When Can I Eat Pasta After Gastric Sleeve? Answers From Bari Life

Written by Philip Duncan and medically reviewed by Dr. Stephen Boyce, MD

People all around the world love pasta and it is probably a part of most diets on a weekly basis, especially the standard American diet. However, if you are someone who has had gastric sleeve surgery, this is going to change for you.

Not only will you have to be mindful of when you can eat pasta again post-op, how you eat it is just as important.

Pasta by itself can be over 200 calories per serving, not to mention the high-calorie sauces that can be added. For this reason alone, bariatric patients have to be careful when eating pasta regardless if it’s going out to eat or cooking at home.

Now, let’s take a look at when you will be able to eat pasta again, how it should look, and ways to make it fit into your bariatric diet following surgery.

When can I eat pasta again?

When can I eat pasta after gastric sleeve first section

Immediately following surgery you will be placed on a specific 4-phase diet by your surgeon. Each phase is very specific and must be followed carefully to ensure success and limit the chances of post-op complications.

4 Phase Post-Bariatric Surgery Diet

The 4 Phases of this diet are:

Phase 1 – Liquids Only
Phase 2 – Pureed Foods
Phase 3 – Soft Solids
Phase 4 – Stabilization – full bariatric diet

As you can see, the first two phases will not allow for any pasta whatsoever since you will be on liquids only and then transition into pureed foods.

Phase 3 will have you reintroducing soft foods like greek yogurt, eggs, non-starchy vegetables, and some fruits. However, you will still need to avoid pasta in this phase as your body is still adjusting to the drastic changes, both dietary and lifestyle.

Finally, Phase 4 (12 weeks post-op) is where you will officially begin the last leg of your journey to your goal weight. This phase is the only one that will differ in length for everyone since no single person is on the same journey.

Don’t worry if it takes you longer than someone else, the ultimate goal is reaching your goal weight!

In this phase, you can start adding back in most foods like lean meats, all fruits, and vegetables, and yes… pasta!

However, you will want to go for whole wheat pasta or another healthier alternative and continue to steer clear of the starchy refined white pasta.

What exactly is a serving of pasta?

Since pasta comes in all shapes, sizes and forms it’s tough to decide exactly what constitutes a serving.

IT’s dangerous to use the “eyeball” method and weighing out dry pasta before you cook it can be cumbersome. For that reason here are some tables that convert a standard 2 oz. dry pasta serving into a serving you can measure with a measuring cup.

Long Shape Pasta

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Short Shape Pasta

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So now you can use this to accurately and quickly measure your own serving.

If you’re cooking for the family, measure out your cooked serving so you can know exactly how much pasta you’re eating. This is the only way you can keep track of your pasta calories.

(P.S. these are all taken from the Barilla website.)

Pasta is not inherently bad but the carbs add up

Pasta isn’t exactly a bad food or an unhealthy choice. However, it does contain a high amount of carbohydrates which will have to be limited post-op, especially during your 4-phase diet.

For each gram of carbohydrate, a food contains, it yields 4 calories. So for example, if one serving of pasta (2oz dry) has around 40g of carbohydrates, then it will automatically be at least 160 calories.

160 calories isn’t a huge amount by itself, but chances are your pasta meal will include other components like sides, sauces, and salad which will undoubtedly contribute to your total carbs and total calories.

Plain noodles don't have extra calories from sauce and protein

Since you will be on liquids only in phase 1 limiting carbs will be easier since the liquid phase is the most calorie-restricted phase after surgery. However, once you transition into phase 2, 3, and 4 you will have to be more cautious since you will be eating more food in each phase.

In all three of these phases, you will have to limit your carbs to 30-60 grams per day, which as you can see can be difficult to do if you are eating over half of that in a single serving of pasta.

Not all pasta is created equal

We can assume that most people probably don’t eat just plain pasta noodles with nothing on them. They would be sticky and hard to eat, and there wouldn’t be any flavor.

What’s the point of eating pasta if it doesn’t taste good?

That’s a really good question, but we must understand that with flavor comes extra calories…

Let’s take a look at a few popular pasta dishes from a well known restaurant and how they breakdown nutritionally:

Lunch portion Fettuccini Alfredo (Olive Garden)

  • 650 calories
  • 45g fat
  • 47g carbs
  • 15g protein

Lunch portion Spaghetti and Meatballs (Olive Garden)

  • 680 calories
  • 38g fat
  • 56g carbs
  • 30g protein

Dinner portion Classic Lasagna (Olive Garden)

  • 930 calories
  • 53g fat
  • 56g carbs
  • 58g protein

Dinner portion Chicken Scampi (Olive Garden)

  • 1260 calories
  • 72g fat
  • 105g carbs
  • 49g protein

As you can see from the above options, regardless of lunch size or dinner size, pasta dishes can have TONS of calories and can be really high in fat.

If you aren’t careful, you can blow your diet in one sitting.

Now, there are healthier/smarter choices that you can choose, you just have to be mindful and willing to make smarter choices.

Let’s take a look at healthier options:

Create your own pasta – Angel hair with marinara (Olive Garden)

  • 540 calories
  • 12.5g fat
  • 89g carb
  • 15g protein

Dinner portion Shrimp Scampi (Olive Garden)

  • 510 calories
  • 20g fat
  • 54g carbs
  • 29g protein

Lunch portion Shrimp Scampi (Olive Garden)

  • 480 calories
  • 19g fat
  • 53g carbs
  • 20g protein

Lunch portion Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce (Olive Garden)

  • 310 calories
  • 7g fat
  • 53g carbs
  • 9g protein

Since the lunch portions are a much better choice, if you are eating out for dinner, you can always ask if you can substitute for the lunch size since you are a bariatric patient.

