The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet after Weight-loss Surgery

Oct 16, 2020

Almost every year, a new diet trend makes its way into the headlines. For those fighting obesity and other weight-related issues, finding the perfect diet plan can feel overwhelming. If you’ve recently undergone weight-loss surgery, it’s crucial that you find a diet plan that supports your new lifestyle.

What is a plant-based diet?

Eating a plant-based diet doesn’t mean you eliminate meat from your life entirely. A plant-based diet is mostly plants, fruit, beans, nuts, etc. Those who follow a plant-based diet typically eat meals that are 2/3 plant and 1/3 lean protein. Lean proteins like tofu, fish, or chicken have fewer calories than non-lean meats like beef or pork. They’re also a good source of selenium, vitamins B3 and B6, and choline
A diet that consists of minimally-processed plant foods is healthy and easy to follow. There are many resources available to those interested in following a plant-based diet. Support groups, articles, food calendars, recipes, and more can help you stay on track. The good thing about a plant-based diet is that you can control how strict you’d like to be. “Plant-based” is an umbrella term and somewhat relates to more popular diets like Mediterranean and Keto.
The following list includes common foods to eat and avoid when committing to a plant-based diet.

A typical plant-based food plan avoids:
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Refined grains
  • Starches and processed foods
  • Sweetened beverages i.e. fruit juice, sodas, and diet sodas
  • Processed animal meats
  • Desserts

The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

There are numerous health benefits to a plant-based diet. In general, vegetables provide us an abundance of nutrients that help us fight inflammation and reduce the risk of disease. A plant-based diet after weight-loss surgery can help you work some of the world’s healthiest foods into your diet such as:
Broccoli-one cup of raw broccoli provides 116% of your daily Vitamin K needs
Garlic- can help lower cholesterol and prevent a variety of cancer-related illnesses
Kale-provides an abundance of potassium, calcium, copper, and Vitamin B
Ginger-soothes nausea and can treat arthritis, knee pain, and diabetes
In other words, whether you commit to a plant-based diet or not, there are many health benefits to introducing more vegetables into your diet.
A plant-based diet is not just a good idea for those who’ve undergone weight-loss surgery. A plant-based diet is great for the environment. Reducing one’s meat intake reduces pollution and the destruction of top soil, slows down deforestation, and increases our world’s water quality.

A Plant-Based Diet After Weight-Loss Surgery

Many people who undergo weight-loss surgery commit to a plant-based diet. You may have seen the term “flexitarian” get tossed around in the health food industry. As the word suggests, a “flexitarian” is a vegetarian who is more or less flexible on what kinds of meats to add to their diets and when. A “flexitarian” is more concerned with adding additional vegetables to their diets than they are with eliminating meat from their meal plans.
A typical “flexitarian” plan includes a diet centered around fruits, vegetables, beans, whole-grains, fish, and lean poultry. This type of diet plan works great for those recovering from weight-loss surgery. Flexitarians consume a variety of iodine, calcium, iron, and B12. If you’re considering cutting out meat from your diet, you will need to follow a plan that helps you get the right amount of these vital nutrients.
Plant-based foods are high in fiber and unsaturated fats. For those who’ve undergone weight-loss surgery, these nutrients can aid in hunger reduction as well as soothe aches and nausea.

Nutrients to Eat After Weight-Loss Surgery

Although a plant-based diet is good for humans and the environment, there are still things to consider. If you’ve undergone weight-loss surgery, we recommend that your diet provides the following nutrients:

  • Calcium-If you’re following a plant-based diet after weight-loss surgery, you want to make sure you’re getting enough calcium. Calcium keeps your bones and teeth healthy and strong. If you eliminate dairy from your diet, you will need to find creative ways to get the right amount of calcium intake. Talk to your doctor on how to get the nutrients/support you need, especially if you’ve had gastric bypass. Foods like figs, tofu, almonds, and types of seeds are rich in calcium. You don’t want to miss out on this vital nutrient!
  • Vitamin D-calcium intake won’t do you a lot of good if you’re not getting enough Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium. Consider taking a Vitamin D supplement if you aren’t already. Many people combine this with their calcium supplement for extra support.
  • Vitamin B12-After weight-loss surgery, consider getting Vitamin B-12 injections. These injections are recommended for those who’ve had gastric bypass or sleeve. B12 supports energy levels and are found naturally in foods like nutritional yeast.
  • Protein-it’s important to support muscle-growth after weight-loss surgery. Avoiding meats can make protein intake more difficult. The best way to avoid protein deficiency on a plant-based diet is to incorporate foods rich in amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein that the body can’t make on its own. Foods rich in amino acids include eggs, cauliflower, carrots, sweet corn, and broccoli.

As always, talk with your doctor when considering a change in diet. At NOVA Bariatrics, we’re here for you on every step of your weight-loss journey.
If you’re considering bariatric surgery, we’d love to hear from you!

Dr. Mustafa H. Alibhai

Dr. Alibhai, a board-certified general surgeon, passionately leads Nova Bariatrics and General Surgery. Formerly an Assistant Professor at McGovern Medical School, he’s a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons. His academic journey includes a Bachelor’s from Southern Methodist University, Medical School at UT Southwestern, and residencies at UT Southwestern. Specializing further, he completed Bariatric and Robotic Fellowships, advancing surgical techniques with a focus on patient well-being.



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