Got Fluids? How to Stay Hydrated After Weight Loss Surgery (Slow and Steady Wins the Race!)

Got Fluids? How to Stay Hydrated After Weight Loss Surgery (Slow and Steady Wins the Race!)

Water is an essential nutrient in our diet. Our bodies need water for proper functioning and to prevent dehydration. The number one reason patients are readmitted to the hospital after weight loss surgery is from dehydration. The fluid goal for optimal hydration after weight loss surgery is 64 fluid oz per day (four 16 oz water bottles/day or eight 8 oz cups of fluid/day). If you exercise a lot, you may require more fluids to replace what is lost in your sweat.

Hydration after weight loss surgery can be a challenge to many. If you have had a sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass or adjustable gastric band,  you now have a small stomach pouch that limits your stomach capacity. 

This reduced capacity enables you to eat less and feel satisfied quicker, but it also limits the capacity of fluids to enter your new stomach. Both while preparing for surgery and after surgery, you must learn to space out consuming liquids from your meals to prevent you from filling up too quickly with fluids and not being able to consume your nutrient/protein-based meal (this does get easier after surgery, I promise).

Here are some tips to help you achieve your fluid goals and stay hydrated after weight loss surgery:

  1. Start drinking early in the day. Do not wait until after you get home from work to catch up on the fluids you did not drink during the day. It will not happen.
  2. Carry fluids with you all day while you are out and in the car.
  3. Do not drink with your meals and wait 30 minutes after finishing your meal to drink again. If you find it difficult to consume your meal, make sure to allow yourself time to stop drinking prior to eating. If you fill up too much on the fluids, you may not be able to consume your meal.
  4. Make sure your fluids are decaffeinated. If they contain caffeine it does not count towards your fluid intake. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it increases the amount of urine you produce, which can lead to dehydration. You can have up to two cups of regular coffee or tea with caffeine if you are drinking 64oz of other decaffeinated fluids.
  5. Do not drink your calories. Make sure your fluids are calorie-free. Water has ZERO calories)- Choose sugar-free, decaf and noncarbonated fluids. Avoid waters containing carbohydrates and added sugars such as Gatorade…
  6. No carbonation. The bubbles can stretch out your newly sized stomach over time. Carbonation can also cause stomach discomfort and bloating due to the small stomach pouch. 
  7. Sip, sip, sip. Do not take big gulps (you probably will not be able to do so anyway).
  8. Be aware of hidden ingredients. Read the label. Check for any added vitamins/minerals/herbs that you may have an allergy to.

What can you drink?

Water, Vitamin Water Zero, Sobe Life Water, True Lemon/Lime/Orange, decaf coffee or teas, Propel, Powerade Zero, Crystal Light or try infusing your own water. 

Infusing your water can help you stay hydrated, avoid artificial sweeteners and add some additional health benefits. Lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, and some berries are great sources of vitamin C. Ginger and mint can soothe an upset stomach.

If you infuse your own water, you can avoid unnecessary added sugars, preservatives or chemicals that are in a lot of drink mixes in the supermarkets.

Below are a few simple recipes to get you started. But don’t be shy, try some of your own creations!

Watermelon Mint

  • 1 cup cubed watermelon
  • 1/4 cup mint

Raspberry and Lemon Mixer

  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 10 raspberries

Strawberry Lemonade with Basil

  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced
  • 1/8-1/4 cup fresh basil

Minty Cucumber Lime

  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced
  • 1/2 lime, sliced
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves

Pineapple-orange with Ginger

  • 1/2 cup cubed pineapple
  • 1/2 orange, sliced
  • 1/2 Tbsp fresh grated ginger

Grapefruit, Orange, and Lime

  • 1/4 grapefruit, sliced
  • 1/2 orange, sliced
  • 1/2 lime, sliced
  • a few mint sprigs

Could you be dehydrated?

When our bodies lose water faster than we can replace it, we become  dehydrated. Symptoms of mild and moderate dehydration include:

  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Sleepiness or tiredness
  • Thirst
  • Decreased urine output
  • Decrease in tears when crying
  • Dry skin
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness or light-headedness

Symptoms of severe dehydration include:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Irritability and confusion
  • Very dry mouth, skin and mucous membranes
  • Little or no urination — any urine that is produced will be darker than normal
  • Sunken eyes
  • Shriveled and dry skin that lacks elasticity and doesn’t “bounce back” when pinched into a fold
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • No tears when crying
  • Fever
  • In the most serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness

Unfortunately, thirst isn’t always a reliable gauge of the body’s need for water, especially in children and older adults. A better indicator is the color of your urine: Clear or light-colored urine means you’re well-hydrated, whereas a dark yellow or amber color usually signals dehydration.