The Liver Shrinking Diet for Gastric Bypass

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Are you interested in learning more about the Liver Shrinking Diet also known as the Liver Reduction Diet? If so then this is the article for you!

When I announced I was going on a liver shrinking diet to prepare for my Gastric Bypass Surgery planned in January 2016. I wanted to find information on what to eat on the Liver Shrinking Diet. I honestly found very little information and so I decided to share my experience for others searching for information on the liver reduction diet.


The Liver Shrinking Diet Before Gastric Bypass

I wrote a post about my decision to have bariatric surgery and why I felt a Gastric Bypass was the best way to improve my health. Today I am sharing the Liver Shrinking Diet plan that I was given to follow.

Why I Am Having a Gastric Bypass Operation

I wanted to have a Gastric Bypass to give me a better quality of life and to help me reduce my weight which will, in turn, reduce the steroid dose I am required to use for my Adrenal Insufficiency  Reducing my cortisol requirements ultimately reduced the cost of my steroid medication Hydrocortisone, which I needed to buy each month while on the Adrenal Pump.

Weight reduction is also important for people that have been diagnosed with NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis). NASH symptoms and signs can appear when there’s a buildup of fat in the liver, affecting its proper functioning. Reducing at minimum 3%-5% of the total body weight can reduce fat deposits in the liver, while losing up to 10% can even reduce scar tissue and inflammation. 

I believed a Gastric Bypass would also benefit me in many other ways and improve my general health and so my official bariatric preparations began.

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Why Do You Need to Go on a Liver Shrinking Diet Before Gastric Bypass?

Before any bariatric surgery, a patient is required to undergo a Liver Shrinking Diet which makes it easier for the surgeon to operate on the stomach. 

The diet plan specifics may be different for you depending on which hospital or team you’re under.  

I had to start my diet two weeks before my operation which for me was the 5th of January.

I decided I might as well eat healthier from the first and so I started eating healthier right away after all 2016 was my year for major weight loss and so I was ready to start on the 1st of January.

liver shrinking diet

What Foods Can You Eat on a Liver Shrinking Diet

Prior to beginning the diet, I had watched a lot of television shows about successful gastric bypass surgeries.

This gave me the courage to follow through with my plans and prepare to be a great success and lose the weight I needed to lose to become healthy.

On every show I saw, the patient was shown to be living a strict regime of only jelly and milk and I expected that would be the case for me.

I was very surprised at the foods I was able to eat on my Liver shrinking diet.

Breads, Cereals, Potatoes and Rice on the liver shrinking diet 

Choose 2 of the following per day:

  • One Weetabix/ shredded wheat
  • One slice toast/ bread
  • 1/2 Pitta bread or bread roll
  • Three crackers
  • Too small egg size boiled potatoes
  • 1/2 medium baked potato
  • Two tablespoons of boiled rice/pasta

Milk and Dairy on the liver shrinking diet 

Choose 2-3 of any of the following per day:

  • 200mls Semi skimmed milk
  • Small part of love that yoghurt or fromage frais
  • 1oz Low fat hard cheese
  • 4oz Cottage cheese
  • 2oz Low fat soft cheese

Fruit and Vegetables on the Liver Shrinking Diet

Choose 3 of the following per day (a maximum of two portions should be fruit)

  • One large fruit, e.g apple, banana, orange
  • Two small fruits, e.g plumbs, kiwifruit, tangerines
  • 100mls unsweetened fruit juice (once per day only)
  • 2 tablespoons of stewed/ tinned fruit and natural juice
  • One small bowl of salad
  • Two to Three tablespoons of cooked vegetables

Meat, Fish and Alternatives on the Liver Shrinking Diet

Choose 2-3 of the following per day

  • 2-3oz lean beef, pork, lamb, mince, chicken, turkey or oily fish
  • 5oz white fish or Tuna in brine
  • Two eggs
  • Three thin slices of lean cold meat
  • 40z Soya, tofu, quorn
liver shrinking diet

Items You May Need for Your Liver Shrinking Diet

To prepare for gastric bypass I needed a good set of kitchen scales, containers and measuring spoons. This helped me to keep on track and and ensure I measured my portion sizes correctly.  

It is also recommended that during this 10 day cleanse, you prepare food for the weeks following your operation. I was very unwell following bariatric surgery.

That is the painful truth and so the food I prepared in advance came in very handy.

I would recommend buying a journal or food diary to help keep on track and monitor the food you eat. 

You can also record any symptoms, concerns or feelings you have as you begin your gastric bypass journey and join the losers bench.

Cheating on the Liver Shrinking Diet

One might wonder what will happen if you begin cheating on the Liver Shrinking Diet.

I have to say as I prepared for my procedure the dietician reinforced how important it was for me to stick to my liver reduction plan and pointed out that the operation could be cancelled mid way through if my Liver was too large for surgery.

It is important not to cheat on the liver shrinking diet because a larger liver will make the surgery more difficult for your bariatric surgeon and that could put you at greater risk.  

People do cheat on the Liver Shrinking diet and my surgeon told me he had on occasion been forced to stop a procedure after discovering the liver was too big to proceed.