You will be surprised how accommodating restaurants will be, so don’t be afraid to ask.

After all, this is your health we are talking about!

Healthy at-home pasta selections

You may or may not know this, but refined white pasta is not your only choice when it comes to grocery shopping for pasta.

There are many healthier options available that we suggest you give a try.

Here are some of the more popular alternatives to refined white pasta:

  • Whole grain pasta
  • Egg noodles
  • Chickpea pasta
  • Red lentil pasta
  • Veggie pasta

Let’s take a look at each one of these nutritionally and how they compare to standard refined white pasta.

Whole grain spaghetti vs White spaghetti (2 oz dry)

  • Calories: 180 vs 200
  • Protein: 8g vs 7g:
  • Carbs: 39g vs 42g
  • Fat: 1.5g vs 1g

Chickpea rotini vs White rotini (2oz dry)

  • Calories: 190 vs 200
  • Protein: 11g vs 7g
  • Carbs: 34g vs 42g
  • Fat: 3.5g vs 1g

Red lentil spaghetti vs White spaghetti (2oz dry)

  • Calories: 180 vs 200
  • Protein: 13g vs 7g
  • Carbs: 34g vs 42g
  • Fat: 1.5g vs 1g

Veggie spaghetti vs White spaghetti (2oz dry)

  • Calories: 200 vs 200
  • Protein: 8g vs 7g
  • Carbs: 41g vs 42g
  • Fat: 1g vs 1g

Egg noodles vs White spaghetti (2oz dry)

  • Calories: 200 vs 200
  • Protein: 8g vs 7g
  • Carbs: 40g vs 42g
  • Fat: 1g vs 1g

Although you won’t see huge differences in these compared to refined white pasta you can see that they all have higher protein and all but one have fewer calories.

Not only that, but each above option will provide you with more nutrients and better overall quality.

Healthy sauces

Now that we have shown you your options for both eating out and eating at home, let’s take a look at some store-bought sauces and how to know if you’re buying the right one so that you keep your calories low enough to stay within your daily calorie goal.

Here a few that would be great additions to your pasta:

Barilla – Marinara (per ½ cup serving)

  • 50 calories
  • 1g fat
  • 11g carbs
  • 2g protein

Barilla – Fire-roasted tomato sauce (per ½ cup serving)

  • 45 calories
  • 1g fat
  • 9g carbs
  • 2g protein

Barilla – Tomato basil sauce (per ½ cup serving)

  • 50 calories
  • 1g fat
  • 10g carb
  • 2g protein

All of these options will provide more than enough flavor without adding on a ton of unwanted calories.

Now, let’s take a look at the other side.

Here are some sauces to avoid:

Barilla – Creamy pesto sauce (per ½ cup serving)

  • 620 calories
  • 58g fat
  • 16g carbs
  • 6g protein

Ragu – Classic alfredo sauce (per ½ cup serving)

  • 180 calories
  • 18g fat
  • 4g carbs
  • 2g protein

Ragu – Creamy basil alfredo sauce (per ½ cup serving)

  • 180 calories
  • 16g fat
  • 6g carbs
  • 2g protein

Bertolli – Creamy vodka sauce (per ½ cup serving)

  • 140 calories
  • 10g fat
  • 10g carbs
  • 3g protein

Protein options

Pasta is simply all carbohydrates and if you’ve had bariatric surgery that’s simply not enough. You need protein, too.

But a common problem arises with pasta – most protein that is added to pasta at restaurants are high-fat cuts of beef, sausage, or other butter-basted options that blow the total fat content out of the water.

But that doesn’t change the fact that you, as a bariatric patient, need protein to maintain weight loss and lean body mass.

Protein is extremely important for bariatric patients as it helps aid in lean muscle growth and maintenance as well as provides a feeling of satiety.

Here, we are going to look at some healthier protein options compared to the standard 80/20 ground beef that you should consider when cooking at home or eating out.

Protein options (per serving):

93/7 Ground beef vs 80/20 Ground beef

  • Calories: 170 vs 280
  • Fat: 8g vs 22g
  • Carbs: 0g vs 0g
  • Protein: 24g vs 19g

93/7 Ground turkey vs 80/20 Ground beef

  • Calories: 160 vs 280
  • Fat: 8g vs 22g
  • Carbs: 0g vs 0g
  • Protein: 22g vs 19g

Lean ground chicken vs 80/20 Ground beef

  • Calories: 170 vs 280
  • Fat: 9g vs 22g
  • Carbs: 0g vs 0g
  • Protein: 22g vs 19g

Shrimp vs 80/20 Ground beef

  • Calories: 85 vs 280
  • Fat: 1g vs 22g
  • Carbs: 0g vs 0g
  • Protein: 20g vs 19g

Yes, it’s true that fat makes things taste better and adds lots of flavor. However, we don’t think that a little more flavor is worth the extra calories that come with fat.

After all, 1 gram of fat (9) yields twice the amount of calories as carbs (4) and protein (4).

The bottom line

Protein is a very important part of the post-op bariatric diet but you still have to be mindful of which protein source you choose. We provided you with several great options above but we are sure you can find some others.

You should never eat pasta before you are in your final phase of the 4-phase post-op diet, and even then you need to be careful how you introduce it back in.

Remember, after surgery, you will need to take smaller bites and make sure to chew each bite thoroughly before swallowing. Failure to do so with pasta can result in the blocking of the small hole leading into the stomach which can cause issues.

Make sure you are always being mindful of the calories that come with eating pasta and do your best to make the healthiest low-calorie choice possible.


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One comment

  1. What about taking home most of the restaurant food? Is that too insane of an option. And what about making your own sauce at home? We just had surgery so maybe advocate for some actual lifestyle changes instead of pushing prepared and processed foods.

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