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Can You Drink Alcohol After Weight Loss Surgery?

The decision to undergo a weight loss surgery can be difficult, especially for people who have never done it before. Emotions shift once the surgery is over and you start to adapt to your new lifestyle. You will be required to follow a strict diet and a regular exercise program to monitor your progress. If you are considering weight loss surgery, you may want to know whether it is safe to incorporate alcohol into your diet and lifestyle after surgery. Many people enjoy social drinking of alcohol but after surgery, your body reacts in a different way than it did before. This article discusses whether drinking alcohol after a weight loss surgery is a good idea.

Life After Weight-Loss Surgery

Once you have had weight-loss surgery, your dietitian will provide you with a nutrition plan to follow. You will be placed on a liquid diet during the first few weeks before you can progress to soft or pureed foods. As your body adjusts to the size of your stomach, you can eventually eat regular-textured food and start your fitness exercises. A healthy diet and lifestyle changes give the best results after weight loss surgery. Combining alcohol with a healthy diet after a weight loss surgery can be harmful to your body. This is because your body processes foods and beverages differently after the surgery while adjusting to your new lifestyle.

What Happens When You Drink Alcohol After Surgery?

Alcohol dehydrogenase is an enzyme in the stomach lining that breaks down alcohol. It is produced in fewer amounts after bariatric surgery because the stomach lining is significantly reduced in size. This causes more alcohol to enter the bloodstream, which means that the effect of alcohol in your system will stay much longer than those who have not had surgery. This means that you will feel intoxicated for a long time, which can affect the way your brain responds to alcohol.

Once you develop the habit of drinking alcohol more often, it affects more than just the alcohol levels in your body. It alters the way your brain responds to alcohol and the effect that some foods have on the brain’s “reward pathway”. When you consume alcohol more often, this pathway becomes more activated and can lead to a condition known as alcohol use disorder.

Reasons Not to Consume Alcohol After Weight Surgery

  • Low Blood Sugar

Low carbohydrate intake and rapid weight loss can reduce the level of glycogen or blood sugars in your body. Taking alcohol further depletes glycogen causing a significant drop in your blood sugar levels. This puts you at a high risk of developing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) which can lead to brain and nerve damage or loss of consciousness. It is important to seek treatment if you notice signs of hypoglycemia even if you do not consume alcohol.

  • Altered Metabolism

The level of blood alcohol is often higher and peaks faster in individuals who have had weight loss surgery and may take a longer time for your system to return to normal. This can affect your nutrition plan since you tend to consume less food when drinking alcohol. Since alcoholic beverages such as beer are rich in calories but low in nutrients, it can slow down weight loss after surgery.

  • Addiction Transfer

Consuming alcohol after surgery can lead to a health condition known as ‘addiction transfer’. According to scientific researchers, people may stop using one substance and trade it with another. In this case, patients who have undergone a weight loss surgery may trade in their food addiction for alcohol consumption. Over time, you become more addicted to alcohol and care less about eating healthy and keeping up with your training exercises.

What Drinking Precautions Can I Take After a Weight Loss Surgery?

It is still possible to re-introduce alcohol after surgery without compromising your weight loss goals and commit to a healthy lifestyle. It is important to stick to a healthy diet for the first six months after surgery, which includes avoiding alcohol at all times. Once your surgeon or healthcare providers permit you to start drinking alcohol, try to avoid sugary drink mixers and carbonated beverages. Consult with your doctor if you develop a habit of drinking regularly to cope with stress or emotions.

Please keep in mind that even small amounts of alcohol after surgery can cause intoxication as well as low blood sugar.  A weight loss surgery with moderate lifestyle changes and good aftercare can guarantee long-term results for your weight loss goals and overall health. Before you fill your glass with any alcoholic beverages, consult with your surgeon about alcohol use in your specific case.

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