Leading up to surgery, your surgeon and dietitian have both stressed to you the importance of hydration. It is recommended that at least 64 oz of fluids are consumed each day to prevent dehydration, constipation, and kidney stones (1). However, following surgery, you may find it more difficult to reach this goal. Your taste may change, and water may no longer taste right. You also will have smaller stomach pouch, limiting the capacity to hold fluids (2). Yet, staying hydrated will remain of the utmost importance, as dehydration is the leading cause of re-hospitalization following bariatric surgery.
As you start to delve back into your normal daily routine and go back to work, you may find barriers to reaching 64 oz of fluids per day. Aside from simply forgetting to drink because you are sick or you are busy and focused on a task, other reasons may come into play. You may be out hiking or camping and have limited access to safe, clean water for drinking. Medical reasons such as diarrhea and vomiting, fever, excessive sweating, and increased urination may also lead to dehydration (3). Signs of dehydration include thirst, headaches, hard stools, less frequent urination, dark-colored urine, fatigue, dizziness, and confusion (1,3).
Dehydration comes with several serious risk factors. If you’re not staying well hydrated while being physically active or while outdoors in the heat, this could lead to heat injury, which can range from heat cramps, to heat exhaustion, to heat stroke. Dehydration can also cause urinary and kidney problems such as urinary tract infections, kidney stones, or even kidney failure. Seizures may occur due to electrolyte loss and imbalance. Finally, a lack of enough fluid intake can cause hypovolemic shock, in which a low blood volume will cause a drop in your blood pressure and a drop in the amount of oxygen in your body (3).
Immediately following surgery, with a small and swollen stomach pouch, you may not reach 64 oz of fluids per day. Continue to sip fluids throughout the day, however, to reach at least 30-40 oz of fluids. As you progress your diet following surgery, reaching 64 oz of fluids per day will become much easier, especially as the swelling and inflammation subsides. You will know if you are staying well hydrated by observing clear, light colored urine at least 5-10 times per day (1). If water itself no longer tastes right, try adding a squeeze of lemon or other citrus fruit to your water for a flavor boost. You may also try artificially sweetened beverages such as Crystal Light, Diet Ocean Spray, G2, Powerade Zero, decaffeinated coffee or tea, or even broth.
Staying hydrated obviously reaps many benefits to your health. It also will help keep you on track with your weight loss. Choose calorie-free fluids to stay hydrated. Anything high in sugar or calories could not only cause dehydration, but could also cause weight gain or dumping syndrome. Remember to avoid drinking with your meals. It is recommended for you to wait 30 minutes before meals and 30 minutes after meals to drink your fluids, so that you are not pushing the food out of your stomach. When your stomach is emptied too quickly, you will become hungry again and might take in too many extra calories by snacking before your next meal. This could lead to weight gain. Sipping your fluids frequently in between your meals will help to keep you full and avoid snacking.
Michelle Adams MS, RD, LD
- ASMBS https://asmbs.org/patients/life-after-bariatric-surgery
- Obesity Help. http://www.obesityhelp.com/forums/nutrition/Hydration-and-Fluid-Options-after-Bariatric-Surgery-WD154.html
- Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/dxc-20261072