Gastric sleeve surgery, also known as Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG), is a life-changing procedure for obese individuals seeking a fast and permanent weight loss solution. The pre-op diet involves eating healthy, macronutrient-rich foods that prepare your body for surgery and makes it easier and safer for the bariatric surgeon to operate.

The final preparation before undergoing gastric sleeve surgery is the two-day liquid-only diet, which is called the clear liquid “liver-shrinking” diet. Options are limited during this period as they typically consist of broths, non-caffeinated (zero-calorie) drinks, sugar-free Jello or popsicles, and water. Patients should avoid consuming carbonated beverages milk or alcohol. Coffee/tea (decaf) should be limited to a maximum of 2 cups a day with no cream and sugar-free sweetener (Splenda).

To better survive and thrive during this difficult phase, you should know all of the approved clear liquids that you can have and the things you should avoid. Here are the Do’s and Don’ts:

Pre-Operative Diet Before Gastric Sleeve

Gastric sleeve preoperative regimen makes nutritional changes to help prep them mentally and physically for surgery. This diet will shrink the size of your liver and soften it to be more mobile. It also decreases the fat reserves in your abdomen to make room for the bariatric surgeon to maneuver with laparoscopic instruments.

By learning your current weight and overall BMI, your bariatric surgery provider can best plan the duration of your pre-op diet. The pre-surgery diet consists primarily of lean protein, vegetables, and clear liquids to help ensure your stomach is prepped for the procedure.

Approved Clear Liquids Leading Up to Surgery

The key to a successful preoperative liquid diet is to keep it low in sugar while maintaining a balance of high protein with healthy fat and carbohydrates. Dietary facts labels will help you identify the sugar content of your food. All protein drinks you chose need to have less than 5 grams of sugar. All other liquid options should not have any added sugar.

Because the pre-op diet does not contain enough nutrients, it is important to take your bariatric multivitamins, calcium, B12, and iron as directed.

Please note: It is not recommended that one tries a liquid diet for long-term weight loss. The specific liquids suggested by your bariatric dietitian are only to follow pre-surgery for recovery purposes.

Approved Clear Liquid Drinks

  • Water
  • Vitamin or Sobe Life water
  • Sugar-Free Coconut water
  • Sugar-Free sports drinks such as Propel and Gatorade
  • Sugar-Free hydration powders such as Crystal Light Pure and Flight
  • Sugar-Free or diluted “no added sugar” fruit juice
    • 25% juice and 75% water
  • Hot or iced herbal tea (Decaf only, no black or green tea)
  • Whey protein powder mixed with almond/cashew milk or water
  • Plant-based protein powders
  • Orgain High Protein
  • EAS Advantage
  • Muscle Milk Light

Isopure Clear Liquid Pre-Op Diet

Approved Alternatives

  • Chicken noodle broth (strained), or bouillons
  • Sugar-Free gelatin (Jello)
  • Sugar-Free sports drinks such as Propel and Gatorade
  • Sugar-Free Protein waters (Protein20, Isopure, Premiere)
  • Low sodium meat and vegetable broths (This aids with inflammation)
  • Teeccino or Pero (herbal coffee alternatives)

Clear Liquid Pre-Op Diet Sample Menu

At first, take in liquids every ½ hour – about 2 ounces at a time. Then gradually increase your intake of liquids to 6 to 8 ounces every hour. Drink very slowly and refrain from gulping.

Calorie Intake: Your daily intake during the pre-op diet should not go below 800 calories until the clear liquids phase. The goal is to minimize all processed foods and added sugars to detoxify the liver and still provide adequate nutrition for immunity and recovery.

You may drink regular tap water or any type of bottled water available. There are flavored waters that are sugar-free, non-carbonated, with few to no calories called FRUIT 2-0 or PROPEL or FUZE SPLENDERIZE. Available at Wal-mart, Sam’s Club, and grocery or health food stores.

Clear Liquid Pre-Op Diet Daily Sample Menus

Liver Detox Products

Liver detox products are a trendy item on the market and you might think they are a great addition. Unfortunately, many of these products are not clinically proven, lack FDA safety approval, interfere with prescribed medications, or cause unintended side effects. Best to avoid these during the pre-op diet even if they are holistic and in general consult your primary care before adding it to your lifestyle.

Possible Side Effects of the Clear-Liquid Diet

You may experience hunger cramps, weakness, tiredness, headaches, mood changes, and stomach problems due to lowering the intake of calories and carbohydrates. These symptoms are normal and it may take a few days to get adjusted to. Make sure you consume at least 64 oz of liquids per day to offset these indications.

Post-Op Diet (Clear Liquid)

Your food intake after surgery will be much different as your stomach size is significantly reduced. In the postoperative diet, you will also be required to do a liquid phase for 5 – 7 days and gradually transition to pureed and solid foods to improve healing and recovery.

Tips for Successful Pre-Op Liquid Diet

The pre-operative liquid diet is a challenging time of sleeve surgery preparation time. Here are 4 tips to help you succeed in this phase,

  1. Plan ahead – Make yourself a shopping list and stock up on the items you need throughout this period.
  2. Hold yourself accountable – Find a support system to keep you in check.
  3. This is temporary – Remember that this is just a transition to a bigger plan!
  4. Don’t weigh yourself – Getting on the scale to weigh yourself every day is distracting and defeats the purpose.

The clear liquid pre-op diet is a crucial step in achieving your ultimate goal that is to renew your life. Your full commitment to this stage ensures long-term success with your surgical bariatric procedure. Facebook support groups like Mexico Bariatric Center’s closed group are a great option for a successful weight loss journey.

(For more information visit our preoperative diet page)