3 Questions You May Have After Bariatric Surgery

You’re likely to have many questions for your doctor before surgery. Even so, you’ll likely develop new questions as you progress through your recovery. Some of the most common questions revolve around food, exercise, and recovery time. While your questions may seem like they have simple answers, that isn’t always the case. The following are some common questions that arise after bariatric surgery.

When Can I Drink Coffee Again?

The quick answer is at least 30 days, but it’s more complicated than that in practice. Caffeine is problematic for post-op bariatric patients as it can reduce nutrient absorption. Bariatric patients consume fewer nutrients through food as is, so it’s best to avoid anything that reduces this further. Caffeine is also dehydrating. Given that insufficient hydration is the most common reason for rehospitalization after surgery, it’s best to avoid caffeine during the first month post-op.

After 30 days, you will still need to be cautious when it comes to coffee. Most commercial coffee options are a poor choice for bariatric patients. They’re often packed with sugar, fat, and excessive calories. Some smart swaps for a healthier coffee include:

  • Using low-fat or non-fat creamer
  • Using skim milk or almond milk
  • Ordering a smaller size
  • Skipping the whipped topping and syrups

When Can I Go to the Gym?

Your doctor will likely tell you to exercise in the weeks leading up to your surgery. If you’re used to hitting the gym or working out at home, you’ll likely feel the itch to jump back into it after surgery. Of course, overdoing it is a significant concern while your incisions and body are still healing.

You should limit your exercise to walking the first month after bariatric surgery. The eventual goal should be 30 minutes of walking without stopping, but you can start in increments and build up your stamina.

Most doctors will green light going to the gym two to three months after surgery. However, stick with cardio machines at this stage, as lifting weights may cause injuries. The elliptical, stationary bike, and water aerobics (assuming your incisions are healed) are good options as they are low impact. Using a variety of machines can help prevent boredom as well.

You can begin light resistance training around four to six months after surgery. You will want to start slow and use low weights to build up your strength. You will also want to pay attention to the changes happening to your body, as weight loss can affect your balance and coordination.

You’ll be able to perform all regular weight training and cardio by 6-12 months post-op. Focus on increasing frequency before increasing intensity. As your strength and stamina improve, you’ll be able to push your body a little harder. After a year, you can increase the intensity for better strength gains. You’ll also be able to incorporate core exercises so long as your surgeon approves them.

What Can I Have for Snacks?

Diet is a huge component to weight loss success after bariatric surgery. As many bariatric recipes cater to meals, it can be challenging to find easy snack options. Some healthy snack ideas include:

  • Hummus with carrot sticks
  • Peanut butter with celery sticks
  • Low-calorie protein chips
  • Low fat cottage cheese or Greek yogurt with fruit
  • Deli meat roll-ups (you can add ingredients to the rolls for more flavor, such as thinly sliced apples or a bit of cheese)
  • Popcorn (with some caveats)

Popcorn is a tricky snack as it can be a low-calorie option, but most people don’t eat it that way. Butter, powdered cheese, and other toppings can quickly transform popcorn into a poor snack choice. Another thing to keep in mind is that popcorn expands in the stomach, which can lead to dumping syndrome. To avoid this, opt for a single serving, pre-packaged bag of popcorn without high-fat toppings.

Some snacks to avoid include:

  • Chips
  • Baked goods (i.e., donuts, muffins, cookies, etc.)
  • Sugary breakfast cereals
  • Poptarts and other sugary pastries
  • Spicy foods
  • Fried foods

A good rule of thumb when making diet and exercise choices is to ask yourself if it will help or hinder your long-term success. Bariatric surgery isn’t an overnight solution for weight loss, and it requires you to commit to a healthy lifestyle. For more information about the health benefits of bariatric surgery, contact us.


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