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What Is the Best Diet before Bariatric Surgery?

By Jami Yontz
Updated May 17, 2024
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The best diet before bariatric surgery is a high protein, low calorie diet. This diet plan can last for four to 12 weeks in order to get a person’s body ready for weight loss surgery. Depending on the health of the person and the amount of weight the person needs to lose, the diet may be prescribed for a longer period of time or it could have stricter regulations.

A special diet before bariatric surgery is recommended for a few reasons. Usually, a person is required to lose a certain amount of his or her body weight, often 10 percent, prior to the procedure. Physicians and insurance companies want proof that the person can adhere to dietary restrictions because bariatric surgery is a life-changing procedure that will completely alter how much food a person can consume in the future.

Another reason for diet restrictions prior to surgery is that reducing a person’s weight and limiting intake of carbohydrates can help to reduce the size of the liver, which is positioned near the stomach. An enlarged liver can pose difficulties for the operating physician because there is risk of accidentally cutting it. The size of the person’s liver could also determine whether the person must have an open surgery or laproscopic procedure.

12 weeks prior to the procedure, a physician may begin recommending a diet that allows a person to consume 800 to 1,200 calories per day. The person should include 70 to 120 grams of protein in the new diet to help protect tissue, decrease the size of the liver, and aid in the healing process before and after surgery. Many people obtain this amount of protein in the form of protein powders mixed with milk or water. While on a diet before bariatric surgery, the person should eat fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat, and fish. He or she should limit carbohydrate intake, reduce the amount of high fat and sugary foods consumed, and stop drinking any alcoholic beverages.

A person on a diet before bariatric surgery should consult his or her physician about taking additional nutritional supplements to ensure that he or she is receiving the proper amount of nutrients each day. Most people will begin a completely liquid diet before bariatric surgery about two weeks before the procedure. Protein powders, fiber shakes, and meal replacement shakes are usually recommended during this time, and some physicians approve drinking broths as one of the patient's daily meals. The patient should consult a physician about the going on a restricted diet before a weight loss procedure.

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