Keeping Moisture in your Meats

Steph Wagner MS, RDN

June 6, 2024

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Keeping Moisture in Your Meats after Gastric Sleeve or Bypass

Updated June 6, 2024

Meat too dry after bariatric surgery?


Are you struggling with meat feeling too dry or heavy?

Are you a post-op weight loss surgery patient who feels like chicken, pork or even beef are just too DRY? How can you keep moisture in your meats and hit your protein goals comfortably?

This experience makes bariatric meals extra frustrating. Everyone says to focus on your protein but if meat sounds unappetizing or even a little scary, it gets limiting real fast.

You might find yourself gravitating away from solid meats and choosing softer meats like dark meat chicken, flakey fish, beans, cottage cheese or scrambled eggs.

If this is you, keep reading.

Why softer proteins aren’t ideal long term

None of those protein foods are a bad idea. But, they do pose some problems.

First – you are probably TIRED OF THEM.

Second – the softer the protein, the faster you feel hungry.

(See episode six of the members video course Hunger and Bariatric Surgery)

So what to do when you know solid meat is a good idea for small portions, for hunger control, and weight loss?


freebie protein textures and hunger control after bariatric surgery


These tricks can help meat feel less dry and settle after weight loss surgery


Tip #1: Evaluate your bite size and your speed of eating.

I do think your bite size is a BIG piece of this puzzle so I must say, don’t override the importance of cutting your bites down to a black bean size and pausing in between bites!

I have to put this as tip number one as it’s the most common culprit for meat feeling dry and heavy. Aim for bites the size of a black bean and pause a moment in between each bite.

(Patients often put emphasis on chewing the bite but the amount of food hitting at once still matters greatly!)

Too much food hitting the opening of your small pouch will make meats feel heavy and dry and you don’t want them. The answer here is eating behaviors even more than the tricks below!

Tip #2: Cover your meats when they cook. 

The best example I have for this strategy is making turkey burgers on the stove top.

I use a grill pan when I make turkey burgers and I let the burger brown for one minute and then put a lid on it for the next 3-4 minutes. I flip the burger, let it brown a minute and put the lid back on top.

The burger is a little more “lose” and falls apart more than a dense burger patty which is also a sign that it will be much more moist for you! Below are a few of my favorite stove top turkey burgers that use this method:


Tip #3: Use stoneware like a baking stone or stoneware dish with lid.

I really love using baking stones and stoneware dishes when I’m using my oven. (My personal baking stones are from The Pampered Chef®)

There are some tips for using stone such as rubbing it with oil. The more you use it, the more the stone “seals” which means you don’t transfer any flavor from previous uses. You also don’t want to use soaps but just have really hot water and a scraper to wash foods off well.

Stoneware does a great job of cooking food evenly but retaining moisture in the foods.  I have used my cookie sheet stone for years because it makes meats fall apart with tenderness.

Even roasting vegetables or fish on a baking stone will keep more moisture in the meal compared to a metal sheet. Both of the recipes below I made with my baking stone:



Tip #4: Use broth to increase the liquid content. 

I always keep broth on hand and recommend any bariatric surgery patient do the same.

Adding broth to the bottom of a casserole dish, pot or pan will keep moisture cooking in the meat. When meat is cooked and the steam starts to release, that’s moisture inside the meat that is leaving. Adding moisture through broth (or water but not as flavorful) will replenish the liquid that is leaving the meat as it cooks.

You can also add tomato based sauce for extra moisture and flavor! You do want to be careful to not cover everything in a sauce (and thus make it a soft textured protein that leaves your pouch quicker) but you also can use low calorie condiments to soften meats.

Below are a couple recipes that are very moist because they are cooked in a liquid:


Tip #5: Use a THERMOMETER!

Use a meat thermometer, cook in batches and cut meat sizes down smaller before cooking to help you from overcooking meats. 

This is a big one in my opinion.

Using a meat thermometer helps you to know for certain when food is ready and you can pull the meat away from heat at the right moment instead of guessing. It’s very common that meat gets over cooked because of fear that it’s undercooked! Using a meat thermometer means there is no guessing. This is the instant read thermometer I use (Amazon affiliate link).

And did you know? You can pull the meat away from heat when it is 5 degrees away from the ideal temperature because of carry over cooking. Meaning the meat will cook a little longer even when it leaves heat because it’s still hot.

Below are the safe meat temperatures as reported by the USDA. Remember, you can pull the meat away from heat 5 degrees before the listed temperature!

images for safe meat temperatures to not dry meat out after bariatric surgery

Tip #6: Reheat foods with a damp paper towel over the top and/or with more broth added to the bottom of the dish. 

Microwave heating is one of the fastest ways to dry food out. Why? A microwave is heating food by going after the water molecules within that food and heating it…which means the moisture itself is being attacked in order to heat it! This is why you see recipes talk about covering a food with a moist paper towel. This helps trap moisture in and add a little extra water content over the top of the dish.

You can also add a tablespoon or two of broth to the bottom of the dish you are reheating to combat the moisture that is being zapped out. If you are worried about getting cold spots, cut the food up before you heat it so you don’t need to microwave for as long and thus preserve some of the moisture content.

Remember, ZAPPING your food real quick is zapping the water molecules. Add some liquid back in to help!

infographic keeping meats moist when meat is too dry



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