Weight Gain Protein Drinks After Surgery: Need Advice

Feb 14, 2024 2:13 pm

Hi everyone

First time posting.

I am 8 weeks post-surgery and am looking for ways to put on weight. I am eating well considering the extent of my surgery. I have an ileo and partial gastrectomy. I have tried Fortisip and Ensure, but both give me diarrhea. Any advice would be very welcome. Thanks.

Feb 14, 2024 4:18 pm

Hello there, welcome. Right now, what is your weight? And what is your goal as far as gaining weight?


Remember, any amount of excessive weight could affect your mounting plate and cause leaks, so just think about that.

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Feb 14, 2024 5:05 pm

Neither of those drinks you've tried are for gaining weight; they're for adding protein and supplements. You need to Google actual weight gainer supplements that give you lots of calories, upwards of 2000 per drink.

Feb 14, 2024 5:16 pm

During the course of my illness, I lost a lot of weight. While in the hospital, I was told I needed lots of protein to promote healing. Ensure was added to my meals; unfortunately, it caused vomiting. Instead, I would try to eat meat and anything containing protein on my plate. I could not eat a lot before getting full. The surgeon was monitoring my nutrient level and said it was not improving. He finally said I needed calories, so eat anything, including junk food. I started eating the pudding and ice cream that was supplied with my meals—this was considered junk food by the surgeon. I slowly began to gain weight.

Feb 14, 2024 6:15 pm
Reply to aTraveler

Yes, protein is key for healing but doesn't do much for gaining weight. Most hospitals have a contract with Ensure or some sort of supplement drink, that's why they get pushed onto patients. They do help but their taste leaves a lot to be desired IMO.

Living with Your Ostomy | Hollister
Feb 14, 2024 10:05 pm

A surefire way to gain weight is to increase your sugar intake. Although this is not a healthy option, it does work. If you have a sweet tooth, I guess you could indulge yourself, just temporarily until you gain the desired amount of weight. Another thought: when my husband was getting cancer treatment and losing weight, his doctor recommended one of those weight gain drinks, and it was extremely high in sugar, but it did contain lots of nutrients as well. Maybe ask a pharmacist what they would recommend, as I know the stuff he was buying wasn't available in regular grocery stores.


Feb 15, 2024 12:06 am

Gummy bears worked for me! My dear friend sent me a 5 lb bag of them from Amazon. Worked great! 😸

Feb 15, 2024 12:58 am

I drink Boost for the nutrients, not to gain weight. But I find it easier to digest than Ensure or Glucerna.


Feb 15, 2024 8:45 am

It'll happen over time. I went down to 98 pounds, and I was in the 140s-150s before. I read somewhere, and I don't know if this is accurate, but I felt like it was the case for me that the ileostomy increases metabolism, but only for a period of time. I ate a lot of steak and a lot of chicken. White rice really puts the weight on. Maybe try a rice-based protein shake? I also talked about boiled plantains before on here, and they come out heavy in the bag, but they can be heavy on you too. When you do the shake, try to add also a tablespoon of peanut butter and blend. Peanut butter puts on the weight, but it's sticky in the bag if you have too much. I always get the one with no sugar, creamy.

Feb 15, 2024 9:03 am

Hi Rob,

That seems like an odd question to ask. I mean, if you had a partial gastrectomy, then you really shouldn't be trying to gain weight by drinking, but rather by increasing your calories with solid food. I don't have any of my stomach missing, but I would think a PG would cause your stomach to empty much quicker, which would certainly cause diarrhea if liquids were involved. And liquids dumped quickly into the small bowel of someone with an ileo will wind up just flushing out what's already there and filling your bag. I'd think you'd be better off only drinking like 30 minutes after a meal and never during, and focus on more calorie-dense food rather than liquid calories.

Personally, I've found it hard to gain weight, but can do it if I don't drink during meals and leave at least 4 hours between meals for complete (or as complete as it's gonna be) digestion to occur. Now I'm just assuming your pyloric sphincter was removed as part of the gastrectomy. If it was, then fats won't get to stay in your stomach as long as needed to be fully broken down for digestion... and releasing those into our small bowel won't help the digestion situation. So if that's the case, you might want to reduce your fat intake as well. I'm thinking a good dietician would go a long way here.

Was any of your duodenum removed with the part of your stomach, or is it fully intact? If any was removed, you need to find out what nutrients you can no longer absorb and figure out how to get them, i.e., orally or sublingually. Weight gain may be challenging for you, as it is for some of us on here, so you probably need to get some help with that. But you'll need to understand how your new digestive system has changed and then optimize for those changes. And I doubt it will be as simple as drinking this drink or that one, if you know what I mean. Your gastro should be able to point you in the direction of a good dietician that works with IBD patients rather than diabetes patients. I think (hope) what you're calling diarrhea is really just liquid rushing through your small bowel. Diarrhea would involve irritation of the bowel and is much worse because then nothing gets absorbed, solid or liquid. Remember that without a colon, most of the liquid you drink is going to end up in your bag, as it can't be absorbed. Your small bowel can absorb some, but it's no colon by a long shot. Keep us updated.


ron in mich
Feb 15, 2024 2:24 pm

Hi Rob, have you tried adding fiber to your diet to thicken up your output and slow it down, allowing you to get more nutrients out of it?

