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How big is a normal portion after weight loss surgery ?

How big is a normal portion after weight loss surgery ?
14 October 2019 joannalenner

How big is a normal portion after weight loss surgery ?

After an bariatric surgery, portions for most people are small. In the beginning, it can be as little as 1-2 dl per meal. But research shows that most people eat relatively “normal” portions after a certain amount of time.

Dietitian Anna Laurenius at Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg, Sweden, has studied more closely how gastric bypass patients eat. She followed 128 patients both before and after their weight loss surgeries. It turned out that the portions are normalized over time but that the caloric intake is lower than before. This could be due to the fact that people tend to choose different foods after surgery, including more vegetables, and they also stop at one serving vs taking multiple portions. Other changes in eating patterns including eating more often throughout the day, eating more at the beginning of the day, and eating more slowly.

What are the recommendations?

The advice that many clinics and hospitals provide is to eat 4-6 meals a day in order to maintain a steady blood sugar and get enough protein. It is also advised to avoid grazing. Most also recommend eating between 1-2 dl at first, but this varies from person to person. Some people can’t even eat a full deciliter at first. It all depends on how tight your pouch or sleeve is, the type of food you’re eating, how recent your last meal was, etc.

We know that this maybe leaves you with a bit of an ambiguous feeling about how much to eat, but that’s because there’s no correct answer. The right portion for someone else may not be right for you. A few things to keep in mind are:

  •        Eat slowly and chew well.These behaviors will help you feel that you are full before you get to too full.
  •        People are often able to eat more soft or liquidy foods, like yogurt and cottage cheese.
  •        Denser foods, like meat, tend to fill people up quickly
  •        Crunchy foods, like crackers or chips, aren’t very filling (and aren’t the best choice anyway)


To help illustrate how different portion sizes can be, below are two women’s experiences after their bariatric surgeries.  

Sofie, RNY:

“After 9 months, I already started not to feel full after meals, especially in the evening after dinner. So I added 100 g of broccoli  to help fill my stomach, because it adds a lot of volume without many calories. I still do this now. Over the summer, I substituted broccoli for a large salad. If you didn’t that I had the operation, you would not be able to tell from what I eat, since I often eat a normal portion. “

Ursula, VSG

“It is now 1.5 years since my surgery. I reached my target weight after 8 months, and I have been at a stable weight for 10 months. I still eat smaller portions, always on small plates or bowls. I still have to think about eating slowly, otherwise I easily get a stomachache and/or feel stuffed immediately. If, on the other hand, I eat slowly, I have room for a little more food in my stomach, which can keep me feeling full a little longer .”

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