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A Pre-Op Diet for the Gastric Sleeve

author image Rachel Nall
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.
A Pre-Op Diet for the Gastric Sleeve
A red smoothie. Photo Credit: nevarpp/iStock/Getty Images

Gastric sleeve surgery is a type of bariatric surgery that involves removing a portion of the stomach, leaving a thinner sleeve-like stomach. Because the stomach is not as large, you become fuller, faster, helping you to lose weight. Although the gastric sleeve is intended to help you lose weight, your physician still may recommend following a special weight-loss diet prior to gastric sleeve surgery.

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The goals for a pre-operative gastric sleeve surgery are two-fold: the first is to reduce your amount of body fat. By reducing body fat, specifically in the abdomen, you reduce the amount of fat around the liver. This is considered healthier because it reduces the risk your surgeon will puncture the liver during the minimally invasive gastric sleeve surgery. A special diet can reduce the liver’s size as well, increasing the surgery’s safety.

Basic Guidelines

Your physician will set forth a few recommendations before gastric sleeve surgery. You will begin your diet two weeks before your surgery. Start by consuming between 1,000 and 1,200 calories per day. You should avoid solid foods, supplementing your diet with protein shakes and other nutritional supplements instead. Because this type of diet can increase water loss, drink between six and eight glasses of fluids while you are on the diet. The drinks should be low calorie and sugar free.

Protein Intake

Your pre-operative diet for the gastric sleeve should be low-carbohydrate and high-protein. This is because when your body does not have enough carbohydrates, it starts using its glycogen stores for energy. This helps you to experience rapid weight and water loss. To help you feel full and boost tissue repair, you should consume between 70 and 120 g of protein a day via protein drinks. A variety of protein options exist, but whey protein isolate seems to be best for absorption, according to the Gastric Sleeve Patient Resource Center. Instead of full-fat milk, blend the powder with skim milk or water. Soy milk also can be an option if you are lactose intolerant.


While it can be tempting to eat higher-fat foods prior to surgery, it is important to realize that gastric sleeve surgery is a lifestyle commitment. You must commit to following your physician’s recommendations before and after surgery to ensure weight loss success. In some instances, if you do not lose enough weight or your liver is too enlarged, you may not be able to undergo the surgery.

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