What Can I Eat? The Pre-Op Stage

The pre-op stage can be anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 days before your weight loss surgery, depending on your program. What follows is what my experience has been, going through the Weight and Wellness Program here in Maine. It is best to check with your individual program and/or PCP, Surgeon about what they recommend for your own pre-op diet. You’ve come this far, let’s make sure you are on the right path.

See also: The 4 Weight Loss Surgery Stages – food planning


Our program recommends a 2 week pre-op diet. This pre-op stage is very important, as it serves a particular purpose before surgery. During this stage you will be working to shrink your liver so your surgeon can move around all your squishy bits inside a lot more easily. This pre-op diet will also aid in more weight loss, which combined with liver shrinking can help your surgery be quicker and safer for all.

So what can you eat in the pre-op stage?

Again, each program is different, but generally you will want to stick with a mostly liquid diet during pre-op. You also must be psychologically ready for this, as you are still carrying around a big belly, but will be eating a considerable less amount of food. And remember, this begins your new journey to health and wellness. The only person who will suffer if you don’t heed this pre-op stage, is you.

Don’t let you suffer you!

What Can I Eat? The Pre-Op Stage

Protein Shakes

I am a huge fan of the pre-made protein shakes. All your nutritional information is right there on the label and you know exactly what you’re getting in each shake.

I went the way of powdered protein mixed with milk during my pre-op diet and for several weeks after surgery. It gets old. Plus, if you haven’t talked yourself down to skim milk or Fairlife (I love this milk, just a quick give-it-a-try tip), then you are drinking/wasting calories you will want (and need) later in the day.

I don’t hate mixing my own protein shakes, I simply love the convenience of pre-made.

You may have to try several brands before choosing a favorite.

My pre-made protein favorites include:

  • Atkins
  • Premier Protein

I LOVE the Atkins protein shakes. Hands down my favorite for taste, consistency, and every one (except for chocolate) is a winner. I don’t know why I don’t like the chocolate, I just don’t. You shouldn’t rule it out, however. Everyone’s taste buds are different.

The reason I now drink Premier Protein is that they are double the amount of protein in one shake. Atkins shakes have 15 grams, while Premier Protein has 30. The body can’t absorb more than 30 grams of protein at any one time, but it seems silly not to take advantage of getting in a full 30 with every shake.

And the taste isn’t horrible compared to Atkins. It’s just different. I enjoy the vanilla, strawberry, and bananas and cream. You’ll want to check your local Walmart for a good variety. I find mine in the vitamins/weight loss section of the store.

How many protein shakes a day? 

Our program recommends that you drink 3 protein shakes per day during your pre-op diet. This may seem like a lot, but you should be eating OR drinking every 3-4 hours during this time so that you are able to control any hunger issues.

If you are bent on mixing your shakes, make sure you are using whey protein, low carbs, and sugars. You may have to do some serious homework to find the right taste for you. Trust me, it’s worth it. Learning to read labels at this pre-op stage (or before) will go a long way to aid in your overall weight loss/better health success.

What else can I eat during my pre-op stage?

Love the pre-made frozen meals? You are in luck here. Pick up some Healthy Choice or Lean Cuisine to satisfy this hunger. Don’t eat more than 2 per day and enjoy.

Other foodstuffs you may be approved for in the pre-op stage.

  • 3 and 3 ounces of lean meat (2 meals, just as with the frozen meals – including: chicken, fish, certain beef cuts, as well as pork and lamb).
  • Unlimited veggies (no starchy vegetables – run far away from corn, peas, potatoes, etc.)
  • Fruit (most any fruits are yours for the eating, though unlimited does not apply here – keep your portions light and your liver will thank you)
  • Low-fat Yogurt (watch your sugar here – I recommend Oikos Greek, so insanely tasty and 15 grams of protein in each)

pre-op stage - other foodstuffs

Our program does recommend that if you forgo the frozen meals for your two eating meals, you may include some starches like potatoes, rice, corn, peas, etc. I am not a big starch eater as a rule, so this just didn’t matter to me.

You will want to make sure you are getting at least 60-70 grams of protein a day and 64 oz. of liquids (BONUS: your protein shakes count toward your liquid goals, as does broth and tea) during this pre-op stage. You may also wish to begin taking your multi-vitamin at this stage.

And there you have it. No matter the length of your pre-op diet, it’s important to stick to the plan. You have come this far and surgery is right around the corner. Let’s shrink those livers and begin eating to live, rather than living to eat.

For your health and mine,





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What are some foods or drinks allowed with your program during the pre-op stage?



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