After metabolic and bariatric surgery (MBS), you commonly hear the term bariatric diet. This diet plan aims to support a safe and healthy post-op recovery that will assist in lifelong weight management.
When meal planning, the bariatric plate method can be utilized for portion control, prioritizing protein, and supporting healthy eating habits.
This blog discusses the bariatric plate method, what foods should be included in your diet plan, and proper portion sizes after MBS.
Typically, the bariatric diet consists of four diet phases following MBS. This includes:
Phase one typically lasts 1-2 weeks after surgery. The first couple of days initially post-op will include clear liquids only and slowly transition to full liquids throughout the week.
Clear liquids are sugar-free, caffeine-free, and carbonation-free options. This diet plan will give your stomach a couple of days to adjust before moving on to the full liquid diet. The full-liquid diet will start to include other fluid options, such as strained soups, sugar-free jello, and protein shakes.
Your dietitian will recommend an approved protein drink during the full liquid phase, such as Bariatric Fusion High Protein Meal Replacement Shakes, to support protein intake.*
The pureed diet will follow after a full liquid diet plan. Depending on your surgery, the pureed diet phase might only last a couple of days. Transitioning through the diet phases is based on tolerance to new foods and healing.
The pureed diet will include foods blended to a smooth texture to reintroduce your body to foods like yogurt and pureed lean meats.
The soft food diet plan is described exactly as it sounds, with whole food choices that are softer in texture. You will transition from the pureed diet to the soft diet around the one-month post-op mark.
This will include anything from the full liquid and pureed dietary options but will consist of fish, cottage cheese, eggs, beans, hummus, and cooked veggies.
This diet phase is the one-stop shop for the rest of your life. Your regular diet will introduce whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, non-starchy vegetables, and some fruits to balance your bariatric diet.
What is the Bariatric Plate Method?
The plate method is a dietary visual created for individuals with high cholesterol and high blood pressure, but it was revised to support long-term weight management and education for metabolic and bariatric surgery patients. (1)
The changes that were made heavily focus on protein first, followed by fruits, veggies, and whole grains.
Half of your plate should include lean protein foods, such as lean beef, poultry, pork, or fish. This would be around 3-4 oz of protein.
Non-starchy veggies should fill up 30% of your plate, such as cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, or peppers. A small portion of this section may include select fruits naturally lower in sugar. This section of your plate will provide the bulk of your vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Lastly, about 20% of your bariatric plate should be filled with starchy carbohydrates, like whole grains. This might include rice, pasta, bread, or cereals.
Typically, 1-2 tablespoons of healthy fat can be added to your plate for flavor. This would include oils and dressings.
If you need additional help portioning your meals, you can purchase portion control plates that will further assist in meal prep and help you avoid overeating.
This bariatric portion model does not reflect the percentages of macronutrients (protein, carb, fat). It is a visual model of how much of your 6-inch plate should be filled with specific food groups. Macronutrient percentages will differ based on how lean your meat choices are, what kind of veggies you are including, and what healthy fats you choose.
If you are looking to track macros, this can quickly be done using a food-tracking app or food journal to report to your dietitian.
Other Dietary Tips
After metabolic and bariatric surgery, these additional tips will support daily nutrition:
- Meet protein needs by prioritizing protein during every meal. The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) recommends 60-80 grams of protein for women and 80-100 grams for men. Dietary needs may be greater based on additional health concerns. To further support protein goals, add protein shakes throughout the day as needed or add unflavored protein powder to foods like applesauce and yogurt.*
- Don’t eat meals and drink fluids at the same time.
- Eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and stop eating when you feel full.
- Plan and meal prep for the week.
- Track your dietary intake to share with your dietitian.
- Follow low-fat and sugar-free dietary choices.
- Take bariatric-specific supplements for life.*
Metabolic and bariatric surgery is a proven remedy for obesity. To support healthy weight management for life, following bariatric dietary guidelines and exercise are essential.
There are tools to support long-term weight management, such as bariatric support groups, the bariatric plate method, medical support from your bariatric team, and access to a dietitian when needed.
Learning to make lifestyle changes takes time. Be patient, listen to your body, and reach out to your bariatric team if you need additional support.
- Arq Bras Cir Dig. 2018; 31(2): e1375 [PMID: 29972403]
*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.