Know This Before (and after) You Have Bariatric Surgery

Know This Before (and after) You Have Bariatric Surgery

A trusted resource from UNJURY®, the protein brand recommended at All of America’s Top-Rated Hospitals.

Congratulations! You are taking an important step. Bariatric Surgery has helped hundreds of thousands of patients regain their health and live the life they’ve always wanted.

The patients who have the best results are the ones who focus on these things: protein, vitamins, fluids, exercise, mental health, and support.

Here’s what’s covered in this helpful guide:
  • What is the Pre-op diet for bariatric surgery?
  • How to follow the Post op diet stages for bariatric surgery.
  • What protein and vitamins are best after bariatric surgery?
  • Protein recipes for bariatric eating
  • How much protein do I need per day?
  • Lifelong Success for Bariatric Patients
What is the Pre-op Diet for bariatric surgery?

Most clinics require a 1-2 week, high-protein, low carbohydrate diet for liver shrinking prior to bariatric surgery. This can be a Full Liquid Diet that consists of protein shakes and soups or it might be a partial meal replacement diet that includes mostly protein shakes, but allows 1 whole food, balanced meal each day.

You should follow the guidelines provided by your clinic carefully. The purpose of the bariatric pre-op diet is to make the surgery as safe as possible for you and to set you up for success after surgery.

Here’s an example of a Pre-Op Meal Plan for bariatric surgery.

8:00am Breakfast – UNJURY® French Vanilla Protein Centric Meal Replacement

10:00am Snack – Sugar Free JELL-O

12:00pm Lunch – UNJURY® Martha's Chicken Soup Protein-Centric Meal Replacement

3:00pm Snack – UNJURY Ready to Drink Shake

6:00pm Dinner – 4-5 oz Lean Meat with Vegetables (if allowed by your clinic)

8:00pm Snack – Sugar Free Popsicle

12- 24 hours before surgery, the diet will change to include only clear liquids: broths, sugar free sports drinks, clear protein drinks and water.  Your clinic will provide detailed instructions.


Protein is essential during the Early Post-Surgery Stages. You can’t heal without it!

You should include high-quality protein at each meal during your post-surgery diet.

After bariatric surgery you’ll transition through 5 different stages of eating; from clear liquids to mushy foods, to finally resuming a normal healthy diet. It can take 30 to 60 days to make your way through all 5, post bariatric surgery eating stages. It’s important not to rush the process while your stomach is healing.

The first stage of the post-op diet is the clear liquid diet, followed by full liquids, pureed foods, soft or mushy foods, then finally solid foods.

Let’s take a look at some examples of what you can eat in each stage.

Stage 1: Clear Liquid Diet (1-3 days post-op)

The recommendations for clear liquids in the first few days post op can vary by practice. In some hospitals, UNJURY Ready to Drink Shakes (Full liquid) are provided on patient trays within the first 24hrs post-op.

Follow your clinic’s recommendations for clear liquid diet for the first couple of days after a gastric sleeve or gastric bypass surgery. 

Focus on clear drinks, soups and broths that are high protein, low in fat and low in sugar. Here are some ideas:

  • Broth and UNJURY® High protein soups
  • Clear Protein Drinks – UNJURY® Strawberry Lemonade
  • Water or zero calorie sports drinks, zero calorie flavored water

It’s important to sip water and other liquids throughout the day.  Dehydration after bariatric surgery is one of the most common causes of readmission to the hospital. 

Getting protein throughout the day will help you feel satiated, support healing, and aid in weight loss. You might experience low blood sugar after bariatric surgery if you don’t eat and drink every couple of hours.

*Protein shakes count toward your daily fluid intake goal.

