Bariatric Diet: What & How to Eat

Reviewed by: Nancy DeLuca, RD

The right bariatric diet and proper bariatric eating techniques can mean the difference between success and failure.  They will help you avoid complications and maximize short and long-term weight loss.

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Bariatric Diet Before Surgery



Getting into the right diet plan before surgery and sticking to it is important for 3 reasons…

  1. The higher your body mass index before surgery, the more likely you are to develop complications. Getting your diet in line well before surgery will bring down your BMI and reduce your risks.
  2. It gives your body the energy and nutrients it needs to heal from surgery and function properly during extreme weight loss.
  3. It helps to avoid bariatric surgery complications down the road while maximizing weight loss and maintenance1

Conventional wisdom may tell you, “You’re getting bariatric surgery soon, so now’s the time to live it up!”  But you must have the complete opposite mentality.

From the moment you begin to seriously consider weight loss surgery, your diet habits should change forever.  Consider the months leading up to surgery as a test. You are training yourself to have discipline with food and learning the motivation it will take to reach your goals.

The right bariatric surgeon will help.  Part of the process of choosing a good doctor is learning about the dietitian or nutritionist that they partner with or have on staff. The dietitian will talk with you about your diet history and will help you understand what kind of eater you are.

In addition to pointing you towards the bariatric treatment that will mold best to your habits, they will set you on an appropriate pre-bariatric surgery diet.

Their involvement is also important from a financial perspective. Many bariatric insurance providers require that you go through a medically-supervised weight loss program before they approve your surgery.

“…NO one last big unhealthy meal before surgery.”

Your pre-surgery bariatric diet will most likely be high-protein and low-carbohydrate with plenty of fluids. For the two weeks leading up to surgery, you’re bariatric diet will most likely be a liquid one and your daily calories will be at or below 1,000. To ensure you’re getting the right nutrients, your dietitian may also prescribe bariatric vitamins.

A high-protein/low-carbohydrate bariatric diet is important for 3 big reasons…

  1. Reduces bleeding
  2. Promotes healing
  3. Shrinks your liver – an enlarged liver can make surgery more difficult by blocking the surgeon’s view and increase the risk of your liver being damaged during surgery.2

We’re sorry to say that this means no “one last big unhealthy meal” before surgery.

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