Sorry about my recent hiatus! I had a little surgery (which is why I am blogging about this very subject) and have been working on my recovery :-)
Many of my friends and colleagues have had to go in at some point for major and minor surgeries that prohibit them from taking part in normal activity for a while. One concern they always have is weight gain post surgery due to lack of activity. But this was not a concern for me and I will tell you why.
Workouts are not the only calorie burner - your food intake is of utmost importance (I always say it's 80% of the battle.) As I have discussed before, weight loss or gain is simply calories in vs. calories out. To lose, you must burn more than you take in. Knowing I was going into surgery and would have decreased activity for a few days, I simply adjusted my diet. I burn, on average, between 2800-3000 calories daily with my workouts and eat around 1600-1700 calories. My resting metabolic rate is much lower - near 1900 (without workouts) so knowing this, I simply cut my calories back to make up for this. I knew I would spend most of my days doing just that - resting- so I cut my calories back to 1200 daily for the first week after surgery. If I am resting at 1900 calories a day being burned and intaking only 1200, then I will still be in a 700 calorie deficit each day. Keep in mind you never want to drop below 1,000 calories (I tell my clients 1100) in order to keep your metabolism functioning at it's max capacity. Below 1,000 will put your body in starvation mode thus causing it to hold on to fat stores.
With only 1200 calories, I still made sure to eat every 3 hours and consume 5 meals a day to keep my metabolism burning at it's highest speed. It is also of utmost importance post-surgery (and all the time) to consume clean, wholesome foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins to help your body heal faster. Pain medications and IV fluids can cause intestinal problems and constipation post-surgery and high fiber foods such as whole grains, fruits and veggies, will help to combat this. Consuming processed, sodium laden and sugary foods will only make this worse and lengthen your recovery time.
It's a good idea to prep and pack all of your post-surgery meals ahead of time to ensure you have the proper nutrition and to make it easy on you and your care taker. I made sure to pack and load up my fridge with all of my pre-portioned meals to make it easier for everyone. Most of the time when we are not feeling well, we reach for comfort foods - but try to stick with wholesome comfort foods (oatmeal, chicken and brown rice meals, etc) that will fuel your body with good nutrients.
If you want to know a guestimation of your resting metabolic rate (the calories your body burns on a typical day excluding exercise) check out http://my.apexfitness.com/vip/content/fitness_calculators.php and click on 'resting metabolic rate'
Here's to a healthy recovery! :-)