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Do I have to be on a liquid diet before weight loss surgery?

By Karen Kelly, R.D. | July 30, 2021

Patients who plan to have gastric sleeve or bypass often ask if they have to go on a liquid diet before surgery.  When I say yes but only the day before the procedure, it’s often met with a look of surprise and then relief. A quick google search usually explains their reaction. Many websites discuss the dreaded 2-week liquid diet. Patients often express concern about how they’ll survive it. At New Jersey Bariatric Center, we do not require a liquid diet for an extended period of time. Our patients are advised to start the day before. Here’s why.

Extended liquid diets are not sustainable. They make you feel hungry and make the time before your surgery more stressful than it needs to be. We found that a lower calorie diet focused on protein is more sustainable. It also helps to create better habits for your life after surgery. We encourage healthy, low-calorie eating and meal planning from your very first appointment and provide the guidance to get your started. 

Pre-op Bariatric Diet 

We require you to be on a 1200-calorie meal plan two weeks before surgery, substituting one meal a day for a protein shake. Taking a protein shake as a meal replacement gets your body used to the shakes because for the first two weeks after your surgery they will be your primary source of nutrition. This meal plan encourages weight loss before your surgery, and the pre-surgery weight loss can help reduce the size of your liver in preparation for your procedure.

RELATED: Liquid Calories

Day Before Surgery

The day before your surgery, you are on a liquid diet starting at 1pm. This ensures that your stomach is completely empty by the time of your surgery the next day. This helps reduce the amount of stomach acid produced and decreases the chance of having complications. It’s important to follow the bariatric guidelines outlined before weight loss surgery to increase the chances of a better outcome.

If you have any questions about the preoperative process, meal plans or diets, always reach out and speak to your dietitian, navigator or surgeon. Give us a call at 908-481-1270 to make an appointment.

Karen Kelly, RD, is a registered dietitian at New Jersey Bariatric Center, a medical & surgical weight loss center with offices in Springfield, Somerville, Hoboken, East Brunswick, Hackettstown and Sparta, New Jersey. She provides pre-operative and post-operative nutritional counseling to New Jersey Bariatric Center’s Gastric Bypass, Gastric Sleeve, LAP-BAND (gastric band) and revision patients, in addition to dietary counseling for patients in our Medical Weight Loss program.
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