Bariatric Surgery Post-Op Diet
Immediately after bariatric surgery, a post-op diet needs to begin. It begins with clear liquids but quickly integrates you back into eating normal food. With the significant reduction in stomach size, the post-op diet is generally easy to follow and actually is more difficult to fulfill food-intake than most patients could have imagined.
→ You can download/print the full PDF Nutrition Guide here
Before you leave the hospital, the post-op diet begins with clear liquids. You will need to make sure you work your way up to drinking up to 64 fluid ounces (2 Liters) of liquids. This will help aid with staying hydrated.
Throughout the first week, you will also need to ensure you are getting adequate amounts of protein (broths) to help with your recovery post-op.
Phase One: Clear Liquid Diet (5-7 days)
For 5-7 days after your surgery, you will need to follow a clear liquid diet. The sole purpose of this phase is to allow for healing time and to stay hydrated. The hydration goal should be 64 oz or more, with a minimum of 48 oz to prevent dehydration. For drinks, only take ½-1 ounce of liquid at a time and wait 60 seconds between ounces. A medicine cup is helpful for measuring this out, or you can use the screw cap to a water bottle. Drink very slowly and refrain from gulping.
Duration: This stage will start when you are in the hospital and lasts 5 – 7 days (up to 14 days)
Recommended Intake: Clear liquid intake goal is 64 ounces (2 Liters). Minimum of 48 fluid ounces (1.5 Liters) per day. (Clear broths/bouillon/chicken/beef/vegetable).
Tips: To avoid Acid Reflux, drink 1 fluid ounce (medicine cup) at a time, wait 60 secs and proceed to the next fluid ounce.
Approved Clear Liquids
Recommended Clear Liquids: Drink Water, Sugar-Free drinks, Decaffeinated Herbal Teas, Sugar-Free Jello, and Sugar-Free Popsicle’s
- Clear Broth/Bouillon: Chicken, beef, vegetable
- Powerade zero, Vitamin zero water, Crystal Light
- Gatorade/Vitamin water
- Light or diluted (50/50) juices (apple, grape, cranberry)
- Clear Liquid protein (New Whey Liquid Protein- Walmart, GNC, Rite Aid ex. Premier Protein Clear)
- Unsweetened caffeine-free herbal tea
- Sugar-free Jell-O or sugar-free Popsicle
- NO carbonated beverages
Read More: Liquids You Can Have Just Before Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Avoid Clear Liquids
Not Approved: Carbonated drinks, Milk/Dairy/Protein Shakes, Caffeinated drinks, No vitamin or mineral supplements at this time, No Sugary Drinks (this may cause dumping syndrome), and NO ALCOHOL.
The Goal in Phase One is to STAY HYDRATED. You want to consume a minimum of 48 oz. of Clear Fluids. Optimal Goal 64 oz.
- The Clear Liquid Diet begins postoperative if there is no nausea or vomiting.
- You MUST sip VERY SMALL amounts of fluid throughout the ENTIRE DAY.
- The goal for one day is a total of 64 oz. of clear liquid per day by sipping SMALL SIPS 4-8 oz. per hour.
- Important: You can have as many clear fluids as your body needs. The minimum goal is 64 oz. to prevent dehydration after bariatric surgery.
Learn More About Post-Op Diet Phase One: Clear Liquids
Stage 2: Thick Liquid Diet (6-14 days)
Goal is to Stay Hydrated and Consume Between 60 – 90 Grams of Protein
This diet allows for a broad range of liquids and protein supplements. This will give your new stomach pouch and digestive system time to heal properly and allow you time to adjust to your new stomach pouch. A good rule of thumb for what is allowed on this diet is anything that has the consistency of what can easily be strained through a straw. Remember, however, at this stage, you should not be sipping anything through a straw!!!
- Start high protein full liquid diet
Approved Thick Liquids
- All foods from the previous stage
- Protein Powders
- Greek Yogurt (remember it needs to have more protein than sugar – Fage/Chobani plain Greek yogurt)
- Almond or Coconut Milk
- Natural Apple Sauce
- Vegetable juice (V8)
- Hot cereals like oatmeal/ cream of wheat/Kashi hot cereal
- Sugar-Free Pudding
- Soups (chose higher protein soups like bean soup, can take chunky soups and blend before eating)
- Avoid all carbonated beverages (fills the stomach with gas), sugar (extra calories that fight against weight loss) and coffee (it is acidic and may have problems with acid reflux after surgery. It is also a diuretic, causing you to be dehydrated)
Drink a minimum of 48 oz. of fluids and a goal of 64 ounces of liquids per day to prevent dehydration. Here is a perfect Sport drink bottle with measurements on the side will help ensure you are drinking enough fluid. Remember, you will not be able to gulp liquids so you will want to drink small amounts throughout the day.
Thick Liquid Diet Sample Menu
- 1 oz. packet high protein oatmeal made with almond milk
- One scoop unflavored protein isolate added in
- Protein shake (minimum of 20 grams of protein) – clear or thick shake
- 4 oz. Greek-style yogurt blended with almond milk (chose a yogurt that has more protein than sugar)
- Clear or thick liquid protein shake
- Pureed soup
- Sugar-free pudding with one scoop protein powder blended with almond milk
Learn More About Post-Op Diet Phase Two: Thick Liquids
Stage 3: Soft Solids Food (15 – 21 days)
Goal: Start Weighing Food – 4 – 6 ounces Total per Meal, Getting 20 grams of Protein per Meal (3 oz. will Always be Protein)- Protein first!
