Top 5 Reasons to Avoid Alcohol Post-Endobariatric Surgery

Dr. Christopher McGowan
March 22, 2021

Whether it’s Friday evening after a hard week of work or a party for a special occasion, alcoholic beverages often represent a way to unwind, celebrate, or indulge. However, for patients who have recently completed an endobariatric procedure, it’s better to put the glass or bottle away. From endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) to a bariatric revision or an intragastric balloon procedure, the same rule applies. True You Weight Loss always recommends that alcohol be avoided for at least one year after the procedure takes place.

The five main reasons for this, listed below, are centered around the fact that alcohol can derail weight loss efforts and lead to other serious consequences. After investing so much effort into personal health and physical transformation, every endobariatric patient should be aware that alcohol is really just not worth the risk.

  1. It Hits You Faster: Especially during the period of time directly after an endobariatric procedure, the body will metabolize alcohol much differently than it did before. In fact, drinking alcohol will cause patients to become more intoxicated at a much faster rate. A misunderstanding of this new normal can increase the risk for driving under the influence (DUI), aggressive behavior, blackouts, inappropriate social behavior, or an inability to fulfill regular, daily responsibilities. Additionally, this new metabolic process can lead to side effects such as nausea and a general feeling of being unwell.
  2. Lowered Inhibitions: Drinking alcohol causes people to become disinhibited and less restrained in their behavior. Thought processes relax, including those that are related to eating and food. Eating more, making unhealthy choices, and calorie loading are often the consequences of consuming alcohol. 
  3. Alcohol = Wasted Calories: Alcohol itself has no nutritional value. Per gram, it offers about seven wasted calories, a high count that can undermine your weight loss efforts. Since our patients are committed to losing weight and getting healthier, we recommend only low-calorie, non-alcoholic drinks to keep you on track for success.
  4. Negative Effects on Sleep: Sleep is crucial to weight loss, but alcohol disturbs your sleep rhythm. When alcohol is in the bloodstream, sleep will likely be fitful instead of restful. Even if someone “passes out” early after drinking, he or she will likely wake up after a few hours and have trouble getting back to sleep. In the morning, that feeling of tiredness will create an excess release of the stress hormone cortisol. In turn, cortisol will create hunger and encourage more eating throughout the day, which can hinder weight loss efforts.
  5. There’s a Risk for Transferred Dependency: It’s often true that obesity occurs alongside an unhealthy relationship with food, and in some cases, a food addiction. According to the Obesity Action Coalition, up to 30 percent of patients who have had bariatric surgery experience some type of transfer addiction after their procedure. Therefore, compulsive eating could be exchanged for other compulsive behaviors, such as consuming too much alcohol. Alcohol alone is highly addictive because it stimulates the release of dopamine and endorphins within the brain—chemicals that are like natural painkillers and create feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. Staying away from alcohol altogether can help patients avoid this risk and circumvent another serious addiction.

Plain and simple, alcohol and weight loss just do not mix. If a healthy lifestyle and losing weight are the ultimate goals, giving up alcohol is key. Meanwhile, choosing other outlets for pleasure and relaxation, such as exercise and constructive hobbies, will be beneficial to weight loss and wellness success. 

How Do I Explain Abstaining from Alcohol?

Our patients ask us this all the time, and how you handle it is a personal decision. In many cases, it’s as simple as explaining to friends and colleagues that you are following a weight loss plan that includes improving your lifestyle and committing to certain positive changes, such as giving up alcohol. Others find creative solutions such as finding non-alcoholic substitutes, or just holding a drink during social situations. There is no “right” way to handle these scenarios, it’s all about whatever works for you and makes you feel the most comfortable. While it may be difficult to abstain, just remember that avoiding alcohol can bring you one step closer to your weight loss success!

Dr. Christopher McGowan
Dr. Christopher McGowan

Dr. Christopher McGowan, MD, a leader in endobariatrics, specializes in non-surgical obesity treatments and is triple-board-certified in Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, and Obesity Medicine. Renowned for pioneering endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) with over 2,000 procedures, his global influence and research contributions define him as a top expert.

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