Low-carb, low-fat, vegan…plus about a million other diets for gastric sleeve patients to consider. When you’re trying to decide on a way of eating after your procedure, the options seem endless. And confusing. Today, I’m discussing the pros and cons of several popular diets, and while I have my personal opinions, please remember that the best diet is the one you can follow.
Pick Just One
With the deluge of diet information that seems to change on a daily basis, it’s tough to know what’s “bad” these days. It used to be fat, now carbs seem to be the villain, and calories have always been a dieter’s downfall. In the absence of clear-cut direction, some people decide to limit pretty much everything: low calories, low fat, and low carbs. Not only is this nearly impossible to maintain long-term, but it’s a one-way ticket to crazy town. You need to choose one way of eating. If you’re doing low-carb, you can’t lower your fat intake. You’ll be eating a lot of protein and fat, hopefully with a heaping helping of leafy greens. If a low-fat diet appeals to you, carbs and protein will be your main source of calories. Low-calorie diets need a balanced variety.
Pros and Cons of a Ketogenic Diet
This one has a lot in common with a low-carb diet, which seems to work well for my patients. Keto gives you the fastest results in the shortest amount of time because it involves lowering your carb (sugar) intake. Bonus: It’s very easy to follow because it tends to mimic a traditional American way of eating—without the desserts, of course. Now for the downside. Keto relies heavily on fats and proteins from animal sources, which isn’t usually considered optimal for overall health. Because it delivers results fast, I do tend to recommend it to new sleevers purely for the motivation that comes with weight simply melting off. But when they hit goal weight, I’d prefer that my patients lower their fat intake, especially saturated fats, which come from animal products. At that point, a plant-based diet is ideal not only for keeping your weight down, but for your long-term wellness.
Pros and Cons of a Vegetarian/Vegan Diet
Confession: I’m a vegan. So I’m a tad biased on this one, but I also recognize that it’s a lifestyle many people can’t maintain. And to clear up the confusion, a vegan diet is completely plant-based, whereas a vegetarian may still eat animal products like eggs, cheese, and honey—just not any meat. In my opinion, there’s no healthier way to eat than a plant-based diet. And it can even save you money because meat and other animal products can be expensive. Having said that, lots of people find it to be complicated and/or time-consuming, which is why I don’t preach veganism as THE diet for gastric sleeve patients. So much changes right after your sleeve that adding a completely foreign diet into the mix can be overwhelming. If you do decide to eventually embrace veganism/vegetarianism, there are plenty of ways to get a substantial amount of protein. Quinoa and a combination of beans and rice are just two options for plant-based protein, while cruciferous veggies like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and kale are nutritional and antioxidant powerhouses.
No matter which diet appeals to you, one of the keys to long-term success is getting the right tools in place. I highly recommend a digital food tracker like MyFitnessPal. I have the free version and use it consistently to track my nutritional intake. The pro version can be helpful if you want to track the amount of protein you’re eating in a day, your calories by fat or carbs, etc. The other thing I advise is getting group support. Endobariatric patients have formed their own online support groups, but you can find search for a group based on your diet and/or goals. Having people who know what you’re going through—and can act as inspiration—is very helpful during your weight loss journey.
Keep in mind that whatever diet you choose, the Endobariatric team is always available to answer your questions or provide guidance.
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