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How Do I Make Lifestyle Changes After Weight Loss Surgery


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Dietary Changes

Weight loss surgery requires some serious dietary changes to guarantee success. This surgery impacts one’s eating habits, and one has to relearn how to eat according to their new stomach.

Portion Control

For the initial days following the surgery, one is on a pureed diet. Slowly, one shifts to a low-fat, healthy diet. Here is where portion control after gastric sleeve becomes crucial.

The main reasons to exercise portion control are –

  • To avoid feeling nauseous
  • To prevent stretching of the stomach pouch

Eating according to one’s level of physical activity is important. Focus on nutrient-rich eating.

Meal Planning

Another significant change that comes into daily life is the introduction of some serious meal planning. One has to prep meals in advance as it becomes important to eat right and at the right time.

  • Meal planning helps make better food choices and helps stay away from binging on junk food.
  • It gives you the flexibility of cooking the right amount of food needed.
  • A balanced diet, inclusive of a variety of fruits and vegetables, is easily possible for a meal planner.

Eating Right After Weight Loss Surgery

  • A person goes through 4 stages of a diet after gastric sleeve surgery. Sticking to the post-op sleeve gastrectomy diet is crucial.
  • Certain things like sugar, carbonated beverages like sodas, processed food and all forms of junk food are much discouraged.
  • Consuming seasonal fruits, drinking water and maintaining protein intake from healthy foods is the right way to go.

Lifestyle Changes After Bariatric Surgery

Foods to Avoid Post VSG

It is strongly recommended not to get calories from drinks. Some things to avoid are1

  • Sugary snacks
  • Deep fried food
  • Desserts
  • Calorie loaded food
  • Heavily salted foods like potato chips

After gastric sleeve surgery, one has to make a shift from calorie-rich food to nutrient-rich food.

Proper Fluid Intake

  • Water is needed to sustain life. If a person is not drinking enough water, it can lead to severe dehydration and maybe even hospitalization.
  • It is essential to drink enough fluid to avoid constipation and kidney stones. 64 oz of water is the suggested amount of liquid, initially.
  • Proper water intake is essential, especially after weight loss surgery, because it helps in healing and keeps the immune system healthy.
  • The 30-Minute Drinking Rule has to be adhered to while following the diet after bariatric surgery. This means no fluid intake 30 minutes before and after a meal.

A 2016 study shows that 10.54% of the patients are readmitted after bariatric surgery due to dehydration.2

General Eating Habits Post VSG

  • It becomes necessary to eat slowly, after thoroughly chewing the food. Dining at the usual pace can cause nausea or bloating.
  • It is recommended to have 1-2 bites per minute to avoid any discomfort.
  • Special attention needs to be given to the consumption of proteins, as intolerance to high protein foods can cause protein malnutrition. In such cases, it is beneficial to take the help of a registered dietician.3

Nutritional Needs After Gastric Sleeve

Maintaining Good Health Post WLS

The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery states that specific nutritional and dietary guidelines are crucial to maintain optimum health after weight loss surgery.4

Taking Vitamin and Nutrient Supplements

  • After bariatric surgery, one needs to be very vigilant with their daily supplements.
  • Bariatric patients are required to take multivitamins and doses of Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron and Vitamin B12.
  • This is a lifetime commitment.

Importance of Proteins Post Sleeve Gastrectomy

  • To be able to heal faster and to feel fuller, 60g-80g of protein has to be consumed every day.
  • Protein supplements help repair the muscle tissue and maintain weight loss as well.5

Changes in Physical Activity

Regular Workouts

It is vital to incorporate working out in one’s daily routine to have a successful weight loss surgery. Find an exercise that works well and won’t cause any injury or pain.

Resistance Training

  • Females have less muscle mass, and so one has to rely on resistance training after bariatric surgery.
  • 30 minutes on the treadmill may not be enough.
  • Try adding some hand weights for resistance and to build lean muscle mass.
  • For instance, try adding 1-2 lb. ankle weights or the wrist weights to add those lean muscles.
  • One can walk wearing these items, and even this little bit of extra weight makes a big difference by raising one’s metabolic rate.
  • According to, make sure you strength train at least once a week and keep a gap of at least two days between your strength training sessions.

Amount of Exercise

Lifestyle Changes Post WLS

  • It is essential to exercise, gradually increasing the duration and level. Walking, swimming and yoga are good exercises for beginners as it is not easy to suddenly increase the level of activity.
  • The American Association of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. However, Cleveland Clinic suggests no strength training for at least the first three months after surgery.

Overcoming Weight Loss Plateaus

Know that weight loss stalls are standard after bariatric surgery. It can last for a few weeks but can easily stretch to a few months if one does not follow the right diet and exercise regime.

There can be many reasons for weight loss stalls post-bariatric surgery. Lack of fluid balance in the body and a low metabolism rate are some common causes.