Stage 2: Full Liquid Diet (2-7 days post-op)

You can continue eating everything listed in stage 1, plus non-clear liquids and protein shakes. They can be milk based or milk alternative. Here are some ideas:

  • Sugar Free Pudding – Protein Pudding or Gelato
  • Low fat cream soups
  • No sugar added Greek yogurt – add UNJURY® Protein Powder
  • Protein Fudgesicle
Stage 3: Pureed Foods (8-14 days post-op)

Pureed foods are soft foods that have been blended or pureed to the texture of baby food, with no lumps. You can add foods below to a blender and blend with water, broth, protein shakes, milk, or milk alternative. Here are some ideas for pureed foods:

  • UNJURY® Savory Protein Soup with 3 Tbsp dried potato flakes
  • Soft, cooked chicken or fish blended with broth
  • Soft scrambled eggs
  • Cream of wheat
  • Strained cream soups
  • Cottage cheese
  • Soft fruits blended with water and UNJURY® Strawberry Sorbet
  • Cooked vegetables blended with broth or UNJURY® Beef and Herb
Stage 4: Soft Foods (15-25 days post-op)

Around week 3 post-op, you will transition to soft or mushy foods. Soft foods are tender and easy to chew. Be sure to eat small pieces of food, and chew well. You want to turn soft food into pureed food by chewing thoroughly before you swallow. Here are some ideas for soft food:

  • Soft, ground lean meat or poultry (tuna or chicken in a can)
  • Baked or steamed white fish
  • Eggs
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cooked cereal
  • Canned or soft fresh fruit, without seeds or skin
  • Cooked vegetables
  • Protein shakes and soups
Stage 5: Solid Foods (25+ days post-op)

The final stage of the post-op bariatric surgery diet is solid food that includes plenty of high-quality protein.


Remember to put Protein First, and make protein a priority at every meal after bariatric surgery. Higher protein meals will help with healing after bariatric surgery, but that’s not all. 

Protein shakes, soups, and bars are important tools that gastric sleeve patients use to STAY healthy after surgery. They are not only used before surgery for the pre-op diet and during the post-op diet stages, they are unbeatable tools after surgery to help you maintain weight for the long-term.

Protein shakes are a very low calorie and low fat, healthy meal option that help patients make the most out of bariatric surgery.  Your long-term weight-loss results will depend on getting enough protein each day

How long do I need to use protein shakes?

Daily protein goals are forever!

  • You need at least 30 grams of high-quality protein, 3 times each day. Getting that much protein from solid foods can be difficult with such a small stomach. Some patients just don’t tolerate meat 3 times a day. Also, some protein sources add a lot of fat, carbs and calories. That means weight regain.
  • Muscle loss during the first year post-op (and beyond that as well) is a big problem. When you lose muscle, you burn fewer calories and that leads to weight regain.
  • A combination of solid food and protein shakes is the best long-term formula. The protein in UNJURY® is the best you can get for muscle synthesis.

Protein Intake after Bariatric Surgery: A Review : Bariatric Times

Physical Inactivity and Low Protein Intake: A Recipe for Disaster : Bariatric Times

Get Back to What Works – Unjury Protein

Does “Back on Solids” Equal Weight Gain? – Unjury Protein

Bariatric recipe books are a great resourcefor meal and snack ideas that you will help you stay on track with eating after gastric bypass and sleeve surgery.

The UNJURY® Protein Taste Success Recipe Book is a great place to find delicious, bariatric friendly recipes and ideas for getting high-protein meals and snacks that you’ll love. You’ll find recipes like bariatric pancakes and waffles, delicious high protein soups, and bariatric-friendly desserts.

You can still eat food that you enjoy after gastric bypass surgery, just be mindful of portion control and preparation.


Here are some High-Protein Meal Ideas to help you live the healthy lifestyle that you want for the long-term. 

Get Creative with Protein Powder

Bariatric Protein Powders make delicious smoothies and shakes, but they can be used in Sugar Free JELL-O, pudding, yogurt, soup, sauces, and to make protein waffles, pancakes, muffins and more.

Here are some of our favorite Bariatric Protein Recipes:

What is the best protein for weight loss patients?

Choosing High Protein Shakes and Powders for Bariatric Surgery Patients

Patients often ask the important question, “what’s the best protein for bariatric surgery patients?”

Most doctors and dietitians recommend whey protein isolate (“WPI”) because it has the best amino acid profile for maintaining your muscle and your metabolism. However, there are important quality differences – even among WPI based products.

A dietitian told us, “Patients who use UNJURY just seem to do better.” In another case, a hospital reported a patient deteriorated on one brand of WPI and improved dramatically on UNJURY®. The hospital repeated the test a year later with the same results.

