Bariatric surgery is a life-saving procedure, from which you will lose weight, reduce your co-morbidities, and look and feel better. But in order to be successful long-term, you will have to change your diet. It sounds easy enough, but is it? Change is difficult, especially for those who have spent much of their lives without a healthy relationship with food. Having goals and a plan in place is essential to managing this change.
Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (RYGB), Sleeve Gastrectomy (SG), and Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch (BPD/DS) surgeries alter how the stomach handles food, creating restriction, malabsorption, or both, which means you will ingest less calories over time. After surgery, you will be given a post-surgery meal plan, and you will slowly increase your food intake as you progress through the various diet stages. Because the stomach is now smaller, it will take less calories for you to feel full. However, there is still a lot of confusion surrounding surgery and calorie intake after, so read on
There is a lot of information regarding how much and what you should eat after bariatric surgery. However, the specific number of calories to take in on a daily basis is not that simple. We do not yet have a validated predictive equation for estimating calorie requirements for patients after bariatric surgery. Therefore, any calorie targets you have been given or read about are not based on robust scientific evidence. Also, your calorie intake will change as the months go on after surgery. Portion sizes will begin to increase; this is expected and perfectly normal. You should be more focused on the quality of the foods you are choosing than the quantity. It's important to identify your new hunger cues, as well as your satiety cues. The focus should not be on counting the specific number of calories you consume, but on promoting a lifelong change, not just another unsustainable diet.
Bariatric surgery reduces the amount of food you can consume. However, it does not have an effect on the nutritional quality of the food you eat. Counting calories is not the most helpful, since the lowest calorie choices are not always the most nutritious. Because the quantity is restricted, we need to focus on making sure the quality is high. If you must have a calorie goal range to keep you on track, we have you covered.
Typical calorie intake for the first week after surgery is approximately 400 kcal/day. As previously mentioned, you will be provided with a post-surgery meal plan which will likely be entirely liquid to aid in the gastrointestinal healing process. Your diet will advance, and you will progress from pureed to soft foods before resuming a solid food diet. By weeks 3-4, your calorie range will be 600-800 kcal/day, and you should aim for 60-80 grams of protein per day. Several months after surgery, patients should consume 1,200-1,500 kcal/day, still focusing on 60-80 grams of protein per day. Most patients will be consuming approximately 1,500 to 1,800 kcal/day 6 months post-operatively and long-term. As you can see, your calorie intake will increase slightly as well.
And there you have it. This is your guide to calorie goals and eating guidelines after bariatric surgery. Although it may seem confusing at first, you will be absolutely fine as long as you follow this and listen to what your healthcare professionals advise. Please remember these are just guidelines. To achieve success on your wellness journey, you must find the guidelines that work best for you and your long-term success. Everyone's journey is different, and your guidelines may not be the same as someone else's.
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