It becomes essential to stick to your diet and increase water intake. Protein intake also becomes crucial. Eating a fair share of fruits and veggies is also needed.

Mental Health

It is important to mentally prepare oneself for the significant change that comes with weight loss surgery. This is why one should carry out some research on what to expect post-op.

Online and Offline Support

  • After the surgery comes the hard part. One has to change their way of living. It becomes important to be in good mental health as that helps heal the body quicker.
  • There are many online support groups one can join. Support groups come with many advantages. Not only does one come across people who have been or are going through the same experience, but you also meet a bunch of people who will keep you motivated and focused.
  • It is the same with offline groups. Bariatric patients can form a local neighborhood society and come together once a week or month and share their good and bad experiences.
  • This lets people know that they are not alone.

Post-op Counselling

Research shows that people suffering from morbid obesity also go through psychological co-morbidities like mood disorders, eating disorder and stress. Both pre-op and post-op counseling can be beneficial to improve the patient’s mental health.6

Benefits of Counselling

Controlling Snacking and Emotional Eating

Firstly, one needs to identify the cause of hunger. Is it physical or is it emotional? Not only will overeating cause the new stomach pouch to expand, but it also causes one to feel nauseous.

A Mayo Clinic report says that there is a powerful connection between mood, food, and weight loss. Things like relationship conflicts, stress, and health problems are triggers that can cause emotional eating and weight gain.7

Some good ways of controlling snacking and binge eating are –

  • Maintain a food diary
  • Reduce stress
  • Confide in friends and family for support
  • Eat healthily
  • Keep busy
  • Therapy

Making Better Life Choices

Undergoing gastric sleeve surgery means continuously making better life choices.

Better Life Choices After Gastric Sleeve Surgery

No Smoking or Drinking

One should not drink alcohol after weight loss surgery as it contains calories but hardly any nutrition. After the surgery, alcohol is absorbed more quickly by the body. This means that even a small amount of alcohol has a substantial effect on the patient.4 After surgery, men are more likely to develop an unhealthy dependence on alcohol.8

Smoking slows gastric emptying of solids and can enhance nausea and vomiting that occurs after the IB procedure.9

Drinking, alcohol, and smoking carry independent health risks as well. So, it is better to stay away from them.

Pregnancy after Bariatric Surgery

Generally, it is recommended to wait for about 18 months after the surgery to get pregnant.

While studies show that bariatric surgery can potentially improve fertility in obese women, patients are advised against pregnancy because their body is in the weight loss mode and they are not able to consume enough calories to even sustain the baby.10

Follow up Appointments Post Weight Loss Surgery

It is important to be particular about follow-up appointments after any bariatric procedure. This helps detect potential health issues well in time.11

Another change accompanying weight loss surgery is to get blood tests done every six months to keep a tab on one’s nutritional deficiencies.


  1. Zawn Villines, Medical News Today. “What to eat and avoid on the gastric sleeve diet.” (2017) 23 July 2018.
  2. Aman MW, Stem M et al. “Early Hospital Readmission After Bariatric SurgerySurgical Endoscopy (2016): 2231-8. 23 July 2018.
  3. Johnson Stoklossa, Carlene, and Suneet Atwal. “Nutrition Care for Patients with Weight Regain after Bariatric Surgery.” Gastroenterology Research and Practice 2013 (2013): 256145. PMC. Web. 24 July 2018.
  4. American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. “Life After Bariatric Surgery
  5. Steenackers N, Gesquiere I et al. “The relevance of dietary protein after bariatric surgery: what do we know?” Current Opinion in Clinical Nutritional and Metabolic Care (2018): 58-63
  6. Jumbe, Sandra, Claire Hamlet, and Jane Meyrick. “Psychological Aspects of Bariatric Surgery as a Treatment for Obesity.” Current Obesity Reports1 (2017): 71–78. PMC. Web. 24 July 2018.
  7. Mayo Clinic. “Weight Loss: Gain Control of Emotional Eating” 24 July 2018.
  8. GREGORIO, Valeria Duarte et al. “THE ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION IS AMENDED AFTER BARIATRIC SURGERY? AN INTEGRATIVE REVIEW.” Arquivos Brasileiros de Cirurgia Digestiva : ABCDSuppl 1 (2016): 111–115. PMC. Web. 24 July 2018.
  9. Maniscalco, Mauro et al. “Smoking Habit in Severe Obese after Bariatric Procedures.” Tobacco Induced Diseases1 (2015): 20. PMC. Web. 24 July 2018.
  10. Slater, Christopher, et al. “Nutrition in Pregnancy Following Bariatric Surgery.” Nutrients 12 (2017): 1338. PMC. Web. 24 July 2018.
  11. Mayo Clinic. “Bariatric Surgery: Tests and Procedures.” 24 July 2018.
Updated on December 1, 2018

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