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Carbs After Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery

Carbs after bariatric surgery

Guest Blog By: Dr. Lillian Craggs-Dino, DHA, RDN, LDN

Carbohydrates (carbs) often take the back seat after metabolic and bariatric surgery (MBS) because there is a strong focus on high-protein intake. However, carbohydrates are nutrients that play an essential role in human health. Carbohydrates are utilized as an energy source for the body; they help “spare” proteins to build lean body mass, support brain health, and carbs support intestinal health.*

Simple and Complex Carbohydrates 

Carbohydrate foods are categorized as either “simple” or “complex.”  Simple carbs, such as sugars and starches, are refined and stripped of natural fiber and nutrients. Complex carbs are unprocessed nutrient-dense options, like whole grains and fiber.

Fruits and vegetables provide both simple and complex carbohydrates because they contain sugar in the simple form of fructose and the complex form of fiber. Other foods that contain carbohydrates include dairy products, like milk, and starches found in potatoes, rice, cereals, pasta, and bread.

The Effects of Carbohydrate Intake

After metabolic and bariatric surgery, carbohydrates, specifically simple carbs, are a concern because excessive intake can lead to diarrhea, lactose intolerance, dumping syndrome, cravings, and weight gain. (1, 2)

Fiber is an essential form of carbohydrate. Surprisingly, almost 95% of Americans do not meet daily fiber recommendations. (3) Women are recommended to get 20-25 grams of fiber per day, while men need slightly more at 25-30 grams. (3) Not getting enough fiber can lead to poor intestinal health and constipation. (4)

It’s also important to chew your food thoroughly to help your body best utilize the fiber you eat. Improperly chewing high-fiber foods can cause obstruction and bezoar formation. (5)

Carbohydrate Recommendations After Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery*

While there are no guidelines regarding how many grams of carbohydrates to consume daily post-op metabolic and bariatric surgery (MBS), science dictates that a diet should consist of around 30-50 grams of carbs per day to support a bariatric diet and brain health. (6) Carbohydrates should be accompanied by a minimum of 60 grams of protein per day to support lean muscle mass.*

While many are hesitant to add carbs back into their diet after gastric bypass and other ASMBS-endorsed procedures due to the fear of revisiting “old” eating behaviors post-op, it’s all about making the right choices.

  • Focus on choosing carbohydrate-based foods that contain high fiber (at least 3 grams per serving) and low sugar or sugar-free (preferably 5 grams per serving or less).
  • Bariatric Fusion High Protein Meal Replacement Shakes make meeting these recommendations easy. Each tasty protein shake provides 27 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and less than 1 gram of sugar per serving.*
  • Eating high-fiber foods, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans), and whole grains, is encouraged. Remember to eat slowly and chew to a pureed consistency to prevent food from getting stuck after MBS. Your fiber intake goal should be about 20-30 grams of fiber daily, if possible.*


A healthful diet consists of consuming all the macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Post-surgery, eat enough healthy carbohydrates and alter your intake around physical activity.

Meet your goals by eating various whole foods, designing meal plans around proteins, and working with a dietitian. You can support a nutritious weight loss journey post-op with healthy food intake, making smart lifestyle choices, and taking bariatric supplements for life.*


Adv Nutr. 2017; 8(2): 382-394

Merck Manual [Professional Version]. 2022

Am J Lifestyle Med. 2017; 11(1): 80-85

Mayo Clinic. 2021

Merck Manual [Professional Version]. 2021

FAO/WHO Food and Nutrition Paper. 1998

This blog is for information and education purposes only. This information is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your bariatric surgeon or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions in regards to a medical condition. A qualified healthcare professional can best assist you in deciding whether a dietary supplement is suitable based on your individual needs.