Bariatric Carbs Per Day:
The Real Truth

You need to know this about bariatric carbs per day.

Unfortunately, many well intending but uninformed healthcare providers and patients alike perpetuate "carbophobia" by suggesting you can't eat carbs after surgery...

...or that you have to keep bariatric carbs per day to some unrealistic low number. 

Setting the Record Straight

There's truly no specific guidelines regarding carbohydrates for bariatric patients beyond what the healthy recommendations for adults is:

  • RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance): 130 grams of carbohydrate per day

That being said, there's no way you could eat that much for many many many months post op. 

Protein is the priority after surgery and your stomach is too small to hold much else. So it's not like you HAVE to eat low carbs after gastric sleeve, bypass, or band...

...it's that you WIND UP doing so...for awhile anyway. See this bariatric carb chart for an understanding of how bariatric carbs per day typically increase over time.

Once you're fully recovered you may be able to realistically reach around 90-130 grams of carbohydrates per day in the long term.

There are plenty of healthful foods that have carbs like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. These are the kind of carbs you want to choose!!! Healthful, quality carbs. Ditch the highly processed packaged food junky carbs.

Remember when you signed up for surgery and were excited about overhauling your diet and implementing a new lifestyle? Here's the opportunity.

Purchase smart carbs. Long term success depends on you consistently choosing quality versus avoiding or severely restricting them.

While 90-130 grams of daily carbs may sound crazy high if you're a carbophobic...is actually in line with what could be considered a "low carb diet." 

Let me explain...

Definition of a "Low Carb" Diet:
What You Need to Know 

Remember, there are no specific guidelines for bariatric patients beyond what the healthy recommendations for adults is. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Institute of Medicine's recommendations for carbohydrates are based on a percentage (%) of total calories rather than an absolute number:

  • 45-65% of total daily calories.

Now that's more carbs than a bariatric patient can usually physically fit down in a day. 

  • 40% however, is doable.

A diet consisting of 40% of total calories coming from carbohydrate is:

  • Considered “low carb” (40% is less than half (50%) of total calories after all!)
  • Low but not TOO low
  • Enough to prevent low energy and food cravings

Note: If you’re still in the recovery stages, this calculation won’t be practical. It’s best used once you're healed and on the bariatric diet for life.  

Bariatric Macros: Use 40% Carbs

How to Do the Math

Let’s say you’re eating 700 calories per day and want to know how many grams of carbohydrate would equal 40%

 1.   First, figure 40% of the total calories like this:

  • .4 x 700 calories = 280 calories

 2.   Then, convert the calories to grams

Note: One gram of carbohydrate has four calories

So divide the calories you just figured, by 4 calories per gram...like this:

  • 280 calories / 4 calories per gram = 70 grams of carbs

This means if you're trying to eat a low carb (40%) diet and you're eating 700 calories, you can eat 70 grams of carbohydrates.

Here’s another example:

At 1000 calories, 40% carb= 100 grams carbs per day

  • The math: .4 x 1000 calories / 4 calories per gram = 100 grams daily carb

Many surgery practices recommend keeping calories on the lifelong bariatric diet at 800-1200 calories per day to prevent weight regain. So you can see now that 1000 calories per day with 100 grams of carb per day is actually a low calorie, low carb diet!

 Bariatric Carbs Per Day: The Plate Method

bariatric portion plate

Now if you don't like math, there's a way to manage carbs without calculating a thing. If you proportion your plate correctly, the carbs will work themselves out.

This is my favorite way to control bariatric carbs per day because it’s practical and it doesn’t require any calculations!

Use the Bariatric Plate Method at every meal and you’ll be consuming a low carb diet:

  • 3-4 oz protein
  • ⅓ cup of vegetables
  • 2-4 tablespoons of a quality carbs
gastric sleeve diet
gastric bypass diet
gastric lap band diet