Post Surgery Dietary Adjustments

Bariatric surgery modifies your gastrointestinal tract and requires permanent changes in your eating habits that must be adhered to for successful weight loss. Your surgeon will provide to you post-surgery dietary guidelines. It is most important that you adhere strictly to your surgeon's recommended guidelines.

General Dietary Guidelines
The following are some of the generally accepted dietary guidelines a weight-loss surgery patient may encounter:

  • When your doctor tells you to start eating solid food it is essential that you chew thoroughly.
  • Chew your food at least 20 to 30 times before swallowing. You will not be able to eat steaks or other chunks of meat if they are not chewed thoroughly.
  • Don't drink fluids while eating. They will make you feel full before you have consumed enough food.
  • Omit desserts and other items with sugar listed as one of the first three ingredients.
  • Omit carbonated drinks, high-calorie nutritional supplements, milk shakes, high-fat foods and foods with high fiber content.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Limit snacking between meals.
  • Do not chew gum.
  • Do not drink through a straw.

Support from a Dietician or Nutritionist
Compliance with post-operative dietary guidelines is very important. For this reason, you may be referred to a dietitian, nutritionist and/or a bariatric surgery psychologist.

The nutritionist can help you learn how and what foods and fluids to eat and drink following the surgery. A bariatric surgery psychologist can help educate and prepare both you and your family for the changes that accompany weight loss, and assist you in following the post-operative guidelines.

Protein Sources
After surgery you will be eating very small amounts of food. In order to prevent malnutrition, your body needs an adequate amount of protein to remain strong and healthy. Protein is the building block that the body uses to build new tissue, preserve muscle tissue and repair wounds. It also helps the immune system fight infections.

Good protein choices are lean meats like skinless chicken, trimmed round steak, lean pork chops and fish. Low-fat or fat-free cheeses, cottage cheese, skim milk, fat-free plain yogurt, whole eggs or egg whites, and beans are also good protein food choices.

The Holy Cross Outpatient Nutrition Counseling Center prepared the following information to help bariatric patients consume adequate amounts of protein after surgery.

Protein Counting Food List
Use this chart to select high protein foods and calculate how many grams of protein you are eating a day. Aim for 60 grams of protein a day and gradually increase to 80 to 100 grams a day.

Note: 1 oz = 2 Tbsp or 1/8 cup

Protein Foods Serving Size Grams
Lean Meat: poultry, fish, beef, pork, turkey 1 oz (2 Tbsp puree) 7g
Crab (canned) 1 oz 5.5
Salmon (canned) 1 oz 5.5
Tuna (canned) 1 oz 7.5
Veggie Burger 1oz 3.5
Deli meats (turkey, chicken, ham) 1 slice 2-5
Soy protein - ground beef style 1 oz 4
Egg (whole) 1 7
Egg whites 2 7
Egg substitute 1/4 cupe 6
Peanut butter 2 Tbsp 8
Tofu 1 oz 2
Hummus 1 oz (2 Tbsp) 2
Soup: bean, split pea, lentil 1/4 cup 3-4
Milk (skim, Lactaid, soy) 1/4cup 2
Light yogurt 1/4 cup 2
Cottage cheese, light 1/4 cup 5
Low-fat cheese (2% milk or 50% light) 1 oz 6-8
Fat-free Ricotta cheese 1 ox 4

Protein Supplement List
Eat your protein foods first. Drink your protein supplements between meals.

It is important to use your protein supplement drinks to get enough protein in a day. Meat is not always tolerated right away. Keep track of this and reintroduce at another time.


Protein Supplement  Serving Size (oz)  Protein/Serving  Protein/8 oz  Carbs (grams)  Calories  Lactose Free
Skim Milk  8 oz  8 g  8 g  12 g  90  No
Lactaid Milk  8  8  8  12  90  Yes
Soy Milk  8  7  7  8  100  Yes
No sugar added Carnation Instant Breakfast (mixed w/8 oz Lactaid, soy, or skim milk)  8  12  12  24  150  No
 No sugar added Carnation Instant Breakfast & Designer Whey (1 packet powder mixed w/ 8 oz milk)  8  31  31  26  240  No
 Designer Whey ~natural and flavored (1 scoop) mixed w/ 8 oz water)  8  18  18  2  90  Yes
 Unjury powder (1 scoop mixed with 8 oz water)  8  20  20  3  90  Yes
 Atkins Advantage powder (2 scoops mixed with 8 oz water)  8  15  15  10  140  Yes
 Atkins Advantage already mixed (1 can)  11  20  14.5  4  170  Yes
 Myoplex Life (1 carton)  11  25  18  20  190  Yes
 Met-Rx Lite (1 can)  11  21  15  5  110  Yes
 Pure Protein (1 can) 11  35  25.5  4  170  Yes
 Isopure (1 bottle) 20  40  16  4  260  Yes
 Optisource (1 carton)  4  24  12  6  100  Yes
  1. Most of these supplements can be found at General Nutrition Center, Inc. (GNC) stores, Vitamin World, grocery stores, department stores or ordered online.
  2. To order the Unjury protein supplement, call 1-800-517-5111.
  3. No added sugar Carnation Instant Breakfast is often stocked at most chain supermarkets or it may be ordered by calling 1-800-210-8132.
  4. Slim-Fast products have too many carbohydrates and should not be used.
  5. There are many other protein supplements. Look for more than 12 grams of protein per 8 ounces with low carbohydrates. If in doubt, call your dietitian.

Nutrition Counseling
Holy Cross Health's registered dietician offer outpatient nutrition counseling at Holy Cross Hospital.