Regardless of where you are in your weight loss journey, staying hydrated is key to maintaining your health. After making the life-altering decision to start down a new path with bariatric surgery, the importance of hydration becomes that much more pronounced, and maybe even a tad difficult. With a restricted pouch size, what you choose to consume requires a bit more thought, as each bite battles it out for coveted space in your now-smaller stomach. Whether you are in the pre-op phase, just out of weight loss surgery, or a seasoned bariatric veteran, we have compiled all of the helpful tips and tricks you can add to your bariatric playbook to stay hydrated.
1. Challenge yourself to drink 64 ounces a day!
Sound like a lot? Don’t overthink it! Let’s say you used to grab a large soda at your favorite fast food shop, finish the cup, then go back and get a refill for the drive home. That’s at least 64 ounces right there! If that were water, you would have successfully consumed your daily minimum recommended amounts. Challenge yourself to fill a large cup with water instead of soda to knock it out of the park! If you need to add a little zest or zing to your water, we recommend infusing it with your favorite fruit overnight, or brew your favorite iced tea without the sugar! You may sprinkle it with a little 0 calorie sweetener, but anything else and it will not count towards your daily intake! (Coffee, we are talking about you! But more on that later).
2. Can’t let go of calories in your drinks? You can get away with 5 calories per 8 ounce serving, but that’s it.
Common favorites for sugar-free beverages include Crystal Light, VitaminWater Zero, etc.) Our favorite substitute? Iced green tea infused with lemon or berry of choice and a bit of stevia. This refreshing beverage is loaded with antioxidants shown to improve brain function, lower the risk of heart disease, and best of all, aid with weight loss by boosting your body’s metabolism! Add brewing a big pitcher of green tea to your weekly meal prep so that you have access to a flavorful drink with every mealtime that is not a liquid cup of sugar! Just be sure you reach for the caffeine-free teabags!
3. Limit your caffeine AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
“But, my morning coffee? Whatever will I do without it?” You will be FINE! Luckily, 16 oz is plenty for you to squeeze a cup or two with breakfast. But that’s it! Don’t reach for the office coffee machine while you visit the break room, and don’t even think about scrounging up some change to grab a canned tea from the vending machine! Not only is it incredibly tempting to fill coffee with sugar and fat-rich dairy creams, but caffeine also acts as a mild diuretic that can send you running to the bathroom, and every drop counts! Don’t cut out caffeine. Just enjoy in safe moderation!
4. Substitute the stuff in your cup.
If you do decide to brew yourself a steaming cup of coffee or hot tea, be mindful of what you decide to put in it! While relatively harmless on its own, a spoonful of sugar into your morning cup of Joe spikes your blood sugar, which triggers your body’s urge to urinate as a way to release the excess sugar, thus releasing those valuable H2O droplets! (There’s also the dreaded dumping syndrome from too much sugar) The name of the game is to retain, so don’t let your efforts go out of the window before you even make it out of the front door! Stevia or monk fruit sweetener will be your best friend in this area. Don’t forget about the dangers in your favorite coffee creams! Unless otherwise specified, you can pretty much assume that your favorite cream is stocked to the brim with sugar! Try just pouring a splash of skim milk with stevia or sugar free syrup to really cut back the calories and added fats that could contribute to a weight-loss stall!
5. Next time you crave something, reach for water first!
If you are anything like me, I used mistake my thirst pangs for some sort of sugary craving, especially in the summer when dehydration levels skyrocket and it was so easy to drive up to a drive-through for ice cream or slushy to quench a dry mouth! But I can promise you that every time I reached for a cool glass of water after being in the heat from a walk or the backyard with my family, that glass of water turned out to be exactly what I wanted and what my body needed! Try it next time you have a craving! You’ll be amazed at how many calories you’ll save!
6. Motivate yourself by purchasing a cute water bottle!
One thing that makes staying hydrated so much more doable is the ease of access! Keep a water bottle on hand, even if you’re working from home. That way when you are thirsty, you reach for that nearby bottle of water instead of getting up for juice from the fridge! If you can, infuse your water overnight with juicy fruits for a drink with some personality!
7. Drink your protein snack.
We all have high protein goals each day. For many of us that means packing a healthy protein packed snack like nuts, meats or cheese. If you are struggling to reach your hydration goals, exchange one of those snacks with a bariatric friendly protein drink. There are so many options. Any don’t worry, we have even created a video on spicing up your protein shake so you don’t get too bored. https://wlsafterlife.com/blog/protein-shake/
If you are looking to try some of the clear protein shakes, we have even taste tested a few for you. https://wlsafterlife.com/blog/clear-premier-protein-taste-test/
8. Stay away from ice water.
Though refreshing, it is harder to consume large quantities of water when they threaten to give you brain freeze! Try room temperature to more easily drink the recommended amount or wean yourself off the ice and switch to cool water if you can’t resist!
9. Skip the alcohol
Even though your alcohol intake should radically decrease following bariatric surgery, even having one glass can negatively impact the water you have worked so hard to ingest and retain. If possible, cut out alcohol altogether, or save it for the weekend after your week of excellent dedication to hydration.
Not sure if you are consuming enough water?
Next time you get up from the toilet, check the bowl! (Kind of gross, we know, but it’s important!) The color of your urine tells a story that many of us tend not to notice. The darker the yellow, the lower the hydration! You will know you corrected the issue if your next pee is light in color, but not completely clear! That simply means you are drinking too quickly for your body to absorb the water! It is a fine line to walk, but worth the added effort!
As always after surgery, wait to sip!
After a meal, most doctors recommend waiting 30 minutes before you decide to wash down your meal with a drink. Click this link for a visual on why this is so critical for all our bariatric friends!
With all the suggestions we offered you, we hope that we made the hydration task a little less daunting a bit more practical for everyday use! Staying hydrated and maintaining a healthy water intake has boundless pros and virtually no cons. It will help curb appetite and decrease your daily caloric intake by keeping you full in between meals with a 0-calorie liquid, it helps your hair, skin, and nails stay healthy and help retain a youthful glow, and even helps prevent joint pain from long-term dehydration!
For a bariatric playbook full of helpful tips on your journey to weight loss, create your free WLS Afterlife account!