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Your Guide to Dietary Changes Before and After Bariatric Surgery

Your Guide to Dietary Changes Before and After Bariatric Surgery

If you’re scheduled for bariatric surgery, you’re ready to make significant changes to your eating habits. The surgery helps you make the changes by reducing the size of your stomach.

For example, after gastric bypass, your stomach will be about the size of a golf ball or an egg. You won’t be able to consume the amount of food you ate previously. 

At Turnquest Surgical Solutions, our board-certified bariatric surgeons, Dexter Turnquest, MD, and Victoria C. Chang, MD, provide detailed written instructions for eating and drinking before and after your surgery. Following this guidance helps you avoid painful complications. 

A CliffsNotes version of our written instructions gives you a good idea of your diet in the days ahead.

Eating and drinking before bariatric surgery 

You may want to have a couple of heavy last suppers in the days before your procedure, but you need to reframe your thinking. Your new way of eating begins three days before surgery. 


Your pre-surgery diet includes some protein shakes and snacks, one healthy meal, and 46-64 ounces of sugar-free, noncarbonated, and decaffeinated fluid each day. 

Why is this necessary? Your liver is situated on top of your stomach, where we’ll operate. Reducing fat around your liver reduces the chance of surgical complications. 

Eating and drinking after bariatric surgery 

Your diet progresses in stages after your surgery. 

In the hospital

While in the hospital, you consume a clear liquid diet. You can have clear juices, broth, and flavored gelatin. You’ll only be able to drink small amounts but will gradually increase the amount you drink each day. 

The first two weeks after you leave the hospital 

You progress to high protein, thicker liquids after you leave the hospital. You can choose low calorie, high protein drinks during this phase to ensure you get enough protein, or you can add options like powdered eggs to a half cup of nonfat milk. 

You can also eat sugar-free puddings and sugar-free nonfat yogurt, broth-based soup, or cottage cheese. We provide a complete list. You consume no more than 400 calories at this point. 

Take very small amounts of these liquids at first, beginning with a teaspoon and progressing to a quarter cup. Hydration is essential. You need to drink a liter to a liter and a half of water or liquids on the list of approved drinks every day. We also recommend vitamins to ensure you get proper nutrients. 

Diet during weeks 2-8 weeks after leaving the hospital 

You begin adding small amounts of soft foods to your diet such as applesauce, pureed vegetables, scrambled eggs, canned fruit, and soft fish. You add each new food very slowly. Don’t try to eat breads or meats that require a lot of chewing. 

You should consume about 500 calories a day and eat 5-8 small meals. Your diet should consist of about a quarter cup of solid food and half cup of liquid at each meal. You also take certain vitamins as noted on your written instructions.   

Eating and drinking 2-6 months after leaving the hospital 

You should consume about 1,000 calories and between 65-75 grams of protein each day at this stage post-surgery. You still consume the same amount of solids and liquids at each meal. 

A well-rounded diet at this stage includes nonfat or low fat dairy, meat or meat substitute, and soft fruits, vegetables, and starches. Continue to follow our written guidance on which foods to eat and which to avoid. 

Eating and drinking for the long term after bariatric surgery 

We advise you on a maximum calorie count per day for the long term. You begin to follow a normal eating pattern of three meals and one or two snacks every day. Stick to low fat, low sugar foods. 

As you continue adding new foods, you discover which foods agree with you and which foods you need to avoid. Hydration is important. It helps you avoid nausea, constipation, and kidney complications. 

As you follow the diet, you’ll see a new you appear in the mirror as you shed those excess pounds. You’ll move more easily and be able to do things you weren’t able to do before your surgery. As your health improves, you’ll feel better. 

Call us at Turnquest Surgical Solutions or book an appointment online today if you’re ready to explore weight loss surgery.

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