If you're trying to lose weight through bariatric surgery, you need to know about protein. Protein is important for keeping your muscles healthy, helping you heal, and staying healthy overall. After weight loss surgery, getting enough protein is even more important. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about protein, including how much you need, the difference between liquid and solid protein, when to eat it, and what kinds of protein to eat.
Here's why protein is so important for bariatric patients:
Protein needs vary depending on factors such as age, sex, lean muscle mass, daily exercise, and overall health.
Since the body cannot absorb more than about 30 grams of protein at once, it's essential to consume protein throughout the day across multiple meals or healthy snacks. Eat high-protein foods first during meals, in case you feel full quickly and cannot finish your meal.
For many patients, beef, pork, lamb, and chicken breast can be particularly difficult to digest, while chicken thigh is generally well-tolerated.
Proteins and amino acids are essential for almost every metabolic process in the body. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and there are nine essential amino acids needed from dietary sources.
Animal-based proteins are complete proteins, containing all nine essential amino acids your body needs.
Plant-based proteins are considered incomplete proteins, as they lack one or more of the essential amino acids your body needs.
Plant-based proteins provide some of the amino acids but need to be combined with other foods (i.e., beans with rice, whole wheat toast with peanut butter) to create a complete protein, known as complementary proteins.
Here are the most common sources of protein for bariatric diets:
Before bariatric surgery, patients are often encouraged to follow a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet to prepare their bodies for the procedure. This pre-operative diet helps reduce liver size and body fat, making the surgery safer and more effective.
After surgery, protein intake becomes a top priority for bariatric patients. The specific protein requirements may vary depending on the type of surgery, the individual's weight, and their activity level. However, most bariatric patients are advised to consume between 60-120 grams of protein per day. Talk with your doctor or dietitian to determine the appropriate protein intake for your specific needs.
Bariatric patients can get protein from various sources, including lean meats, dairy products, and plant-based sources. However, due to the reduced stomach capacity and altered digestion after surgery, it may be challenging to meet protein requirements through eating regular meals with these sources of protein. Bariatric protein supplements, such as protein powders, shakes, and bars, offer an easy solution to help patients reach their daily protein goals. These supplements are specifically formulated to meet the unique needs of bariatric patients, with easy-to-digest and high-quality protein sources.
Protein shakes are a popular and convenient way to consume protein after bariatric surgery. By blending bariatric protein powder with water, milk, or a milk substitute, you can create a tasty and nutritious drink. You can also add fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients to create a variety of flavors and textures.
Bariatric protein bars can be a quick and portable option for on-the-go protein needs. Many commercial bars are available, or you can make your own using a combination of protein powder, oats, nuts, seeds, and other ingredients. Homemade bars can be tailored to your taste preferences and dietary needs, ensuring you get the protein and nutrients required.
Remember to always follow your doctor’s and dietician’s advice when it comes to your diet. Different patients have different situations that can cause them to need more or less of certain nutrients including protein. Different types of bariatric surgeries will also have an effect on you react to food. Everyone is different, so take the time to explore your different options with protein, and eventually it will just come natural without having to think about every specific food you eat.
Want to learn more about eating right after bariatric surgery? Check out our easy-to-understand Guide to Nutrition After Bariatric Surgery for helpful tips, ideas, and advice.