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Preoperative Liquid Protein Diet

You’ve had your consultation and set the date for your bariatric surgery. Now, it’s time for all the preparations. One aspect of your pre-surgery prep is the pre-op liquid diet.

In preparation for your surgery, you might be asked to lose some weight in order to facilitate laparoscopic approach. This is usually started 2 weeks to 2 days prior to scheduled surgery. This approach is used to reduce thickness and stiffness of the abdominal wall, reduce enlarged liver, and assist the surgeon in flawless execution of the procedure. It also improves your mobility and work of effective breathing.

Liquid protein diet is designed to restrict non-protein calories while maintaining adequate nutritional status, which results in rapid, significant weight loss.

In the weeks before your procedure, your surgeon will place you on a pre-bariatric surgery liquid diet. How long this lasts and what the step-up process looks like varies between patients. Here’s what you need to know about this diet.

Why the Bariatric Liquid Diet Pre-Op is Necessary

With most bariatric procedures, your surgeon needs to make alterations to the stomach, and possibly the intestines and other organs as well. To make these changes safely, the stomach and intestines must be free of food. Even when no surgical alterations are made, an empty stomach is still required for ideal outcomes.

However, the liquid diet before weight loss surgery usually starts well in advance of the point when it is needed to clear the digestive tract. This is because it is also used to reduce the size of the liver. For many people with obesity, their liver is fatty and enlarged, making it more dangerous to alter the stomach.

What a Pre-Weight Loss Liquid Diet Looks Like

The specifics of your liquid diet before bariatric surgery can vary based on your unique needs. For example, if you are a diabetic, you might need to consume specific liquids to keep your blood sugar levels steady, while someone prone to muscle loss might need to really up their protein. In any case, follow the diet your doctor creates for you.

A typical liquid diet prior to bariatric surgery is as follows:

  • Protein shakes
  • Broth
  • Skim milk
  • Sugar-free drinks without carbonation
  • Flavored or infused water (with infusions removed before consumption)
  • Sugar-free Jell-O
  • Sugar-free popsicles
  • Decaf tea

Keep in mind that you usually move from a full liquid diet to a clear liquid diet 24-48 hours before surgery, so during that time, your list of approved items will become more restricted. As always, follow the instructions of your doctor to a T.

Pre-Surgery Liquid Diet Guidelines

Frequently Asked Questions About the Pre-Op Liquid Diet

What Is Allowed On The Full Liquid Bariatric Diet?

Most liquids that are fully liquid but not necessarily clear in color are allowed. This includes skim milk, protein shakes, and various types of broth. Just make sure anything with solid pieces is strained before consuming and that the items are truly liquid, not purees.

How Long Do I Need To Be On A Liquid Diet Before Bariatric Surgery?

This depends on your needs. Most people will be on it for at least one week before their surgical procedure, with at least 24-48 hours on a clear liquid diet. However, some people can need as much as a month on the diet to prepare their liver for surgery.

What Can I Drink Before Bariatric Surgery?

You will need to avoid drinking anything for 12 hours before your procedure. For 12-36 hours before that, you can drink any clear liquids, with plain water being the preferred option since hydration is essential to healing. Before that, you can drink anything that is fully liquid, not carbonated, and does not contain caffeine or alcohol.

What Can I Eat On A Pre-Op Liquid Diet

You cannot really “eat” anything. Instead, you will drink liquids. We suggest you incorporate a lot of broths at first since these are best at satisfying cravings for food, as well as protein shakes to help keep your muscles healthy. Also, ensure you get the right amount of water each day to position yourself for speedy healing.