Diet Progression Stages After Bariatric Surgery

healthy food for bariatric surgery patients

If you undergo bariatric surgeries such as gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, lap-band adjustments & orbera balloon surgery, you won’t be able to eat the same foods for some time. Instead, you’ll be given a special diet that you must follow for the first month after bariatric surgery. Your diet will progress in stages starting with a liquid fast, and then slowly reintroducing foods based on how readily your body is able to accept them.

What is this post-op diet, and what are the stages of this diet? Let’s discuss!

What Is The Post-Op Bariatric Surgery Diet?

The post-op diet is specifically formulated for bariatric patients, and the purpose of the post-op diet is twofold. The first purpose of the post bariatric surgery diet is to slowly reintroduce foods, as soon as it’s safe to do so. Bariatric surgery changes the way your digestive system works and prevents you from eating as much food as before. As a result, you’re not going to be able to eat the same foods as before.

The second purpose of the post-op diet is to kickstart rapid weight loss in bariatric patients. The post-op diet is restrictive and has very few calories. Because of this, patients end up burning a lot more calories than they take in. This causes weight loss to happen very quickly!

A West Texas Bariatric patient running past an office building

What Are The Stages Of The Bariatric Surgery Diet?

First, we have to note that not every bariatric surgery clinic has patients following this diet exactly in this way. These are just guidelines, and some patients may be given different instructions based on their unique situation. Please always follow the instructions given by your doctors first.

Phase 1: Clear Liquids

The Clear Liquids phase of the post-op bariatric surgery diet lasts from 0 – 3 days after bariatric surgery. Patients are allowed a short list of clear liquids, including water, bone broth, decaffeinated warm beverages like black coffee, and sugar-free electrolyte beverages.

Patients must go on this liquid fast because the body is not easily able to accept new food right after surgery. The surgery has done a number on the digestive system and the body needs time to adapt.

Phase 2: Full Liquids

After completing the Clear Liquids phase, the Full Liquids phase of the post-op bariatric surgery diet lasts for 2 weeks, but some patients may be on this phase of the diet for up to a month.

In phase 2, patients are allowed anything from the first phase, plus unflavored protein powders added to fat free/low fat cream based soups, non-fat greek yogurt, sugar free pudding, egg drop soup, and unsweetened almond or soy milk.

This phase also includes 3-4 protein shakes daily that meet the following requirements:

  • Less than 200 calories
  • 20 – 30g protein
  • Less than 10g sugar and fat

It’s mandatory that patients invest in a blender or some other method of pureeing their food.

A woman referring to West Texas Bariatrics recommended diet when reading recipes

Phase 3: Pureed Texture

After completing the Full Liquids phase, the Pureed Texture phase of the post-op bariatric surgery diet lasts for 3 weeks.

In phase 3, patients are allowed to eat anything from the first and second phases, 1-2 protein shakes, plus low-fat cottage cheese, non-fat greek yogurt, scrambled eggs/egg beaters, tofu, vegetarian refried beans, no sugar added applesauce, hummus, low fat ricotta cheese, blended fat free/low sodium soups, steamed/boiled vegetables, tuna or chicken packed in water and moist flaky fish.

Phase 4: Soft Texture

After completing the Pureed Texture phase, the Soft Texture Phase of the post-op bariatric surgery diet lasts for 4 weeks.

In phase 4, patients are allowed to eat anything from the first, second and third phases with 1 protein shake plus moist, soft protein, which includes ground meats, poultry, deli turkey or ham, eggs, and/or tofu. Patients may also have soft lean ground meat in sauce or soup, soft overcooked vegetables, hummus, mashed potatoes without the skin (no instant mashed potatoes), spreadable reduced fat cheese, soft fresh fruit without the skin, and canned fruit (drained from juice).

It is important to follow these guideline while eating: 

  • Separate eating and drinking; do not drink 30 minutes before eating and wait 30 minutes after eating before resuming drinking.
  •  Take small bites and chew until food has a liquid consistency.
  • Take 30 minutes to complete a meal.
  • Aim for 60 – 90g of protein daily.
  • Meet a minimum goal of 64 fluid oz. of non-caloric beverages each day: sip, sip, sip all day
  • Record all food intake. Calories should not exceed 800/day. Keep carbs under 90g/day.

Keep in mind that these are just guidelines, and you should always follow your doctor’s instructions exactly for the best possible outcome.

If you are interested in learning more about bariatric surgery, check out our other blogs or feel free to call West Texas Bariatrics at 806-771-2222!

For more information on dieting check out these blogs:

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