Paleo: appropriate after gastric bypass?

by 1208 · February 07, 2014 at 10:49 AM

Hi there, My father had gastric bypass surgery last year. He lost about 60 lbs very quickly after the surgery, but has now stalled. He's got another 80 or so to go.

I recently began talking with him about how wonderful going paleo/primal has made me feel, how I have (unexpectedly) begun losing weight, and how the philosophy behind the diet/lifestyle make so much sense to me.

He is interested and intrigued; he loves his meat and fat, but, like so many of us, he has been trying to cut fat and eat "healthy". He is especially worried, after having altered his body so drastically, about going against what all of his doctors tell him is the "right" way to eat. He has been told to eat mainly protein and complex carbs, and to strip most of the fat out of his diet. I don't need to tell you my opinion of this advise ;)

Do any of you have experience yourselves or know of anyone who has had gastric bypass and gone on to thrive on a paleo/primal diet? Do you know of any resources or links where I can direct him to get more information?

Thanks so much!

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77342 · March 17, 2010 at 05:44 AM

First let me congratulate your father for losing so much of his excess weight. According to what I've read online most folks undergoing this surgery only lose about a third of what they need to lose.

I found this link which is pretty informative and a little bit scary too. http://www.webmd.com/diet/weight-loss-surgery/gastric-bypass

If it were me, I'd try a small amount of fat and see what effect it had on my newly re-engineered digestive system. At least they recommend protein and no sugar, so that's a start.

1944 · March 30, 2010 at 05:04 PM

Joe, I feel sorry for your sister, too, but not because of her surgery. What is it with these people who believe that obesity is a punishable offense? And then, if they do manage to lose it, they still should be punished if the method isn't "approved" by some?

I am 3+ years out of RNY gastric bypass surgery. Truly, it is the best thing I ever did for myself. This was after 7+ years of low carbing, which got me so far, but no further. I made it to goal at the end of the first year after surgery, and here I still sit.

I did, also, follow the low-fat recommendations at first. Honestly, at that level of intake it wouldn't have made any difference what I ate, I would have still lost. Now that I can eat more, it makes sense (and thank goodness I realized it) to go back to low carb. I can only manage a certain level of fat, though, and then I start to get a little of that sick feeling one learns about after having gastric bypass. Nevertheless, I am doing quite well and working my way toward being a little closer and closer to paleo every day. I LOVE my food, I LOVE my diet, and I LOVE being a size 8! I also love the fact that since my surgery, I have not so much as even had the sniffles.

Your father may need to work his way around to a higher-fat diet. It takes a little while, but just be sure he understands that he needs to reduce his carbs in tandem with eating higher fat. Any time it makes him feel bad, he can always quit, but I'm betting he will feel better and lose the rest of his weight too!

You don't mention any sort of exercise. Does your father exercise? I found that while it doesn't really burn enough calories to do any "good," it keeps me hyper-aware of my body.

10 · February 03, 2012 at 08:28 PM

Congrats to your father for taking the life-changing, permanent step of choosing surgery to tackle his obesiety. i think Paleo is possible for him, but he may need some modifications depending on how he handles his food. A little about my perspective...

i had RNY Gastric Bypass in October 2010. I am 5'11" and went from 330lbs to 200lbs since then. I work out five days a week, and have since week 3 post op. Luckily, I have a pretty tough stomach and have never had something come back up or down(lol) for that matter. The only thing that makes me sick is liquid sugar, IE real soda, ice cream, super sugary desserts- but i can eat junk like the rest of them. I can eat chips, fried food, cookies, even chocolate without getting sick. (So whoever says surgery is the "easy way out" is just ignorant and uninformed- I have to CHOOSE to eat healthy food as often as you do, I just got a jump start on my weight loss with surgery). Rant over

When exactly did your father have surgery? Stopping at 60lbs this soon kind of sends alarms out. I lost 60lbs in the first 6 months- it does slow down and everyone is different, but I wonder if he is truly being compliant of not eating junk food and with exercising? As to his concern about how switching to this lifestyle will affect his weightloss? I have only been doing it for less than a week, but have lost 10lbs in that week. I have way more energy and actually am not craving carbs at all. The primal lifestyle in some ways is NOT so different from post op eating. After surgery we are told to focus on protein- it's the most important thing(yay!). So important that we are not supposed to eat any other part of our meal until we've had at least 20grams of protein eaten first, after that if we have any more room- then we can have veggies and/or fruit. Its not until after those two things are eaten, do they recommend carbs if you want. Meaning, they'd rather you skip the carbs if it means you won't get your protein and veggies in....perfect! For me, I found the only concept hard to comprehend is the fat consumption. Luckily, eating a lot of fat does not bother my stomach, for some it may, so he might need to experiement. But all in all, it's not that HUGE of a change, just remove the carbs(which he probably shouldn't be eating much of if he follows the gastric bypass guidelines anyways) and add more fat to his diet.

I guess he could try it first and see if he loses any more weight. And THEN let his nutritionist know. Well, that is my plan at least. I have an appt with her at the end of april, she seems pretty open, and as long as my labs come back fine, i honestly don't think it will b other her. But we all know plenty in the medical establishment who would freak out if they knew we were being successful eating all this fat- and encourage us to stop regardless if we are healthy or not.

Please keep us updated on how he does!


