Your Diet Right After Bariatric Surgery

Your Diet Right After Bariatric Surgery

Level 1 at the Hospital

Immediately after surgery, you’ll follow the Level 1 clear liquid diet that’s prescribed by your surgeon. This is what will be provided for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the hospital following your surgery:

  • 4 ounces broth
  • 4 ounces protein juice
  • 4 ounces decaffeinated coffee/tea
  • 4 ounces sugar-free Jello

You CANNOT have the following immediately after surgery:

  • Soda or carbonated beverages
  • Cream or sugar for coffee
  • Salt packets
  • Lemon packets

In addition, you’re not allowed to use straws. It’s recommended that you SLOWLY sip the liquids provided.

Level 1 at Home

After you’re discharged from the hospital, you’ll continue a Level 1 clear liquid diet as prescribed for the type of surgery you had. This is usually 1 to 3 days for people who have had lap band surgery or laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, and up to 6 days for gastric bypass or duodenal switch surgeries.

You should eat about 4 times a day. Each meal should equal a TOTAL of 2 to 4 ounces (1/4 to 1/2 cup) of liquids.

Your at-home clear liquid diet may include:

  • Vegetable, chicken or beef broth (should be low-fat or fat-free). You can add in a beaten egg white or Eggbeaters to boiling broth for a healthy “egg drop” soup.
  • 100% clear fruit juice (apple, cranberry, grape) diluted with water (2 ounces of juice to 2 ounces of water)
  • Sugar-free Jello
  • Crystal Light or sugar-free drinks
  • Sugar-free popsicles
  • Decaffeinated coffee or decaffeinated tea WITHOUT creamer
  • Skim milk is allowed in coffee/tea and can be mixed with protein supplements; to maintain your health, it’s very important to drink your protein supplements
  • Sugar substitutes such as Splenda or Equal are allowed in moderation

It’s recommended that you SLOWLY sip liquids.

You CANNOT have the following:

  • Soda or carbonated beverages
  • Cream or sugar for coffee/tea
  • Fruit nectars or juices with pulp
  • Sports drinks such as Gatorade or Propel, or any drink with more than 5 calories per 8-ounce serving

Moving to Level 2

Your surgeon will let you know when it’s okay to move to a Level 2, full-liquid diet. You usually follow this diet for about 4 weeks after surgery.

What to expect

  • You should eat about 4 times a day and sip water throughout the day.
  • Each meal should equal a TOTAL of 2 to 4 ounces (1/4 to 1/2 cup) of liquids.
  • Take your time and drink/eat meals over 20 minutes; time yourself with a kitchen or phone timer.
  • Drink at least 1 high-protein supplement a day until you move toward protein intake of at least 40 to 60 grams of protein a day.   

A full-liquid diet includes:

  • Cream of wheat, cream of rice, plain, strained (baby) oatmeal, grits or farina; thin cereals with skim or 1% milk, as needed
  • Strained/pureed low-fat cream soups without chunks of meat or vegetables; thin soups with skim or 1% milk, as needed
  • Broth-based soup; add in a beaten egg white or Eggbeaters to boiling broth for a healthy “egg drop” soup
  • Sugar-free and low-fat or fat-free regular or Greek yogurt, without fruit
  • Unsweetened applesauce and fat-free or low-fat whipped cottage cheese or ricotta cheese, pureed together

You should avoid the following:

  • Fruit nectars or juices with pulp
  • Sports drinks such as Gatorade or Propel, or any drink with more than 5 calories per 8-ounce serving
  • Soda and carbonated beverages
  • Milkshakes
  • 2% or whole milk, cream, half and half
  • Alcohol

In addition, you shouldn’t have more than 8 to 16 ounces of regular coffee or tea. And, you can’t drink 15 minutes before a meal or for 30 to 60 minutes after a meal.

Updated June 6, 2016

Nicole Wright, RN, BNC - Virtua’s digestive health clinical navigator

Questions about weight-loss surgery?

Attend one of our FREE Weight-Loss Surgery Information Sessions or email Virtua’s digestive health clinical navigator at VirtuaBariatrics@virtua.org.


1-888-VIRTUA-3

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