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Nutritional Guidelines After Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery is a major step to your weight loss journey that can only be successful when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise program. Patients who adhere to the prescribed diet after bariatric surgery realize significant weight loss results after developing new lifestyle habits. Going off the recommended diet at any point can lead to gradual weight gain since your body tends to fall back to your old eating habits. After bariatric surgery, you are required to adapt to new types of food that are safe to consume during recovery. This article looks at some of the nutritional guidelines you should follow after bariatric surgery.

Diet Progression After Bariatric Surgery

veggies and measuring tape for nutritional guidelines to lose weight

Postoperative nutritional guidelines are based on gradual progression in food texture and consistency. Patients who have just been released from bariatric surgery are required to start with a clear liquid diet. After you are discharged from the hospital, you can gradually add thicker liquids to your diet and advance to blended or pureed foods two weeks following surgery.

During this phase, it is important to separate liquids from solid foods by not drinking any beverage 30 minutes after eating or 15 minutes before eating. You can start introducing solid foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables, and legumes one month after surgery after transitioning from less homogenous mashed foods.

After two months following the surgery, you are allowed to consume a regular balanced diet as it provides enhanced nutritional composition and encourages greater satiety. Patients who find it difficult to progress to solid foods for fear of gaining weight should be given special attention. They must have individual consultations with their bariatric dietitian concerning their eating progression.

Macronutrient Composition Recommended After Surgery

One of the most severe complications that occur in the first months after mal-absorptive procedures is protein deficiency. It is primarily caused by the acquired food intolerance for foods rich in protein. Some of the manifestations of protein deficiency include poor wound healing, peripheral edema, hair loss, and loss of lean body mass. The recommended protein intake requirement after a weight loss surgery is 1.1 – 1.5 g/kg or 60 – 80 g/d of ideal body weight and gradually increase to 90 – 120 g/d during recovery. Protein-rich foods such as eggs, lean meat, dairy products, and fish should be given more priority over foods rich in fats or carbohydrates.

Favorable Eating-Related Behaviors

After a weight loss surgery, you will be required to change your eating habits by taking small bites, chewing well and in a relaxed manner, and ending your meal after you are comfortably full. It is also important to separate your food consumption between 4 and 6 meals throughout the day. Your bariatric dietitian will provide instructions on how to reduce the consumption of foods and beverages with high-calorie content. To reach the recommended daily protein intake, you are advised to eat a balanced diet rich in protein content as it provides greater satiety.

Long-Term Dietary and Lifestyle Recommendations

  • Alcohol Consumption

It is important to reduce or avoid the amount of alcohol consumed after bariatric surgery because of accelerated alcohol absorption in the body. It can lead to higher alcohol concentration in the blood and your body may take longer to eliminate alcohol from your system, putting you at risk of developing alcohol use disorder. Excessive consumption of alcohol can cause nutritional deficiencies and may affect your weight loss progression due to greater calorie intake.

  • Physical Activity

Following a strict diet after bariatric surgery can help you lose weight successfully if combined with regular physical activity. A regular exercise program not only has an impact on weight loss but also helps you to maintain weight in the long term. A patient needs to receive medical authorization before beginning any exercises after surgery.

  • Fasting

Fasting has always been a tradition in many religions. However, complete fasting can have a drastic impact after bariatric surgery as it increases the risk of dehydration, nausea, and proper feeding after the fast. Healthy patients may continue with ritual fasting provided they are well hydrated before fasting.

Bariatric patients need to have consistent, evidence-based guidelines and expert opinions on nutritional care during pre- and post-surgery lifestyle to prevent metabolic and nutritional complications. This helps to optimize long-term success for patients as they can reinforce healthy eating habits and regular exercise programs in their daily lives. It is also important for bariatric patients to go for follow-up visits as it helps to monitor their progress and alter their diet if necessary to avoid weight gain.

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