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.

Though weight-loss surgery is a big life change, it doesn’t have to be difficult. At Advanced Laparoscopic Associates, we specialize in setting our patients up for success, such as putting 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 hold you back from the healthy 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. Approximately 80 percent of the stomach is removed, leaving it about the size and shape of a banana.

A smaller stomach holds less food, making you feel full quicker. However, what makes the sleeve gastrectomy different from other procedures, such as a gastric bypass or gastric band, 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. Less ghrelin can make sticking to a diet easier.

Because you’ll be eating less, you must eat the correct foods for proper nutrition. Bariatric surgery patients are at risk for certain vitamin imbalances. Deficiencies included:

  • Anemia
  • Folic acid
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D

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 kept more excess weight off at one year after a gastric sleeve procedure.

If you are living with obesity, you need to focus on losing as much weight as possible before your surgery. 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. Doing so involves 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-Gastric Sleeve Diet Phases

What Can I Eat After Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

Foods to eat after gastric sleeve surgery are added back into your diet in stages or phases. Although the number of stages differs from source to source, a good rule of thumb is four gastric sleeve diet phases, lasting from immediately after the surgery through the following month.

Phase One Diet: Week 1

Your post sleeve diet begins immediately in the hospital with phase one and lasts for approximately a week. Phase one is a clear liquid diet plan that takes into account the possible effects of anesthesia and discomfort after abdominal surgery.

A gastric sleeve clear liquid diet can include:

  • Broth
  • Decaf tea or coffee
  • Sugar-free gelatin (for example, sugar-free Jello)
  • Sugar-free popsicles

Caution! Foods to Avoid

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Sugar
  • Any food that requires chewing

Phase Two Diet: Week 2

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 added in.

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
  • Applesauce
  • Greek yogurt
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Pureed chicken or tuna
  • Baby food
  • Thin oatmeal
  • Fat-free, sugar-free ice cream or frozen yogurt

Phase Three Diet: Week 3

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.

Additions to your week 3 gastric sleeve diet include:

  • Eggs
  • Soft vegetables
  • Heartier soups
  • Cheese
  • Soft fish
  • Deli meat

Phase Four Diet: Week 4 and Beyond

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 certain foods.

Caution! Foods to Avoid

  • White bread
  • Fried food
  • Soda
  • Sweets
  • Processed food
  • High-fat, -sugar and -calorie foods

Eat Right for Results

Sticking to your gastric sleeve diet will have you well on your way to meeting your goals. It takes discipline and commitment, but you won’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. We make your post-surgery diet easy by offering nutritious options for all phases of your recovery. 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.

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