If you’re 6+ months out from your bariatric surgery it’s time to focus on long-term sustainable weight loss. What worked immediately after surgery won’t work for long so you need to know how to adapt your diet for the next stage in your journey. Read this article to learn how to stick to your long term diet after bariatric surgery.
Your diet post-bariatric surgery evolves over time. How you eat right after surgery is not how you’ll eat 1 year out from surgery. How you eat 1 year out from surgery is not how you’ll eat 5 years out from surgery. As your weight loss progresses so will your diet and how you adapt over time will play a major role in your ongoing weight loss success.
Bariatric Surgery is a Process
The stages of post-op dieting can be broken down into 3 different stages:
Stage 1: Immediately Post-op Diet – This is your standard “4-Phase diet” which starts out with Liquids Only and progresses to solid foods as your stomach heals.
Stage 2: Long Term Diet – In this stage, you’re still working to reduce your excess body weight until you reach your goal weight.
Stage 3: Weight Maintenance Diet – Once you reach your goal weight your goal transitions from “weight loss” to “weight maintenance.” In weight maintenance, you want to neither gain nor lose weight.
How Stage 2 (the long term diet) is different from Stage 1 (the 4-phase diet, months 0-6)
The most important thing to do after your surgery is to develop long term dietary habits you can maintain easily.
The 4-phase diet is short-term. It’s merely a blip on the radar of your entire bariatric journey. You’ll lose weight during this time because you don’t feel well (you just had surgery) so you don’t have much of an appetite, and you’re living off of liquids and pureed foods for 2+ months.
Your long-term diet picks up after you’ve completed the 4-phase diet and lasts until you reach your goal weight. This is when the majority of the weight you lose happens.
Long-term Weight Loss Diet After Bariatric Surgery
During the long-term diet after bariatric surgery, you have not met your goal weight and you and your dietitian want to continue dieting for weight loss.
This phase of the journey is better described as a marathon, not a sprint. So finding sustainable and repeatable weight loss over time is the key to success during this stage. If you’re still chasing your goal weight, you want to get there as quickly and safely as possible.
Most bariatric clinics have a recommended calorie goal of 900 – 1,200 calories 6+ months after surgery until you reach your goal weight. Generally speaking, the most important parts of your diet that you need to track are total calories and total protein. As long as you meet those two goals on a daily basis you should see steady and reliable weight loss.
That said, there are a few more guidelines to help you stay on track, and here they are below.
What foods to eat?
Now we have to figure out what foods are going to set you up to actually meet these calorie and macronutrient goals. Since calories have to stay low, eating lean whole foods is going to keep you full and give you the nutrition you need.
- Lean meats like chicken, lean ground beef, turkey
- Al seafood and fish
- Cottage cheese
- Greek yogurt
- Protein bars
- Protein shakes
- Whole grains like brown rice, buckwheat, oatmeal
- Fruits and fibrous vegetables
- Olive oil
- Nuts and natural nut butters
- Fatty fish like salmon
Gastric bypass surgery does not reduce your body’s need to water, but it does make it harder to drink large quantities of water at once. Most people need approximately 64 ounces of water per day. In order to make sure that you get an adequate supply, try to slowly sip on a drink throughout most of the day.
The exception to this rule is the half-hour before and after meals since drinking then can interfere with your ability to eat adequately. Remember that many prepared drinks contain sugar or other undesirable ingredients, and that water or zero-calorie sports drinks are always the safest choices.
Need healthy recipes during the Log-Term Diet Stage?
Pick up a copy of The Bariatric Chef, an eCookbook designed for Bariatric patients who want sustainable weight loss while eating delicious foods. This unique digital cookbook includes 100 dietitian-created recipes for reaching your goal weight, staying there and living a healthy lifestyle.
The Bariatric Chef delivers on variety and at the same time carefully calculated nutritional information so that you can mix it up without the consequences of stalled weight loss. Seriously, who wants to eat the same thing day after day?
In fact, The Bariatric Chef does all of the work for you and delivers delicious meals with pre-calculated calories and macronutrients to keep you on track.
Consistency is Key
Everything that’s been discussed in this article: Energy Balance, Calories, Protein, Carbohydrates, Fats, eating the right foods…etc. is important. But none of it means anything if it’s not done consistently.
Following the protocols that are outlined in this article for a week, a month or even 6 months doesn’t mean anything if the rest of the time you’re NOT following the protocols.
This doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect 100% of the time. Attempting perfection is a 1-way ticket to burnout and hating your life. Seriously, perfection isn’t needed and it’s not even recommended.
Do what is said in this article 80% of the time and don’t let the remaining 20% fly out of control and you’ll get amazing results.
What’s your take on the Long Term Diet After Bariatric Surgery?
Let us know in the comments below!
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have. We cannot guarantee or promise any results. Nothing stated on this page and nothing in what we say or do can be construed as a guarantee about the outcome of the long-term diet after gastric bypass surgery. Our past or future comments about the outcome or opinions are not guarantees.