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Why are Carbonated Beverages a Bad Choice after Bariatric Surgery
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Why are Carbonated Beverages a Bad Choice after Bariatric Surgery

By Cynthia K. Buffington, PhD

Think back for a moment. Do you drink carbonated beverages? Do you understand why drinking these beverages, even if sugar-free, can jeopardize your weight loss success?  Were you advised by your bariatric staff not to drink carbonated drinks after surgery? 


Here are the Facts:  

Soft drinks may contribute to weight regain by reducing the absorption of dietary calcium. Studies find that dietary calcium may help to reduce the risk for weight gain by reducing fat absorption and causing your body to burn more fat. Soft drinks (sugar-free or regular) are high in caffeine (37 to 55 mg) and high caffeine can reduce the amount of dietary calcium absorbed into the body. Many soft drinks (diet or not) also contain high amounts of phosphate which bind to calcium and prevent its absorption.


Sugar-containing soft drinks also contribute to weight gain because they are high in calories (approximately 150 per 12 oz.) and have a high glycemic index, meaning that they cause a rapid rise in blood sugar. An increase in blood sugar, in turn, stimulates the production of the hormone, insulin, which causes fat accumulation (storage) by driving fat into fat storage depots and inhibiting its breakdown.


And if you have had bariatric surgery, what effect does carbonation in soft drinks have on you?  A carbonated beverage is an effervescent drink that releases carbon dioxide under conditions of normal atmospheric pressure. If you consume a soft drink or other carbonated beverage while eating, the carbonation forces food through the smaller stomach, reducing the time that food remains in the pouch or sleeve. The less time that food remains in your stomach, the less satiety (feelings of fullness) you experience, enabling you to eat more with increased risk for weight gain.


The gas released from a carbonated beverage may stretch your stomach post bariatric surgery stomach. If you had gastric bypass, food forced through the stomach by the carbonation could also significantly enlarge the size of your stoma (the opening between the stomach pouch and intestines of patients who have had a gastric bypass surgery). An enlarged pouch or stoma would allow you to eat larger amounts of food at any given meal. In this way, consuming carbonated beverages, even if the drinks are diet or calorie-free, may cause weight gain or interfere with maximal weight loss success.


In all of these ways, drinking carbonated beverages can increase the risk for weight regain. Do you now have a little better understanding why your bariatric surgeon or physician or dietitian has advised you not to consume carbonated sodas? Your healthcare providers want to see you achieve the best results possible – and so do you.