After a gastric bypass, your digestive tract is altered. So, your eating habits will need to change. In this article, we provide you with a gastric bypass food list, which you can also use as a gastric sleeve food list.
We’ll discuss common foods that can safely be eaten before and after gastric bypass surgery and diet plan adjustments.
Bear in mind that your case may be unique. Your dietitian or doctor may prescribe a different eating plan based on your individual needs. Always refer to their instruction for the best results tailored to your needs.
You can also find helpful guidance here if you are thinking about what to eat before gastric sleeve surgery.
Gastric Bypass Pre-Op Diet
One to two weeks before surgery, you bariatric team will usually put you on a very low calorie diet. Depending on the surgery center, the diet could be only liquids, liquids and a small meal, or a mixture of full liquids and select vegetables.
You will have specific direction provided to you on which diet you will be directed to follow. This low-calorie diet is typically recommended 2 weeks before surgery to reduce the size of the liver in order to decrease the risk of surgical complications.
As you get closer to surgery day, your doctor will give you detailed guidelines. Follow these closely to ensure the operation goes smoothly.
Protein options typically include:
- Gastric bypass meal replacement shakes and protein supplement shakes (These options should be appropriate for bariatric patients)
- Lean chicken, turkey, or fish (only if solids are allowed)
Your fluid goals are typically 64oz daily, including the following options:
- Fat free/low fat broth
- Water and flavored water
- Decaf tea
- Propel Zero and Powerade Zero
- Sugar-free ice popsicles
If a 2 week pre-op diet was recommended, it is very important to follow the food lists as directed by your healthcare provider. Straying off this diet can be a matter of whether you are cleared for surgery or not.
Gastric Bypass Post-Op Diet : Week 1 to 2
A clear liquid diet will likely occur 1-2 days after surgery, while you are still in the hospital. You will transition to a full liquid diet, similar to the pre-op diet. You’ll start with only small amounts of liquid, mostly water, after surgery and slowly increase this throughout the day.
Full liquids would include protein shakes, low-fat or fat-free milk, plain Greek yogurt, and broth.
Dehydration is a very common post-op complication that can send you back to the hospital. This is typical because patients find it extremely hard to consume anything in even small amounts after weight loss surgery. The idea is to take small sips throughout the entire day to ensure you are staying hydrated.
If a multivitamin wasn't started before surgery, you will likely be recommended to start taking a chewable bariatric multivitamin and other supplements based on blood work. Nutrient deficiency is common among gastric bypass patients and other bariatric procedures. Have a look at our detailed information on what vitamins to take after gastric bypass.
Gastric Bypass Post-Op Diet : Week 3 to 5
You will usually be allowed to transition to puréed food. You may require a food processor or high speed blender at this stage. Foods and beverages may include:
Protein meal replacements and protein shakes for after bariatric surgery
- Low-fat dairy or milk alternatives and sugar-free smooth yogurt
- Peeled and puréed veggies or fruit (in small amounts). Make sure there are no solids, even tiny seeds, such as in blackberries or strawberries
- Thin oatmeal or semolina wheat, tapioca, and maize porridge
- Sugar-free juice, preferably with veggies
- Smooth, sugar-free baby food
- Lean puréed meats (no steak), skinless steamed white fish, potatoes, beans, and lentils mashed and put through the blender
- Soft tofu
- Soft scrambled or poached eggs, egg whites
The food list above is similar to a post-op gastric sleeve diet. A post-op gastric sleeve diet might allow solid food sooner.
Food lists will be specific to the individual and may not include some of the options above.
There are great options available for gastric sleeve and gastric bypass protein shake recipes.
Remember that you have a small gastric pouch after surgery instead of a normal sized stomach. Only add different foods if recommended to transition by your healthcare team. Be cautious and give your body time to adjust.
After gastric bypass surgery, recipes with different spices can irritate the stomach at this stage.
Liquids are always essential but don’t drink them at the same time as your meals.
If you have indigestion after a gastric bypass, this can be a sign that you’re overeating or eating too quickly. Keep your dinner light to avoid acid reflux at night and wait about 2 hours before laying down after eating.
To avoid a complication like low blood sugar after gastric bypass surgery, make sure you are eating small meals 3-4 hours apart throughout the day. Don’t skip meals, even if you have a decreased appetite.
