Our latest blog explains the value of a post-gastric sleeve diet and exercise plan. No weight loss surgery works in isolation and success depends on following any procedure with a comprehensive change in a patient’s relationship with food and fitness. If you’re wondering what to eat after gastric sleeve surgery or what level of exercise you should be doing, you’re in the right place.
Gastric sleeve surgery, or sleeve gastrectomy, is a weight loss procedure that reduces the stomach’s size by shaping it into a sleeve-like structure. Results vary from patient to patient but the operation can reduce the stomach to 15% of its original size. This successfully limits food intake and promotes weight loss by altering a patient’s digestive system. It is not, however, a magic bullet that works alone. In the following, we’ll share some of the changes patients need to put in place for long-term success.
With the smaller stomach that a gastric sleeve procedure gives you, it is more important to eat wisely. You will need to make sure you still get sufficient nutrients and avoid high-fat, high-sugar foods. We have included specific tips below but you can also read NHS gastric sleeve diet tips online.
A gastric sleeve diet plan is essential following any procedure. This can be broken into two clear categories. There will be initial, short-term guidelines to follow to ensure that healing from the procedure itself succeeds. The second category forms an ongoing, long-term lifestyle commitment. Here, the bariatric diet guidelines are essential to keep patients from regaining weight and in good general health moving forward.
In general, a normal post-bariatric surgery diet is liquid. Immediately after surgery, it is important to sip clear fluids such as water, black tea or coffee and diluted no-added-sugar cordial or squash. It is common to feel some discomfort, but it is important to keep hydrated. Once the surgical team has confirmed you’re ready, you can move to a liquid diet of soups and shakes.
After one or two weeks of liquids, you can add soft pureed food to the menu. This might include yoghurt, for example. Starting with 2 to 3 tablespoons of food each meal and increasing the amount slowly is beneficial. By week five, you should feel ready to eat soft foods and by week eight you should be tackling a normal diet.
Note these are general guidelines for information purposes only. We provide all patients with specifically tailored post-operative care which may vary from the above.
Once the initial recovery period is over, gastric sleeve patients have to make fundamental changes to their diets. Life after a gastric sleeve procedure means rethinking your regular diet and adopting a special post-bariatric surgery diet. There are no fixed rules but you should always aim for healthy, nutritious choices.
Some foods may become difficult to digest such as bread, pasta, rice, red or white meat and certain vegetables and fruit. You should also avoid any fizzy or carbonated drinks. Even low-calorie versions and sparkling water can cause discomfort in the stomach. It is important to take a gentle ‘trial and error’ approach to discovering your post-surgery preferences and tolerances. It is something you should discuss with your doctor or dietitian.
A smaller stomach means it can be harder to get enough nutrients into your body through food. As a result, it may be necessary to use supplements to replace some of the vitamins and minerals you require following surgery. Vitamin B12, folic acid, iron, calcium, and thiamine are some of the most common examples, but the list is long. Protein is also particularly important. Processed and high-calorie fast food is often short of nutrients, so this is best avoided. It is important to discuss your specific requirements with your doctor, dietician or nutritionist.
Signs that you are not getting enough nutrients from your diet include but are not limited to fatigue and weakness, dry skin and hair, loss of muscle mass, fluid retention and poor wound healing. You must take any of these symptoms seriously because they indicate nutritional supplements or other medical interventions might be required.
It can be a challenge to get enough fluid in the body following gastric sleeve surgery. This is because there is less room in a reduced stomach to hold liquid. To keep healthily hydrated it is important to sip water continually throughout the day and avoid drinking large amounts in one go or during meals. It is normally recommended that 48 ounces (1.5 litres) of water each day is sufficient to prevent dehydration.
Life after weight loss surgery means paying attention to signs of dehydration such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, lethargy and changes in your urine. It is also worth noting alcoholic drinks normally won’t help hydrate you. A smaller stomach also means your ability to digest alcohol is greatly reduced, making it best left out of your diet altogether.
The success of any diet after sleeve surgery depends on careful planning. Snacking and eating between meals fills the smaller stomach without necessarily providing the nutrients you need to lead a healthy life. Writing, and sticking to a gastric sleeve meal plan is vital.
Other food tips include dicing or chopping your food into small bite-sized pieces to avoid filling or even blocking your new smaller stomach. It is important to chew well and eat slowly at every meal too. Trying new foods needs a little care. Listen to your body and foods that ‘disagree’ with you or cause abdominal discomfort need to come off the menu. One final mealtime tip is to consider using smaller plates and utensils. This may fool the brain into thinking you are eating more than you are.
An active life is essential to maintain the weight loss that comes with a gastric bypass operation. Often a sedentary lifestyle was part of a patient’s problem before seeking help. This means a change is required following surgery. Patients, therefore, may feel motivated to start a new exercise regime straight away, however, we’d advise caution. Immediately after surgery, you need to let your body heal so it is important to go slowly.
It is undoubtedly sensible to limit exercise to low-impact exercises such as walking and swimming for the first month following your operation. You may also benefit from simple yoga poses, stretching, and deep breathing exercises during this period. There is a risk of overdoing things, so patience is probably a virtue as you plan your exercise regime. Building up to strength training and cardio workouts might take several months.
Everyone will be different, of course, and you should create a unique fitness routine that meets your needs but general advice includes aiming for 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week including a mix of aerobic exercises (walking, swimming) and strength training (lifting weights, resistance exercises).
Maintaining a consistent exercise routine will enhance metabolism, aid in weight loss, and improve muscle tone, but this doesn’t always mean a formal exercise plan. Simple lifestyle changes can also be incredibly helpful. Walking instead of riding a bus, for example, parking farther away from your destination or taking the stairs instead of the lift can all make a difference.
The most important advice to consider following a gastric sleeve procedure is to seek guidance from a healthcare professional or a certified trainer to make sure any exercise you undertake is safe and appropriate at all times.
A gastric sleeve procedure is a significant change to your lifestyle. Success depends on following any diet and exercise advice you are given. Things, however, change over time so it is important to attend regular follow-up appointments with healthcare providers to track your progress, address any concerns and adjust plans if needed.
Emotional and mental health support is also incredibly helpful. It pays to have this available from appropriate sources alongside purely medical interventions. Following a personalised plan that aligns with individual needs and goals can make a significant contribution to your overall well-being.
A gastric sleeve procedure is just the start of the journey to weight loss and a healthier society. By taking steps to make lasting changes to your exercise and diet regimes, you can go a long way towards sustainable success.