The “Skinny” on Drinking With Meals & Weight Loss After WLS
I have heard many times from new patients to our Program that they have a friend, coworker or family member who has had weight loss surgery and were never told not to drink with their meals. My question is always, “How are they doing with their weight loss?” Although success with weight loss surgery is not achieved with just one behavior modification or diet choice, drinking with meals is a problematic behavior.Not drinking with meals and not drinking for 30 minutes following a meal is one of the best pieces of advice I could provide to a patient to help them lose weight, regardless as to if they have had bariatric surgery or not.
Many of us are familiar with the famous Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest every July 4th in which contestants compete to see how many hot dogs they can eat in a 10-minute period. These contestants not only train for this event, they have a strategy to win it. Although difficult for some of us to watch, you’ll find that that strategy includes soaking the hot dog and bun in liquid to allow for the faster transit of food and better compression of food into the stomach cavity. This is followed by a sip of liquid. Although the issue for postsurgical patients is not about compacting food, or getting food to pass quickly, (we’re talking about a ¾ cup of food not 61 hot dogs), the benefit of not drinking with the meal is two-fold and clearly a great tool for weight loss. Reasons For Not Drinking With Meals - Stay Full Longer! First, by allowing food to sit in the stomach longer, which happens when food is not mixed with liquid, the patient experiences more fullness and the signal is sent to the brain that it’s time to stop eating. Second, when liquid is added to solid food and mixes with stomach acids, the food literally liquefies faster and moves from the stomach down into the intestine at an accelerated rate. With the stomach emptying faster, and the feeling of fullness not being truly experienced, both physical and emotional hunger return more quickly. This begins the cycle of increasing the amount of food the patient is able to eat (physical) as well as the patient’s need to eat more (emotional), sabotaging a patient’s weight loss success. Not drinking with your meals is a good tool for all of us trying to lose weight. One of my patients shared with me that when she was preparing for weight loss surgery, her spouse asked how he could be supportive of her as she moved through the process. Her one and only request to him was that he also not drink with the meals they shared together. Because of their schedules, this generally meant just one meal a day. That said, during the six months of her preparation process, with just this one change at this one meal, he lost 10 pounds! Thankfully, she lost a few more pounds than he did as that might have been a sore subject, but I share this story often to demonstrate the importance of this one behavior change that can truly make a difference when trying to lose weight.