I was told however that one fatty meal during the diet would not harm me. In fact, my surgery was originally planned just before Christmas and I was told to eat whatever

I wanted on Christmas day and enjoy my last Christmas before bariatric surgery.  

The point is, if you have one meal or one day that you fail to follow the plan, it is unlikely to prevent the surgery.

However, if you don’t follow the plan at all or cheat regularly you most likely will run into problems.  

The aim of the Liver Shrinking Diet is to have low carbs. Successfully shrinking the liver increases the chances of laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery.

If the liver is too large and someone cheats this could cause serious postoperative complications such as bleeding and leakage.

liver shrinking diet

More Ways to Prepare for a Bariatric Surgery

There are plenty of things you will need to do to prepare for bariatric surgery. Here is a list of things you can do to help yourself prepare.

  • Have 3 Meals a day before bariatric surgery
  • Take a multivitamin and mineral supplement to strengthen the body. Trust me, you need as much vitamins and minerals stored as you can get as bariatric surgery can really drain and deplete you.
  • Get into a habit of choosing foods low in fat and sugar
  • Practice eating slowly and chewing food carefully.
  • Practice separating fluids and meals by not drinking 10 minutes before or 30 minutes after eating.
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Do not smoke.

I was told at the hospital Pre-op that all gastric bypass patients are required to stop smoking before and after the operation.

My Surgery Prep Experience

Above is the diet plan that I followed. It was not easy and I felt hungry, grumpy and unwell as I prepared for my surgery.

My surgery was cancelled 3 times in a row meaning I ended up on the diet for 8 weeks and it was very difficult for me mentally and emotionally.

In fact, the cancellations affected how well I was prepared and made my liver reduction food plan more difficult to follow.

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    1. Thanks. I am looking forward to writing about it and vlogging each day. I enjoy vlogging although I’m not fab at editing or anything and i’ve found something i enjoy much better than photography. 🙂

  1. This sounds like a good, healthy diet. I think if it was long term, you would need a lot more fruit and vegetables, but short term it looks quite good. Good luck with your surgery Angela, I hope all goes well. Looking forward to reading about your progress!

    1. Thanks so much. It is an interesting method isn’t it. I’m sticking to it and hopefully this info will be useful for others who may need to look into this option.

  2. Good luck with your surgery. You’re very brave and it’s commendable that you’re doing this to improve your heath. I never knew you could shrink your liver!

  3. Best of luck with everything Angela. The decision to get any surgery can never be taken lightly so I know this is probably a tough time of you. I hope all is and all goes well xx

  4. Good luck with it. I think I’d find the not drinking with meals hard, but I presume this bloats which is why it shouldn’t be done with this?

  5. Best of luck Angela, well done on the diet and I hope all goes well. I also think it’s interesting to find out what is involved in the surgery too. I didn’t know you had to do a liver shrinking diet beforehand for instance.

  6. I never knew there was so much prep you have to do before such an operation. Wishing you all the best with it 🙂

  7. I am currently on the 2 wk liver shrink diet but they have me on protein shakes 2 times a day and super small dinner at night, with no sugar and starch. How much have u lost since surgery and how hard is this life change?

    1. Oh I found the Liver Shrinking diet tough especially as my op was cancelled three times and so it ended up taking 8 weeks. The truth is it is really hard and the most difficult thing i’ve done in my life. It is life changing, painful and mentally and emotionally draining. I guess the benefits outweigh the risks and difficulties. I have lost since my operation 3 stone in 3 months. It is tough especially when you can no longer eat as you once did and some lose more some lose less but I’m on steroids and unwell to exercise so its different for everyone regarding weight loss.

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  9. Hello and wow. My surgery will be Nov. 21st. I am already on the preop diet, which has been protein packets of drinks, omelettes, soups, pudding and dessert type stuff and I get those every two hours. Its only been a week and I am so wanting to bite into some meat! lol I can have veggies though which help with the whole biting into thing. I am also on the low FODMAP diet so it has been very difficult to get the food packets without the lactose, gluten and fructose. Doesnt leave me with a lot of choice. Good luck with your diets and surgery!

  10. I had a gastric sleeve on June 24th 2016 and obviously did the liver diet, I started carb cutting and knocked anything with added sugar or that I knew had sugars from April I lost a stone before my op and have lost 6 stone since and I feel amazing…I measure my food and take my vitamin supplements religiously and walk plenty. I am waiting until after New Year to order down my uniform for work so I look a bit of a sight lol…I bought 2 new pairs of jeans 5 sizes smaller than when I started… I wish you love luck health and happiness with the new trimmer you…. best of luck

  11. I m having the Gastric Sleve done in 6 days. For my liver shrinking diet I am allowed 800-900 calories a day. Required to use there food which is specially formulated. It actually tastes good. The eggs suck, but if that’s my only complaint. Not bad. I like st 5 pounds the first week. Some days are harder than others as I have to cook for my husband. But we eat dinner at the same time so we don’t go off schedule too much. Hope the last year for you has gone well. I am looking forward to losing up to 100 pounds.

    1. Tkank you for this very usefull article. I am also preparing for this kind of operation in a few weeks…and got no idea that so strict diet was needed. It is not so much about choosing the right food and quantities…but importance for shrinking liver and adding vitamins/minerals weeks before. Reality check:) Wish you all the best. Ales

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