Understanding Bariatric Diet Stages

Understanding Bariatric Diet Stages

Alex Brecher

The bariatric diet is absolutely essential in your weight loss journey if you want to have maximum chances for success. But what is a bariatric surgery diet? The answer changes depending on where you are in your journey because there are different stages. 

At any stage, you’re likely to need a lot of protein and to keep your carbs down. It’s always best to ask your own surgeon or nutritionist for personalized instructions for your own situation before deciding what to eat on your bariatric diet plan. The BariatricPal Store has high-protein, low-carb products for every stage and every taste bud, so there’s no need to worry.

What Is the Bariatric Diet?

The bariatric surgery diet is necessary before and after surgery to increase your chances for success. This is what it can help you do.

  • Prepare for a safer surgical procedure.
  • Recover faster from surgery.
  • Lose more weight and come closer to goal weight.
  • Prevent weight regain. 

The post surgery diet is a progression. The stages go from clear and then full liquids, to pureed foods, soft foods, and finally to regular foods. Along the way, the emphasis is on low-carb, high-protein choices to help with weight loss.

Bariatric Pre Surgery Diet

The bariatric pre surgery diet may be opposite to what you may feel like doing. It’s not a final fling. You’re not supposed to have one last party with pizza, chicken wings, and brownies. Instead, the bariatric pre surgery diet keeps you away from those types of foods.

The diet has a few purposes - and they’re pretty important. 

  • It helps shrink your liver. This makes your surgery area more visible to the surgeon, which means the surgery is a safer procedure.
  • It lets you practice your post-op diet. After surgery, and for the rest of your life, the goal is for your eating habits to change. Trying out these new habits for a week or a few weeks can give you a good taste of what to expect post-op.
  • It can help you lose weight. Right, you are going into surgery to lose weight, but if you can lose weight before the operation, it’ll be safer. Plus, recovery will be faster, and you’ll have less to lose after the procedure. 

Your bariatric pre surgery diet is probably low in carbs and calories. The focus may be on protein. It may look a lot like a bariatric liquid diet for after surgery. Or, it may include one meal a day with solid foods, and some meal replacement shakes to fill in the gaps. 

A day on the bariatric pre surgery diet may look like this if your surgeon says you should include one meal daily.




BariatricPal Aloha Mango Protein Smoothie

Protein Gelatin


Green salad with 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette

3 ounces of skinless chicken breast


BariatricPal Chocolate Clean Whey Protein Shake

Ice pops


Protein Gelatin

Protein Pudding

Bariatric Liquid Diet

The bariatric liquid diet is the first stage of the post surgery diet. It may include two stages. It could start with clear liquids. The clear liquid stage may last for a day or a couple of days, depending on how your surgery went and which procedure you had. 

This is what you can probably include on a clear liquid diet. Be sure to check with your surgeon or nutritionist, and always get plenty of fluids.

The clear liquid diet isn’t nutritionally adequate. You can’t live on it for too long. As soon as you can tolerate it, your surgeon can give you the go-ahead to start on a full liquid diet. Here, you can include protein shakes and milk to get some protein. 

This is what you can probably include on a full liquid diet. It also usually allows the liquids that you had on a clear liquid diet. Be sure to check with your surgeon or nutritionist, and always get plenty of fluids.

The full liquid bariatric diet can give you enough nourishment to get by for quite a while, so there’s no need to rush. Rushing through this stage can do harm. It could set back your recovery or make weight loss harder when you get down the road a bit.

A day on the bariatric full liquid diet may look like this.




BariatricPal Protein ONE Vanilla Shake


BariatricPal Broccoli Cheddar Protein Soup

Sugar-free ice pops


BariatricPal Savory Onion Protein Soup


BariatricPal Clean Whey Chocolate Shake

BariatricPal Chocolate Salted Caramel Protein Shake

Pureed Foods Diet

The pureed foods diet is often called the “mushies.” You can eat mushy foods, or foods that are pureed so they have no chunks. This stage can last a week or a few weeks, depending on your recovery and what your surgeon recommends.

This is what you can probably include on a pureed foods diet. Be sure to check with your surgeon or nutritionist, and always get plenty of fluids.

  • Pureed cottage cheese
  • Thin oatmeal or cream of wheat
  • Watered down mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes
  • Pureed canned carrots or green beans
  • Applesauce
  • Yogurt
  • Pureed watery tuna, fish, or ground turkey

A day on the pureed foods diet may look like this. 




Pureed watery oatmeal



Pureed watery sweet potatoes

Pureed canned tuna


Pureed ground turkey

Pureed canned green beans


Plain yogurt

Chocolate Protein Pudding

Semi-Soft Foods Diet

Your choices greatly expand In the semi-soft or semi-solid foods stage of the bariatric surgery diet! Here, you can eat soft foods as long as you can tolerate them. The most important change here is to make sure you chew everything thoroughly, since it’s the first post-op stage in which your foods may have some chunks in them.

This is what you can probably include on a clear liquid diet. Be sure to check with your surgeon or nutritionist, and always get plenty of fluids.

  • Cheese and eggs
  • Fish, tofu, cooked beans and lentils (if you can tolerate them), ground turkey, tuna
  • Cooked vegetables, as long as they’re not too fibrous.
  • Ripe soft fruit, such as bananas, melon, and peaches. Avoid seeds and peel.
  • Avocado

You might also try instant low-carb, high-protein meals or sides such as Protein Pasta, Protein Omelets, or Protein Mashed Potatoes. The BariatricPal Store has tons of options that are appropriate for your diet, take only minutes to prepare, and taste great. They’re also pre-portioned so you don’t have to measure or risk eating way too much.

