How Can I Drink Enough Water After Bariatric Surgery?

Published May 10, 2021 By Anne Cook Carroll, MS, RDN

Dehydration is a common cause of hospital readmission after bariatric surgery, so it is essential that you prioritize adequate fluid intake. Once you are at home following the full-liquid, you should aim to get 64 ounces, or eight 8-ounces glasses of water per day. This will remain your water intake goal throughout the duration of your bariatric diet progression.

After surgery, your stomach will only be able to fit about 3 ounces (and later on, about 8-12 ounces) at any given time, which can make getting adequate nutrition and hydration difficult. The solution? Plan it out. We recommend working with a dietitian to set a schedule and meal plan to make sure you can effectively get the nutrition and hydration you need.

  • Beverages to include: water, and other no calorie or very low calorie, sugar-free beverages (ie. Crystal Light in water, Propel, 10 calorie Vitamin Water)
  • Beverages to avoid: carbonated, caffeinated, or high-sugar drinks like soda and juice

Here are some tips and guidelines to ensure safe, adequate hydration after bariatric surgery:

  • Avoid water 30 minutes before eating and wait 60 minutes after eating to consume water. This helps to prevent dumping syndrome as well as ensures you can fit adequate nutrients in your stomach at meal times. 
  • Avoid drinking out of a straw or at a water fountain as it can be hard to control and gauge how much water you are consuming. 
  • Buy a water bottle with ounce measurements so you can track your water intake throughout the day to hit your target 64 ounces. 
  • If you don’t like the taste of water, try adding flavorings like a squeeze of citrus or a packet of sugar free Crystal Light 
  • Use a food journal to record your food and beverage intake. This will help you to stay on track and make sure you’re meeting your nutrition and hydration goals. Pen and paper not your thing? Try using a tracking app, like MyFitnessPal, to log your intake. 
  • Set a timer on your phone to remind yourself to sip water 
  • Tips for the  first two weeks: Use a one-ounce medicine cup to portion out your water and protein shake intake. Try sipping on protein shakes for 3 hours followed by sipping on water for 1 hour and alternate all day.

Signs of dehydration

  • Excessive thirst 
  • Nausea or dizzy 
  • Headache
  • Dark colored urine 
  • Dry mouth

Team Tip:

“Staying hydrated is not only important to maintain bodily functions, but also for skin health. I always start my day with a glass of water with fresh squeezed lemon juice. I drink at least 64oz of water a day! One of my favorite ways to flavor it is to add sliced cucumbers or melons in the summer for a refreshing twist!”

– Sherrie