Bariatric surgery is the most proven way to lose weight and keep it off long-term, but it’s only the beginning. A surgery like the gastric sleeve—the most popular weight loss surgery in the United States—requires a fundamental lifestyle shift, including how you eat.
Getting weight loss surgery is a big change, but that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult. At Advanced Laparoscopic Associates, we specialize in setting our patients up for success. That’s why we’ve put together this gastric sleeve diet guide. By following a sensible diet before and after gastric sleeve surgery, you won’t have to let your weight or your health hold you back from the life you deserve.
The Importance of Nutrition for Gastric Sleeve Surgery
The gastric sleeve procedure (also known as vertical gastric sleeve and sleeve gastrectomy) is a restrictive weight loss procedure. It works by removing approximately 80 percent of the stomach, leaving it roughly the size and shape of a banana.
A smaller stomach can hold less food, but what makes the sleeve gastrectomy different from another procedure, such as a gastric bypass or gastric band, is what gets removed during a sleeve gastrectomy. The true benefit to a gastric sleeve is the removal of cells that produce a hormone called ghrelin.
One of the roles of ghrelin, sometimes known as the hunger hormone, is signaling to your brain that your stomach is empty. In addition to causing feelings of hunger, it also promotes fat storage.
Losing ghrelin can make sticking to a diet easier, but because you’ll very likely be eating less, eating the right foods become all the more important. A small 2011 study found that up to 48 percent in the study were at risk for certain vitamin imbalances. Deficiencies included:
- Folic acid
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
Getting and staying healthy, both before and after gastric sleeve surgery, means eating right. We’ll show you how.
Gastric Sleeve Pre-op Diet
Your pre-surgery weight and body mass index (BMI) may influence your gastric sleeve’s success, according to a 2015 study published in Bariatric Surgical Practice and Patient Care. Researchers found that patients who had a BMI of less than 50 had kept more excess weight off at one year after a gastric sleeve procedure.
If you are obese, you should focus on losing as much as you can before you get to the operating room. Weight loss is a simple—though not easy—equation of calories in, calories out: If you burn more calories than you consume, you’ll lose weight. That usually means a combination of diet to reduce the number of calories you consume and exercise to increase the number of calories you burn. At Advanced Laparoscopic Associates, we have a team of nutritionists who can make sure your weight loss efforts are safe and effective.
Post-op Diet Phases
It can be helpful to think of a post-gastric sleeve diet in stages or phases based on the amount of time that has passed since the surgery. Although the number of stages differs from source to source, a good rule of thumb is four phases, lasting from immediately after the surgery until about a month later.
Phase One Diet
Phase one diet will begin in the hospital and last for approximately a week. It is a clear liquid diet plan that takes into account the possible effects of anesthesia and the discomfort that’s possible after abdominal surgery.
A clear liquid diet can include:
- Decaf tea or coffee
- Sugar-free popsicles
Alcohol, caffeine and excessive sugar should be avoided, as should any food that requires chewing.
Phase Two Diet
Most people are not hungry immediately after gastric sleeve surgery. When they do become hungry—about a week after surgery for most people—phase two begins. Phase two consists mostly of liquids with some very soft foods as well.
Protein is extremely important to the healing process. People in phase two should aim for between 60 and 80 grams of protein per day.
Foods to eat in phase two include:
- Protein shakes
- Thin soups
- Soft noodles in soup
- Diluted juice
- Greek yogurt
- Mashed potatoes
- Pureed chicken or tuna
- Baby food
- Thin oatmeal
- Fat-free, sugar-free ice cream or frozen yogurt
Phase Three Diet
Phase three begins the transition to solid foods. All foods from phases one and two are safe to eat. Protein continues to be important, so keep drinking your protein shakes.
New additions include:
- Soft vegetables
- Heartier soups
- Soft fish
- Deli meat
Phase Four Diet
Four to six weeks after surgery, most patients are ready to return to their (new) normal eating patterns. Solid food is safe by now, but to achieve the success you want from your gastric sleeve surgery, you should avoid:
- White bread
- Fried food
- Processed food
- High-fat, -sugar and -calorie foods
Eat Right for Results
The four-phase gastric sleeve diet will have you well on your way to meeting your goals. It takes discipline and commitment, but you don’t have to do it alone.
Advanced Laparoscopic Associates surgeons are pioneers in the field of laparoscopic weight loss surgery. We will be by your side every step of the way, from initial consultation to recovery and beyond. Our team of clinicians and nutritionists are always available to answer questions and make sure your weight loss is effective, safe and sustainable. Request an appointment today.