Why can I eat so much after Gastric Sleeve or Bypass?

Steph Wagner MS, RDN

August 29, 2014

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Why can I eat so much after Gastric Sleeve or Bypass?

Updated August 2022


It’s a common concern for post-op patients……Am I eating too much? Why can I eat so much after my Gastric Sleeve or Bypass?

With all the questions that come after your weight-loss surgery, it can become almost addicting to talk to other patients about how much they can eat. Am I normal? Is this normal? Am I doing it right? Why can I eat so much?

Truth be told, I feel the same was as a mother of young children! Is this normal? Am I doing it right?

Similar to parenting, there isn’t always a hard and fast rule to getting it right. But there are great pieces of advice and lessons to learn from others.

Talking to other parents or reading books definitely has it’s place. The same holds true in regards to weight-loss surgery. Go to Support Groups. Talk to other patients. Email your providers.

BUT the best way to learn, is to keep figuring things out for yourself!

With that in mind, I do have a few thoughts when it comes to the amounts you can eat after surgery.

A few examples of patients feeling they were able to eat far more than they thought they should:

This past week I received an email from one on my patients recently out of surgery. She is on regular foods now and the amounts she can eat is bringing her some stress.

While out with friends and visiting while she was eating, she realized she had eaten her whole bowl of chili. She was terrified. 

In her case, I was able to identify what was likely the reason she was able to eat far more than she thought.

She took an hour to eat it. The best time frame for a meal is 20-30 minutes.

Twenty minutes is how long it takes your brain to identify fullness but more than 30 minutes and the first bites you took are on it’s way out. It becomes more of a grazing pattern and will allow more food to be eaten.

She was relieved to know it wasn’t a broken or messed up pouch she was dealing with, it was just a lesson she learned about putting her food away after thirty minutes.

Another example is a patient who was able to drink with meals without discomfort.

He/she was under the impression drinking with meals was only right after surgery and was surprised when portions starting appearing much larger.

By drinking in between bites, the fluid empties the food from the pouch quickly allowing more room for more food. It would leave one to worry why they can eat so much after Gastric Sleeve or Bypass.

💦 The fluid rule is a lifelong guideline in order to keep food in your pouch for a longer period of time keeping you full and away from snacking. A simple reminder of why the fluid guidelines exist and the portions decreased.

After experiencing discomfort with eating meats a patient was gravitating more towards softer foods like tuna salad and deli meats.

She was bothered by how much she was able to eat and felt she was getting hungry more often during the day.

The textures of food play a big part in how much you can eat. Often times when you feel uncomfortable after a meal, the size of the bites you took or the speed of your eating caused you to feel bad.

It’s tempting to stop eating dense protein and eat softer things that won’t hurt. Trouble is, the softer something is the more you can eat and the sooner you feel hungry. You can’t eat as much hamburger patty and chicken breast as you can egg salad so portions will decrease when you focus on more solid protein. BUT bite sizes must be no bigger than the size of a black bean to feel comfortable when you eat these foods.

Read more on this topic and/or find more resources

For another blog diving deep into the topic of why you can eat more than you used to (and addressing the worry of stretching the pouch) click here.

Another common question is whether or not to count calories. Here is a blog post called Bariatric Debate: Counting Calories

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8 thoughts on “Why can I eat so much after Gastric Sleeve or Bypass?”

  1. Thank you for your web site. I learn so much from you! I really do love to read all of the information that you put out for us!!!!

  2. Hi…thanks for all of your input! I just read this post and frankly….you spoke directly to me. I am a little over a year out and not to goal yet… Anyhow , I too have been eating the softer foods for comfort and ease, not connecting that May be why I am getting hungry sooner than I would like. Color me surprised and shocked. Can you give me any directions as to where I can see some examples of what my diet should consist of at this time, as I have about 30 more pounds to lose.. Thanks bunches and keep up the good work! Lisa

  3. Hi Stephanie. I just found your site through Pinterest. I’m 20 months out since my surgery and have lost 150 pounds and kept it off. I’d still like to lose another 30 – 40 pounds but I have hit a major plateau and I can’t seem to break it. Any suggestions? I’ll be watching your site. Thanks for being out there. Teresa Compton

  4. Congratulations on your surgery and successful weight loss! Those last down 40 pounds are the slowest. My first place to start (which perhaps you are already doing, I’m unsure) would be to keep a food journal and evaluate your ratio of protein to carbohydrates to fats. This is a blog I wrote on “How to Use MyFitnessPal for WLS” and it walks through what the best ratios are and how to find them on that particular app. Other websites/apps have this “pie chart” for macronutrients but I’m not the most familiar with MyFitnessPal.

    I do also want to mention that members to my website have access to all my meal plans, over 500 recipes and video courses. There are several other member benefits like a closed Facebook group and access to me by email. (My favorite video course to start is called “Back on Track” and gives even more detail to how to push through a plateau). If you’d like to find out more and try it for 14 days free, this is the link.

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