Sep 30

7 Common Weight-Loss Surgery Nutritional Problems and Prevention Tips

Weight-loss surgery (WLS)  patients who promote the belief that surgery and life after are bliss are, in my opinion, either the luckiest people around or are not telling the whole truth.

Living life post WLS takes effort and there are bumps in the road. I also believe successes and challenges are primarily related to nutrition.

I’m not gonna lie, I know what I should eat, but I don’t always do what I’m supposed to do. And, I experience one or more negative results from my behavior from time to time.

I found a great article on the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine on long-term management of patients after weight loss.

Among the interesting information were seven common nutritional challenges WLS patients encounter. Although many of us have heard this information before, revisiting the basics is a great preventative practice.

Fatigue after weight loss surgerySome Nutritional Challenges After Weight-Loss Surgery


  1. Nausea and vomiting as a result of overeating or eating too quickly. Eliminate the problem by eating slowly, chewing each (small) bite 25 times, and stopping eating when you are or feel full. For some, the best way to circumvent nausea and vomiting is to eat exact proportions (2-3 ounces of protein, half a cup of fruit and half a cup of veggies) at every meal, rather than relying on a sense of fullness.
  2. Chronic malnutrition is an issue post surgery because nutrients are absorbed differently following surgery. Fatigue, aching muscles and tingling feet, calves, or hands are signs of malnutrition.  A healthy diet and continuous focus on getting all prescribed vitamin and mineral supplements are critical to combating nutrition issues. Also head to the doctor for testing annually.
  3. Dumping syndrome is suffered by gastric-bypass, weight-loss-surgery patients. It’s caused by food emptying too quickly from the stomach into the small intestine. Symptoms include cramps, nausea, flushing/sweating, rapid heartbeat, lightheadedness and sometimes diarrhea. Eating certain foods makes dumping syndrome more likely. For example, refined sugars rapidly absorb water from the body, causing symptoms. Symptoms may also happen after eating dairy products and certain fats or fried foods. Change your food choices and do not drink for at least 30 minutes after eating.
  4. Temporary hair loss is common among WLS patients. The most common type of hair loss after weight-loss surgery is a diffuse loss known medically as telogen effluvium, which can have both nutritional and non-nutritional causes.It’s usually caused by rapid weight loss and/or lack of protein or vitamins/minerals. Getting the 60 – 100 grams of protein daily and taking the regiment of supplements outlined by your physician is a first step to prevention.
  5. Dehydration is caused by insufficient fluid intake or by persistent vomiting. If you notice dark and strong-smelling urine, dry mouth, headache, fatigue or dizziness when standing or sitting dehydration may be an issue. Gulping liquids when thirsty is not the solution. Doing so can cause stomach discomfort and nausea. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times. Sip constantly. Get 64 ounces of liquid daily.
  6. Lactose intolerance causes gas, bloating, cramping, and diarrhea. It’s caused when the body can’t easily digest lactose, a type of natural sugar found in milk and dairy products. Lactose Intolerance is not extremely common, however, if you suffer, drink/eat small amounts of milk/dairy products, use lactose-free or lactose-reduced products, or try soy milk.
  7. Constipation becomes a problem when the intake of food and fiber is reduced following surgery. It’s also often caused by opiate/pain medication. Drink lots of water, exercise frequently, eating sugar-free applesauce, oatmeal, or prunes daily and/or take a fiber-based supplement (as recommended by your doctor).




About the author

Laurie Lee Dovey

LLD is a writer, photographer, marketing and media consultant, hunter, angler, RVer, sports nut, poker player, and wife.


  1. Sue

    I had RunY bypass surgery 17 years ago. I lost a lot of weight. Then I fell in love and got married to a fabulous man who loves to cook. Now, after regaining a substantial amount of weight, I have just finished the 5DPT and am starting over. It is great to feel good again and I truly realize this is how I eat for the rest of my life. My wonderful husband totally supports me and is joining in on the high protein foods with me.

    1. Laurie Lee Dovey

      Congratulations. Love and food seem to go together. But, he wants you around for a long time, so stick to the plan. So glad you’re taking care of you.

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