What Diet Is Recommended After Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Jeremy Korman';

By Jeremy Korman

Posted on June 20th, 2018 in Weight Loss

As the most common bariatric procedure performed in the United States, gastric bypass surgery generally yields very satisfying results for patients who undergo it.

By reducing the size of the stomach and rerouting the small intestine, the amount of food and liquids a person can ingest at once is substantially limited, which gradually leads to significant weight loss.

The majority of people who opt for gastric bypass surgery eventually lose approximately 70% of their excess weight. The key to the success of this bariatric procedure resides primarily in a post-surgery diet which you must follow after your surgery to:

  • prompt your stomach to heal without being stretched
  • get used to eating smaller amounts of food
  • promote steady and safe weight loss
  • avoid side effects and complications

The First Week – Clear Liquids Only

During the first week after gastric bypass surgery, the patient is allowed to consume exclusively clear liquids, such as:

  • water
  • fat-free broth
  • fat-free milk
  • sugar-free jello
  • unsweetened juice
  • decaffeinated tea or coffee

These liquids must be drunk in amounts of one to two ounces per hour to stay properly hydrated, which is crucial throughout this period of time.

The Second and Third Weeks – Pureed Foods and Protein Shakes

At this stage, your dietitian will usually recommend a daily intake of between 60 and 70 grams of protein and 64 ounces of clear liquid, excluding the liquid in pureed foods. Your sources of protein will be the following:

  • egg whites
  • protein shakes
  • non-fat soft cheese
  • pureed meat
  • soft fruits
  • beans
  • cooked vegetables
  • non-fat cottage cheese

The foods above should include water, fat-free milk, as well as fat-free broth. It is important to note that clear liquids must not be ingested at the same time as pureed foods. The patient should not drink any liquids 30 minutes before a meal and wait 60 minutes after eating to start drinking again.

Using a straw is not a good idea, making you swallow air along with the food. Similarly, the patient should refrain from caffeinated and carbonated beverages during the second and third weeks post-surgery. Your dietitian may advise you to take supplements such as multivitamins and calcium citrate to prevent nutrient deficiency.

The Fourth and Fifth Weeks – Soft Foods

While the amount of food it is recommended to have at this stage remains the same, the range of products you are now allowed to consume widens. Accordingly, you can safely eat soft foods, which refer to any product you can easily mash with a fork. Fruits and vegetables should be ingested without seeds or skin. Some examples of soft foods you can have during the fourth and fifth weeks after your gastric bypass are:

  • tofu
  • fish
  • lean chicken
  • lean turkey
  • carrots
  • potatoes
  • bananas
  • avocados
  • green beans
  • tomatoes
  • squash

In addition to multivitamins and calcium citrate, you will likely be prescribed vitamin D and a daily dose of sublingual B12, too.

The Sixth Week and Onwards – Solid Foods

The reintroduction of solid food in your diet should be gradual, as your body has to readjust to this kind of product. It is recommended to start having chopped or diced food initially, then slowly transition to eating normally. Nevertheless, there are certain foods you will have to limit your intake of or completely avoid for the rest of your life, including:

  • dried fruits
  • popcorn
  • granola
  • fibrous vegetables
  • bread
  • fried foods
  • shellfish
  • nuts and seeds
  • tough meats
  • whole milk
  • whole grains
  • carbonated beverages

Furthermore, your new stomach might not tolerate spicy and crunchy food since adjusting to eating solid foods again could prove to be quite challenging. You might find the following tips useful:

  • avoid introducing more than one food per day in your diet to observe how your body responds to it
  • the order in which you should consume your food must be the following: protein, vegetables, carbohydrates
  • drink at least 64 ounces of water daily
  • chew every bite thoroughly, preferably for 15 seconds or more
  • avoid pre-packaged and processed foods with many ingredients and focus on simple, nutritious products instead
  • continue to take your supplements as recommended by your dietitian

Why Does Long-term Diet after Gastric Bypass Matter?

Although physical activity also plays a vital role in the lifestyle of people whose stomach has been shrunk following gastric bypass surgery, diet remains instrumental in losing excess weight and improving the quality of life.

Therefore, we strongly encourage our patients to stay in touch with their dietitians and go to all their follow-up appointments, as the guidance of a specialist is essential throughout the journey to a more enjoyable and carefree life.

The post gastric bypass diet can help you recover, meet your new smaller stomach's needs, and support your weight-loss goals. Remember that if you return to unhealthy eating habits after weight-loss surgery, you may not lose all of your excess weight, or you may regain any weight that you do lose.

The greatest risks associated with a gastric bypass diet come from not following the diet properly. If you eat too much or eat food that you shouldn't, you could have complications such as:

  • gastro-esophageal reflux
  • nausea and vomiting
  • dumping syndrome
  • dehydration
  • constipation
  • blocked opening of your stomach pouch
  • perforation of stomach or intestines

Medically Supervised Weight Loss at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital

When considering gastric bypass, it's important to understand that eating habits must change after surgery to lose weight and maintain results.

At Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital, we help patients through their weight loss journey by educating them about the ideal long-term diet after gastric bypass.

Our medical specialists work with each patient to create a personalized experience, ensure that surgery is the best option for their particular case, implement necessary lifestyle changes, and help patients reach their weight loss goals.

For more tips about the ideal long-term diet after gastric bypass surgery or more information about the procedure itself, please schedule a consultation.