A day on the bariatric pre surgery diet may look like this in the semi-soft foods stage.




BariatricPal Bacon and Cheese Protein Omelet 

1 string cheese stick


Pureed cooked cauliflower

BariatricPal Lentils with Beef and Vegetables Instant Entree


Meatballs made with lean ground turkey

Protein pasta


Hard-boiled egg

Cut ripe cantaloupe

Post Bariatric Surgery Diet

This is your long-term diet that will help you get to goal weight and maintain weight loss for good. Now, you can finally eat regular solid foods as long as you can tolerate them. 

This is what you can probably include on a solid foods diet after surgery. Ask your surgeon or nutritionist to be sure, and always get plenty of fluids.

  • Vegetables
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts and nut butter
  • Fruit
  • Whole grains (in small amounts)

Even if you can tolerate them, steer clear of foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients. They won’t help you lose weight. Examples of foods to keep to a minimum include these.

  • Refined starches, such as white bread, white crackers, pasta, and rice
  • Fried potatoes, such as hash browns and French fries, and other fried foods, such as fried chicken and fish, doughnuts, and onion rings.
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages and any beverages with calories.
  • Sugary foods, such as baked goods, ice cream, candy, pudding, and other desserts.
  • Fatty foods, such as fatty red meat, chicken with skin, and butter.

A day on the bariatric surgery diet may look like this once you get to the solid foods stage.




Protein Pancakes

½ cup of strawberries

1 tablespoon of peanut butter


½ Zero Carb Bagel with ¼ cup cottage cheese and 2 ounces of shredded chicken

½ cup of four-bean salad


2 ounces baked tilapia

Protein Mashed Potatoes

½ cup of cooked carrots


Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bar

BBQ Protein Puffs

During this time, you might have some cravings. The BariatricPal Store can help! Protein Snacks, such as Protein Chips, Protein Pretzels, and Protein Cookies, can satisfy your need to nibble while giving you badly needed protein. If you need chocolate, we have Sugar-Free Chocolate options. Protein Cereal, Zero Carb Bread, and Keto-Friendly Granola are just a few examples of products that can keep you on your diet and satisfied.

Diet for Bariatric Surgery

After you get through the post-op diet stages, a day on the bariatric surgery diet may look like this. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids and clear your diet with your doctor!




BariatricPal Honey Nut Protein Cereal

½ cup of blueberries

1 tablespoon of chopped peanuts


Crusted baked tilapia made with Great Low Carb Bread Crumbs and parmesan cheese

Cooked broccoli florets topped with BariatricPal High Protein Cheese Sauce


2 ounces baked skinless chicken breast

BariatricPal Sour Cream and Chives Protein Mashed Potatoes

½ cup cooked zucchini


BariatricPal Protein Pretzels

BariatricPal Lemon Protein Wafers

More Tips for a Bariatric Diet

Along with eating the right foods and taking the right portion sizes, here are some more tips for succeeding on your bariatric surgery diet.

  • Eat slowly and chew thoroughly. It can take a while to get into the habit of doing that, but it can help you lose weight and keep it off for good. 
  • Hydration is very important. Ask your surgeon how much fluid to take in. Water and other calorie-free and low-calorie beverages are best.
  • Bariatric surgery patients are supposed to take bariatric vitamins for life. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best ones for you. The BariatricPal Store has multivitamins and other bariatric vitamins and supplements. They come in capsules, chewable tablets, liquids, and even vitamin patches.
  • Low-carb, high-protein products can help you stay on your diet without feeling deprived. Treats are okay, and the BariatricPal Store has plenty of them!
  • Be patient. It can take longer than you expect or want to get through each stage. There’s no rush, and trying to speed things along can lead to complications or discomfort. Also, be patient with your weight loss. It will come if you follow your bariatric surgery diet and stay healthy.
  • Above all, follow the instructions of your healthcare provider, and stay in touch with your provider whenever you have questions or concerns.

Meal Plans and Recipes

The BariatricPal Store has a wealth of resources to help with your bariatric surgery diet. You can find meal plans for each stage of the post surgery bariatric diet, including meal plans for once you reach maintenance and, should you need it, for getting back on track if things get a little rough.

You can also find recipes to help you along the way. High-protein, low-carb recipes that taste great may be what you need to help you feel in control of your own diet and weight loss. Just go to our recipe section! Recipes are simple and quick, and they include products that you can find at our store. They taste great!

Our high-protein, low-carb products can help you stick to your plan. They’re convenient and ready to eat or ready in minutes. That means you can have them whenever you need them to satisfy hunger. They can also satisfy cravings. For example, if you want chocolate and peanut butter, it’s probably better to have a Protein Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Bar instead of a sugary peanut butter chocolate cup that is devoid of protein.

Ask your nutritionist or surgeon about your own bariatric surgery diet so you can learn about their typical guidelines and your own specific needs. You can also ask about products to help you at every stage. The BariatricPal Store has protein supplements and more for the bariatric liquid diet and bariatric pre surgery diet, as well as protein foods and snacks for the post bariatric surgery diet. You can get excited about weight loss now!

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