Gastric Bypass Post-Op Diet : Week 6 and on
Depending on the person, this stage might start around week 7 or 8. You will now begin building up to a 1000-calorie bariatric diet plan. Meal size might be around 1/2 cup. You will then stay on this diet for life. Add difficult-to-digest foods gradually.
Continue to eat your meals slowly and chew thoroughly. A rapid increase in food, especially high fat and sugars, can cause dumping syndrome after a gastric bypass. This leads to bloating, increased heart rate, low blood pressure, and low sugar levels.
Guidelines after gastric bypass surgery can include:
- 3 well balanced meals high in protein
- If 2-3 snacks are required, choose healthy options high in protein
- Eat small portions, gradually increase to 1 cup of food per meal
- Use small plates and cutlery
- Take 30 minutes to eat a meal
- Lean meat, fish, poultry, and vegan meat
- Protein shakes and meal replacements suitable for bariatric patients
- Low-fat dairy and dairy alternatives
- Separate liquids and solids. Stop drinking 30 minutes before a meal and wait 30 minutes after
Keep the bariatric food pyramid in mind when planning meals. The base and most important part of the pyramid is lean protein. This includes foods such as skinless chicken breasts and low-fat cottage cheese. Make sure these are the core of your diet.
High-protein foods for bariatric patients are important. This helps avoid muscle loss, decreased metabolism and problems, such as weight gain and losing hair after bariatric surgery.
The second layer of the food pyramid is vegetables and some fruit. Eat plenty of veggies and salad with protein-rich meals.
The third layer includes starchy carbohydrates, like cereals and whole grains that are not too difficult to digest. It would be best if you had some of these, such as oats and potatoes, but in smaller amounts than protein.
The last layer of the bariatric food pyramid are fats and oils. Some healthier oils in small amounts are good choices. This can be a teaspoon of olive oil or quarter avocado.
Remain well hydrated at all times. This helps with common digestive problems like constipation.
Speak to your dietitian before considering any kind of fad diet after surgery, such as the keto diet after bariatric surgery. Studies have shown that restrictive diets or trending fads are difficult to maintain and are unsuccessful in long-term weight loss.
Do not take any additional supplements or diet pills after gastric sleeve or gastric bypass surgery that your doctor has not prescribed. Stick to your daily bariatric multivitamin.
At this point in the journey, you may want to invest in a gastric bypass cookbook so that you have ideal recipes for your needs. Recipes for gastric sleeve patients will be similar.
Keep a look out for bariatric plates and bowls designed to help you with portion control if needed.
Foods and Beverages to Avoid After Surgery
- Tough meats or dry red meat
- Greasy, fried foods
- Heavily seasoned and spicy foods
- Fibrous fruits and vegetables if not well tolerated
- High sugar foods and beverages, such as soda and fruit juice
- High starch, like bread, pasta and rice might not be well tolerated
- Empty calories, including pretzels, rice cakes, popcorn, sweets
Although there are some foods that you may no longer be able to eat, there are ways to make meals that you can enjoy. There are many bariatric resources available to you that offer bariatric recipes.
If you are eating out after surgery, check the menu beforehand. Choose the restaurant carefully. You don’t want to be stuck without anything safe to order.
Pasta, bread, and dry cereals might be difficult to digest. Be careful with these at least for the first 6 months after you recover.
Other Informative Articles For Bariatric Patients:
- Importance Of A Bariatric Specific Multivitamin For Life
- The Truth About Carbohydrates After Bariatric Surgery
- Multivitamins for Bariatric Patients
- How to Choose a Bariatric Protein Bar?
- Gastric Bypass and Anemia
- Bariatric Diet
- Patient Testimonials
- Where Can I Get Gastric Bypass Surgery?
- Bariatric Surgery Benefits
- What Pain Medication Can You Take After Gastric Bypass?
- Weight Requirement for Gastric Bypass
- Vitamin A Deficiency After Bariatric Surgery
- Gastric Bypass Revision
- Bariatric Support Groups
- Weight Gain After Gastric Sleeve Surgery
**This blog is for information and education purposes only. This information is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions in regards to a medical condition. A qualified healthcare professional can best assist you in deciding whether a dietary supplement is suitable based on your individual needs.