Beer After Gastric Bypass

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Gastric bypass surgery helps morbidly obese individuals lose significant amounts of weight and keep it off, but patients must follow their surgeons' instructions to maintain long-term weight loss. Although many surgeons caution their patients to avoid drinking beer and other alcoholic beverages after gastric bypass, some allow moderate alcohol consumption. Follow the recommendations of your surgeon and nutritionist on all aspects of your postoperative diet.

Gastric Bypass

Gastric bypass surgery, a type of weight-loss surgery procedure, helps patients lose weight by reducing the size of the stomach and blocking some calorie absorption by rerouting the digestive system. For successful long-term weight loss, patients must change their lifestyles and make permanent changes to their diets. Although surgeons' guidelines vary somewhat, most caution their patients to delay or avoid drinking certain liquids, including those containing alcohol or carbonation, according to Linda Aills, R.D., lead researcher in a study published in the September 2008 issue of "Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases."


According to the National Institutes of Health's website "Rethinking Drinking," a 12-oz. serving of beer constitutes a standard drink, about 0.6 fluid oz. or 14 g of alcohol. Comparable standard drinks of other alcoholic beverages include 1.5 oz. brandy or 5 fl. oz. table wine. A 12-oz. serving of regular beer contains about 149 calories while the same size serving of light beer contains about 110 calories. The alcohol content for both types of beer is 5 percent. Because brewery recipes vary, check the nutrition label to determine the calorie content of a specific brand of beer.

Concerns About Beer After Gastric Bypass

Some surgeons allow their patients to drink moderate amounts of beer and alcoholic beverages occasionally after the first six months, but most instruct their patients to avoid drinking alcohol for the rest of their lives. Concerns about beer consumption after gastric bypass include consuming empty calories instead of nutrient-rich food; possibly distending the stomach pouch because of the carbonation; sensitivity to alcohol; weight gain; and development of alcohol addiction, according to Gavitt A. Woodard, lead researcher in a study published in the February 2011 issue of the "Journal of the American College of Surgeons."

Expert Viewpoint

A study published in the February 2011 issue of the "Journal of the American College of Surgeons" compared preoperative and postoperative alcohol sensitivity in 19 gastric bypass patients. Measurements were taken preoperatively and at three and six months after surgery. After the individual drank 5 oz. of red wine, investigators measured the breath alcohol content, or BAC, and level of sobriety every five minutes. Before surgery, the peak BAC was 0.024 percent and the time needed to return to sobriety was 49 minutes. These figures increased to 0.059 percent and 61 minutes at three months, and to 0.088 percent and 49 minutes at six months. Based on these findings, the researchers recommend that gastric bypass patients should exercise caution if they drink alcohol after surgery. They also found that fewer patients preferred beer after surgery; more preferred wine.