Diet approach before and after bariatric surgery

Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2020 Sep;21(3):297-306. doi: 10.1007/s11154-020-09571-8.


Bariatric surgery (BS) is today the most effective therapy for inducing long-term weight loss and for reducing comorbidity burden and mortality in patients with severe obesity. On the other hand, BS may be associated to new clinical problems, complications and side effects, in particular in the nutritional domain. Therefore, the nutritional management of the bariatric patients requires specific nutritional skills. In this paper, a brief overview of the nutritional management of the bariatric patients will be provided from pre-operative to post-operative phase. Patients with severe obesity often display micronutrient deficiencies when compared to normal weight controls. Therefore, nutritional status should be checked in every patient and correction of deficiencies attempted before surgery. At present, evidences from randomized and retrospective studies do not support the hypothesis that pre-operative weight loss could improve weight loss after BS surgery, and the insurance-mandated policy of a preoperative weight loss as a pre-requisite for admission to surgery is not supported by medical evidence. On the contrary, some studies suggest that a modest weight loss of 5-10% in the immediate preoperative period could facilitate surgery and reduce the risk of complications. Very low calories diet (VLCD) and very low calories ketogenic diets (VLCKD) are the most frequently used methods for the induction of a pre-operative weight loss today. After surgery, nutritional counselling is recommended in order to facilitate the adaptation of the eating habits to the new gastro-intestinal physiology. Nutritional deficits may arise according to the type of bariatric procedure and they should be prevented, diagnosed and eventually treated. Finally, specific nutritional problems, like dumping syndrome and reactive hypoglycaemia, can occur and should be managed largely by nutritional manipulation. In conclusion, the nutritional management of the bariatric patients requires specific nutritional skills and the intervention of experienced nutritionists and dieticians.

Keywords: Bariatric surgery; Dumping syndrome; Nutrition; Nutritional assessment; Reactive hypoglycaemia; Very low calories diet; Very low calories ketogenic diet; Vitamins; Weight loss.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aftercare / methods
  • Bariatric Surgery* / rehabilitation
  • Diet
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Status / physiology
  • Obesity, Morbid / diet therapy*
  • Obesity, Morbid / surgery*
  • Postoperative Period
  • Preoperative Care / methods
  • Preoperative Period
  • Weight Loss / physiology