Consuming Caffeine after Weight Loss Surgery

A common question asked of us by post bariatric surgery patients is whether or not it is appropriate to consume caffeinated foods and drinks after surgery. The short answer is yes, but with a big asterisk. While caffeine itself, in significant quantities, can cause mood changes even dangerous physical changes in the body, the average person does not consume enough caffeine for that to be the case. Rather, the foods and drinks that contain caffeine are often diet-busters.

For example caffeinated drinks are often carbonated and sugary – like energy drinks and colas. These drinks can add hundreds of calories to a person’s daily diet. The bubbles can also irritate the stomach pouch. Since the stomach is so small, the carbonation can actually stretch it. Similarly, chocolates, which are a source of caffeine, also tend to have sugar added.

Of further note, caffeine is a diuretic, meaning that it flushes water from the body. Oftentimes, patients will believe, wrongly, that they are hydrating themselves properly by drinking lots of coffee and tea. The truth is that not all liquid is the same. As bariatric patients, it is very important that plenty of water – pure water – is consumed throughout the day. This can help avoid dehydration-related hunger that makes us eat too much, even when we’re not truly hungry.

All in all, caffeine is like most other compounds we consume in our daily lives. Moderation is acceptable, but in excess, it can be damaging to our health and our diets. You can learn more about appropriate caffeine intake at one of our support groups or by asking your dietitian about their recommendation for your particular circumstance.