Our clients who regain weight after bariatric/weight loss surgery often ask us about the 5 day pouch test. This much debated ‘test’ promises to ‘reset’ your stomach and help you lose more weight. It’s so popular in fact, it has its own acronym – the ‘5DPT’. So what’s the deal, is it too good to be true?

Let’s start with a bit of background.

The pouch test was ‘created’ in 2007 by a fellow gastric bypass-er named Kaye. She struggled, like many, with discouraging and disheartening weight regain after bariatric/weight loss surgery. In an attempt to recreate that ‘tight newbie feeling’ again, she ‘developed’ the pouch test.

To start off the 5 day pouch test, she instructs you to ‘get back to the basics’. Or in other words, she wants you to return to the post-op liquid phase that is required in the first few days after surgery. She then recommends that you progress slowly from soft/puree protein, to firm protein and then lastly to solid protein (what is the difference between firm and solid protein? We’re not really sure either…). Following this, you are supposed to feel a renewed sense of self.

5 Day Pouch Test MYTH…

The 5 day pouch test WILL NOT…

– shrink your stomach
– reduce hunger and increase satiety (feeling of fullness)
– ‘reset’ your body
– cut your cravings for carbs and sweet/salty foods

5 Day Pouch Test FACT

We do however agree with some of Kaye’s suggestions.

1. Always delay your fluids from your solid foods.
–> Stop drinking 15 minutes before your meals/snacks and wait at least 30 minutes after eating to start drinking again. WHY? – Drinking and eating at the same time ‘flushes’ the food out of your stomach too quickly. This causes you to feel hungry soon after eating.

2. Take your time to eat.
–> Eating slowly and savouring your food without distractions increases satiety at meal times. WHY? – This gives your brain time to process that you are eating and lets you get the flavor fix you’re looking for.

3. Ask yourself if liquid protein snacks (aka ‘slider foods’) keep you full long enough (Ex. milk, yogurt, soft cheeses, cereal).
–> While these foods are nutritious and provide good quality protein, they may not help you feel as full as you felt in the first few months after surgery. WHY? – These liquid foods spend less time in your stomach which is why you maybe feel hungry soon after eating.

4. Include a high protein food at every meal and snack.
–> WHY? – High protein foods help you keep you full longer.

In our opinion, the ‘5 day pouch test’ is just another diet in disguise. Anything that promises to ‘reset your system’, ‘boost your weight loss’, ‘cut cravings’, ‘kick start your metabolism’, ‘burn fat’, etc. is unfortunately wishful thinking.

There are no short cuts to healthy eating and lasting weight loss. There is only you, your pouch (i.e. your little stomach) and knowing how to use it!

How do I know if my pouch is still small?
Believe it or not, the majority of weight regain after bariatric/weight loss surgery is NOT related to having stretched your stomach. This is good news! In our experience, weight regain is more related to what you eat, the timing of your meals and snacks, and how you are eating. For example, if you feel comfortably full for 2-3 hours after eating the amount of food that fits on a bread plate, which includes a combination of protein, a small amount of grains, and some vegetables, your pouch is likely perfectly fine. 

5 Day Pouch Test Expert Opinion

We even asked one of our favourite bariatric/weight loss surgeons about the 5 day pouch test! Here is what he said:

“The major reason for weight regain is the recurrence of unhealthy eating habits and/or lack of exercise. Maintaining weight loss requires a lifelong commitment to keeping up good habits and having support from family, friends, and your health care team.

Searching through the medical literature, I could not find any evidence or scientific papers studying and discussing the 5 day pouch test. When something is not discussed in the whole of medical literature, even as a simple case report, it leads me to believe that there is no scientific basis for this reset diet. And simply thinking about how the gastric pouch and anastomosis works, it does not make logical sense to me how a 5 day regimen of liquid and puree diet could possibly shrink the gastric pouch. The original feeling of tightness immediately after surgery is probably because of inflammation, since the stomach was cut and stapled, and also there was inflammation from the creation of the anastomosis (suturing). This inflammation resolves after days/weeks during which time the stomach is healing, and hence the original tightness feeling resolves with it”.

Dr. Simon Chow, Bariatric Surgeon, MD MSc FRCSC FACS

Looking for support?
– We offer one on one counseling services (virtual, from the comfort of your own home!).
– Our Bariatric Bundle: Maintenance Toolkit has 3 workbooks that deep dive into the importance of self-evaluation, self-reflection, and dabble in intuitive/mindful eating. The bundle also includes a 7 day meal plan and visual resources on how to create balanced meals and snacks. 
– We have a BOOK that covers all of the basics after surgery, if your surgery was recent.
– And lastly, we’re always sharing tips and other bariatric content on our Facebook page!

– Monica & Lisa