Post-Bariatric Surgery Diet

After bariatric weight loss surgery it is absolutely essential to follow specific bariatric eating guidelines that will ensure that you properly heal and obtain adequate nutrition. Weight loss surgery is a surgical "tool" that can help you reduce unhealthy weight and body fat. The number one reason for failure of bariatric surgery, is due to not following the post bariatric surgery diet prescribed by the bariatric surgeon or dietician.

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Ideally, your diet should have changed before bariatric weight loss surgery to get you into the habit of eating more protein, eating less and eating healthy. Immediately after your bariatric surgery, your eating habits will drastically change in ways that will have a major impact on your lifestyle, for the rest of your life. After surgery, it will generally take about 9-12 weeks for you to gradually progress to eating solid foods.

After bariatric surgery, you will always have to take supplements to provide vital vitamins and minerals, protein and other nutrients that you'll no longer be able to absorb in your surgically modified stomach and intestine. You must also realize that, for the rest of your life, protein will be your top priority when making food choices. The minimum protein requirement for women is about 50 to 60 grams per day and men need 60 to 70 grams of protein per day. It's usually not possible to consume that much protein from foods alone during the first month after bariatric surgery. Most bariatric surgery patients use liquid protein supplements of some kind during the first few months after surgery, and many continue to use them as a convenient source of protein for the rest of their lives.

Some of the more popular liquid protein supplements used after bariatric surgery include portion-controlled shakes & drinks , hot drinks, soups, puddings, and liquid protein supplements.

Post bariatric surgery diet guidelines will vary by surgeon. Every bariatric surgeon does not perform the exact same surgery procedure, therefore, the prescribed bariatric diet guidelines will be different for each surgeon and each type of weight loss surgery. It is very important to strictly comply with your surgeon's or dietician's recommended diet guidelines. Following are some generally accepted post bariatric surgery guidelines a weight loss patient may be required to follow:

Gastric Bypass, Post Bariatric Surgery Diet: The First Three Months

After gastric bypass surgery, your newly created stomach pouch, which is about the size of a walnut, is healing. It is absolutely essential to follow specific bariatric eating guidelines that will ensure that you properly heal, while obtaining adequate nutrition. In most cases, you'll will need to follow a gastric bypass or bariatric diet for approximately three months. Once the pouch has healed, you'll still need to keep your portion sizes small and calorie levels reduced, in order to continue your weight loss. Your gastic bypass diet, which your surgeon or dietitian will create for you, typically involves a four phase plan. You will advance gradually through the phases, depending on your tolerance. Keep in mind, every person is different and will progress through the phases of the post surgery bariatric diet at a different rate:


  1. Clear liquid diet - For the first one to two weeks after gastric bypass surgery, your most important goal is to keep well hydrated. Your aim should be to drink 64 ounces of fluids per day. Immediately after gastric bypass surgery, you will need to sip only clear liquids that you can see through. Clear liquids include diluted fruit juices like apple, grape and cranberry, protein fruit drinks, broths like clear beef, chicken and vegetable broths, sugar-free gelatins and artificially sweetened non-carbonated beverages. Avoid using a straw and continue to sip slowly throughout the day, 1 to 2 ounces over 30 minutes.

  2. Full liquid diet - Within a week of bariatric surgery, you can add full liquids to your diet. Full-liquids are basically fluids you cannot see through. They include the broth of low fat, cream bariatric soups, protein shakes & smoothies , skim milk, yogurt and diet puddings, and liquid protein supplements

  3. Pureed diet - Pureed foods are foods with a consistency of apple sauce. Pureed foods contain no pieces or chunks. Foods that are merely cut into small pieces are not acceptable. Incorporate high protein, pureed foods into your diet. To purre, place food into a blender or food processor and add some liquid broth, skim milk or low-calorie gravy. Puree until smooth. When your surgeon allows, begin taking a chewable vitamin supplement with minerals. Continue to drink plenty of fluid, however do NOT eat and drink at the same time. It is suggested that you stop drinking fluids 20-30 minutes before you plan to eat. After eating, wait 20-30 mintutes before drinking fluids again. Pureed foods are usually eaten for three to four weeks, allowing the opening in the stomach pouch to heal.

  4. Soft foods, regular diet - By five to six weeks after surgery, incorporate soft foods with more texture into your bariatric diet. Soft foods should be tender and easy to chew, such as ground or finely diced meats, canned or soft fruit, cooked vegetables, rice, macaroni, noodles. During this diet transition, you will eat many small meals a day and sip water in between. Perhaps starting with six small meals a day, you will then gradually progress to four meals. Meals should include protein rich foods, such as lean meat, yogurt and eggs. You will usually eat soft foods for about eight weeks before progressing to regular texture foods, as recommended by your surgeon of dietitian.

After three months, you'll typically progress to eating regular foods - intaking three small meals and three healthy snacks a day. Meals will focus on lean sources of protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Your surgeon or dietician will usually prescribe a reduced calorie diet (1000-1200 calories per day) to continue your weight loss. Continue to limit your intake of high-sugar, high fat foods that are loaded with calories, but devoid of nutrients. You'll also need continue to take vitamin and mineral supplements for life, to compensate for the nutrients that you're no longer able to absorb through the bypassed parts of your stomach and intestine.

Long Term Bariatric Surgery Diet Tips:

  • Eat Proteins first. Protein is the most important nutrient in the bariatric diet. Foods high in protein should always be eaten first, just in case you feel full and cannot finish the meal. Each meal you eat should include protein. Most bariatric health care providers recommend an intake of between 60 and 100 grams of protein each day.

  • Eat small meals. Though your stomach will gradually stretch as time goes on, you won't be able to eat more that 1 to 1 1/2 cups of food at a time. Eat three to six small meals a day, with each meal no more than six to eight ounces in size. Incorporate two or three healthy protein snacks if hungry. Make sure to eat only the amounts recommended by your surgeon or dietitian, and stop eating before you begin to feel full.

  • Eat and drink slowly. Take at least 20 to 30 minutes to eat your small meals and 30 to 60 minutes to drink 1 cup of fluid. Use of Take time to chew foods thoroughly - aim for 15 to 20 chews per bite. Your small stomach pouch and narrowed outlet require a slow, well chewed passage of food to ensure nothing gets stuck, and to avoid problems such as dumping or vomiting.

  • Avoid drinking fluids with meals. Drinking fluids with meals may may force foods through your small stomach pouch too quickly, causing you to become hungry again quickly. It can also cause abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and a situation called dumping syndrome in gastric bypass patients.

  • Include fruits and vegetables with meals.

  • Keep hydrated. Aim to drink 6 to 8 cups of water each day. Choose beverages that are non-carbonated, as the gas produced can stretch the stomach pouch or the opening to the intestine. Artificial sweeteners added to water such as Crystal Lite® are acceptable, as well as flavored waters, decaf coffee or tea, broth and diluted fruit juices.

  • Take your vitamin and mineral supplements every day. To prevent vitamin and/or mineral deficiency, you will need to take vitamin and mineral supplements every day, for the rest of you life, as prescribed by your surgeon or dietitian. Required daily supplements may include a mulitvitamin/mineral, calcium, vitamin B-12 and possibly an iron supplement.

Specially designed bariatric protein diet foods, bariatric vitamins and minerals can be very helpful during the bariatric post-surgery diet phases to help patients achieve their dietary goals. Many of our bariatric protein products come in convenient portion-controlled packets, which ensures correct portion size, while providing optimal amounts of protein and nutrition, with minimal amounts of carbohydrates, sugars and fat. Make sure to consult with your bariatric surgeon and/or dietitian before beginning on your post bariatric surgery diet.