what weight loss surgery does, and there’s nothing secret about what causes weight loss.
Weight loss surgeries vary in method, but they all share several things in common. First, they tend to restrict the amount of food that is comfortable to ingest in one sitting. Diets fail often because people cannot be satisfied by the food that they’re eating. Weight loss surgeries reduce the amount of total volume available for food in the stomach.
Second, they tend to restrict the absorption of food, bringing in fewer macronutrients (fats, proteins, carbohydrates) to the body. Gastric bypass is notable for this, as it connects the stomach to a lower part of the intestine which prevents the food from being absorbed fully.
The surgical intervention makes it very hard to overeat, as the reduced size of the stomach will make it highly uncomfortable to eat over a certain amount in one sitting. The redirected digestive system will make it hard to eat many of the typical high-calorie foods that people rely on, resulting in abdominal pain and gastrointestinal distress.
Weight loss surgery makes healthy and restricted eating an absolute must, resulting in changed behavior overall.
- Diet and exercise do work, but they’re highly fallible.
- Weight loss surgery addresses where diet and exercise fail by forcing the patient to consume fewer calories than they burn.