No Caffeine After Bariatric Surgery? Why?!

Bariatric surgeries such as gastric bypass & gastric sleeve requires making a lot of sacrifices immediately post-op, and for many, pre-op as well. Your surgeon might have you go on a liquid fast before surgery in order to prepare your body for the procedure. After the surgery, you’re not going to be eating any solid foods for at least a week, and any foods you eat will either be in liquid or pureed form.

Most patients can feel at ease with that. However, there are a few requirements that leave some patients wondering why. Caffeine is probably the biggest one.

That’s right: it’s not recommended to drink caffeinated beverages, including coffee and tea, for at least a month after bariatric surgery. That can be a difficult pill to swallow. A lot of us aren’t quite the same without our morning cup of joe.

But why is it not recommended to drink caffeine immediately post-op? Let’s delve into it.

Why Caffeine After Bariatric Surgery Is Risky

The problem with beverages like coffee is the caffeine content. Caffeine has a lot of interesting properties, some of which are the very reason we love it so much.

Caffeine is a natural diuretic, which means it causes you to lose water through urination. One big issue that bariatric surgery patients have is drinking enough water, and drinking caffeine will simply make that issue worse. Dehydration is a serious risk for patients. As a result, we recommend that patients keep track of their water intake and make sure to satisfy their water intake needs.

Another problem that caffeine presents is that caffeine is a hunger suppressant. Many prospective bariatric surgery patients don’t see this as a big deal: after all, part of the reason you would get weight loss surgery (particularly gastric bypass or gastric sleeve) is to reduce hunger!

But hunger is actually a big problem for recovering patients. After surgery, you will have protein goals that you should meet in order to aid recovery and maintain muscle mass while eating at a large caloric deficit. Successful patients will feel almost no hunger at all for weeks after surgery, and drinking caffeine will reduce almost all desire to consume any sort of food.  This makes it much harder to meet protein goals.

One last problem with caffeine is that it often increases gut motility. What this means is simple: if you’ve ever had coffee and soon after had to go number two, you’ve seen the effects of increased gut motility. In some patients, this can result in the excretion of food that hasn’t been fully digested. This could be a problem for bariatric surgery patients who have had their digestive system altered drastically.

Want To Drink Coffee After Bariatric Surgery? Follow These Tips!

You are 100% free to drink black decaf coffee after bariatric surgery. We still recommend waiting a couple of days after surgery to do so, however. If your morning joe is important to you, you can still keep the ritual by drinking decaf coffee and switching back after you’ve recovered from surgery.

After about a month, caffeinated beverages can be safely added back into the diet. However, drinking too much caffeine can lead to issues with digestion and hydration. If you used to be a 5 cup a day kind of person, you won’t want to jump right back into that: start with one cup and slowly increase your intake over time.

Keep your coffee black or use a zero calorie creamer + sweetener. There’s no need to add extra calories to your coffee, especially if you’re several months post-op and trying to maximize weight loss.