Carbs After Bariatric Surgery?
I heard I should be avoiding carbohydrates, is this true?
This is 100% false! Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of fuel. Just as your car needs gas to run, your body and brain rely on carbohydrates to give you the physical and mental energy that you need to get through your day.
What are carbohydrates actually?
The majority of patients identify carbohydrates simply as grain products (e.g. bread, pasta, and rice). When dieters say they’re going on a low carb diet, they typically plan to eliminate or reduce their consumption of these grain products.
In reality, carbohydrate sources include many other foods, like milk, yogurt, fruit, plenty of vegetables, and legumes.
Did you know that one cup of milk has the same amount of grams of carbohydrates as a piece of toast? Or that a large apple has twice as many grams of carbohydrates as that same slice of toast? Or that a 1⁄2 cup of chickpeas has three times the amount of carbohydrates as the toast?
This is why we challenge our patients in why they want to experiment with low-carbohydrate diets. What does that mean to them? And which foods are they planning on restricting? A lower carbohydrate diet is not necessarily a healthier one!
In a world where our food apps can track everything, it’s sometimes hard to make sense of all of the numbers they give us. You shouldn’t be blindly trying to decrease your total grams of carbohydrates or total grams of fat per day without understanding how that translates into food choices and your overall health.
The type of carbohydrate is more important than the amount of carbohydrate.Not all carbohydrates are created equal. The most common forms of carbohydrates are:
Fibre (for the purposes of this book, we will refer to fibre as a ‘complex carbohydrates’);
Sugar (for the purposes of this book, we will refer to them as ‘simple carbohydrates’).
Starch. Starch is calculated by taking the total carbohydrates and subtracting both the fibre and sugar from it (for the purposes of this book, we will refer to starches as ‘complex carbohydrates’).
Foods that are high in carbohydrates but contain a fair amount of fibre and starch, and a low amount of sugar (i.e. high in complex carbohydrates and low in simple carbohydrates), are typically healthier choices. Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest, which is why they make you feel fuller longer.
Similarly, foods that are high in carbohydrates but contain high amounts of sugar and low amounts of fibre and starch (i.e. high in simple carbohydrates and low in complex carbohydrates) are typically less healthy choices. Simple carbohydrates are quickly digested, which is why they give you a quick boost of energy, but also why you don’t feel satisfied for very long.
After WLS, protein should always be eaten first, followed by your vegetables and then your grain products (e.g. rice, quinoa, pasta) or starch (e.g. potato, sweet potato, squash). Eating in this order will naturally limit the amount of carbohydrates you consume at each meal because of the limited space in your stomach.
Patients who restrict their carbohydrate intake, in our experience, typically have a harder time finding a healthy balance and joy in eating again. One of the biggest consequences of skipping out on carbohydrates at mealtime is that your blood sugar is less balanced, which can result in sugar cravings later on in the day.
Remember: All foods fit, but it’s the portions of food that should be the focus in a healthy diet, post WLS.
- Lisa & Monica