weight loss surgery diet
Many of us love to eat. It’s normal and natural to feel that way, and understandably, patients of
Birmingham Minimally Invasive Surgery often want to know more about what they will be able to eat if they have weight loss surgery. 

There is no doubt that what and how you eat will be different, starting before you have surgery and continuing after. And we’ll be honest — it is a challenge. But the more restricted phases don’t last forever, and many people find new ways of eating that they absolutely love. 

Typical Diet Before Weight Loss Surgery

We want to note that there will be variations in your diet depending on which specific weight loss surgery you are having, whether it be gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, or the LAP-BAND. But generally speaking, this is what you can expect.

We will help you make a plan for a special diet you will need to follow before surgery. This pre-op diet is geared toward reducing the amount of fat in and around your liver to reduce the risk of complications during surgery. 

Making changes in your diet before surgery will also help you start getting used to a new way of eating. This is a lifelong change, so the sooner you start, the better. Your new eating plan may begin as soon as you are cleared for the procedure.

Guidelines are individualized for each patient and surgery type, but may include the following:

  • Eliminating or decreasing saturated fats, such as whole milk products, fatty meat, and fried food
  • Eliminating or decreasing foods that are high in carbohydrates, such as sugary desserts, pasta, potatoes, and bread
  • Eliminating high-sugar beverages, such as juice and sodas
  • Practicing portion control
  • Avoiding binge eating
  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding alcoholic beverages and recreational drugs
  • Not drinking beverages with meals
  • Taking a daily multivitamin
  • Taking protein supplements

With your pre-op diet, you will likely drink protein shakes and eat other high-protein, low-calorie foods that are easy to digest. As you get closer to your surgery date, you may need to follow a mostly-liquid or liquid-only diet. Based on your weight and overall health, you may be able to eat some solids during this time, such as fish, watered-down hot cereal, or soft-boiled eggs.

Typical Diet After Weight Loss Surgery

With all of our weight loss surgeries, we are reducing the size of your stomach and therefore reducing the amount of food you can eat at one time and overall. In order to allow your stomach to heal and adjust properly immediately after surgery, you will be required to follow a post-op diet plan that can be broken down into four stages. 


Stage one begins right after surgery. During this time, you are restricted to clear liquids like water, broth, and unsweetened gelatin. This may sound like it will be challenging, but most patients experience little to no hunger the first few days after surgery. You will particularly be avoiding sugar, and carbonation, but you will consume a lot of liquids to stay hydrated. 

Protein-Rich Liquids

We will confirm when you are able to move to stage two, which is usually around five days after surgery. During this stage, you will introduce more liquids into your diet and begin drinking high protein shakes. You may experience an increase in appetite, but it is important that you stick to your diet plan and avoid solid food. Your body will not be able to handle it yet. 

Stage two food options may include: 

  • Thin broth and creamed soups (no chunks)
  • Sugar-free protein/nutrition shakes
  • Sugar-free nonfat yogurt or pudding
  • Thinned oatmeal

The goal of stage two is to make sure you are consuming the correct amount of protein and staying hydrated. You should try new foods at a slow pace and in accordance with your diet plan. Sugary liquids should still be avoided, along with carbonation, high fat options, and chunky foods. 

Pureed Soft Foods

You will become friends with your blender during this period. Once you are around two weeks post-surgery, you can begin incorporating pureed soft foods into your diet. The key here is to eat slowly and chew thoroughly. You may find that your tolerance for certain foods has changed, so you should take your time testing new options. 

At this stage, your food should be the consistency of a thick liquid or smooth paste. You should continue to avoid chunky or fatty foods, sugar, seasonings, starches, and fibrous vegetables like broccoli and asparagus.  

Stage three includes pureeing the following food items with water, skim milk, broth, or sugar-free juice: cooked vegetables, eggs, beans, lean ground meats, soft fruits, cottage cheese, plain yogurt. You will also continue drinking a lot of liquids to avoid dehydration. 

Solid Foods 

Finally, you’ll start getting back to normal, but it will be a new normal. With Dr. Long’s approval, you can begin the transition to eating soft, solid foods around four weeks after surgery. Make sure to test foods one at a time to determine what you can tolerate. 

Try to structure your meals with protein in mind. We recommend consuming around 60 grams of protein per day, which can be difficult if you fill up on other foods first. A daily protein shake, in addition to high protein foods like eggs and lean ground meat, will help you meet your recommended protein goals.

As you slowly start integrating solid foods into your diet, make sure to stick to healthy, easy-to-digest options. This includes things like chicken, fish, well-cooked vegetables, low-fat cheese, and fruit. 

Foods you should continue to avoid: 

  • Whole milk products 
  • Fried foods
  • Starchy items like pasta, white potatoes, and bread
  • Sugary drinks and snacks
  • Over-processed/packaged foods like potato chips 
  • Fibrous vegetables like celery, asparagus, and broccoli
  • Spicy or heavily seasoned foods

Once you have successfully incorporated solid foods back into your diet, it is important to continue making conscious food choices. The amount of food you eat throughout the day will be limited, so what you eat and how you eat is vital to staying on track.

Healthy Eating for a Lifetime

While it may sound impossible at the beginning of the journey, this general plan will be tailored to you individually, and it’s meant to set you up for short-term and long-term success. The diet will help you recover from surgery and transition to a way of eating that is healthy and supports your weight-loss goals. Most patients become very motivated to keep up the healthy habits they have learned, and we are confident that you will be too!

Let BMI Surgery Help You Learn New Healthy Eating Habits With Weight Loss Surgery

The caring group of professionals at Birmingham Minimally Invasive Surgery will help you get started on your weight loss journey and stay with you every step along the way. Dr. Long and his team specialize in all types of bariatric surgery, including gastric sleeve surgery, gastric bypass, and the LAP-BAND. Visit us today at http://www.bmisurgery.com/ or give us a call to set up a consultation at 205-833-6907.