Feb 15, 2024 3:29 pm

Eat a couple of these a week….

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Mysterious Mose
Feb 15, 2024 6:46 pm

I used this stuff:

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Feb 15, 2024 9:46 pm
Reply to AlexT

Oh yes, please!

Feb 17, 2024 2:46 pm
Reply to AlexT

Dang Alex, now you've got me drooling… no Beachboy, Iggie, or Warrior, no Smarticus comments about age-related drooling, thank you very much. It's all about the CHOCOLATE!!!

Feb 17, 2024 3:19 pm

This is what my dietician had me try for a while when I was kind of willing to still drink shakes. I finally stopped dropping weight after 2 years. They put me on the "whatever I feel like eating, eat it" diet. I will get sick if I eat something with too much sugar. I've eaten a lot of ice cream. I was up every 3 hours for a while to eat. I keep snacks everywhere so I don't have an excuse not to eat (doctor ordered 😉). I started doing half a cup of steamed whole milk/half a cup of coffee at home and a latte if out for more calories/protein.


Feb 18, 2024 8:42 pm

I have food sensitivity issues and can't do dairy. I used Only What You Need (OWYN) before, during, and after recovery. They have 20g protein and 32g protein options in powder or ready-made in bottles. They are really tasty in the ready-made type, and the powder is a bit gritty. They are a lot more expensive because they are allergen-friendly. I've also used Truvani powder, which is pretty tasty. Could you get a consult with a dietitian?


Feb 18, 2024 9:43 pm

I'm having the same problem with being able to gain weight. With an ileo, it seems like nothing stays in for very long. I'm adding heavy cream to stuff - coffee, yogurt drinks, milk, and even drinking it by itself. I don't know if it's helping really, but it sure is delicious.

Feb 19, 2024 12:31 pm

I just had my ileostomy during emergency surgery on January 12th. While I was in the hospital, my doctor ordered me something called Boost Very High Calorie. It is 530 calories and 22 g of protein. I didn't care for the chocolate, but the strawberry is not bad.

Wishing you all the best!

Feb 19, 2024 6:20 pm

Hmmm... I think maybe you guys might be missing the point just a bit. He's not just an ileostomate... he's had a partial gastrectomy as well. That means they've removed part of his stomach, and it's usually the lower end that's involved and removed. So that means he no longer has his pyloric sphincter, which is the valve (muscle) that controls when the stomach empties its contents into the small bowel (duodenum). Without the valve, the stomach cannot properly keep food in it that needs to be broken down longer before it's released into the small bowel for further digestion. Normally, when the stomach senses it has fats in it, the valve slows its opening down so the stomach acid can break down the fats enough for the bile in the small bowel to be able to continue the process and do the rest of the breaking down. Without the valve, fats will dump right into the small bowel undigested and overwhelm the bile being secreted and thus not be absorbed. On the other hand, liquids containing sugar will also be dumped quickly, causing the small bowel to try to dilute it with water that it pulls from the body, causing dehydration (we've talked about this before). This wouldn't normally be a problem if one has a colon, as most of the water is re-absorbed there along with the bile, but in this instance, that's not the case. So no valve to control the timing of the stomach emptying and no colon to absorb water and bile means Rob has to be very careful with what he eats if he wants to gain anything nutritionally from it... or he'll end up losing more weight, not gaining it. So liquids, fats, and sugars need to be avoided or eaten sparingly. Rob needs to balance solid food that's nutritious, but not high in fat or sugar with some fiber... but not lots of fiber. Fiber has no nutritional value but might help slow things down a bit, so that ratio of unnutritional fiber to nutritional foods needs to be experimented with to find the best balance that works for him.

So this question is a bit more complex than if just an ileostomate asked what to eat to gain weight and reduce diarrhea. There's a lot more ways he can do more harm than good by what he eats and drinks... and what works for someone who only has an ileostomy won't work for him in all cases. So he needs to be very careful with the advice he gets on here, despite everyone wanting to help with his weight gain and diarrhea problems. I'd recommend you get with a dietician, Rob, but if not, stay away from foods that are liquid, high in fats, and high in sugar. I know... that doesn't leave a lot to choose from, but in this instance, carbs may be your best friend. Sort of like an anti-keto diet! Let us know how you're progressing!


Feb 20, 2024 2:20 pm

While I was in the hospital, I was introduced to Boost Very High Calorie drinks. I thought the chocolate was terrible, but the strawberry is pretty decent. They come with 530 calories and 22 g of protein, along with 26 vitamins and minerals, according to the label. It's only been a couple of weeks, so I haven't really put on any weight yet, but I'm working on it. Good luck to you.

Feb 20, 2024 2:48 pm

My uncle used a product called Muscle Milk to gain weight when he had become very thin. He said it worked well for him.


Feb 20, 2024 8:02 pm
Reply to infinitycastle52777

Interesting, the surgical team that came to visit me in my room after my surgery suggested Muscle Milk. JB