T Nation

Dieting After Surgery?


Right now im 6 foot 2, 193 lbs with a 38 in stomach and scale-read 18% bodyfat (i dont put much value into this number, but the scale is consistent so it works as another progress tool). Normally I would diet with low carb in a calorie deficit, lifting 5-6 days a week and playing basketball a few times a week or do some jogging. Since I am coming back from surgery on my wrist tendons/cartilage (Ripped a tendon out of its sheath), is this plan safe?

Please correct me if im wrong, but I remember reading somewhere (no link, sorry) that when in a calorie deficit your body is more likely to be injured due to lack of nutrients, and that calorie deficits would hurt recovery of injuries. Would it be smart to hold off on the cut if this is true? Due to the severity of my injury, preventing re-injury is a major concern.

Side note: For some reason this whole week after surgery I have been eating more then usual throughout the day but the scale hasn't moved. Anyone have a reason why?


i cant imagine lifting 6 days a week after a surgery would be a good idea.

hold off and get healthy. there is no need to rush into something like that a week after a surgery.

go by feel, start light and get a doctors approval before hand


Talk to your doctor regarding how soon you can get back to activity.

But regarding calories, injuries and healing can SKYROCKET caloric needs. Folks in burn wards can have their needs double or triple (don't quote me on that, but I think I'm right). Yours isn't as bad as that but I imagine you body can use those extra calories post-op.

From a purely personal empirical evidence I always healed better when I was in a caloric surplus (everything from sore muscles to cuts and bruises), or at least it seemed that way.


After I had my ACL surgery, I lost 20 lbs without even trying to diet. There's not way I'd diet after surgery. You're probably going to lose some muscle just from not being able to lift as heavy. By dieting you're just going to lose more of it. My emphasis would be trying to maintain as much muscle as I could until I got healthy enough to hit the gym 100% again.


Thanks, but I should have made this clearer at the beginning. I am not getting surgery then jumping back into lifting the next day. My surgery was June 20th, my splint comes off August 3rd and I was given a green light to jump back into whatever I want at that time. I will probably have to wait a month or 2 to regain mobility in my arm and wrist, so I would start lifting 2-3 months after my surgery. THAT is when I would be doing this diet.

I assume a lot of the healing would be done at this point, but I would like input as to whether doing a calorie deficit at first when weights are incorporated back into the mix is a good/bad idea. My worry is that when my body (most importantly joints) is stressed for the first time it would be bad to be restricting calories?


Didnt see your post sam, when you were recovering from your surgery what was your eating like? Im curious, when you were losing weight did you try to eat more to prevent the weight loss, did you just say "screw it" and not try to keep your weight up, or did you just not bother weighing yourself for a while and it just kind of happened?

Right now im purposefully eating more to keep my weight the same. Well that and im always freaking hungry now


I was off from work and in bed for 2 weeks. I didn't have the appetite for protein rich foods so I ate junk food to get the extra calories. A box of cocoa pebbles would be a meal. I still lost weight. I went from 242 to 220. Within a couple months, I got my weight back up to 235 and that's when I started my diet. By the time I dieted down to 220, I looked MUCH better than my post surgery 220. My post surgery bench was 265. Post diet was 315. Big difference.


So you dropped 22 lbs in 2 weeks? Dam. I can believe it from what im experiencing right now. Im guessing you gained most of your bench strength back during the first couple months before your diet right? or were you still gaining strength back while you were dieting?

Side question: Any idea how long does muscle memory is still "effective" for regaining strength? Not sure if thats phrased right, but hopefully you understand my question. Been out of upper body lifting for 13 months as of now, pretty sure thats too long given my training age (3 years).


More like 3-4 weeks. I was off my feet for 2, but didn't start lifting till 4 weeks post surgery. I gained most of my strength in the first 2 months back but continued to gain slowly even as I dieted. 1 week before the surgery I benched 335 so I do believe muscle memory played a small role. It took about a year to get back to 335.


Dam. Thanks sam.

My mind switches every day but right now im thinking when I get back I'll just want to get as strong as possible again. I miss warming up with 225 lbs for squats and smiling as I remember the first time I hit 225 for a single. God this injury messes with my mind.


No problem. I left out that I got hit by a truck on my bicycle (ironically while rehabbing me knee) so that set me back about 3 months as I was trying to get back to a 335 bench.

The injury fucked with my head too but you just have to keep remembering you're going to end up stronger than before the injury by the time you're done. It's just a minor setback in the grand scheme of things.

Good luck.