Wednesday July 24, 2024

Bariatric Surgery Pre-Op Diet

In the weeks leading up to bariatric surgery, you will be expected to start making changes in your diet. Although you may be tempted to fill up on all your favorite foods, this is not the time to splurge on your diet and let your health worsen. Your surgeon will put you on a special pre-op diet in order to get your body ready for surgery and make recovery easier.

Bariatric Pre-Op Diet

Most pre-surgery diets are high in protein and low in calories, fats, and carbohydrates.

The pre-surgery diet is designed to:

  • Reduce body fat in and around the liver
  • Preserve and protect muscle tissue
  • Improve surgical outcomes and recovery
  • Increase rate of weight loss
  • Prepare patients for the post-op diet

Importance of a High Protein Diet

High levels of protein are needed to preserve and protect the muscles and to keep the body from using muscle tissue for energy instead of excess fat when on a low calorie diet. Protein will also help the body heal and recover after surgery.

  • The typical pre-op diet will included 70 to 120 grams of protein each day.

Protein supplements are a primary part of the pre-op diet. Protein powders, such as Myocel, are specially formulated for bariatric patients to help lower fat content, maximize recovery, and promote weight loss. The protein powder can be mixed in with skim milk, water, fruit juice, or fat-free yogurt. Often, a patient will be placed on a full liquid protein diet for the last few days before surgery.

Importance of Losing Excess Fat Before Surgery

A reduced calorie diet is necessary for reducing fat levels in the surgical areas and to increase surgical safety.

  • The typical pre-op diet ranges from 800 to 1200 calories per day.

It is important to lose excess fat around the liver and stomach, as well as to help shrink the size of the liver. Reducing fatty triglycerides from around the liver and spleen helps reduce surgical bleeding. In some patients, surgery may have to be postponed if the liver is too large.

When to Start a Pre-Surgery Diet

The time frame for the pre-op diet will vary for each patient based on weight and type of bariatric procedure. For more involved procedures, such as gastric bypass and duodenal switch, the pre-op diet may start two to three months before surgery. For gastric band surgery, the pre-op diet may start only two to three weeks before surgery. Your surgeon will assess your situation and determine how much weight needs to be lost before surgery and the length of time needed to lose the necessary excess weight.

Pre-Surgery Dietary Guidelines

Pre-op diets will vary by surgeons, patients, and procedures, but general dietary guidelines for patients preparing for bariatric surgery include:

  • Protein supplements and/or protein powder
  • Healthy foods, such as yogurt, oatmeal, eggs, lean meats or fish, fruits and vegetables
  • Limit fats from the diet, including fatty meats, fried foods, whole dairy products
  • Limit foods high in carbohydrates, including bread and pasta
  • Limit sweets and sugary foods, including regular soda
  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages
  • Avoid binge eating
  • Your surgeon may have you discontinue certain over-the-counter or prescription medications

It is important to follow your surgeon's pre-op diet and nutritional guidelines to reduce surgical risks and improve recovery. It will also help you adjust to the post-op diet requirements and increase the rate of weight loss following surgery. Bariatric surgery will definitely change the way you eat after surgery, but the first step to better health starts before surgery is performed.

Related Articles


Very Berry Smoothie

1 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 cup skim or 1% milk
1/4 cup water

Put all ingredients into blender, cover, and mix on high until smooth.

Makes 1 serving
183 calories, 1 gram fat, 14 grams carbs, 4 grams fiber

Long-term weight loss following laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding surgery is approximately 50% to 60% over 5 years.