It’s Different – How to Stay Properly Hydrated After Bariatric Surgery

Weight loss surgery is a great tool to help you to improve your health and take control of your quality of life. The time from the consultation with your surgeon at Barix Clinics to the time of surgery can vary from a few weeks to several months. Use this time to prepare for post-surgery life and put healthy habits in place.

The Importance of Hydration

Your body needs adequate fluid intake daily to maintain a proper temperature, remove waste, lubricate joints, help muscles work, and for many more essential functions.

Dehydration can lead to health problems from headaches to life-threatening conditions such as heat stroke. Even slight changes in body water, as little as 3%, can result in an increase in heart rate and body temperature.

How Much Fluid

A general rule of thumb is to drink 64 ounces (about 4 medium-size water bottles) of fluid a day to maintain proper hydration.  For most healthy people this number is a good goal, but you may need more fluid if you are in a warm climate, doing physical labor, exercising or participating in sports. Some people are able to get by drinking less than 64 ounce a day.

Urine concentration is usually a good indicator of hydration status. Colorless or light yellow urine is a pretty good indication that you are well hydrated. Dark yellow or amber colored urine may indicate dehydration.

What to Drink

Any fluid counts towards the 64 ounce goal. Water, milk, juice, coffee, tea, pop, or smoothies—they all count. Note: we don’t count caffeinated beverages after surgery because they have a slight diuretic effect (pulling fluid from the body).

Even though all fluids help you to stay hydrated, some are better than others. In general, your body gets more satisfaction if you eat rather than drink your calories—so calorie free beverages are a good choice.

Topping the list of healthy beverages is water–it doesn’t add any calories, sugar or caffeine. If you prefer flavor in your water, you may want to infuse it with some fruits or vegetables. This method adds a hint of flavor with negligible calories.

Infusion Basics

Infused water is created by soaking fruit, veggies, herbs or spices in water. Over time, the water takes on the subtle flavors. You can use specially designed infusion pitchers, balls, or glasses or simply place your infusion ingredients in a glass or pitcher.

Cut rinds and skins off of ingredients and cut ingredients into thin slices or small cubes providing more surface area for quick dispersion of flavor. You may also want to crush some ingredients, especially fresh herbs and berries, to release more flavor. Soak the ingredients in cold water for 3-4 hours in the fridge. Remove the ingredient—strain if necessary and enjoy. After the ingredients are removed, the infused water will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

A wide variety of natural ingredients works well for infusion, including:

  • Fresh herbs (crush or chop for more flavor): rosemary, thyme, mint, basil, cilantro, parsley
  • Spices: cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, fresh ginger, cloves, vanilla bean
  • Fruit: berries, melon, tropical fruits, citrus, apples, pears, grapes, cherries
  • Vegetables: cucumber, celery, fennel, carrots
  • Tea: green tea, chamomile tea, herbal teas

You may also want to drink zero calorie flavored beverages sweetened with sugar substitutes like stevia and erythritol. These include SoBe Lifewater, Vitamin Water Zero, Bai water, Crystal Light Pure, and others.

What to Avoid

In general avoid beverages with calories, added sugar, large amounts of caffeine, ingredients that overstimulate (guarana, ginseng, or taurine). Sports drinks may be helpful if you are working out for more than an hour at a time, but choose those that are calorie-free.

After surgery, you’ll want to avoid carbonated beverages for at least 6-months after surgery. The carbonation overfills your small stomach causing discomfort. You may want to find alternatives to carbonated beverages before surgery to have one more healthy behavior in place ahead of time.

Alcohol adds empty calories and many people make poor food choices when drinking. Alcohol should be avoided for at least 6-months after surgery. It is irritating to your healing stomach and the empty calories can slow weight loss.

Tips for Staying Hydrated

If you struggle to drink adequate fluid, here are some tips that can help:

  • Keep a bottle of water with you during the day. To reduce your costs, carry a reusable water bottle and fill it with tap water.
  • If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding a slice of lemon or infusing it with fruits, vegetables, spices or tea.
  • Drink water before, during, and after a workout.
  • When you feel hungry, drink water. Sometimes people think they are hungry, but what they are feeling is thirst.
  • Drink on a schedule. Set your phone alarm to remind you if need be.

Take the time now to evaluate the fluids that you drink and find no-added-sugar, low calorie / calorie free, alcohol-free, caffeine-free and carbonation-free options to enjoy Finding your favorite low calorie drinks ahead of surgery can help you look forward to life after surgery, knowing how many delicious options there are.

About Deb Hart

Deb Hart is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. For the last 28 years, she has been helping bariatric surgery patients reach their health and weight goals. She teaches people how to set up a lifestyle that supports a healthy weight. Deb set up her own lifestyle to include lots of long walks with her furry family members, workout classes at her local wellness center, meal prepping, and finding new ways to enjoy foods without added sugar.
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