10 · November 15, 2011 at 02:51 PM

I'm a bariatric patient. RNY 2 years out. I'm not sure what type of diet your family member was put on, but I know that the food pyramid they gave to me after surgery was very similar to the paleo food pyramids I've seen online. When you fix a plate of food its protein first, then veggies, then when you meet your weight loss goals you can add in some fruit. After surgery you can't eat much so food allergies that you might have had for years become very visible. Also, since basically your stomach is new and healing grains are out of the question. And as for sugars, most people suffer from some form of "dumping syndrome" ... if you eat too much sugar at one time you feel awful and have gas, diarrhea, nausea and a ton of other symptoms from your body not knowing what to do with all that sugar. And dairy... They didn't really have much of a rule on it. Like I said before allergies are very noticeable when you can only take in such a small amount of food, and most of the patients I've met realize they actually are intolerant of dairy... or the sugars in dairy also cause dumping. As for fat, I'm gonna have to agree with the comment above, I'm not really sure how fat is processed in the modified stomach... but your stomach is smaller overall you should be eating less food.

20762 · September 12, 2011 at 08:52 PM

Well here's my thought, he physically has to eat less food now, as that's the principle reason the surgery works for weightloss. Given that there's less food coming in now, you want to make that food as nutrient dense as possible. That means meat and fat. I don't know how well his modified stomach will work with fat, so play with it. MCTs from coconut products are probably going to be the easiest to digest. Just have him stay away from any empty calories (grains and sugars).

2012 · March 29, 2010 at 09:17 PM

it would probably depend on the TYPE of gastric bypass surgery he had. There are actually about half a dozen different surgeries that a bariatric surgeon might perform. Some of them limit intake, others limit absorption, some are reversible, others are not. You/your father should probably research that specific surgery type to determine if a paleo diet would be safe/effective for his new digestive system.

0 · June 15, 2013 at 05:51 PM

I just found this thread after searching for "going paleo after gastric bypass." I am a post RNY patient myself and I'm very interested in finding others that are going or have gone paleo after having the surgery. Facebook groups would be wonderful! If you've found anything during your search that could help me I would really appreciate you sharing your knowledge. :) Thanks in advance!

0 · September 30, 2012 at 02:09 PM

Years of low-carbing and rigorous exercise trying to treat the weight gain and the diabetes lost me 20 lbs. After an RNY my blood sugar is normal every time I test (3-4 times a day) without any diabetes medications although I have only lost 12 lbs in the week since the surgery. So the remission in my diabetes is not likely due to the weight loss, it is due to the RNY. I have problems with your story, Joey, because I know of no insurance company that does not require a medically supervised diet and evidence of other attempts to lose weight over a period of time before they will approve this surgery.

My biggest frustration is all the dairy products on the menu they want me to follow but that will change soon with the addition of meat and veggies. Paleo proved its value to me before the surgery although my blood sugar went way too low way too often, even after I stopped the medication. Looks like that problem is gone now so I'm looking forward to living paleo as much as possible till I can live it fully. My advice to you is to take the log out of your own eye before attempting to remove the splinter from someone else's.

0 · April 19, 2012 at 05:37 PM

COngrats to your father for making the choice. How long ago was his surgery and how is he doing now? It takes a lot of courage to take control over your lifestyle and get healthy!

After 10 years of trying every diet, pill and fad and having lost and gained I had to do something. I had my surgery in October 2001 and lost 110 lbs in the first 6 months. In the last 10 years I've gained and lost, but its not been by a whole lot and my eating habits are usually pretty steady. I've lost substantial weight when I've been sick and gained it back with no problem or change in my eating habits.
I'm going to be 50 in less than 2 weeks and I've choosen this time to change my lifestyle. Part of it is because I'm not happy eating grains and have more problems when I do. The other problem I have that accompanies the gastric bypass is Chron's Disease, so its even harder.
I am determined to make this lifestyle change a success, with some tweeking and a whole lot of patience as I work to find what works best for my body. Some things will be easy to give up and some will be a little harder, but I know that this will work and in the long run I'll be happier, which is all that matters!

Any lifestyle change can be successful if you have the determination to use the tools you are given to make it work for you. If you don't use the tools in your toolbox (that was what my surgeon called the gastric bypass) you won't have a successful weight loss. You have to want to do it and stick to it for the rest of your life and you can be successful.

2903 · February 03, 2012 at 08:56 PM

I'm happy for your father. I know gastric bypass isn't great for everyone, but there is a percent of a percent of the population that it's ideal for, and it sounds like he fits right into it. My friend just had it and it seems like paleo is ideal for how she needs to eat. She is recommended to take in 800 calories/day, and she says she feels full after 400. Carbs are difficult for her to keep down (they come back up) and so in order to make her 800 calories, she has to increase her fats and protein. I think paleo is a great companion to gastric bypass.

0 · September 12, 2011 at 03:41 AM

This video seems to address most of the issues brought up in the comments in this string


Evolutionary Bariatrics... paleo diet & evolutionary lifestyle for those seeking bariatric intervention before/after surgery or without the surgery at all. I would caution at dividing those that choose or not choose surgery into different camps, it would be best to make this info accessible to as many obese and metabolically sick among us.

152 · March 17, 2010 at 01:31 PM

Why congratulate him? I'm sorry but my sister had the same surgery and I feel it's hugely false, extremely unhealthy, cheating( my sister never tried to eat healthy or exercise).. It's a cheat.. And it limits the rest of your life nutritionally as she can eat a chicken leg at a meal and that's about it..

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