In a fast-paced world, mealtimes can feel rushed and grabbing something quick on your way home seems like the only option. Meal prepping will help save you money, time, and stress from making last-minute decisions. After bariatric surgery, planning your meals will keep you from sliding off track and help you eat more wholesome, nutritious meals. Here are 10 ultimate bariatric meal-prepping hacks to help you live your healthiest, happiest life.
1. Weigh Meals to 4-6 oz
After weight loss surgery, like the gastric sleeve or RNY gastric bypass, stomach sizes can range from 4-8 ounces. Weighing your meals to 4-6 ounces will stop you from overeating while getting all the necessary nutrients. We recommend you measure your meals to the following proportions:
- Protein: 3 ounces
- Fat: 1-2 tbsp
- Carbohydrates: 2 ounces
2. Stay Under 1,200 Calories
The ideal caloric intake after bariatric surgery is about 1,000-1,200 calories daily. If you are eating three meals a day with no snacks, this allows 300-400 calories per meal.
3. Drink 64 oz of Water Daily
Staying hydrated after bariatric surgery promotes weight loss as oftentimes, thirst cues can be mistaken for hunger, causing patients to eat more. Drinking adequate fluids after surgery also encourages nutrient absorption, which is limited because of digestive changes.
Avoid using straws to prevent the addition of gas into your digestive tract, which can cause gas pain.
4. Prioritize Protein First
Since stomach size is greatly decreased after gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy, protein should be prioritized first at every meal. Protein is a nutrient-dense food source that causes you to feel full, reduces hunger, maintains muscle mass, and prevents you from overeating.
5. Just Start
You don’t have to jump into meal planning every meal for the week. You can simply start by cooking a little extra for dinner and having leftovers for lunch. Once you feel confident, you can cook meals for the whole week.
6. Individualize Your Meals
Every weight loss surgery patient differs from lifestyle to preferences, so why should all your meals be the same? Personalizing your meal prep is important to meet your individual health goals. For example, if you are focusing on gaining muscle, you should increase your protein goals to be in a range of 0.5-0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
7. Cook Once, Eat Twice
When cooking, make larger portions and save the leftovers to have for future meals. You can also batch-cook things like quinoa or cauliflower rice and use them as a base with different protein sources.
Some versatile high-protein options include:
8. Pre-pack Snacks
Healthy, pre-portioned snacks will keep you from making impulsive decisions to eat full meals when you only need a quick bite. Depending on your post-op diet phase, some healthy snack ideas after bariatric surgery include:
- Vegetables: baby carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower
- Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, pistachios
- High-Protein yogurt: ratio.Protein, Oikos Triple Zero, Chobani Zero Sugar Yogurt Drinks
9. Don’t Drink Your Calories
People often miscalculate their macro count because they forget to include liquid calories. High-calorie, sugary drinks are easy to hit a stall while losing weight. Opt for healthier choices like naturally flavored water or sugar-free beverages. Some perfect drinks to add to your meal prep include:
- Gatorade Fit
- Crystal Light
- Unsweetened Coconut Water
- Herbal Teas
- Protein waters
10. Freeze Leftovers
If you make a large meal you can’t eat within the week, freeze individual portions of it. You can unfreeze a portion in a few weeks for an easy meal.
Important Eating Tips
Eat Slowly: A good rule of thumb is to spend about 30 minutes per meal after weight loss surgery. Take small bites and chew food thoroughly to avoid large chunks causing severe stomach pain and discomfort. Make sure not to drink 30 minutes before and after eating.
Eat Mindfully: Eating while distracted will make you miss fullness cues, causing you to overeat and even get hungry sooner.
In conclusion, meal prepping after weight loss surgery will help you save time and money while ensuring you meet your health goals.
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