Alcohol After Weight Loss Surgery
29th January 2023
Posted in: Latest News
How can alcohol be incorporated into your life post weight loss surgery?
Dr George Balalis and his team of medical and allied health practitioners will discuss the guidelines surrounding the safe consumption of alcohol following weight loss surgery at your preoperative consultations. The recommendation is to refrain from any alcohol for a minimum of 3-6 months following your surgery, however it can be reintroduced at a safe and moderate level after this period.
We discuss the changes and risks of alcohol following weight loss surgery below.
Why should you avoid alcohol after weight loss surgery?
After bariatric surgery, even small amounts of alcohol can cause low blood sugar and intoxication. Remember, especially in the first six months following bariatric surgery when your food intake is minimal and your weight is rapidly reducing, alcohol can have a much greater effect.
Changes in absorption
- Alcohol is absorbed much quicker into the small intestine as your stomach capacity has been significantly reduced following weight loss surgery.
- Your dietitian will explain that following weight loss surgery you will not be able to, or discouraged from eating and drinking at the same time to increase your ability to eat nourishing food. If you do not have food in your stomach, alcohol will be absorbed at a faster rate.
- Weight loss surgery causes the reduction in the enzyme dehydrogenase which breaks down alcohol in the stomach.
- It is wise to avoid all alcohol if you are intending to drive, especially in the first 6 months following surgery when food intake is very restricted and weight is reducing rapidly.
Low Blood Sugar
Alcohol can often have high levels of sugar and are also a source of carbohydrates (in liquid form) which are easily absorbed by the body. Sugary drinks can cause a rapid increase in blood glucose levels, as well as insulin and increase the risk of reactive hypoglycaemia. The way that your liver produces and releases glucose can be affected by alcohol.
You may find it very difficult to tolerate fizzy drinks such as champagne, beer and cider following bariatric surgery. Your dietitian will discourage the intake of fizzy drinks as the bubbles can exacerbate reflux and cause pain.
Calories in alcohol are extremely high. If alcohol intake is excess, this could hinder your progress. A bottle of wine has approximately 600 calories – this is equivalent to eating eight slices of bread and butter!
If you have a history of food addiction you are at a much higher risk of ‘addiction transference’. What does that mean? With the reduction of food consumption following your weight loss surgery, addictive behaviours may be transferred to something else as food is no longer a source of comfort, this includes alcohol.
A guideline for safe consumption of alcohol following your weight loss surgery
- Do not consume alcohol for the first 3 months following your surgery
- Avoid alcohol for 6 months following your surgery
- Do not drink alcohol if intending to drive. Be aware when driving, just one standard drink could easily tip you over the legal limit of 0.05!
- Be aware of the calorie content in alcohol
- Be aware of your alcohol limits, even the smallest amount of alcohol can cause intoxication
- Be honest with yourself and if you are struggling with alcohol, seek help from your team.
If you are at the start of your journey with us, you can start avoiding alcohol or significantly decreasing your intake as you try to establish a healthier diet and lifestyle. You will be educated and work with our team prior to your surgery on lifestyle changes and the risks and benefits of weight loss surgery.
We look forward to meeting you (if we haven’t already).
Please contact our rooms for more information or a formal consultation.