How to Avoid Weight Gain After Knee Surgery

After taking the vital step towards restoring the ability to enjoy life again, knee surgery patients face another challenge: weight gain. According to a study conducted by the University of Delaware and published in the journal “Osteoarthritis & Cartilage“, 66% of patients gained an average of 15 pounds within 2 years of surgery. Added weight puts extra pressure on the bad knee and increases the likelihood of injuring the healthy knee. For these reasons, it is imperative to balance caloric intake with caloric expenditure by adopting healthy eating habits and staying active after orthopedic surgery.

There are many simple ways to modify eating habits in order to reduce calorie consumption. High fiber foods such as beans, fruits, and vegetables should be eaten regularly. They are a great source of fiber, which takes longer to process in the digestive tract. This results in a feeling of fullness that will last for a long period of time. Lean protein like fish and chicken also have a similar affect on the body. The amount of simple carbohydrates, found in food such as white pasta and bread, should be decreased. They may also be replaced with complex carbohydrates that contain more fiber. This type of carbohydrate can be found in whole wheat and whole grain products.

There are other ways to decrease caloric intake without having to change food choices. Drinking a glass of water before a meal fills the stomach and may lead to a decrease in the amount of food eaten. Water also eases hunger due to dehydration. Eating slower reduces the intake of calories because it takes the brain approximately 20 minutes to register fullness. By eating slower, awareness can be given to the body’s true signs of satiety.

Staying active is also important but hard to do, especially since pain is prominent after surgery; however, it is an essential part in preventing weight gain. In many cases, activities can be started roughly 3 months after surgery, but should be kept low impact. Some great low impact activities include walking and cycling, which are great at building knee strength, and swimming and rowing, which burns calories without putting added stress on the knee. No matter what form of exercise is chosen, it should be eased into gradually and increased over time.

Weight gain after knee surgery does not have to be the norm. Simply by changing or modifying eating habits and incorporating exercise into the day, patients do not have to be part of the 66% statistic. This also means added weight will not put excess pressure on the knees and increase the chance of injury, allowing life to be experienced once more.

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