When Can I Have Coffee After Bariatric Surgery?

By Bari Life
Caffeine after gastric sleeve feature in line

Coffee is without a doubt one of the most consumed beverages around the world.

Just think about how many people probably start their day with a big cup of coffee every morning.

However, people who have undergone bariatric surgery will need to be careful with drinking coffee, both in the way they drink it and when they start drinking coffee again after their surgery.

The short answer:

It is recommended to wait at least 30 days post-op before introducing any kind of caffeine into your diet, which includes coffee.

Wait at least 30 days to have caffeine after gastric sleeve

Drinking coffee immediately after surgery is not recommended since the caffeine (which is a stimulant) can cause lower nutrient absorption, which is a major component of any bariatric surgery.

Eating or drinking anything that can cause your new and adjusting body to absorb fewer nutrients is not good. Following your surgery you will already be absorbing nutrients at a less efficient rate which is why you must take vitamins and minerals post-op for the rest of your life.

A typical cup (8oz) of regular coffee has about 95 – 200 mg of caffeine. Most healthy adults can consume 200-400 mg of caffeine daily with little to no issues.

However, someone who has undergone bariatric surgery is not a “normal” healthy adult, thus they will have to be more cautious with this number.

It can also cause mild dehydration, especially if consumed in large amounts throughout the day which can lead to a number of other issues if you’re not careful.

Due to the acidity, it can induce regurgitation, reflux, and indigestion for some people which can lead to damage in the esophagus and potentially lead to GERD.

Side effects of too much caffeine

Like with anything in life, too much caffeine can be an issue. Yes, caffeine does have several positive benefits, but one must not over-consume or they may experience some side effects.

Here are some side effects to consuming too much caffeine:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased feeling of anxiety
  • Feeling jittery
  • May cause diarrhea
  • May cause nausea
  • May cause difficulty sleeping
  • May cause headaches
Too Much CAFFEINE symptoms

How should your coffee look

Once you are able to start drinking coffee again it will probably look different than what you are used to.

After all, caffeine is not the only part of your morning coffee that you need to be wary of after bariatric surgery.

If you were used to that fancy special coffee from Starbucks, this might be a difficult adjustment for you.

Many of the most popular “dressed up” coffee drinks are loaded with cream, sugar, and calorie-dense flavorings.

Ahem…Caramel Macchiato (250 calories)

Starbucks caramel macchiato nutrition is horrible for after gastric sleeve

This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your morning coffee. It just means you need to make some meaningful modifications to keep you on track with your diet as well as keeping you healthy and not on caffeine overload.

Here are some tips for drinking coffee on a calorie budget:

  • Use non-fat or low-fat creamer
  • Use skim milk, almond milk, or oat milk
  • Leave off the toppings like whipped cream
  • Don’t add flavored syrups (or try these low calorie ones)
  • Drink it black (this could be hard if you aren’t use to it)
  • Order/drink a smaller size
  • Limit how many days a week you drink coffee
  • Limit how many times a day you drink coffee

The great thing about these tips is that you can stack them (use more than one) and you can apply them when ordering at the drive-thru or when you are making coffee at home.

Now, let’s take a look at some options from a couple of well-known coffee shops, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts.

Safe/Low Calorie Coffee Options (Good Options)

BrandBeverage NameCaloriesFatCarbohydratesPoteinSugars
StarbucksBlonde Roast Coffee - Black (8 oz)50g0g1g0g
StarbucksCappuccino with almond milk (8 oz)803g8g5g7g
StarbucksEspresso Macchiato152g0g1g0g
DunkinRegular black coffee with skim milk (medium)200g2g2g2g
DunkinIced Macchiato with skim milk (small)500g7g4g6g
DunkinIced Coffee with Oatmilk - Medium301g5g1g1g
Caribou CoffeeNorthern Lite Latte - Hot900.5g12g9g12g
Caribou CoffeeAmericano00g0g1g0g
Caribou CoffeeCold Press Latte905g10g1g9g

Bad/High-Calorie/High-Fat (Bad Options – Stay Away)

BrandBeverage NameCaloriesFatCarbohydratesPoteinSugars
StarbucksCinnamon Dolce Latte (16 oz)34013g44g12g41g
StarbucksWhite Chocolate Mocha (16 oz)43018g55g14g53g
StarbucksSalted Caramel Mocha47016g68g13g59g
DunkinButter Pecan Swirl Frozen Coffee with Cream (small)63022g103g6g97g
DunkinPumpkin spice signature latte with whole milk (medium)42014g59g12g55g
DunkinCappuccino with french vanilla swirl (large)3708g64g10g60g
Caribou CoffeeMalted Mocha66035g75g13g67g
Caribou CoffeeCaramel Cooler72027g85g4g96g
Caribou CoffeeCaramel Rise44023g46g9g39g

Hopefully you can tell which ones you should avoid just by looking at the calories alone.

You should never get that many calories from a drink, especially when you are on a bariatric diet.

You can also see that the “bad” options are extremely high in sugar as well, which can be addictive for a lot of patients, so tread carefully.

If you absolutely have to have one of the fancier coffees, then make sure to get the smallest size possible and use the above tips to help drive those calories down even more.

We aren’t saying that you will never be able to enjoy coffee again like you used to, but eating and drinking anything you wanted is what got you here in the first place.

So why not put your best foot forward and do everything in your power to make your coffee work to your benefit.

What about decaf coffee after bariatric surgery?

Decaf will still contain the same acidity that regular coffee has which can potentially lead to issues like acid reflux and GERD.

A positive for decaf coffee compared to regular coffee is since caffeine is virtually non-existent in decaf, you aren’t at that higher risk for decreased nutrient absorption.

The same rule applies here as it does with regular coffee. Just because it’s decaf does not mean you can add a bunch of unnecessary calories through creamer, sugar, or flavored syrups.

One of the most important things to consider after bariatric surgery is the fact that you have to stay hydrated and drink enough fluids every day.

The best way to do this is water, of course, but it is okay to add a small amount of coffee in if you absolutely need to.

Just remember, as with regular coffee, it is recommended that you wait at least 30 days after surgery before adding it back in.

The longer you wait the better because it will allow your body to fully recover and heal properly while decreasing the possibility of damage.

One good thing about decaf compared to regular coffee is that it won’t leave you feeling jittery or over-stimulated which means you can enjoy it later in the day without the possibility of it disrupting your sleep.

Key takeaways

First and foremost, always check with your doctor before making any decisions that you are uncertain about after surgery.

Make sure you are waiting at least 30 days post-op before introducing any coffee back into your daily life. The longer you wait the better because it will allow your body to heal properly. This goes for both regular and decaf.

Always try to make your coffee contain as few calories as possible, especially if you aren’t a black coffee drinker. Black coffee is by far the healthiest option but we understand that not everyone can handle the taste.

Use what we laid out in this article to make healthy informed choices.

Finally, if at any point you are finding that drinking coffee is causing you any kind of issues, please stop immediately and contact your doctor.

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What are your tips and tricks to post-bariatric success?

Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below – we want to hear from you!

2 comments

  1. We are told by psychologist that most cravings only last 20 minutes. So when that apple pie that I made for my children ( Sure, it was for the kids! ) is calling me, I find something to do that will take my mind off the pie and onto something else. I do a cleaning project, go outside, do an errand, anything to remove myself from the area of the food and concentrate on something else. I find that I forget about that pie! This has worked countless times over the years. If it works for those addicted to drugs, it can work for me. Try it, what do you have to lose?

    Another trick I use

  2. Great blog articles. I wish Bari Life shipped to the UK. The choice of bariatric foods and supplements for post-op here is very poor.

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