Bariatric surgery is designed to assist in weight loss by restricting intake of food and causing a feeling of fullness after smaller amounts of food are consumed. Decreased absorption of nutrients also enables rapid weight loss.
However, a healthy bariatric diet is crucial to help you achieve long-term weight loss. After bariatric surgery, we slowly progress the consistency of the diet to allow for proper healing time. Long term, our goal is to restrict the amount of food patients consume while enabling you to eat a nutritionally balanced bariatric diet.
Pre-operatively, we have our patients follow a full liquid diet 7 days prior to bariatric surgery. This makes the surgery easier and reduces risk.
Bariatric Diet Progression After Surgery:
- Full Liquid Diet (weeks 1 and 2): protein shakes and strained low-fat cream soups.
- Pureed Liquid Diet (week 3): protein shakes, 0% Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, blended soups, and refried beans.
- Soft Diet (weeks 4 to 6): fish, water-packed tuna or chicken, Greek yogurt, peanut butter, low-fat cheese, and scrambled eggs.
- Regular Diet (week 6 and beyond): lean moist meats, lunch meat, low-fat cheese, nuts, and protein bars.
We understand that navigating the progression of your bariatric surgery diet can be difficult. That’s why we provide our patients with recipes, daily schedules, and sample meal plans to help make this transition easier.
Additionally, our team works with each individual patient to develop a plan that fits their lifestyle and make sure each patient is receiving proper nutrition. After bariatric surgery, our team closely monitors key lifestyle and nutrition goals that are vital for long term weight loss success. These include fluids, protein, vitamins, and exercise.
After surgery, it is important to remain hydrated to keep your body functioning and also for optimal weight loss. To maintain adequate hydration, it is important to consume a minimum of 64 oz of fluids per day. After surgery, it is also crucial to avoid caffeinated, carbonated, and sugary beverages such as coffee, soda, and juice to avoid post-operative complications.
Your diet after bariatric surgery should focus heavily on getting enough protein. Getting enough protein is key after surgery because it provides energy, provides a sense of fullness for a longer period of time than carbs or sugar, and spares lean muscle mass during periods of rapid weight loss.
With all types of bariatric surgery, the majority of the stomach is removed and protein is not as easily broken down and absorbed. Therefore we recommend that all of our bariatric surgery patients consume 60-80 grams of protein per day (up to 90-100 grams per day for loop duodenal switch patients) as part of a healthy bariatric surgery diet. To meet these high protein goals, you will need to consume meals consisting of mostly protein after surgery.
After bariatric surgery, patients eat less and can no longer obtain enough vitamins and minerals through food. Additionally, the majority of vitamin and mineral absorption occurs in the upper portion of the intestine, which is bypassed in the gastric bypass and loop duodenal switch surgeries.
Therefore, bariatric surgery patients have a higher risk of developing vitamin and mineral deficiencies. To meet specific vitamin and mineral requirements and prevent deficiency, we recommend that patients take a multivitamin, vitamin D, B-50 Complex, vitamin B-12, calcium, and iron daily. Suitable sources of vitamins can be difficult to identify and our team will provide recommendations for appropriate sources of each vitamin you need after surgery.
Exercise is essential for weight loss after surgery, maintaining body and muscle strength, and providing stress relief. We recommend that patients engage in 150 minutes per week (30 minutes per day, 5 days per week) of moderate intensity activity after surgery. For maximal weight loss, we recommend that patients engage in 300 minutes (60 minutes per day, 5 days per week) of intensity activity per week after surgery.
Combined with a healthy bariatric diet, this can help you maximize your weight loss and quality of life. Initially after surgery, we recommend participating in primarily cardio for maximum weight loss and incorporating light weights a few weeks after surgery to maintain muscle mass and strength.
The Bariatric and Metabolic Center of Colorado offers six months of supervised weight loss classes to educate and prepare patients for what life will be like after surgery.
After surgery, your diet will change dramatically from what it was before your surgery. To help you manage this process, we’ve put together a series of bariatric recipes that are healthy and easy to make. They include breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and desserts.
You can find some of these weight loss recipes here.
The Importance of a Healthy Bariatric Surgery Diet
Studies have shown that patients who develop positive nutrition and lifestyle habits before surgery are the most successful patients after surgery in terms of their weight loss and long term weight maintenance. A healthy bariatric diet and exercise program is essential to achieve lasting weight loss and improve your quality of life. Our team partners with each patient individually to select and accomplish these nutrition and lifestyle goals to give you the best opportunity for success after surgery!