A Gastric Sleeve Dilemma: How to Get More Calories Without More Carbs

It seems odd to think about, but there may be times after gastric sleeve surgery when you want to add more to your frame. I know, I know. But stick with me. Maybe you’re thrilled that your belly has shrunk, but your booty is looking a little too small. Or perhaps you’ve been so focused on losing that you wake up one day to find that you’ve dipped below a weight at which you think you look good. No matter the reason, there are ways to up your caloric intake without feasting on processed carbohydrates.

Why Carbs Aren’t the Answer
From your past life of being overweight, you already know that carbs put weight on really quickly. I mean, they’re the reason many of my patients seek me out. So why can’t you simply treat yourself to a few donut binges in order to get the scale moving upward? First, simple carbs are nutritional garbage. They do absolutely nothing to fuel your body for everyday life. They flood your system with sugars and then send you crashing back down, feeling worse than before, in a matter of minutes. Secondly, the vast majority of people—not just Endobariatric patients, by the way—are addicted to carbs. You probably are a recovering carb addict. Do you really want to reintroduce your taste buds to the stuff that led you to the life you had before gastric sleeve surgery? It’s just not a risk worth taking in the name of weight gain, especially when there are far healthier options.

Eat For Energy
Two of the times during which sleeve patients may try to ingest more calories is during the pre-op liquid phase and the initial post-op phases. When you aren’t supposed to be chewing, it can be hard to get enough calories to support your energy level and, frankly, help you not want to rip someone’s head off. If you think of your goal as “energy” rather than “calories,” it can actually direct you to better food choices. I recommend a high-protein, low-carb diet for my patients because that’s easiest to manage for most people. But that also requires some education. And one area where many patients skimp, for fear of eating too many carbs, is fiber. Fiber has lots of benefits (hello, regularity!), and among them is a feeling of fullness and energy. High-fiber veggies, pureed into a soup or eaten roasted, broiled, stir-fried, etc., depending on your personal restrictions, are always a good option. Increasing your consumption of lentils, black beans, and other pulses are also an effective way to get healthy calories and fiber.

Know What Works for Your Body
Here’s my standard disclaimer that every body is different, and you’re the expert when it comes to yours. If you feel amazing on Keto, for example, then focus on fats and proteins. Roast your veggies with a healthy dose of olive oil, add unflavored protein powder to anything and everything, and pile on the salmon. If vegan makes your body sing, there are plenty of plant-based ways to increase your calories. Grab some sweet potatoes, indulge in a fruit salad, and snack on high-calorie (yet healthful!) nuts. Adding calories is no different than losing weight in one regard: You won’t feel good unless you’re eating right for your body.

If you’re in a spot right now where adding calories to your diet is necessary, please take the same care in choosing foods as you would if you were trying to reduce calories. You’re in this body for life, so treat it right!

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“Changing lives…one sleeve at a time”.