Chew all your food well to applesauce consistency. If you don’t follow these precautions, you may experience vomiting, stomach irritation, and swelling. You could also have obstruction of the small gastric pouch. If solid foods cause nausea and vomiting, go back to the liquid diet you had earlier. Then you can slowly add soft foods and eventually transition to solid foods. IF VOMITING AND NAUSEA PERSIST, CALL YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY.
Think of your new pouch is shaped like a funnel. You can pour any liquid into this funnel, and it will run through and out the bottom. The same thing happens with your pouch when you only consume liquids. So you do not want to drink your calories or overeat.
As a part of your new life, you will want to STOP drinking 30 minutes before a meal and 30 minutes after a meal.
Start taking your multi-vitamins, calcium, and iron daily no sooner than 14 days. If you need guidance in this area or require vitamins, please contact us to purchase our recommended vitamins designed for your particular bariatric needs.
Approved Soft Solids
- You begin to weigh your food at this stage. The goal is 6 oz. of food- 3 oz. of protein always and 3 oz. of other food (healthy fat, fruits, veggies, etc…)
- Your goal is to work towards getting 20 grams of protein at each meal
- Add only ONE food at a time
- The goal for the day is 48-64 oz. of fluid to prevent dehydration
- Cottage cheese (4%-whole fat)
- Ricotta cheese
- Soft Tofu
- Scrambled Eggs
- Texturized Vegetable Protein (TVP)
- Egg, chicken, shrimp, tuna salad, (canned chicken, tuna, salmon)
- Refried beans
- String cheese or soft cheese like laughing cow
*THIS NEEDS TO BECOME A LIFELONG HABIT. *
- VERY IMPORTANT: STOP drinking 30 minutes before eating and DO NOT drink until 30 minutes after a meal.
- Chew thoroughly and slowly.
- Eat three meals a day and one to two protein drinks
- Protein intake needs to be approximately 60 – 90 grams a day.
Soft Solids: Blended/Pureed Sample Menu
- 2 scrambled eggs & 1 oz. string cheese (3 oz.)
- Protein shake
- 3 oz. Chicken salad
- 1 oz. blended avocado
- 4 oz. cottage cheese
- 1 oz. fruit blended in
- A protein shake or pudding with protein combined in (if hungry)
Learn More About Post-Op Diet Phase Three: Soft Solids
Stage 4: Solid Food (Day 21 and Beyond)
Goal: 6 oz. of Food per Meal by Weight, 3 oz. of Protein (20 grams) & Incorporating Variety
Important Reminders: Remember to eat slowly. Cut your food into dime-sized bites. Chew each bite thoroughly, at least 25 times, before swallowing. Do not drink any liquids ½ hour before you eat and during your solid meal. Do not drink any liquids for a ½ hour after your meal. Liquids will pass through your new stomach pouch quickly and will not make you feel full. Consuming only solids at each meal will give you the proper feeling of fullness (satiety) while limiting the amount you eat. Take at least 20 minutes to eat your meal. Always read labels.
Approved Solid Foods
- All foods from previous stages
- Cheese (any cheese other than American or Velveeta)
- Dried beans: kidney, lentil, split pea
- Lean Meats: fish, tuna, chicken, turkey (Make sure all meats are moist)
- Canned fruit in natural juices
- Soft cooked vegetable
- Be careful of fibrous/gassy vegetables (celery, broccoli, cabbage, etc…)
- Avoid the membrane of the fruit (skin on citrus)
- Avoid tough meat
- Only add ONE new food at a time!
- Avoid starchy food like white rice, pasta, bread
- Chew thoroughly and slowly
- Protein Supplements: 60-90 grams.
- In between meals, drink at least 6-8 cups of water and any other non-calorie or sugar-free, non-carbonated beverages.
- Stop drinking 30 minutes before eating and DO NOT drink until 30 minutes after a meal.
- EAT 6 small liquid and blended meals each day, but add one solid food item at one meal the first day. Add one more stable food item each day.
- ALL NEW FOODS NEED TO BE SOFT, COOKED OR CANNED.
- AVOID popcorn
- CAUTION introducing fruit and vegetables until your body adapts.
- RECORD all new foods and any problems you have with them in a food diary and let your doctor know of any problems or questions you may have.
- CHEW your food very well before swallowing. The consistency of the food should be liked mashed potatoes. Make sure that each bite is tiny (as if you were feeding a baby) and continue to eat small amounts slowly. Eat about 2 Tablespoons for 10-15 minutes.
- CONTINUE to take your multiple vitamins, calcium supplements, iron, and B12 supplement as directed.
- DRINK at least 6 cups (48 ounces) of water and other low/no-calorie fluids between meals.
- AVOID beverages that have alcohol or caffeine and those that are carbonated.
- REMEMBER, do NOT use a straw or chew gum!
Learn More About Post-Op Diet Phase Four: Solid Foods
Specific Post-Op Diet Guides Based on Surgery:
- Gastric Sleeve Surgery Post-Op Diet (Four Phases)
- RNY Gastric Bypass Surgery Post-Op Diet
- Gastric Balloon System Post-Op Diet
- Duodenal Switch Post-Op Diet
- Gastric Banding (LAP BAND) Post-Op Diet