Can You Use Calories Tracking Apps If You Have Had Bariatric (Weight Loss) Surgery?
Yes! Logging is an excellent way to stay on top of the eating and hydration protocol that your bariatric team (e.g. doctor and dietitian) has asked you to follow. However, you will not be using the typically recommended intake (e.g. DRIs/RDAs) for calories, fat, carb, and protein. Instead, use the nutrient goals and intake guidelines given to you by your bariatric team. These are life-long requirements that are very important to follow so please do not confuse yourself by trying to follow values produced automatically from tracking apps. Use an app that allows you to customize nutrient goals. For instance, MyNetDiary allows customization of nutrient goals with Premium membership.
If it has been 7 weeks or more since your weight loss surgery, then ideally, you are consuming at least 60 grams of protein every day. If you are still struggling to reach this goal then please contact your bariatric team for more tips on how to meet your daily goal. Fish, seafood, chicken, turkey, beef, pork, egg, non-fat Greek yogurt, and low fat cottage cheese are all sources of concentrated protein. Tofu and soy veggie proteins are also high in protein but you typically have to eat a bit more volume to get the same amount as from animal sources. Protein supplements can also come in handy – just make sure they are low in sugar (less than 3-4 grams sugar per serving). Some examples are: Light Muscle Milk, Pure Protein Shake, Unjury, Bariatric Advantage High Protein Meal Replacement, and Isopure. As well, whey powder can be added to foods to increase protein (whey does not contain lactose sugar so it should not cause dumping).
Most bariatric clinics recommend consuming at least 64 fl oz of water daily (about 8 cups). With MyNetDiary, you can track your intake by clicking on the water glasses and/or by adding tap water to your food record. Be sure to add water as a nutrient to track. Your nutrient reports will include total water intake from all dietary sources – from food and liquids. If you are having trouble remembering to drink 8 cups of water, you can use the rubber band trick. Count up how many times you have to refill your water bottle to meet the 64 fl oz (8 cups) intake goal and place that many rubber bands on your water bottle. Take off a rubber band each time you finish drinking a water bottle. When you have pulled off the last rubber band, you have met goal. For instance, my water bottle only holds 16 fl oz (2 cups), so I would place 4 rubber bands on my water bottle.
Vitamin & Mineral Supplements
It is extremely important to take your prescribed vitamin and mineral supplements for the rest of your life. If you have had a gastric bypass, then your procedure is both restrictive and malabsorptive so supplements are critical for preventing nutrient deficiencies over time. In MyNetDiary, you can either choose to enter your supplements as customized food items or you can simply enter them as text in the section entitled “Vitamins/Supplements/Medications.” Note that your vitamin and mineral intake from supplements is likely to be higher than the DRI/RDA values (what most apps use for default nutrient values) – that is okay. Typically, supplements include a multivitamin/mineral (with iron), calcium citrate + vitamin D, vitamin D, and B complex (including B12). Iron and calcium should not be taken together – they will bind and absorption will reduced for both. Also, spread out your calcium intake (usually 2-3 doses) since your body can only absorb up to about 600 mg at one time. If you have any questions about your supplement use, please be sure to ask your bariatric care team for more help.
To summarize, tracking can help you meet your needs after bariatric surgery, especially for protein and water, but please use your bariatric care team’s guidelines to customize goals. Do not try to follow the automated values that tracking apps display as defaults for fat and carbs – they will be too high!
- American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery. Bariatric Support Group Directory.
- Kurian, MS, Thompson, B, and Davidson, BK. Weight Loss Surgery for Dummies, 2nd edition. Great resource for patients who have had bariatric surgery.
- Weight-Control Information Network. Bariatric Surgery for Severe Obesity.
Have questions or comments about this post? Please feel free to comment on
MyNetDiary’s Community Forum or
Facebook page –
We would love to hear from you.
And consider visiting our new Pinterest page!
Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice.
If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.
Weight Loss/Bariatric Surgery
- Considering Weight Loss Surgery?
- Tracking Food & Exercise is Not Just About Calories