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Knee Replacements and Weight Gain

How to Take off Extra Pounds After Joint Replacement Surgery

Lifescript—June 25, 2012

Your knee replacement’s complete. Now it’s time to work off the excess pounds you gained when post-surgical pain derailed your diet and exercise program. But resuming healthy weight habits after joint replacement surgery isn’t as easy as you might think. Here’s how to do it...

For many knee replacement patients, surgery seems to be the key to resuming an active, vibrant life and a fitter body.

The truth? Most patients actually gain weight following joint replacement surgery.

Of 106 adults who had knee replacements, two-thirds gained an average 14 pounds within two years after the operation, according to a 2010 study at the University of Delaware.

Post-surgery weight gain means trouble on several fronts. For example, it increases the risk of osteoarthritis in the non-operated knee.

But avoiding weight gain can be difficult, because successful knee replacements can take six months of rest and recovery. And restoring an exercise habit requires a new set of muscles, both physical and psychological.

So how do you maintain a healthy weight after joint replacement surgery? Here are expert tips to keep pounds off and stay fit.


9. Get a nutrient bang for your calorie buck. Ditch muffins, pasta and other high-calorie foods that have little nutrition and won’t keep you feeling full for long, says Jason Machowsky, R.D., CSCS, a nutritionist and exercise physiologist at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

Instead, eat lower-calorie fruits, vegetables and beans, which have more nutrients.

The increased fluid and fiber help you stay full on fewer calories, and “your body needs the increased nutrients to meet the demands placed upon it by the surgery recovery process,” says Machowsky.

10. Switch to smaller plates. “Eating out of smaller bowls and plates naturally reduces the amount of food and calories we consume,” Machowsky says.

In fact, when people were given a larger bowl, they served themselves 31% more ice cream than those who were given a smaller bowl, according to a 2006 Cornell University study.

11. Go slow. It takes 15 to 20 minutes for a person to feel full while eating, Machowsky says. So eat more slowly; it will prevent you from overeating, he says.


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