Great taste is also an important factor in choosing a protein shake or powder after surgery. If you love the taste of your protein shake, you’ll be able to meet your protein goals each day, and get better results.

Remember: Quality Tastes Better. UNJURY® Protein is the highest-quality protein that you can buy anywhere, and patients love the way it tastes.

That’s why UNJURY® Protein is Recommended at All of America’s Top-Rated Hospitals.

Understanding Your Protein and Vitamin Needs After Surgery:

High protein foods for gastric sleeve and gastric bypass patients are essential for a safe surgery and long-term weight loss success. Protein supports muscle and muscle drives your metabolism. Following a high protein diet also helps with recovery and starts your weight loss journey off right.

How much protein do bariatric patients need?

You might hear people say 60-80 grams of protein each day. In recent years however, there is a large body of medical research saying that bariatric patients need even more. In the first weeks after surgery, your body needs a lot of protein to heal.

Then during the entire first year, when you are experiencing rapid weight loss, your protein needs are higher to help preserve muscle and maintain a healthy metabolism. Protein goals can vary per person, but here’s a good rule of thumb based on medical research.

Over the age of 40 and maybe earlier, we need “30-30-30”. That is 30 grams of protein, 3 times each day to maintain muscle. Bariatric patients, and anyone who is at risk for muscle loss, needs enough protein each day to rebuild what is being broken down during rapid weight loss. 30 grams or more is best to trigger muscle protein synthesis (rebuilding).

After exercise, it is also good to get in additional protein.


Meal plans designed for gastric sleeve and bypass patients are high in protein. It is recommended to get at least 30% of your daily calories from protein to meet weight loss goals.

High-quality protein with high Leucine, an amino acid building block, helps you to build and maintain lean muscle, support a healthy metabolism, reduce appetite, and promote healing after surgery.

Read more about Leucine

Besides High-Quality Protein Shakes, What Other Foods are Good Sources of Protein

Dairy, eggs, lean beef, pork loin, fish, chicken, and tofu can be incorporated into a nutritious, Very Low Calorie (VLCD) diet plan (consult your health professional about VLCD).  Lean meats are nutritious, low in fat, and packed with protein, however some bariatric patients might not tolerate meat 3 x a day.  That is why protein supplements are an important tool throughout your journey.

Can I take a regular vitamin after surgery?

Bariatric patients need bariatric-specific vitamins. Regular vitamins, even prenatal vitamins or double doses of regular daily vitamins, don’t meet the recommendations for bariatric patients after weight loss surgery. Bariatric Vitamins like Opurity® are the key to avoiding vitamin and mineral deficiencies that can lead to post-op complications.

After bariatric surgery, you won’t be able to eat enough food to meet your daily vitamin and mineral needs, and some surgeries limit nutrient absorption, so vitamins are essential.

Learn more about bariatric vitamins here:


The UNJURY® Bariatric Success Pyramid

Bariatric surgery is a very important tool for treating obesity, but the patients who are MOST successful with weight loss and long-term weight maintenance focus on all areas that are contributing to obesity.

There are 5 foundations to better health and weight loss results with bariatric surgery.

  1. Nutrition Education
  2. Quality Protein and Bariatric Vitamins
  3. Activity and Exercise
  4. Mental Health and Mindset
  5. Support and Self Care

Gastric sleeve and bypass surgeries are the best tools available to help patients lose weight and keep it off for good, but the surgery is not a cure for obesity. Adopting a new healthy lifestyle that includes diet and exercise, stress management, and a positive mindset are all keys to life-long weight maintenance.

Remember, support from your friends, family and medical team is also important. Bariatric Surgery Support Group Meetings are a great place to meet people who understand your story, and can help you navigate your new life. 

Medical research says that people who attend support groups are more successful with their weight loss in the short and long-term.   Here is a helpful resource for more support before and after bariatric surgery.

UNJURY Cares Support Groups

If you found this post helpful - Keep Reading! 

*This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult a qualified healthcare professional before making any dietary changes or for specific advice about how bariatric surgery can help you.

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