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Let's Talk Calories and Nutrition Goals

Let's Talk Calories and Nutrition Goals

After the initial adjustment to bariatric surgery takes place, we answer a lot of questions about how many calories each day should be consumed or why a weight loss stall might be happening. 

Here is a summary of the nutrition information found in the Nutrition Guidelines After Surgery book with some additional details on the importance of reaching these goals.

This information can be used to help you stay on track after surgery. Utilizing a cell phone app like Baritastic can be a great tool to help you keep track of the numbers explained below.

Calorie Goals

It is important to make sure you are still getting enough calories to support your body as you lose weight after surgery. The goal is to still consume between 800-1200 calories each day. This is after factoring in calories lost from exercise.

Eating less than 800 calories each day will cause you to lose more muscle weight compared to fat weight. This causes weakness, fatigue, and a slower metabolism resulting in weight loss stalls. 

In the first few months after bariatric surgery, you will likely be unable to reach this goal. Don’t worry though! It is important to slowly work towards consuming 800-1200 calories in a day, and this may take several months. One way to help increase your total calories is by making sure you incorporate those 3 servings of healthy fats each day.

Healthy Fats

Healthy fats help to increase your total calories for the day when you are really limited on space and get full quickly. Some examples include avocado, olives, nuts, seeds, and extra virgin olive oil. 

One serving of healthy fats is about 1 Tablespoon with each meal. You could also add 1 tablespoon of almond butter to your protein shake to help sneak in some extra healthy fats into the day if you find it challenging to incorporate all 3 servings with meals. 

Protein Goals

Protein is a key part of a balanced diet. It is the building blocks your body needs for growth and repair, and also helps prevent the loss of muscle. 

Getting enough protein will help support long term fat loss and weight maintenance. Eating enough protein will also make sure that wounds heal well and lower the risk of infection. 

You are encouraged to always eat your protein foods first and use protein supplements between meals to help meet your daily protein goal.

For women having the Sleeve or Gastric Bypass, we recommend consuming 60-80 grams of protein daily. For men, we recommend 80-100 grams of protein daily regardless of surgery choice. And for all individuals having the LOOP or Standard Duodenal Switch or Revision surgeries, we also recommend consuming 80-100 grams of protein each day.

Carbohydrate Goals

Carbohydrates are the starches and sugars in foods. After surgery, you will only eat small amounts of carbohydrates. These carbohydrates should come from healthy foods like vegetables, fruits and low fat dairy.  

You will need to limit starchy carbohydrates and sugar to boost fat loss, avoid getting sick and/or having food get stuck in the opening of your new pouch. 

While someone is in the weight loss phase after surgery, the goal is to consume less than 50 grams of total carbohydrates each day. Once someone is ready to begin to maintain their weight and have more space for fiber, the goal is to consume less than 50 grams of net carbohydrates each day.

Net carbohydrates are calculated by subtracting the fiber grams from the total grams of carbohydrates on the label. We suggest keeping this less than 15 grams per serving. 

Total Sugar

High sugar foods and drinks, when consumed in excess, will lead to weight loss stalls and weight regain. It is important to always keep total sugar under 25 grams each day from all foods and drinks combined.

Utilizing sugar-free beverages and water is a great way to stay hydrated without adding extra sugar into the diet.

When adding sweetness to beverages, try to use Stevia or Monk Fruit sweeteners instead of Splenda, Equal and Sweet and Low whenever possible. Splenda, Equal and Sweet and Low are 400-700 times sweeter than actual sugar, and can contribute to sugar cravings. It is important to be mindful of reading nutrition labels as well.

Fluid Goals

Staying hydrated is very important for everyone, regardless of surgery. However, after bariatric surgery, you have probably seen how challenging it can be to get enough water each day. This is why it is so important to have a water bottle or sugar-free  drink close by at all times to slowly sip throughout the day (just not with meals).

The goal is to drink at least 64 ounces of water or sugar-free drinks each day. These drinks should not contain caffeine or carbonation. Having 1 cup of coffee each day is okay once you are 1 month out from your surgery date, however this does not count towards your fluid goal. 

Additionally, even diet carbonated drinks like diet soda, soda zero and all types of sparkling or mineral water are never recommended after surgery and should be completely avoided.

Katie Ott, MS, RD

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