The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Sugar After Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Sugar After Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery - Bariatric Fusion

Guest Blog By: Dr. Lillian Craggs-Dino, DHA, RDN, LDN

Excessive sugar consumption is a widespread concern in our contemporary society. The average American consumes 266 calories per day from added sugars, which equates to nearly 67 grams of sugar daily. (1)

Although sugar has its benefits in baking, cooking, and flavoring (while providing instant energy for the brain and muscles), consuming excessive amounts of sugar has detrimental effects on our health. It has been linked to fatty liver, obesity, high triglycerides, high uric acid, and other health risks.

This article explores the good, the bad, and the ugly of sugar after metabolic and bariatric surgery, providing valuable insights and guidance for patients.

Sugar Guidelines

Metabolic and bariatric surgery is a life-changing procedure that offers hope to individuals struggling with obesity and diet-related conditions. However, long-term success after surgery requires significant changes to your diet and lifestyle.

One crucial aspect to address is sugar consumption. While the exact recommendations for sugar intake after surgery are not clearly defined, guidelines generally encourage patients to either avoid or, at the very least, limit their consumption of simple sugars.

Sugar intake should be limited to less than 10% of daily caloric intake to avoid health concerns. (1)

The Effects of Sugar on Post-Surgery Health

There are several reasons to avoid simple sugars after metabolic and bariatric surgery. Too much sugar can increase the risk of the following side effects:

  • Dumping syndrome: Consuming sugary and high-fat foods can trigger this condition, leading to nausea, increased heart rate, cramping, bloating, and dizziness.
  • Weight regain: Sugar-rich foods are often high in calories with minimal nutritional value making it easy to consume excess without feeling satisfied.
  • Fluctuating blood sugars: After surgery, your body may be more sensitive to sugar, so understanding what foods cause significant blood sugar or blood glucose spikes is crucial.

Surprisingly, there are more than 60 different names for "sugar,” including cane sugar, dextrose, agave nectar, carob syrup, and corn syrup.

Limiting sugar intake requires active engagement in reading food labels, becoming familiar with different names for sugar listed in the ingredients, and consciously reducing and controlling sugar intake.

7 Tips for Managing Sugar Intake After Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery

7 tips for managing sugar

To help reduce sugar intake, here are some practical steps to follow:

  1. Read food labels: Choose products with no more than 3-5 grams of sugar per serving. Learn to identify hidden sources of sugar in processed foods.

  2. Avoid sugary beverages: Opt for sugar-free alternatives or infused waters to meet your hydration goals.

  3. Portion control: Practice portion control when eating foods that contain natural sugars, like fruits. While fruit is generally healthy, select fruits lower in sugar, such as berries, and limit servings to 1-2 per day. Avoid fruit juices.

  4. Use herbs and spices: Add flavor to your food and beverages without adding extra sugar.

  5. Monitor: Keep track of your sugar intake and pay attention to any symptoms.

  6. Sugar substitutes: If you consume sugar, avoid highly processed or fructose-containing sweeteners. Consider using sugar substitutes in moderation.

  7. Choose complex carbohydrates: Limit refined carbs and simple sugars. Consume foods that gradually release sugar into the bloodstream, such as whole grains, legumes, and vegetables.

Be proud of your decision to undergo metabolic and bariatric surgery, but also remember that achieving your goals requires active participation. Consult your dietitian and healthcare team for personalized advice and guidance tailored to your needs.


After metabolic and bariatric surgery, sugar intake should be carefully managed to ensure long-term success. While natural sugars from fruits can be enjoyed in moderation, avoiding excessive consumption of sugary foods, especially those high in simple sugars, is essential. These foods can trigger dumping syndrome, hinder weight loss efforts, and increase the risk of nutritional deficiencies and other health problems.

As you continue your weight loss journey, prioritize a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet. A nutritious diet should not be about deprivation, guilt, or punishment. Long-term success lies in consuming a diverse range of wholesome foods, controlling portion sizes, making wise choices, and working with your bariatric team for guidance. Embrace the positive changes and enjoy the journey towards a healthier, happier you!


  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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 bariatric surgeon or another qualified healthcare 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.

Dr. Lillian Craggs-Dino is a retained consultant for Bariatric Fusion.

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Dr. Lillian Craggs-Dino, DHA, RDN, LDN, CLT

Dr. Lillian Craggs-Dino is a nationally and internationally known Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist with more than 20 years professional experience in bariatric nutrition. She holds a Doctorate Degree in Health Administration from the University of Phoenix and a Master of Science degree in Dietetics and Nutrition from Florida International University. She is the Advanced Practitioner Level II Bariatric Dietitian and Support Group Coordinator for Cleveland Clinic Florida where she has had much success assisting patients with their nutritional and weight loss goals.

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