What if I Feel Hungry after Bariatric Surgery?

Do you get hungry?

Perhaps you thought that after surgery you’d never be hungry again…But the hunger pangs seem to be returning and you're a bit concerned...

Don't be!

Having weight loss surgery doesn’t mean that you will never be hungry again… In my experience, I often see 2 types of outcomes after surgery, patients who never feel hunger and can forget to eat and those who do feel hunger when they need to eat but are then satisfied on a small amount of food (make sure the food consumed is nutritious containing some protein, dairy, fibre or vegetables). 

Hunger is your body’s way of telling you that it needs fuel so it’s normal (even after surgery). So don’t be alarmed if you get this sensation. Sometimes you’ll learn that you’re getting the hunger symptoms but it’s not the same as before e.g. there may be a gurgling in the stomach rather than the usual growling, or you may feel an empty feeling. If you are feeling light headed, dizzy, faint, weak then likely if you haven’t eaten or had fluids recently - its time to eat or hydrate.

While getting hungry may at first be surprising and worrying, don’t fear! Surgery limits the amount of food that can be consumed so that you will only be eating small portions when you do eat. If you overeat you will feel overly full, sick or throw up. If you experience hunger, it is probably time to eat. Remember, just because you had surgery, doesn’t mean your body doesn’t need food anymore! You still need calories/ kilojoules for fuel, you still need protein for muscles, calcium for bones and teeth, fibre & vegetables for healthy bowels and various nutrients for numerous functions in the body. If you don’t eat enough, it can not only affect your weight loss but also cause numerous deficiencies. How can your body work properly without fuel? It would be like driving a car without petrol, oil, water…you’d not going to get far!!

If you are always hungry, here’s some other reasons why:


  • Is it time to eat...if it's been several hours since eating or the last meal was a single portion of 'Laughing cow cheese' then it's likely time to eat something and your stomach is very justified in asking for food!
  • Are you skipping any meals or snacks during the day? Aim for 4-6 small meals per day.
  • Are you having enough protein during the day? Speak to your dietitian about your protein target.
  • Are you having enough fibre during the day? Speak to your dietitian about fibre intake.
  • Are you really hungry or is something else triggering this e.g. stress or lack of sleep?
  • Are you having had sufficient fluids – thirst can be mistaken for hunger…

Note: what you eat when hungry will impact your long-term health, weight loss and weight maintenance so it's important to focus on this more that the fact that you get hungry!

It’s important to see a bariatric dietitian during your weight loss surgery journey. They can help you work through the dietary phases before and after surgery, and teach you all about the foods you’ll need to consume to get the nutrition you need for long-term good health after surgery.